Commonwealth Games gold medallist Fearnley to Chair NDIA Board


Australian Sport Hall of Fame member Kurt Fearnley AO will become the first person with a disability to Chair the Board, signifying a new era for the program.


The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and disability advocate Kurt Fearnley AO has been appointed Chairman of the Board of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

The Australian Sport Hall of Fame m will become the first person with a disability to Chair the NDIA Board, signifying a new era for the program.

The NDIA Board will also welcome new members Dr Graeme Innes AM and Ms Maryanne Diamond AO.

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.

Dr Denis Napthine AO, formerly Chair, will return as a Board Member.

At the announcement, Fearnley said it was important the agency’s participants could see themselves in the leadership.

“Trust in the organisation itself is a visceral thing — the scheme cannot be a success without trust, and that is built over a period of time,” Fearnley said.

“The single greatest role that I’ve ever even considered is the one that is right here today.

“We need the NDIA to be a success for the country to be what we believe it is.”

Fearnley, who was the Closing Ceremony flagbearer for the Australian Team at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, said he was ready for the enormous responsibility that comes with his new leadership position.



“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 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.”

Federal Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten was delighted that Fearnley accepted his offer to lead the NDIA Board.

“Mr Fearnley is a trusted disability advocate and I rely on his knowledge and experience like the sector does.

“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 new Board members each bring extensive experience in the corporate and public sectors as well as lived experience of disability.

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

“The work ahead is significant, and I look forward to working together to create the best NDIS we can have and ensure positive outcomes for participants.”

The Federal government also named experienced bureaucrat Rebecca Falkingham as the new chief executive of the agency.

“Rebecca will bring a wealth of experience to the role and she will be the first permanent female Chief Executive in the NDIA’s history,” Mr Shorten said.

She joins the NDIS after spending several years as the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety in Victoria.

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

“I am thrilled to be put at the helm of such an important national organisation, and I will work every day for the betterment of the Scheme and to rebuild trust among Australians with disability.” Falkingham said.



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