Kathy Ellem headshot

Kathy Ellem – Committee Member

Kathy is a parent of two young adults – her daughter, a fellow yogini, studying to be an occupational therapist, and her son an avid gamer, deliverer of coffee, and cat lover.  Kathy became interested in improving the lives of people with a disability, when she found out that her son had global developmental delays as a baby.  She took up social work as a career through the University of Queensland, quickly became involved on the management committee of Queensland Parents for People with a Disability, later becoming President. 

Her work as a social worker included working on a community team in Disability Services Queensland, being an assistant coordinator in South-West Brisbane Citizen Advocacy, doing support work for Community Living Association and being a futures planning facilitator for Homes West Association.  

All of these experiences have now shaped Kathy’s role as senior lecturer at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Queensland.  Kathy teaches social work students about practice in the disability field, and is keen to make the next generation of social workers disability aware. 

Her research has been in the field of disability, with interest in people with cognitive disability and the criminal justice system, participatory research with people with disabilities, family-centred practice and capacity building of families who have a loved one with a disability. 

Kathy is currently a committee member on the Queensland board of the Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability, and a member of the Brisbane Regional Disability Advisory Council for the Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors.  She sees her role as a member of QAI’s management committee as an opportunity to preserve and grow disability advocacy in Queensland in the face of rapid changes to the disability sector under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

She also welcomes the opportunity to reconnect with previous colleagues in advocacy, to meet new and emerging leaders in the sector and to make a difference in some way to the lives of people with a disability in Queensland.