The National People with Disabilities and Carer Council provides advice to government on issues affecting people with disability, their families and carers in Australia.
- Dr Ken Baker
- Mr Cain Beckett
- Ms Julie Bisinella
- Mr Alan Blackwood
- Ms Suzanne Colbert
- Ms Priya Cooper OAM
- Mr Maurice Corcoran AM
- Mr Paddy Crumlin
- Ms Kirsten Deane (Co-Chair)
- Ms Maryanne Diamond
- Ms Belinda Epstein-Frisch AM
- Ms Silvana Gant
- Mr Damian Griffis
- Ms Lesley Hall
- Dr Lorna Hallahan
- Ms Wendy Harmer
- Ms Samantha Jenkinson (Co-Chair)
- Ms Karen Lloyd AM
- Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO
- Ms Sally McManus
- Ms Janet Meagher AM
- Mr Tim Moore
- Dr Bronwyn Morkham
- Ms Milly Parker
- Ms Gayle Rankine
- Ms Margaret Reynolds
- Ms Kelly Shay
- Dr George Taleporos
- Ms Pam Webster
Council member biographies
Ken Baker is the Chief Executive of National Disability Services (NDS), the peak association for non-government disability service organisations. In that role he provides information, representation and policy advice.
Ken has worked in social policy and public affairs for more than 25 years. Based in Canberra, he is currently a member of the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council, the Not-for-Profit Sector Reform Council, several committees advising on disability employment and the National Disability Insurance Scheme Advisory Group.
With a membership of 700 non-government organisations, NDS promotes and improves services which support people with disability to participate in all domains of life.
Cain Beckett is a father of two and Business Unit Manager within the Corporate Trust division of Perpetual. He is Chair of the Disability Council of NSW, representing the Council at joint meetings of national Disability Advisory Body representatives on the implementation of the National Disability Strategy, and is a Non-Executive director of Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
Mr Beckett was formerly an excellent archer, ranking in the top 50 Paralympic archers worldwide.
Julie Bisinella is the mother of two children with autism and lives in Melbourne. She works at ANZ where her current position is Head of Culture, Diversity and Engagement. Prior to this role she was Head of Corporate Responsibility for six years. She is also a member of ANZ’s Diversity Council and Disability Action Plan Steering Committee.
Julie is a fellow of the 2007 Williamson Community Leadership program, a board member of the Principles for Social Investment and a former board member of Gateways Support Services, provider of services for people with disabilities and their carers in Geelong and surrounding region.
Alan Blackwood has spent over 20 years working in advocacy and policy development across the health, disability, community and government sectors. He currently is undertaking policy roles for the Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance and Children with Disability Australia.
Prior to this Alan managed the public policy program at Multiple Sclerosis Australia. He as also worked as an advocate and Executive Officer at Headway Victoria, and spent five years as a Senior Long-term Care Policy Adviser at the Transport Accident Commission in Victoria. He has held various board positions in State and National disability organisations, and was chair of the Victorian Neurotrauma's Research Evaluation Committee. He has family experience of disability and is a strong supporter of consumer and family participation in research, policy and service delivery.
Suzanne Colbert is founding Chief Executive of the Australian Network on Disability (AND). AND is funded and led by its more than 120 private and public sector organisations for the purpose of assisting them to build their disability confidence and to welcome people with disability as employees, customers and stakeholders.
After studying as a mature age student Suzanne’s career in the disability sector commenced in 1990 when she assisted people with significant disability into well paid and sustainable jobs.Suzanne went on to be founding General Manager of a high performing Disability Employment Service as well as a founder and inaugural Chair of the peak body representing open employment services for people with disability. In 2010 Suzanne was awarded an AM in the Australia Day Honours list.
Priya Cooper OAM was born with cerebral palsy and began swimming at a young age for therapy. In 1991 Priya was selected to represent Wheelchair Sports WA at the 1991 National Wheelchair Games, winning nine gold medals. Priya now has an outstanding record as an elite athlete winning nine gold medals during the 1992 Barcelona, 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Paralympics.
