Cerebral Conversations

From the great minds at Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA), Cerebral Conversations tackles the biggest issues impacting people living with cerebral palsy and similar disabilities.

We’re going all in on early intervention, advocacy, research, inclusion and a whole lot more, to untangle the curliest of ideas with the people who understand them best. Join our special guests and hosts for eye-opening, norm-challenging conversations.

Listen to the powerful and poignant journeys of Australians living with cerebral palsy who are breaking all the boundaries. Be part of CPA’s Cerebral Conversations and find out what happens when great minds think differently.

Cerebral Conversations | Season 1

Episode 0 | An overview and Acknowledgement of Country

Movements like #metoo and #blacklivesmatter have had a huge impact on changing expectations, attitude and culture. The 2020 Paralympians are leading a worldwide campaign to change attitudes towards disability – #Wethe15 (representing the 15% (1.2billion) of people around the world living with disability). And companies like Nike and Ikea are starting to include accessible design in their everyday products.

So with disability as one of the last bastions of discrimination, and an environment ripe for change, CPA is launching a series of conversations that tackle some of the biggest disability issues like ableism, accessibility, advocacy, inclusion, innovation, research and a whole lot more. Listen to Episode 0 now to get a taste of what happens when great minds think differently.

Episode 1 | Early Days | Nadia Badawi & Tracey Spicer on Neonatology

One in ten Australian babies spend time in a newborn intensive care unit, and it’s already an incredible group of people who are improving outcomes for those infants. However, the greatest success will come when we all get involved.

Join Professor Nadia Badawi and Tracey Spicer as they discuss the often challenging, but always inspiring, world of newborn intensive care. Hear how Nadia thinks differently about what is possible for babies born with cerebral palsy.

Tracey asks how our understanding of CP has changed over the years and critically, what does that mean for the future? Could a global pandemic really offer silver linings to those living with disability? And what’s changed to make the idea of a cure for CP no longer seem so fantastical?

Episode 2 | Riding rollercoasters and harbouring hope | Joe Darcy’s story

In the first hours and days of baby Eve’s life, her parents Joe and Hiam heard the toughest news and words every new parent dreads: complications, NICU, brain damage… Through all the ups and downs of those rollercoaster days, Joe never gave up hope and baby Eve is now a skateboarding six year old who’s defied all the medical odds.

Joe shares his memories of Eve’s first days, how he kept hope alive, and how trusting your gut can make a truly life-changing difference.

Episode 3 | Early diagnosis and meeting Eve | Nadia Badawi’s story

Early in her career, Professor Nadia Badawi. realised that working with newborns was an opportunity to change the entire course of a person’s life, not to mention having a huge impact for their family and the wider community. That realisation has taken her on an incredible path, becoming a leading voice in neonatal intensive care.

Nadia also shares her perspective of the remarkable story of meeting baby Eve Darcy six years ago. This story was told by Eve’s dad, Joe Darcy, in episode two. Through early diagnosis of cerebral palsy and early intervention baby Eve’s life was transformed from a bleak outlook into the “little blonde cannonball” she is today.

Episode 4 | Changing brains and minds | Iona Novak & Tracey Spicer on Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the secret ingredient for better brain power – and better outcomes for children with disability. Professor Iona Novak, CPA’s Chair of Allied Health, co-founder of the CPA Research Institute, and renowned journalist, author and broadcaster Tracey Spicer go deep into our grey (and white) matter to explore the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways and what that means for a child’s critical early years of neurological development. How can we rewire our brains by learning new skills? Why are some pathways a bit overgrown and others rather well-trodden? Can teenagers and adults harness neuroplasticity, and how is it relevant for people without disability?

Episode 5 | Neuroplasticity in action | Arran Keith’s Story

A cerebral (palsy) conversation with Invictus Games competitor and CPA client Arran Keith, and his physiotherapist Claire Smart.

Neuroplasticity and therapy can help to improve movement and mobility, but the challenge is staying motivated to get the most out of it. The good news? Therapy can be a whole lot more fun than repetitive exercises.

Claire and avid RaceRunner and triathlete, Arran chat with us about technology, wheelchair races and all the other creative ideas and tools they use to help Arran smash his goals to smithereens (not least of which is competing at the 2024 Paralympics – watch this space!).

Episode 6 | Let’s get visible | Hannah Diviney & Tara Moss on Inclusion

Australia is recognised as one of the most inclusive nations in the world, but really, is it? Disability advocates Hannah Diviney and Tara Moss dig into the details of what it’s like to live with a disability and tackle stereotypes, mental health issues, and barriers to work and education. 

How do Hannah and Tara overcome the stigmas around disability and women? What does living with a disability mean for our sense of identity? And really, why isn’t there a disabled Disney princess? (Hannah’s working on that.)

Episode 7 | Might, Cameras, Action | Emily Dash’s story

A cerebral (palsy) conversation with filmmaker, actor, advocate and CPA client, Emily Dash.

