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. Any vacancies will be advertised on the Diversity Register
The current members are:
Mr Ben Zarew
Mr Zarew has experience in promoting the inclusion of people with disability through his participation on various boards and panels. Mr Zarew has provided advice and direction to policy development and consulted on language and communication adjustments. Mr Zarew brings his expertise as a person with disability, and his understanding of inclusion and accessibility, to the work of the Disability Reference Group.
Mx C Moore
Mx Moore is a young person with disability who has extensive experience in intersectional inclusion for LGBTQIA+ people with disability. They have experience with community consultation, policy writing and advocacy, particularly in the disability advocacy sector and until recently as CEO of Women With Disabilities ACT.
Ms Deborah Eades
Ms Eades is a Koori woman from southern NSW, and a carer with extensive professional and personal experience in understanding inclusion support initiatives and services, particularly for children, teenagers and adults with disability. She has learned to overcome challenges and navigate the disability space to meet her son’s needs. She has three children - two are at university and Sam is the youngest and at Woden School.
Mr Douglas Herd (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.
Ms Erika Lyons
Ms Lyons is both a person with disability and a carer of a person with disability with experience in advocating for the rights and inclusion of people with disability, especially in education and health settings. Ms Lyons brings a strong commitment to inclusive and accessible recruitment practices and employment accessibility.
Mr Jackson Sievers
Mr Sievers is a young man who sustained a spinal cord injury in his early 20s. He has experience working as a disability support worker and hopes to contribute the discoveries of both experiences to the DRG. He brings a youthful perspective towards the accessibility and inclusion challenges faced by people with a range of disabilities.
Jo Wood was appointed Director General, ACT Community Services Directorate in March 2020. The directorate is responsible for a very broad range of government services including public housing, youth justice, child protection, family services, family safety, community recovery, multicultural affairs, women’s policy, veterans and seniors and disability policy.
Jo has shown across her career a real strength in building relationships and partnerships in sensitive policy and service delivery environments with all levels of governments, the private sector, service providers, the academic sector and communities.
Ms Kerry Snell
As a woman who has lived and worked with legal blindness, Ms Snell is a passionate advocate for people with disability. She managed a consumer representative program for nine years and has served as an active member of many high-level ACT health committees and community boards. Ms Snell is passionate about achieving equitable access to mainstream services for people with disability.
Mr Michael Bleasdale
Michael is the CEO of the ACT Disability, Aged and Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS), a position he took up in September 2018. Prior to this he worked as the CEO and then Managing Director of Home Modifications Australia, after holding the position of Executive Director for both the Attendant Care Industry Association (2012-2013) and People with Disability Australia (PWDA) (2008 – 2012). Michael worked for 16 years as a direct support provider and manager to people with disability, before focusing on research, training and education and eventually peak and advocacy work. He was Principal Researcher with the Disability Studies and Research Institute in 2005-2005, and did course coordination in disability-related subjects at the Australian Catholic University and Charles Sturt University. Whilst at PWDA he directed the Complaints Resolution and Referral Service and the National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline under contract to the Australian Government.
Ms Patrice Soward
Ms Soward is a very proud Wiradjuri woman who was born and raised on Ngunnawal country. Ms Soward has experience as a carer for family members with disability and understands the importance of dignity, equality and rights. Ms Soward’s experience as a business analyst leads her to ask the hard questions and think outside the box.
Ms Renee Heaton
Ms Heaton is a person with a disability and an active member of the Canberra community. Ms Heaton has a strong sense of social justice and has volunteered for a variety of events and organisations over the years, most recently serving on the Steering Committee for the ACT Workforce Impact Collective. Ms Heaton is particularly passionate about dignified access and increasing employment outcomes for people with disability.