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  • Writer's pictureCPSN


Many people with disabilities want to know how they can advocate for their community. Sitting on a Board as a person with lived experience can be a powerful way to create change, however, it can feel overwhelming knowing where to start.

At Cerebral Palsy Support Network (CPSN), we want to empower people with cerebral palsy (CP) and other similar disabilities to gain better opportunities to fully participate as citizens.

So, in early 2022, CPSN began a 10-week ‘Board Kickstarter Program’.

The program aimed to empower people with disabilities by developing their leadership skills and discovering how they can use their voice within a Boardroom.

From left to right: Fiona, Debbie, Estelle, Tara, Cadeyrn, Sue, Helga, Alesia, Alex, Nikita, Shelley, and Freya.

What are the benefits of the Board Kickstarter Program?

The Board Kickstarter Program has many benefits, including:

  • Providing comprehensive training on the knowledge and skills needed to be on a Board

  • Preparing a Board resume and practising interview techniques

  • Equipping participants with the ability to pitch themselves to Committees/ Boards Australia-wide

  • Providing one on one peer-mentoring from existing Board Members

  • Developing meaningful connections and new friendships within the CP community, including a social outlet for participants

  • Allowing participants to embark on a journey of self-discovery to identify personal strengths. Learning to identify how their CP can be an asset in a committee setting

  • Enabling better representation of CPSN members and people with CP within CPSN’s governance framework

Creating a social outlet for participants

Aside from gaining an invaluable understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a Board member, the eight participants and our CPSN Project Coordinator, Sue Harris, also formed a social outlet.

They celebrated the completion of the program by receiving the certificates during a pub visit (pictured above).

“There’s a sense of comradery between participants,” explained Sue. She adds, “while participants developed their skills and understanding around becoming an effective Board Member, they also got the added benefit of social interaction, peer connection, and identifying personal strengths.”

Alesia’s rewarding experience

The response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. CPSN client, Alesia, thought it was a fantastic opportunity to develop some skills in the governance area, and help her perform her role better as a member of the CPSN Human Rights Committee.

She is currently a university student. Alesia said, “there are a lot of skills to learn and maintain to be a responsible and successful board member, however, it is a very rewarding experience.”

She believes members with lived disability experience have a diverse range of knowledge and skills to contribute, including both hard and soft skills, that are often enhanced by their lived experiences with disability. Alesia said, “they can bring a unique perspective to boards that other people often will not have considered.”

“Some key takeaway lessons for me would be that being a board member is a lot of responsibility, and there are a lot of skills to learn and maintain to be a responsible and successful board member, however, it is a very rewarding experience.”

Alesia explains that it is a supportive environment, and each week is well-structured, from the content itself to the pacing of the sessions.

Interested to learn more about our supports and services?

For more information on CPSN's online events and program activities, please call our Member Services team on (03) 9478 1001 or email today.

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