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Newsletter 11/2019

Meet our Members | Jessica Smith OAM


Jessica Smith moved to Dubai in early 2019 with her husband and two children (and another on the way). She has had an incredible journey being born missing her left arm and then suffering a horrific kitchen accident when she was a toddler sustaining burns to 15% of her body. Jessica defied the odds and went on to represent Australia in the sport of swimming for seven years, culminating in representing Australia at the 2004 Paralympic Games.

Sport gave Jessica ambition and focus while she tried to confront societal obstacles around body image and disability acceptance. She was able to eventually break free from personal struggles with depression and eating disorders in her 20’s. But perhaps the most important story there is to tell about Jessica, is that of the inspiring woman she is today. Since retiring from her international swimming career Jessica has gone on to become an internationally recognised advocate for positive body image, dedicating her life to raising awareness around diversity and disability.

Jessica is an accomplished motivational speaker and MC, having stood on many platforms throughout schools, universities, businesses and community organisations, including the UN, where she shares her personal journey and highlights the importance of Mental Health awareness, focusing particularly on body image, diversity and eating disorders. 

Jessica completed a BSc. Population Health from the University of Wollongong, Australia, and has recently been accepted to complete her PhD Doctorate in Health Psychology.

Jessica is continually acknowledged for her incredible advocacy work; awarded ‘Emerging Leader’ by the Australian Government at the Positive Body Image awards, as well as being awarded a Pride of Australia Medal. In 2015 Jessica was a state finalist for Young Australian of The Year and more recently in 2017 she was named Cosmopolitan Magazine ‘Woman of The Year’ in the category of Game Changer.

Most recently, Jessica was awarded one of Australia’s highest honours, the Medal of the Order of Australia for a number of roles within the community, and dedication to sport. We were incredibly excited for her when she received her medal from Australian Ambassador, H.E. Arthur Spyrou, just last month at the Australian Ambassador’s residence here in the UAE!

Not only is Jessica an accomplished speaker, advocate and advisor on the topics of diversity and inclusion; a PhD student; a wife and mother to two (about to be three) young children; she has also written a children’s book about disability and acceptance. Her first book ‘Little Miss Jessica Goes to School” is about a young girl with one hand on her first day at school, where she learns that being ‘different’ is OK

Jess is a great supporter of the ABCD and comes along to as many events as she can fit into her busy (about to be busier) schedule and is always up for a chat! We wish her every success (and hopefully some sleep) as she welcomes her latest edition in the coming weeks and we look forward to working with her in the new year.


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