Portrait of Jessica Smith OAM

Jessica Smith OAM

2022 Alumni Award for Social Impact

Bachelor of Science, 2007

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 during her UOW undergraduate studies.

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 for Layne Beachley’s Aim for the Stars Foundation and the Centre for Perinatal Excellence, a patron of Aussie Hands, and an ambassador and patient advocate for COVVI’s Nexus prosthetic hand. She moved to Dubai in 2020 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 Body Positive Image Awards ‘Emerging Leader’, Pride of Australia Medal, Cosmopolitan Magazine Woman of the Year, and in 2019, the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Chancellor, Jessica Smith is a powerful embodiment of what can be achieved through diversity, inclusion and a profound commitment to changing society for the better.

It is a great honour to present Jessica Smith OAM for the Alumni Award for Social Impact.