Priya lives in Perth, Western Australia and is very interested in recreation and sporting opportunities for people with disabilities. In 1993, Priya was honoured with an Order of Australia medal for her service to sport, and became an Australia Day Ambassador. She is the mother of two young children.
Maurice Corcoran AM is the head of the South Australian Community Visitor Scheme, an independent statutory scheme which conducts visits and inspections to mental health treatment centres and disability accommodation facilities in South Australia.
In June 2006, Maurice was made a Member of the Order of Australia (A.M.) for Service to people with disabilities, as a contributor to the development of national standards for public transport and representation at the United Nations.
In December 2002, Mr Corcoran received a national award from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission for his work on developing the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport and in 2001 he received a Centenary Medal for ‘powerful advocacy at a national level for people with a disability’.
Padraig (Paddy) Crumlin is the President of the International Transport Workers Federation and National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia and has worked extensively with and had close involvement in catastrophic physical injuries of an industrial nature, both in Australia and internationally. He has also close personal experience of working with family members with severe disability.
Paddy has represented international seafarers at the International Labor Organisation on maritime conventions for more than 15 years in a senior capacity.
Kirsten Deane (Co-Chair) has been a member of the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council since it was established in 2008 and appointed Deputy-Chair in 2009. Ms Deane is also a member of the NDIS Expert Advisory Group on National Approach to Choice and Control.
Until recently she was also the Executive Director of the National Disability and Carer Alliance and the Deputy Campaign Director of the Every Australian Counts campaign for the NDIS. She is a long-term board member of both Down Syndrome Victoria and Down Syndrome Australia. A former journalist turned academic, Ms Deane has three children and as a result spends a lot of time running and not much time sleeping.
Maryanne Diamond has been blind all her life. She has four children, one of whom is vision impaired. She was employed in the information technology industry for many years before moving into the community sector. She spent four years as the Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia, the representative organisation for people who are blind.
Maryanne was also the inaugural CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations, the peak organisation of state/territory and national organisations of people with disability. She held this position for three years. In May 2007, she commenced a role with Vision Australia and works as General Manager International and Stakeholder Relations.
Maryanne is a board member of ACOSS, the Australian Pacific Islands Disability Support and a member of the governing body of the International Disability Alliance. In Geneva, August 2008, Maryanne was elected President of the World Blind Union which is the global organisation representing the 285 million people who are blind or have low vision.
Belinda holds a Masters degree in Social Work and has been pivotal in seeking changes to the delivery of services to enable people with disability and their families to have control over their share of resources.
Belinda undertakes the systems advocacy work for Family Advocacy speaking out with, and on behalf of children and adults with disability, particularly those with high support needs. Most recently Belinda led the campaign for a Supported Living Fund that received bipartisan support and is part of Stronger Together 2. As a result, families not in crisis will be able to draw on the supported living fund so that their family member with disability can have a home of his/her own with a combination of paid and unpaid / informal support Belinda has been a member of Government Advisory Committees at State and Federal level on issues of education, support for children and adults with disability and housing. This includes the Ministerial Advisory Group on Person Centred Approaches, the ADHC Expert Advisory Group on Children and Young People with Disability and their Families, the ADHC Expert Advisory Group on Individualised Support, the Supported Living Fund Working Group, the Disability Discrimination Act Standards Working Party of the Ministerial Council on Employment, Education and Training, the NSW State Integration Reference Group, the Special Education Advisory Committee and the Low Support Needs Advisory Committee and the State-Wide Reference Group of Families First.
Belinda is an active member of In Control Australia, led the NSW Disability Safeguards Coalition for 10 years and was the Deputy Chair of the National Disability and Carer Ministerial Advisory Council.
In the Jewish community, Belinda chairs a project developing circles of support around people with disability, is the past president of Access Ezer and past Director of JewishCare, having chaired its Disability Services Committee for many years.
