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Program delivers leadership skills to people with disability

A leadership program has given Victoria Park resident Gabrielle Trenbath, 37, a new outlook on life.

Gabrielle, who has cerebral palsy, admits she was “just living her life” until she took part in Leadership WA’s LeadAbility program, graduating last August.

Gabrielle Trenbath receiving her graduation certificate from Leadership WA

Gabrielle Trenbath, centre, receiving her graduation certificate from Leadership WA Chair Michael McNulty, left, and Disability Services Commission Executive Director Operations Chris Yates.

While she was already working full-time as a nursing assistant, singing in choirs, going to the gym and having an active social life, she said the program made her think about her place in the world.

“It made me think about my values and attitudes towards my disability,” Gabrielle said.  

LeadAbility is a five-day course held over five weeks. Funded by the Disability Services Commission, it is designed for people with disability, and employees and ambassadors in the disability sector who have the potential to lead and generate change.

“I had always been into volunteering and had spent a bit of time volunteering overseas,” Gabrielle said.

“Since I became a home-owner, travelling for months on end as a volunteer was no longer possible so I wanted to contribute to my local community instead. 

“I wanted to understand leadership from the disability perspective and learn how to be more effective in advocating for a more inclusive society.

“LeadAbility helped me clarify how I can contribute to the community and I was able to develop some strategies to be able to work with others to make Western Australia an even better place to live.”

As a result of the networking opportunities provided by the program, Gabrielle has been elected to the Boards of Avivo (formerly Perth Home Care Services) and Physical Disabilities Australia.

She still works full-time and goes to the gym – but she is also completing an Australian Institute of Company Directors governance course, a University of Tasmania online course on patients’ rights and Leadership WA’s Rising Leadership Program.

“I never thought sitting on boards would ever be something I could do but armed with a renewed sense of purpose I’ve started on a really interesting journey,” Gabrielle said.

“I also attend ad hoc seminars and briefings on a wide range of topics relating to the disability, aged care, community and not-for-profit sectors.

“Now I’m confident I can play a small part in creating a better community for everyone.”

For more about the program, visit the LeadAbility website .