DCA Debate 2017

Annual Diversity Debate

Does a focus on identity help or hinder diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Diversity Council Australia and NAB are delighted to invite you to the 2017 Annual Diversity Debate, moderated by Tony Jones, one of the ABC's most respected journalists and host of ABC TV's Q&A.


WHEN: Tuesday 24 October 2017, 6.00pm - 10.00pm (AEDT)

WHERE:  Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf, 26-32 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont

DRESS: Corporate attire


When it comes to diversity & inclusion in the workplace, many organisations have adopted an identity-blind approach where employees are treated the same, regardless of their cultural background, gender, ability or disability, age, Indigeneity or LGBTIQ+ status. More recently, an identity-conscious approach has evolved where group differences such as age, cultural background or gender, are acknowledged and emphasised.

But has too much focus on identity in D&I programs created division and led to disengagement by those who feel excluded? Have workplace programs been hijacked by the debate around identity politics? On the other hand, is it critical to recognise group difference and inequality in order to establish a level playing field?


For DCA members: $300 incl. GST per person or $2,900 incl. GST for a table of 10 guests
For non-members: $350 incl. GST per person or $3,400 incl. GST for a table of 10 guests


We sincerely thank NAB as the Major Sponsor along with Optus and Johnson & Johnson as Support Sponsors and Bloomberg and Boardroom.Media as Associate Sponsors.

‘A focus on identity DOES HELP D&I’

Sharon Cook, Chief Legal & Commercial Counsel, National Australia Bank

Sharon CookSharon was appointed to the new role of Chief Legal & Commercial Counsel in April 2017.

Prior to joining NAB, Sharon was Managing Partner, Clients at King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), where she was on the Australian leadership team and responsible for the execution of the law firm’s client and sector strategy.

Sharon has more than 25 years' experience as a lawyer practising mainly in the field of commercial litigation, including in the banking and finance sectors.

She began her career at KWM working in their Sydney and London offices, before joining Henry Davis York (HDY) in 1997. Sharon was the first woman elected to its board in 2004 and was Managing Partner for six years until 2014, during which time she led a major transformation of the firm.

In 2012, Sharon was named as one of the Australian Financial Review's inaugural 100 Women of Influence and is a member of Chief Executive Women. She has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the University of Sydney.

Kumi Taguchi, Host of Compass on ABC TV 

Kumi TaguchiKumi was born in Melbourne to her Australian mother and Japanese father. She grew up in the country, riding horses and raising chickens. Kumi trained as a classical violinist and got into university on a music scholarship, but her love of storytelling took over. Her first media job was at the ABC’s 7.30 Report in 1997, where she picked up dry-cleaning, organised couriers and transcribed the answering machine.

Kumi then worked at Triple J radio and regional radio, before moving to Hong Kong. There she worked for NHK World, Star TV, and finally Asia Television, where she was the editor and presenter of a weekly social affairs program, as well as reporting and anchoring the nightly news.

After six years overseas, Kumi returned to Australia at the end of 2010. Initially working at both SBS and the ABC, she settled full-time at the ABC in 2011. Kumi has worked across a variety of programs and mediums at the public broadcaster: anchoring and reporting for TV News, hosting local radio, co-hosting ABC News Breakfast and programs such as Stargazing Live.

Since 2017, Kumi has also hosted Compass, the country’s only program that focuses on purpose, ethics and faith. Kumi is also part of the broadcasters peer support program, actively championing mental health awareness; and is on the ABC’s Diversity Working Group. Kumi regularly emcees events and hosts panel discussions.

Kumi is always up for an adventure, especially one that pushes her physical and mental limits. She has reported live from the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, taking four days to sail the 630 nautical miles on a 70-foot yacht. And her first (and possibly only) marathon was run in central Australia, near Uluru.

Don Elgin, Paralympian and StarAmp Global Founder 

Don ElginThey don’t come any livelier than the boy from the bush! Entertaining, motivational and an all-round larrikin; Don represented Australia in the athletics at four World Championships, three Paralympic Games, two World Cups and a Commonwealth Games.

Don Elgin was raised in the NSW town of Tocumwal. Being born without the lower portion of his left leg was no barrier for this boy who would make his first Australian team at 18 years of age, become a World Champion and – a staggering 20 years later – represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games.

