Disability Reference Group

Sue Salthouse

In May 2017 the ACT Government appointed eight new members to its Disability Reference Group to provide high level advice on issues affecting Canberrans with a disability Ms Louise Bannister, Ms Mignonne Cullen, Ms Sharon Ding, Ms Alicia Flack-Kone, Mr Wayne Herbert, Mr Douglas Herd, Mr Justin Le Couteur and Ms Fiona May.

What is the ACT Disability Reference Group?

The ACT Government Disability Reference Group has replaced the ACT Disability Expert Panel.

The ACT Disability Reference Group helps the ACT Government to implement the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020.

There are six areas of work for the National Disability Strategy:

  • Inclusive and accessible communities
  • Rights protection, Justice and Legislation
  • Economic Security
  • Personal and community support
  • Learning and skills
  • Health and Wellbeing

About the Disability Reference Group

The Disability Reference Group meets six times a year, for two hours each time. Sometimes three to four Disability Reference Group members will meet in between the formal meetings.

The members appointed in May 2017 are:

Dougie Herd

Mr Douglas Herd (Community Co-Chair)

Mr Herd has previously held a senior position working with the National Disability Insurance Agency. He is passionate about promoting increased social and economic participation of people with disability within a rights-based framework.

Louise Bannister

Ms Louise Bannister

Ms Bannister has worked in the disability sector for almost 20 years, as a consumer representative on a wide range of Commonwealth and ACT committees. She has also worked for not-for-profit organisations including Belconnen Community Service, National Disability Services and Women With Disabilities ACT.

Mignonne Cullen

Ms Mignonne Cullen

As part of the Disability Reference Group Ms Cullen hopes to improve the policies that affect people with disability in relation to housing and employment. Ms Cullen has previously been on the board of a disabled peoples organisation and is committed to community engagement.

Ms Sharon Ding
Ms Ding has experience with promoting the inclusion of people with disability through her membership of several organisations including the Disability and Wellness Network, the Disability Education Reference Group, the Marymead Autism Advisory Group and the ACT Disability Working Group of the Parents and Citizens Council. She also brings lived experience as a person with disability and carer experience as a parent of a young child with disability.

Wayne Herbert

Mr Wayne Herbert

Mr Herbert has spent his career focusing on assisting people with disability into employment and training. He has previously worked within the Disability Employment Services Program, and the former Disability Employment Network.

Justin Le Couteur

Mr Justin Le Couteur

Mr Le Couteur has 40 years of knowledge accumulated in relation to the experience of people with disability. Mr Le Couteur believes a role on the Reference Group would enable him to motivate and show young people with disability that anything is possible.

Fiona May

Ms Fiona May

Ms May is the Chief Executive Officer of ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS) and has developed an in-depth knowledge of the ACT disability system as well as the NDIS. Ms May also brings carer experience, as the parent of a young adult with disability.

Alicia Flack-Kone

Ms Alicia Flack-Kone

Ms Flack-Kone is the President of the ACT Down Syndrome Association (ACT DSA), She has a comprehensive understanding of the disability sector, and the daily challenges of working relating to inclusive education and community attitudes to people with disability. Ms Flack-Kone has also worked as an early childhood teacher.

Stephen Fox

Mr Stephen Fox

Mr Fox is Manager of the ACT Division of National Disability Services - the industry peak body. Stephen had a long career in the APS particularly the federal Attorney General’s Department as a Principal Legal Officer. He worked extensively on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the National Disability Strategy and various law reforms particularly of the Disability Discrimination Act and Disability Standards.

Bernadette Mitcherson

Mrs Bernadette Mitcherson (Government Co-Chair)

Bernadette Mitcherson is the Acting Director-General of the ACT Government Community Services Directorate. She has previously worked in ACT Government Corrective Services, Justice and Community Safety Directorate as the Executive Director and has had a career spanning 20 years in NSW Government including a number of senior executive positions in Corrections NSW, the inaugural director of Women's Services and general manager of a number of NSW prisons as well as 10 years in NSW local government.

Bernadette is a trained social worker and began her career as a crisis counsellor and community development worker.  She attained a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours 1) at the University of New South Wales and a Master of Public Policy at the University of Sydney.