Silvana Gant is from a non-English speaking background and has lived experience of intellectual disability. She has over two decades of disability advocacy experience, being a founding member of Independent Advocacy SA and the current Chair. Silvana has a very broad knowledge of disability and individual and self-advocacy and is committed to the grass-roots People First & disability advocacy movements.
Silvana has qualifications in training and assessment, has worked as a consultant to advocacy organisations and is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Social Science degree. She is also a member of the Ministers Disability Advisory Council in SA.
Damian Griffis is a leading advocate for the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. In 2004/05 Damian undertook a major consultative project visiting Aboriginal communities across New South Wales discussing the unmet needs of Aboriginal people with disability directly with Aboriginal people with disability and their carers. This culminated in the ground breaking report entitled Telling It Like It Is. Damian is currently the Executive Officer of the First Peoples Disability Network (Australia) the new national peak organisation representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities.
Lesley Hall has worked in disability advocacy organisations since 1980 including Disability Resources Centre and Action for Community Living. In 1986 she was engaged as a consultant with the United Nations in Bangkok to develop a resource manual on training and funding opportunities for people with disability as well as develop project proposals. She also has an extensive background in the arts having worked with Melbourne Workers Theatre, Opa Theatre Productions, the Little Big Tops and as an Arts and Cultural Development Officer with the City of Darebin. She is presently employed as CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations. Present membership of committees include the National Disability and Carers Alliance, Chair of Arts Access Victoria and Board member of Arts Access Australia. From 2007 to 2010 she was a member of the Victoria Disability Advisory Council.
Lorna Hallahan has specific expertise in disability systems reform, the ethical consideration of disability services and safeguarding people with disability from abuse or harm. Dr Hallahan is currently Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Flinders University, and has advised governments in a variety of forums including the Pension Review, the SA Social Inclusion Board and as Chair of the Minister's Disability Advisory Council in South Australia. She has lived with a mobility impairment for over 35 years.
Wendy Harmer is one of Australia’s best-known humorists. As a stand-up comedian she performed her one-woman shows at the Melbourne, Edinburgh, Montreal and Glasgow Mayfest Comedy Festivals, in London’s West End and the Sydney Theatre Company. Wendy enjoyed huge popularity leading Sydney radio station 2Day FM’s top-rating Breakfast Show for 11 years and winning 84 of the 88 ratings surveys for that period. She has hosted, written and appeared in a variety of TV shows including ABC’s “The Big Gig”.
A former political journalist, Wendy is the author of seven books for adults including her best selling novel Farewell my Ovaries, Love and Punishment, Nagging for Beginners, a how-to guide for women and Roadside Sisters.
Wendy and her husband Brendan have two young children and live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Samantha Jenkinson (Co-Chair) is a disability advocate who has worked and advocated in areas as diverse as employment, housing and support, service coordination, individualised funding and person-centred planning.
Ms Jenkinson brings with her experience as a trained social worker and a person with disability and was also the recipient of the Minister’s Award for Excellence in Disability Reform in 2013.
Ms Jenkinson was a previous chair of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations and is currently a local government councillor for the city of Stirling in Western Australia. She is also Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability in Western Australia, and is on the Board of the Disability Services Commission Western Australia.
Karen Lloyd AM qualified as a librarian and worked in libraries for 12 years before moving into community information and advocacy services. Karen has been the Executive Officer for Deaf Australia Inc since 2001 and before that had 15 years of voluntary service with various deaf community organisations. In January 2006, Karen was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for services to deaf and hard of hearing people. Karen has been profoundly deaf since the age of eight, and learned Auslan as an adult.
Emeritus Professor Ron McCallum AO was the foundation Blake Dawson Waldron Professor in Industrial Law in the Faculty of Law of the University of Sydney. He took up this position in January 1993 and retired from it on 30 September 2007. Ron is the first totally blind person to have been appointed to a full professorship in any field at any university in Australia or New Zealand. He served as Dean of the University of Sydney Law School from 2002 to 2007. Ron is now a Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Law of the University of Sydney.
