Understanding the power of my story with Pacific Connect

It was an honour and great pleasure to have been part of the Social Enterprise Dialogue in Brisbane on 16 and 17 February.

I’d like to acknowledge the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships for the opportunity to attend this Pacific Connect Dialogue that has allowed engagement with other business partners for me on behalf of the Spinal Injury Association (SIA).

Engaging with Women experts in the various areas of business is not always easy and this Brisbane meet has made this all possible.

I was able to converse with a young businesswoman, with, whom we shared our different areas of work, which were similar in some ways. These conversations eventuated into her being our facilitator for the SIA ‘Women and Youth Skills Training’ scheduled for 12 March 2020.

Mrs Elizabeth Senikau is an amazing young woman who has been sharing her knowledge and skills with women in the various communities and we at SIA are looking forward to learning from her.

In addition to this valuable engagement were suggestions I received from Kim Graham-Nye on our first evening together, as she analyses my response to the ‘Ask’, the pre-Dialogue question the co-faciliators set for us. The questions she posed to me, such as “How would that benefit your organisation? and “Why not operate it into a business or service that would give some income back to the organization?”  opened up my mind to rethink my ask and to break down the whole business idea. I thought my current thinking was sufficient, but this Dialogue enabled me to broaden my perspective and be more business-minded taking into account how does the organisation benefit from its own story.

More to this learning how to pitch. It is important to be able to voice your thoughts or ideas, and to be able to capture the attention of your audience and convince them at the same time.

Just watching and listening to the five women pitch during Dialogue proceedings was an excellent lesson for me.

Making the learning complete was a visit to a social enterprise, Nundah Community Enterprises Cooperative. This is another important component of learning.  Meeting up with a Social Enterprise businesswoman and her employees who were persons with disability was a very pertinent experience for me.

Being a person with disability, I found this to be very helpful in raising awareness for employment among persons with disabilities. The enterprise empowers persons with disabilities to understand that if you do not get assisted by government to find employment, you can always come together as a group and start a business. That’s powerful.

It is a matter of identifying our God-given talents, skills and support from our community and not being silent anymore.

I just want to say that Pacific Connect has really done a great job and because of this network I am able to communicate with people who can help me with my ‘Ask’.  I am looking forward to talking to Dinah (a participant I connected with during the Dialogue) on my ‘ask’ and to seeing the outcome eventuate.

A big ‘vinaka vakalevu’ to Pacific Connect, and I’m looking forward to continuous engagement.

Mere Roden

Mere Roden


Mere Roden is the President of the Spinal Injuries Association and Employer Liaison Officer of the Include Disability Employ This Ability (IDEA) program. Mere is an avid table tennis player, winning a gold medal at the Pacific Games in 2015. She is a well- known disability rights advocate, specifically advocating the rights of persons with disabilities to meaningful employment.