James Newton

Member Premier's Disability Advisory Council

James Newton

James has worked as a Disability Liaison Officer for TasTAFE in Launceston for the past 16 years, in addition to being a long-time advocate for access to the arts, and digital technology, for people with disability.

James has served as board member and grants officer for countless state and national committees, including, but not limited to, Vinnies, ILC Tas, Tas Regional Arts, the Interweave Arts Association, Arts Access Australia and the Digital Gap Initiative, winning numerous state and national awards for his sustained contributions, including the coveted Human Rights Award.

Due to the fact that the blind are five times more likely to be unemployed than their sighted counterparts, James chose academic study to increase his chances of employment, undertaking Diplomas in Occupational Therapy and Non-Directive Counselling, Bachelors of Arts and Social Work with Honours (being admitted to the Dean's Honour Roll) and postgraduate certification in Mental Health. However, he still found the journey a difficult one, experiencing the digital gap first-hand, firstly with course documents not designed in an accessible format, and then on securing employment found himself unable to use the majority of ICT systems required to perform his role properly due to a lack of policies on Accessible Procurement.

In his spare time, James is an accomplished artist, creative engagement facilitator and a craftivist passionate in his belief that art can heal and build connections, founding the Access Arts Link, an arts-based programme for all ages in Launceston, particularly engaging vulnerable populations. He categorically denies swinging from rooftops with a billyclub, though.