One of the longest-serving scholarship holders at the Victorian Institute of Sport, Don competed in the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, where he won bronze in the Pentathlon. Two years later he finished with a Silver medal at the 2002 IPC World Championships. At the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, he became a triple Paralympic medalist winning one Silver and two Bronze.

As a respected voice on sport both on and off the track, Don commentated at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and appeared on Andrew Denton’s ABC TV show Enough Rope. The inaugural patron of Disability Professionals Victoria, he is a former president of Sandringham Athletics Club and former Vice President of The Amputee Association of Victoria. Don is a founding board member for the Start Foundation and the inaugural ambassador for New Horizons Club and a current board member for Wallara Australia Ltd.

A natural leader, Don was the Australian flag bearer at the 2006 World championships and went on to become the Australian Track and Field team manager at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He made a successful return to sport to compete at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. In 2015 Don added author to his credentials releasing his first book called ONE FOOT ON THE PODIUM. The book won a Silver medal 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards Australia/New Zealand – best regional non-fiction. In 2016 Don completed the Kokoda Trail. Don will release his second book later this year.

Away from the sporting arena, Don is a highly sought-after motivational speaker and the founder and director of StarAmp Global, a boutique management Company representing some of Australia’s finest amputee talent.

‘A focus on identity DOES NOT HELP D&I’

Peter van Onselen, Anchor SKY NEWS and Contributing Editor, The Australian

Peter van OnselenPeter van Onselen is Anchor of PVO NewsDay and Sunday Agenda and co-anchor of To The Point on SKY NEWS LIVE.

Peter is also Contributing Editor at The Australian newspaper and a professor of politics at the University of Western Australia.

Prior to joining The Australian and SKY NEWS in 2009, Peter was an associate professor at Edith Cowan University and wrote a regular column for The Bulletin magazine. He also appeared on the Nine Network’s Sunday program, where he presented cover stories on Australian politics.

Peter studied a Bachelor of Arts at the University of New South Wales, graduating with first-class honours in Political Science and a Masters in Policy Studies (with Distinction). He then furthered his academic studies at the University of Western Australia where he was awarded his PhD in Political Science. He has also completed a Master of Commerce (with Distinction).

During his university days, Peter competed at World and Australasian debating championships, reaching the semi-finals in both and being selected in the combined Australian Universities Test Team.

Peter is also an accomplished author and has written and edited five books. John Winston Howard (with Dr Wayne Errington) was rated by the Wall Street Journal Asia as the best biography of 2007. His most recent book is The Turnbull Gamble (published by Melbourne University Press).

Libby Lyons, Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Libby LyonsLibby Lyons was appointed Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in October 2015. She oversees a statutory reporting process which gathers gender equality data from over 12,000 employers and covers more than 4 million Australian employees. Libby, in leading the Agency, is focused on working closely with employers to create workplaces in which the skills, experience and ambitions of employees are equally recognised and rewarded, regardless of their gender. 

Prior to joining the Agency Libby had a distinguished career in corporate affairs and government relations, most recently heading BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam corporate affairs division. Before this Libby was General Manager of External Relations at Atlas Iron and held senior roles at CITIC Pacific Mining, Alcoa Australia, the Western Power Corporation and Telstra. 

Libby has always had a strong personal commitment to public service. She started her career as a primary school teacher in the outer-suburbs of Melbourne, has sat on the boards of the non-profit organisations SIDS and Kids WA, and was Executive Chairman for Kalparrin – a charity which supports the carers of children with disabilities. 

Doctor Sev Ozdowski, Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council

Dr Sev Ozdowski AMDr Ozdowski is Chair of the Australian Multicultural Council; Director, Equity and Diversity at Western Sydney University and Adjunct Professor of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

Dr Ozdowski was the Australian Human Rights Commissioner and Disability Discrimination Commissioner at the then-named Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission from 2000-2005. He has also headed the Office of Multicultural and International Affairs in South Australia for five years, and since 2006 is the President of the Australian Council for Human Rights Education.

Dr Ozdowski was recognised through various Australian and international honours, including an Order of Australia Medal in 1995, and was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2016.