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Australian Paralympic legend and disability advocate Kurt Fearnley AO has been appointed Chairman of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

Mr Fearnley said, “Having people with disability in key positions on the board is essential if we are to live up to the principles of the Scheme’s formation 10 years ago.”

Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, said he “was thrilled Mr Fearnley accepted my offer to lead the NDIA Board. He will be the first person with a disability to Chair the Board, heralding a new era for the scheme.”

“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.”

The NDIA Board will also welcome new members, Dr Graeme Innes AM and Ms Maryanne Diamond AO, making a total of five people with disability on the NDIA Board, including current board members Leah van Poppel and Meredith Allan.

The Minister commented, “The new Board members each bring extensive experience in the corporate and public sectors and lived experience of disability.”

“More people with disability in leadership positions will pivot the Scheme and rebuild trust with the disability sector.”

Martin Heng, Chair of the IDEAS Board, has congratulated Kurt Fearnley AO, Dr Graeme Innes AM and Ms Maryanne Diamond AO upon their appointment to the Board of the National Disability Insurance Agency.

“Advocates have long rightly argued for greater representation of people with disability on the board, so we laud the Honourable Bill Shorten for following through on a commitment to make this happen, and particularly for appointing someone with lived experience at the very pinnacle of the organisation.”

He added, “But these are not just any people with a disability: each one is smart, passionate, empathetic, and possessing of deep experience of the Agency and how it has been operating since its inception.”

“This is a world-leading scheme with huge potential to benefit the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living with a disability. We hope that these appointments can help the Agency to achieve its full promise and potential.”

 A significant aside to this announcement is the appointment of a new NDIA Chief Executive, Ms Rebecca Falkingham PSM. 

Ms Falkingham has extensive experience leading departments and major projects in NSW and Victoria. She joins the NDIS after several years as the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety in Victoria.

Ms Falkingham will be the first permanent female Chief Executive of the NDIA.

NDIA Media Release: Kurt Fearnley to lead NDIA Board

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