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Okay, that might not be entirely accurate, but bet your bottom dollar it’ll be someone like me sometime soon.   

While it might seem far-fetched at first glance, the progress Scope is making in ensuring people with disability have a seat at the table means that it won’t be long before those with lived experience become our executive leaders.    

It’s a concept that I’m really passionate about and one that I spoke to our current CEO Kate MacRae about a couple of weeks back while we were comparing notes on Scope’s 75th anniversary. Kate told me her ambition is to have more people with lived experience join Scope’s management team, and the organisation’s board. She said lived experience at the top is critical for an organisation like Scope because of the leadership position it holds in Australia – Scope’s become the largest disability organisation in the country, so it’s incumbent on us to lead from the front on this matter.   

I was excited to hear this from Kate because I truly believe that anything is possible if people like me are part of the design of disability support into the future. We bring perspective and experience that others can’t. Having lived with disability, we have unquestionable insights into what will and won’t work at all ages in all places.

But, the reality check here is that there’s a gap. Not everyone living with disability is ready to lead. It takes bravery to ask for what we want and energy and focus to ask it on behalf of others. Add to that the fact that organisations like Scope need to change – some of them considerably – to embrace lived experience in the workplace.     

The way I see it is that baby steps are important and the good news is that we’re already taking them. To move quicker though, it’s going to take people living with disability to realise one thing: if we want to live the lives that we choose then we must lead the way and bring organisations like Scope’s along the journey, ensuring they support us at every step.   

I’m confident the benefits of lived experience in leadership positions will quickly become obvious. Having the right people in the right rooms at the right time making the right decisions will ensure momentum builds into a genuine movement. And for us at Scope it offers opportunity to showcase to the sector and community more broadly that people with disability are a fabric of society.    

Kate didn’t let me go before asking for my reflections on our 75 year anniversary – she seems pretty excited about it!    

I suggested that it’s indisputable that Scope has always been about the person – we have good reason to be enormously proud of what we have achieved over the years, and we’ve done it because the person has been at the centre of everything we do.    

I added that if we look ahead 75 years we’ll be even better because our work will be co-designed by people who live with disability.    

Then I slipped her my CV. Okay, that might not be entirely accurate either.     

Zane McKenzie is a Customer Partnership and Disability Workforce Lead at Scope. While he’s worked with the organisation for the past decade, Zane’s first introduction to Scope was as a boy in back in the 1980s – he was a client of Scope in Ballarat and later Geelong as his family moved home towns. Zane has held Level 2 AFL Coaching Accreditation, has previously been a Victorian club cricket scorer and volunteers at Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service.  

Scope 75 years

Scope’s story: A stroll down memory lane

From our humble beginnings in the garage of some concerned parents to becoming one of Australia’s largest service providers - Scope's history is a testament to its unwavering dedication to creating a world where everyone can thrive.

Scope 1981