First person with lived experience of disability to lead NDIA

26 Oct 2022


First person with lived experience of disability to lead NDIA

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

Kurt is the first person with lived experience of disability to lead the NDIA, which is the agency that manages the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Former disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes and long-time advocate Maryanne Diamond - who are both blind – will also join the board for the first time.

There are now five people with disability on the NDIA Board, including current board members Leah van Poppel and Meredith Allan, the largest number in its history.

Kurt has represented Australia for the past 18 years, winning three Paralympic Gold medals and competing in more than 40 world marathons, as well as completing the Kokoda Track in 2009 and sailing in the 2012 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race with the winning crew.

“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,” Kurt 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.”

Pathways to Care’s Executive Director, Ros Winzar said Kurt’s appointment was a positive step forward for people with a disability.

“Kurt has a long history of speaking up for people with a disability and challenging perceptions of disability,” Ros said.

Federal Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten said Kurt is a trusted disability advocate.

“Having more people with disability in leadership positions will pivot the scheme and rebuild trust with the disability sector,” Minister Shorten said.

In addition to the board new appointments, the NDIA also has a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with Rebecca Falkingham accepting the role. Rebecca is the first permanent female CEO in the NDIA's history.

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