OC Connections 72nd Annual General Meeting

The 72nd Annual General Meeting was held on Wednesday 26 October at The Metropolitan Golf Club. This was the first on site AGM since 2019 where staff, participants, members and partners were able to meet in person.

The meeting was a chance to reflect on the past year’s achievements, challenges and resilience of staff and participants in a wonderful setting such as The Metropolitan Golf Club.

We welcomed David Simmonds, Director, Transport Accessibility and Inclusion, Department of Transport as the guest speaker for the event. David is a passionate crusader for accessibility and inclusion across our public transport network. One of David’s goals is to inspire others to achieve. Born with a degenerative condition of the eyes called Retinitis Pigmentosa, David lost his funcitonal vision in his mid to late twenties.

In his speech, David highlighted the need for accessible and inclusive transport for people living with disabiliy by sharing his daily travel requirements from his country home town to the city of Melbourne, with the aid of his guide dog, Zinnia. David takes a V-line train and trams as part of his commute and relies on clear instructions to Zinnia regarding his destination and the strategic use of Schmacko’s to keep her on task.

David says navigating a complex and noisy environment such as Southern Cross Station can be very overwhelming for a vision impaired person and so he relies on technology when Zinnia gets things wrong. Knowing the obstacles faced by people living with disabilities, David is proud of the ways the Department of Transport are utilising technology to make transport in Victoria more accessible. Initiatives include: blind square navigation, which utilises bluetooth so commuters can access audible information about their environment; effort based mapping in Sports/Arts precincts so people with mobility devices can pre-plan their journey to these areas; virtual walk throughs of modes of transport and try before you ride stationery tours to allow people to get to know the modes of transport and how best to use them.

David is also passionate about the Sunflower Program, identifying people with hidden disabilities by way of lanyard, so transport staff can assist where necessary.

We thank David for sharing his insight into the ways Victoria is creating inclusive communities for people living with disability through an accessible transport network.

In addition to our guest speaker, staff and our Participant Reference Group were acknowledged for their service to OC Connections with certificates. Congratulations to the following staff for their years of service:

5 years of service

  • Greg Patterson
  • Elizabeth Otieno
  • Chetanaben Patel
  • Ngaire Morgan
  • Michelle Collier
  • Michael Mensah
  • Sonal Kaur
  • Valentine Rirei
  • Lapurisima Larson

10 years of service

  • Jessica Lilburne
  • Gregory Pullen
  • Joanne Pate
  • Jay Chaudhary
  • Jessica Brooke
  • Jennifer Madejski

15 years of service

  • Jose Munoz Zea
  • Constantina Rouvalis
  • Julie Heggart

30 years of service

  • Lionel Millar
  • Duncan Conroy

Thank you also to the Participant Reference Group for their insight and input into the operations of OC Connections:

  • Greg B
  • Kathleen F
  • Benjamin M
  • Michael M
  • Mark R
  • Sandra W
  • Kathy F
  • Aidan M
  • Sara Brentnall (Board Representative)
  • Tricia Malowney (Independent Chair)
  • Jules Rogers (Secretary)

In celebration of the OC Connections community, a video tribute was presented on the night to highlight the stories of participants, families, staff and partners. You can view the video below: