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 consultative network and the disability education reference group and the ACT disability working group of the parents and citizens council.

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.

Michael De’Ath

Mr Michael De’Ath (Government Co-Chair)

Mr De’Ath is the Director-General of the ACT Government Community Services Directorate. He has previously worked in Victoria as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services South Division and the Regional Director with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Prior to this, Mr De’Ath served as served as a school principal in a number of schools and went on to work in the New Zealand Ministry of Education National Office in Wellington where he managed the development and roll out of a series of inaugural nationwide school leadership capability building initiatives. He went on to hold the position of Regional Manager for the South Island, which encompassed about 670 schools and 1,000 early childhood centres and services.

The DRG are supported by a number of ex-officio members from ACT Government, including: Ms Ellen Dunne, Director, Office for Disability, Community Services Directorate; Ms Linda Kohlhagen, Executive Director, Rehabilitation, Aged and Community Care, Health Directorate; and Ms Melissa James, Chief of Staff to Minister Stephen-Smith.

The ACT Disability Reference Group Terms of Reference