From screening her films at Tropfest and the Sydney Film Festival to collaborating with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Emily has achieved more than most of us do in a lifetime. And – with the help of a great support crew and some savvy problem solving – she’s done it all in spite of the barriers to employment that many people living with a disability face.

Emily tells us about her amazing career, her inspirations and advice for other young writers, and gives us the low down on what it’s like to get a call from Margot Robbie out of the blue.

Episode 8 | Speaking Up | Bronya Metherall & Tara Moss

We can all be agents for change, but we need to find our voices first and the courage to speak up.

In this episode, Bronya and Tara speak up about creating communities that empower those living with disability. How can we challenge governments to enact change that creates truly inclusive societies? What does advocacy really mean, and when does it really work? How can we help people find their voice and see the power in their personal storytelling? And how on earth can we get people to care about a cause that doesn’t personally affect them?

Episode 9 | Ahead of the (Learning) Curve | Lia Sintras’ Story

A cerebral (palsy) conversation with Lia Sintras, Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) client and Kosciuszko conqueror.

Lia has lived with cerebral palsy since she was just a year old, which hasn’t stopped her for a moment. From climbing Mount Kosciuszko to walking into her end of school formal (after over 500 hours of training no less), Lia knows better than most that – as she puts it – “Nothing is impossible. You just need to find people that make it possible.”

Lia takes us through the challenges and highlights of her school years, the importance of finding champions to back you, and what she’s working on to advocate inclusion for everybody who lives with a disability.

Episode 10 | Pete Horsley and Naomi Simson | Ideas To Enable Human Potential

You’ve got THE big idea. Now what? Join entrepreneurs Pete Horsley and Naomi Simson for an idea-sparking conversation about the importance of invention and bringing great ideas to life. Are we investing enough and willing enough to try, fail and then have another go? How can you become a great innovator and how did a solar power wheelchair come to be?

Pete Horsley is the founder of Remarkable, an organisation that’s harnessing the power of technology to drive inclusion for people living with disabilities. Pete and his team accelerate disability tech start ups and help founders and ideators fuel their vision, develop tech, gain seed funding and build their businesses. Check out Pete’s work at Remarkable.

Naomi Simson is an entrepreneur, blogger, business leader and the founder of Red Balloon. Building businesses, working with teams and solving problems are all key to Naomi’s work, the heart of which is bringing people together and shifting the way we experience life. Learn more at Naomi Simson.

Episode 11 | Alistair McEwan & Rae Johnston | Tech Beyond 2040

From gamification to AI, speech recognition to virtual reality, technology is making an extraordinary contribution to the lives of those living with disability – and there’s some pretty amazing stuff in store for the future too.

Power up with Alistair McEwan and Rae Johnston as they explore how technology, data and innovation are changing lives and improving outcomes, and the questions these cutting edge creations are raising along the way. How do we best navigate the ethics of AI and make the most of its potential? Could a virtual baby give us new insight and a window to the future? And might soft exoskeletons (think Big Hero 6) become a tool in early intervention?

Professor Alistair McEwan is the Ainsworth Chair of Technology and Innovation at CPA. His research looks at how emerging technology – from bionics and robotics to AI – can contribute to better treatments, interventions and solutions for people living with cerebral palsy and similar conditions. 

A multi-award-winning STEM journalist, broadcaster and proud Wiradjuri woman, Rae Johnston has worked in television, radio, podcasting and digital publishing. She was the first Science and Technology Editor for SBS’s NITV and is the producer and host of top-rated podcasts Queens of the Drone Age and Hear+Beyond.

Episode 12 | Work/Life Brilliance | Marley Lyras-Hull’s Story

A cerebral (palsy) conversation with master juggler, Marley Lyras-Hull.

Marley works full time at CPA and is currently studying for her fourth (yep, fourth) degree. She’s raising three daughters, one of whom lives with a disability, and Marley herself lives with cerebral palsy. When there really are only 24 hours in a day, how does she get it all done?

Marley fills us in on how she juggles ALL the things, what inspires her, and her tips for other parents with living with a disability or parenting a child with disability.

Episode 13 | Season One Highlights

Welcome to the wrap up episode of Season One of Cerebral Conversations. Here are some highlights and never heard before stories from the great minds at Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) and our special guests and hosts.

And as you have heard throughout the series from the likes of Hannah Diviney, Bronya Metherell and Tara Moss, just how important storytelling is. We’d like you to share your story with us in Season Two, so if you have an idea you’d love us to tackle, send an email to ask@cerebralpalsy.org.au, or join the CPA Facebook Community Group and tell us there.

We’d love to hear from you. And in the meantime, please stay subscribed if you haven’t done so already, tell your friends about Cerebral Conversations and you can keep the conversation going between seasons by leaving us a rating or review on your favourite podcast platform.