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Smith OAM

Paralympian, author and Pride of Australia Medal Winner


Jessica Smith OAM, is a leading international advocate for diversity and inclusion, disability awareness, and positive body image. She combines personal experience with academic research to deliver genuine social impact.

Jessica was born missing her left arm, then at 18 months old suffered terrible burns from an accident that left her with permanent scarring on her neck and chest. Far from holding her back, she worked tirelessly and determinedly to become a world-class swimmer, representing Australia for seven years and competing in the 2004 Paralympic Games.
Current Work:
Since retiring from swimming, Jessica has devoted her life to advocating for diversity and inclusion on the global stage. An engaging and highly sought-after speaker, she has shared her journey and body-positive insights in schools and universities, workplaces and community organisations, including the United Nations.

She has developed strategic initiatives to help people understand the complexities of diversity and inclusion, founded an award-winning social media campaign encouraging positive self-awareness, and written a critically acclaimed series of children’s books about disability and acceptance.

Alongside 15 years of international professional experience in mental health and health promotion, Jessica is an ambassador and Patron for various organisations. In 2019 Jessica relocated from Australia to Dubai where she is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer for TOUCH, an international inclusive talent agency and disability inclusion consultancy, adding the United Arab Emirates to a vibrant career spanning Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

Her outstanding advocacy work has been widely recognised, with awards including the ‘Emerging Leader’ at the Ausralian Government Body Positive Image Awards, the Pride of Australia Medal, Cosmopolitan Magazine Woman of the Year, and in 2019, the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Jessica is also the mother of three young children, and it was her journey into motherhood that inspired her to write a series of children’s books about disability and acceptance. After growing up with limited resources on these topics, Jessica wanted to create characters that represent what kids see in every day life.

Her book series Just Jessica follows the journey of a young girl with one hand, where she learns that being ‘different’ is OK. The books are available in stores and online.

Talking Points

The Power of Body Image

Jessica has been speaking about Positive Body Image for years, her audiences span from young children right through to the corporate walls of businesses dominated by men. Her message is to teach us all that body image isn’t about vanity, beauty or perfection - it’s about how we think and feel about their own appearance, and therefore that encompasses - race, gender, religion, sexuality, disability and culture. As cliché as it might sound in today’s current climate, learning to harness your self esteem will enable you to master any and every goal that you set, whether that be personally or professionally.

Leadership without the ego

Being a good leader isn’t about how loud and proud you are - so leave your ego at the door and learn how to authentically communicate with the people around you before you dare try to lead them!

Hitting Rock Bottom, and how Powerful it can be

Jessica hit her rock bottom when she was forced into early retirement from her swimming career after struggling with eating disorders and depression for more than a decade. To the outside world it appeared that Jessica had everything going for her, she was a Paralympian, studying her Masters at University, a home owner - all by the age of 20. In less than two years, she was broke, living back with her parents, divorced - but more motivated that she had ever been.
Hitting rock bottom allowed Jessica to reassess what her goals were and where she needed to be in life. So many of us get overwhelmed with the hard stuff, we can’t possibly see how we will pick ourselves up. But once when you learn from others, and see that regaining your own self worth is possible, your power to reinvent your life is endless.

You can have it all - just not all at once

A balanced lifestyle doesn’t exist - at least not on any linear scale that society says it does. When we accept that we can have it all, but just not all at once, we allow ourselves to see clearer and achieve realistic goals

Maintaining a winning mindset

Even the most successful athletes have bad days. So how do you maintain a winning mindset even on the days you don’t win? And why is that so important?
Jessica is an inspirational young woman, changing peoples lives through her own experiences of adversity and hardship. My Aim For The Stars Foundation is proud to support Jessica's vision of a Revolution of change, creating a world of understanding, tolerance, compassion and hope. Layne Beachley - 7 x World Surfing Champion

I first heard her speak in Sydney in 2010 and Jessica presented one of the most engaging and compelling stories I have ever heard. And I have heard many! ... Jessica Smith is a truly inspirational Australian and she has an inspirational story to share with you.

Peter Overton - Chanel 9 reporter

Jessica is a polished and motivational speaker. Jessica draws from her own personal experiences to effectively paint a personal landscape that will give audiences insight to grow personal strength and bring about personal change. There is no one better to tell you about the journey than someone who is on that journey.

Ron McKeon - Olympian & Commonwealth Games Medallist

Jess is an incredible human. She has been through so much in her life and is hugely successful even after all the road blocks. She is very well spoken and opens up in a soft and warm manner & you're instantly drawn into her calming energy. Jess is not only a friend but an inspiring role model for women today.

Heidi Anderson - Radio Announcer - Hit 92.9FM (Heidi, Will & Woody)

The thing that stood out for me was not only your articulation but the generous way you linked in with the other panellists and the audience. This takes intelligence and experience. We look forward to having you speak at future events

Department of Sport and Recreation WA
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