Emeritus Professor McCallum is an inaugural member and a Vice-Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The primary function of this Committee is to monitor the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
In 2002 Ron was awarded a Centenary Medal for his role as a labour law scholar and for his role as a disabled citizen in our nation. In the 2006 Queen’s Birthday honours list, Ron received the designation of Officer in the Order of Australia for his services to tertiary education, for industrial relations advice to governments, for assistance to visually impaired persons and for social justice. In January 2011, the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard, designated Professor McCallum as Senior Australian for the Year 2011.
Ron is married to Professor Mary Crock and they have one daughter and two sons.
The ASU is the Union for workers in the non-government community sector;
Sally’s Union is the largest Union for workers in the Disability Sector with 6,000 workers employed as Residential Disability Support Workers, Day Activity Workers and within Disability Advocacy Services.
Sally is a Vice President on Unions NSW, a member the ASU’s National Executive and has been a representative on the ACTU Executive.
Janet Meagher AM is one of the earliest mental health consumer activists in Australia, speaking out and advocating for more than three decades across both the health and disability sectors. Janet was a long-term patient in the oldest psychiatric institution in Australia prior to the deinstitutionalisation policies of the late seventies, and decided to speak out and attempt to bring about changes regarding the conditions of those institutionalised, and of ‘care’ and ‘treatment’ in this sector. Janet has a passionate interest in human rights, and social inclusion for people living with all disabilities, and especially those experiencing psychosocial disability. She is committed to universal, responsible and ethical involvement of consumers in all matters that impact on their rights or affect their lives and wellbeing.
Janet was appointed a member of the Order of Australia for her work as an advocate on behalf of people with mental illnesses and psychosocial disabilities. She is, and has been, on many state, national and international, advisory, working and planning groups and boards at both the non-governmental and governmental levels. Janet was secretary of the World Federation of Mental Health for almost a decade; was inaugural Consumer Co-chair of the National Mental Health Consumer Carer Forum 2002-2005; and currently is appointed to Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, Mental Health Expert Working Group as well as the National People with Disabilities and Carer Advisory Council. She is employed by PRA as Divisional Manager Inclusion in Sydney.
Tim Moore is President of Carers Australia, the peak body for carers in Australia. For over 15 years Tim has worked with carers and their families, particularly in the area of mental health and alcohol and other drug issues, and has taken on caring responsibilities within his own family. He is a Research Scholar and sessional lecturer with the Institute of Child Protection Studies at the Australian Catholic University, and his research interests include young caring, parental mental health, homelessness, youth work and education. He sits on a number of territory and national bodies including the National Disability and Carers Alliance.
Bronwyn Morkham has been the National Director of the Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance since its inception nine years ago. As well as overseeing the Alliance's efforts to raise public awareness of the issue and the urgent need for action, Bronwyn has worked to make the young people in nursing homes an issue that politicians and administrators can no longer ignore.
Through the National Alliance, Bronwyn has worked with state and federal governments on the implementation of the Council of Australian Government's five year national Younger People In Residential Aged Care initiative focussing on the delivery of alternative support and accommodation options for young people living in nursing homes or at risk of placement there.
Bronwyn also oversees the Alliance’s strategic focus on systemic and policy reform, chief amongst which is collaboration and partnership between the health, aged care and disability arms of the service system; and the development of the life time support pathways that young people with complex support needs and their families want.
Milly Parker has been surrounded by people with disabilities from the age of seven. Both her parents’ work involved people with disabilities and psychiatric conditions. Milly was always encouraged to volunteer in both parents’ work and did so on and off over much of her life.
Ironically, at the age of 21, Milly was involved in a car accident that changed her life forever. Diagnosed with an acquired disability in the form of a brain injury, she spent the next year in rehabilitation and five gruelling years in the Victorian Transport Accident Commission system as a claimant.
