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Karni Liddell: Media Personality and Disability Speaker

Published : 2014-02-25
Author : Disabled World - Contact: Disabled World

Synopsis: Karni Liddell speaks to world audiences encouraging them to think differently about how choices in life shape health, success and attitude despite whatever life circumstances we were given.

Main Digest

As a Paralympian, businesswoman, commentator, writer, counselor, fundraiser and disability champion, Karni speaks to thousands of audiences around the world, encouraging them to think differently about how our choices in life shape our health, our success, and our attitude, despite whatever life circumstances we were given. Karni has an infectious and unique attitude on life and is able to deliver powerful, authentic, down-to-earth presentations capturing her experiences of living with a progressive debilitating muscle wasting disease and being labeled as a person who would not live past her teenage years.

Her presentations encourage people to believe they too can 'have a crack' at life no matter what their life circumstance are, as she chose to be an elite athlete despite being born with a muscle wasting disease. She chose to be a swimmer even though she is unable to lift her arms above her head. Karni's life has been about having the will to prove what her body can do, even though she was told that her body would progressively waste away and that she would lose the ability to walk and breathe independently by her teenage years. Her unwavering parents developed a self-invented rehabilitation program which defied most specialist's belief that exercise only exacerbated this disease. Their unique approach involved swimming, horse-riding, diet, Pilates, physio, faith healers, juicing, massage, bike-riding, stretching and a multitude of whacky fads and remedies. This unique approach is a lifestyle Karni still follows today as she credits this program for giving her the privilege of still walking at 34, being a Paralympic medalist and for being able to dance (maybe not 'Twerk!').

After completing a Masters in Counseling/Social Work and a double degree in Communications Karni is able to effortlessly integrate your key messages into her presentation in a natural, sincere manner as she is genuinely able to connect and engage with people from all walks of life. Whether you need an insightful, life-changing and entertaining keynote or event speaker; support with team building and leadership, change management, media and presentation training or enhancing motivation and attitude; Karni effortlessly engages, inspires, entertains, captures and connects with her audience. Karni is one of the few speakers in Australia to receive many standing ovations throughout her 13 year speaking career.

Karni has risen over $1million dollars for the various charities she supports. Her proudest moment was when she was able to hand over nearly $1million to the Australian Paralympic Committee to enable the full Australian team to compete at the Athens Paralympics, she achieved this by delivering over 1000 speeches to all Westpac staff to inspire them to organize their own fundraising events. Karni's is passionate about changing people's perceptions on disability and this is what drove her to model for various magazines and she is still the only woman in Australia with a disability to be on the cover of Inside Sport Magazine. Karni's mantra in life is that "accidents, illness and disability doesn't discriminate it chooses beautiful, intelligent, funny, successful and talented people every day."

Karni is currently the Ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy Association, Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association, Day of Difference Foundation and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Speaking Topics and Workshop concepts:

Everybody has a choice in life despite our unchosen life circumstances:

Keynote speech (life story from diagnosis to Paralympic glory to business). This speech encapsulate coping with change, controlling the 'uncontrollable', making adversity an opportunity, overcoming life's consistent speed bumps and how to adapt to unforeseen circumstances (in other words life!)

Life may not be the party we hoped for but while we're here we should dance:

Keynote speech plus optional breakout workshops. This presentation focuses on how living with a progressive muscle wasting disease, being an elite athlete and being a business owner has taught Karni how to embrace the fact that the only things we have complete control over in our lives is our attitude and how we treat people. After having 6 reconstructive surgeries and countless other surgeries Karni learnt that walking, good health and dancing was something she was going to fight for, that you need people so be nice and that life is unpredictable (the workshops cover specific tools and concepts to achieve these outcomes)

How to REALLY engage and connect with people:

Leadership and communication presentation with optional breakout workshops Leadership session covers how to create an engaged, sustainable and effective team and after being an Australian Paralympic team captain and director of her own Communications consultancy for 8 years, Karni has developed tools on how the most important skill anybody can having in business, sport and life is an authentic and influential communication style. This session is about how to enhance a person's potential and attitude. Karni's extensive study into human nature, developmental theories, communication and counseling has also given her a knowledgeable insight into human nature.

Parents and family workshop:

Stages of adjustment: (what to do when you don't have a healthy child, as this is all expectant parents say they want)

After living with a disability for 34 years and a Masters in Paediatric Counseling (specializing in trauma, diagnosis and grief and loss theories) Karni is able to provide a knowledgeable, experiential and inclusive workshop for parents of children with a disability or chronic illness on surviving, thriving and embracing life with a child with a disability. This interactive workshop will provide suggestions and ideas on how to navigate through the maze of disability funding and support, the medical system and the inaccessible world we all live in. Karni has an innate and learned understanding of living with a disability she believes that if people are provided with the essential tools, knowledge, services and supports required to access their environment than living with a disability or chronic illness can be manageable, joyful and achievable.

Transforming adversity and disability into an opportunity - From an identity standpoint what does it mean to have a disability or a child with a disability? It's about the values behind the words people with disabilities have been labeled with from diagnosis onwards and how we construct those values. Our language affects our thinking and how we view the world and how we view other people, therefore parents are able to support their children with disabilities cope with how people treat them.


As a radio presenter, speaker, communications trainer and sports commentator Karni is able to host any event with professionalism, humor, enthusiasm and experience. Karni is currently a sport and social commentator on ABC radio (Rebecca Levingston, Craig Zonca and Tim Cox shows) and has had over a decade of media and speaking experience.

Learning how to dance with a disability:

This workshop is designed specifically for people living with a disability and/or chronic illness and their significant others. This session will involve the following:

Secret women's business:

One of Karni's mantras is that she is as much a product of her failures as her accomplishments. She wants women to know that even though it is human nature to bullet point and highlight our triumphs, she is who she is because of everything you don't see on her resume. The stuff that hasn't worked out for her, the years of career rejection, maneuvering around an able-bodied world and being single for most of her adult life has taught her how to trust her instincts, adapt and laugh. Karni encourages women and especially teenage girls to realize that what makes them beautiful is what sets them apart from everyone else.

School presentations and workshops:

After completing a Masters in Social work (Pediatric counseling) Karni has a real passion and awareness about how to truly relate and connect with children. With over 13 years experience presenting at schools around Australia, focusing most of her time in Regional and rural areas of Australia due to her background of growing up in the 'Beef Capital of Australia' Rockhampton, Karni is able to genuinely engage students with her incredible and jaw-dropping stories on life, overcoming adversity, being different and why she believes that we all have a choice in life and that our life choices should never be determined by our circumstances, our bodies, our families, our bank balance or our background.

Karni incorporates humor throughout her presentation and with photos and relatable stories about bullying, being different and achieving things in life people say can't be done, she has a unique ability to capture the attention of even the most distracted students.

But why should the students receive all the attention? Karni is also able to provide Teachers and Administration staff with an equally moving experience whether it's providing insights and strategies on surviving and thriving through tough times or more specific workshops on working with students with disabilities.

VIDEO: Karni Liddell at TEDxSouthBankWomen -



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Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: Disabled World. Electronic Publication Date: 2014-02-25. Title: Karni Liddell: Media Personality and Disability Speaker, Source: <a href=>Karni Liddell: Media Personality and Disability Speaker</a>. Retrieved 2021-06-23, from - Reference: DW#39-10118.