Karni Liddell

Keynote Speaker

Karni Liddell is one of Australia’s most successful, well respected and highly awarded Paralympic swimmers of our time.

A former World Record holder, Karni represented Australia at the Atlanta Paralympic Games in 1996 and captained the Number1 team at the Sydney 2000 Games, returning from both Games with medals. Karni was appointed Ambassador for the Australian Paralympic team and commentator for the Athens Games.

One of few TED speakers to receive a standing ovation and described by AMP as“one of the top ten speakers”, Karni instantly captivates audiences with moving stories from her journey to success. Along the way, she challenges listeners to let go of excuses in order to pursue success. Karni effortlessly relates her story to the highs and lows of business and life in a way that is relevant to audiences at every level.

Karni Liddell was diagnosed with spinal muscularatrophy at 12months. Her parents were told, by numerous specialists, that their first-born child would not walk or crawl and that she was unlikely to reach her teenage years.

Swimming became more than just a therapy, it became a passion–and the reason why Karni, her parents and even

the specialists believe she is alive, walking, active and healthy. Not only did Karni walk, she established herself as one of the best swimmers in the world. She broke her first world record at 14 and went into the Sydney Paralympic Games as the fastest woman in the world for all her events. She was also responsible for helping Westpac Bank raise $1million to send the full team to the Athens Paralympic Games.

Based in Brisbane


Karni is the current Diversity and Inclusion Manager for the Queensland Public Service Commission.

Karni has been showcased in Inside Sport, modelled for Black and White, New Idea and several other magazines. She has presented on 4BC radio; worked as a commentator at the Athens Paralympic Games, at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and at the World Swimming Championships; and presented for Channel 7 and Network Nine. Karni is a presenter on Channel 7’s Great Day Out.

Karni has raised over $1million throughout her career for the various disability charities she supports. Karni is currently the Engagement Manager for Disability Connect QLD where her role is to increase employment of People with a disability across the Public sector and the community. She was the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) QLD Ambassador, a member of the Qld Premier’s Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council, and the Patron of the International Day of People with a Disability, an Ambassador for Kids Help Line, Muscular Dystrophy QLD and Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association.

Karni was awarded the Pride of Australia medal, she won the Qld Teacher and Trainer of the year (2015) and was awarded the Alumni of the Year award for the faculty of health at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Karni holds a Clinical Masters in Social Work (QUT) and a double Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Bond University.

Keynote topics

  • Tough times, sporting success, health obstacles, family support and perseverance.
  • How we cannot control what life throws at us, we can only control how we handle what is thrown.
  • Goal setting and how to handle adversity.
  • Diversity
  • Inclusion


Capricorn Tourism & Economic Development

The best speaker I have ever experienced’ was a sentiment echoed by high profile business executives and politicians at our event. Karni Liddell’s message to our business community proved inspirational to our audience on corporate, personal and family levels.


When we invited Karni Liddell to join us as a guest motivational speaker at our annual conference for our top-performing employees, we did not anticipate the extent to which she would capture the hearts and minds of our people. When Karni later joined us on a leadership development roadshow across Australia, there were few who not left absolutely inspired by her journey.