Fuck Yeah: The NDIA Now Has Five People With Disabilities On Its Board, Making History

bill shorten NDIA board disability

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Bill Shorten has announced a swathe of new appointments for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), assembling a total of five disabled people to be on the official board. This is the highest number of disabled people on the board that the NDIA has seen yet.

Shorten announced on Monday that the new chair of the NDIA will be Paralympian and king Kurt Fearnley. He will be replacing Denis Napthine who was appointed in April and then stepped down in July after widely being criticised for his appointment to the role. Shorten even called it a “disgrace” at the time.

Alongside Fearnley will be two new NDIA directors in Graeme Innes and Maryanne Diamond, who are both blind. There will also be a new Chief Executive Officer in Rebecca Falkingham (who is also the first permanent female CEO in the NDIA’s history).

So yeah, a big and beautiful day for disability representation.

“Mr Fearnley is a trusted disability advocate and I rely on his knowledge and experience like the sector does,” Shorten told The Australian.

“He holds a deep understanding of the NDIS and a history with the scheme. He was a serving member of the NDIS’ Independent Advisory Council during the trial phase of NDIS from 2013 to 2015 and the insight he will bring is invaluable.”

“I am excited to get to know the role of the organisation and the people who work to empower people with disability to live a good life,” Fearnley told The Australian.

“There are now five people with disability on the NDIA board, the largest representation in the scheme’s nine-year history.”

This is a welcome change to the NDIA board, as it means people with real lived experience with a disability will be at the forefront of a scheme for disabled people. You’d think it would have started off that way, hey?

“Finally people in these positions who actually know what it’s like for those with disabilities and can advocate appropriately,” read one comment on Shorten’s post.

“I appreciate all of the hard work you and others do every day to ensure people living with disability are able to have a choice and are empowered to live a life that not so long ago was impossible,” read another.

It’s bloody good to start the week off with some lovely news. What a step in the right direction.