Surrounding herself with an amazing support network, together they have created an environment where Milly’s strengths are maximised. She has created a home-based business called Happy Yappers which produces hand made dog treats. Milly now exports her beloved dog biscuits internationally, with Harrods in London being one of her clients.
Milly was an independent advisor to the Transport Accident Commission on its Disability Advisory Committee for three years and had input into the legislative changes of the Transport Accident Act. She has been a member of the Committee of Management at Headway Victoria, a brain injury advocacy organisation, a member of the Department of Human Services’ Individualised Planning and Support Committee, and a member of the Disability Advisory Council of Victoria.
Gayle Rankine is Chairperson of the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN), Australia's first national peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Gayle has been involved with FPDN (formerly known as the National Indigenous Disability Network 'NIDN') since 2006 as the South Australian representative. Through her role with FPDN, Gayle is also involved with organisations such as Australian Federation of Disability Organisation (AFDO), Motivation International (Australia) and the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples.
Gayle is a Ngarrindjeri woman born in Raukkan (formally Point McLeay Mission) on Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. She describes herself as a community grassroots person with passion to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability to bring about positive change and culturally appropriate service delivery. Gayle has extensive knowledge of the needs of people with disability across urban, rural and remote communities.
Gayle has a lived experience as a person with a physical disability and as a carer of relatives with physical and neurological disabilities, including autism.
Margaret Reynolds has worked in local, state and federal government focusing on social policy and advocacy of human rights and also has a background in education and public policy. Margaret served as a Queensland Senator in the period 1983 to 1996 and was Minister for Local Government and Status of Women from 1987 to 1990. She has represented Australia at United Nations forums and worked with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNEFM) in gender policy development and training. She is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania and Chair of the Australian Centre of Excellence in Local Government.
Margaret has been State Manager of National Disability Services in Tasmania since 2004.
Kelly Shay is the Assistant Secretary of United Voice, formerly known as the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU) WA Branch. United Voice is Western Australia’s largest union with a largely female membership in areas such as disability direct care workers, child care educators, property services (cleaning, security and maintenance), hospital workers, aged carers, hospitality workers and education assistants. Kelly is responsible for all components of United Voice's involvement in the aged care, disability and childcare industries as well as training and development.
Kelly has been very active in the non-government disability sector organising direct care workers for better wages and conditions and ensuring the paid workforce have a strong voice at both a state and federal level. United Voice has made numerous submissions and presentations on workforce issues to the productivity commission and State and Federal Budgets.
Prior to United Voice, Kelly worked as a Lead Organiser for Australian Council of Trade Unions, organised workers throughout North America as an International Lead Organiser for UNITE (Union of Needle trades, Industrial and Textile Employees) based in Toronto and as an Agency Organiser for Community & Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association.
Kelly has been a Trustee Director on the Board of HESTA since September 2009. Most recently Kelly has been appointed as the Union’s WA representative on the Welfare Rights and Advocacy Service (WA) Management Committee.
Dr George Taleporos is the manager of the Youth Disability Advocacy Service. He has been involved in setting up new services, as well as advocating on systemic issues around community living and attendant support for people with disability.
He has also been involved in delivering disability awareness training to local government as well as disability service providers. Dr George Taleporos completed a PhD in psychology in 2002, researching body image and sexuality issues and how they are affected by physical disability.
Pam Webster was a Board member of Carers Australia for four years and President from 2007 to 2009, and a Board member of Carers NSW for nine years. She is currently a Board member of a not-for-profit progressive pre and primary school that she founded in 1972.
She has had considerable experience as a carer for her sister, her daughter, her aunt and uncle and her mother and is currently caring for her 100 year old neighbour. She represented Carers Australia on the National Arthritis and other Musculoskeletal Conditions Advisory Group and on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National Centre for Monitoring Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Conditions.
In 2008 she co-founded and is a Patron of the National Disability and Carer Alliance. She currently sits on the steering committee for the Every Australian Counts campaign. Before retiring, Pam worked in a variety of education, health, disability and service provision areas for more than 30 years in teaching, research, evaluation, policy development and management roles.