Our people

Group photo

Group photo from 2018 AGM. Back row L>R: Christine Hunter, Felicity Crowther, Debbie Kennewell, John Simpson, Nick Rushworth. Front row L>R: Trevor Carroll, Liz Reid, and Frank Hall-Bentick (Retired Board member)

Our Board

AFDO is governed by a Board of Directors, and managed by the Chief Executive Officer.

Our Board of Directors are nominated by our Full member organisations. Under our Constitution, the Board can also appoint up to two individuals to the Board on the basis of their specialist expertise.

We currently have eleven Board members in total; nine who have a disability, one with lived experience of disability, and one Independent Director co-opted for his Governance and Leadership skills.

You can read more information on each of our Board members below.

Liz Reid AM – President (Chair)

Nominated by Physical Disability Australia

Liz Reid's photo

Liz has a physical disability, Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) and has had extensive surgery since birth to achieve improved positioning and increase the range of motion in her lower limbs/ joints for better mobility. In her mid-twenty’s Liz was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis and a chronic inflammatory disease requiring her to use a wheelchair to conserve energy to do the fun things in life!

Liz has over 30 years’ experience in the community, disability, and social justice sectors. She has dedicated her career to assisting others seek equitable economic and social opportunities to participate fully in their communities.

Currently, Liz is the Executive Officer of YouthWorX NT, a not for profit organisation committed to supporting Territorians in their lifelong social, economic and career success. She is responsible for the management of programs that include life and career coaching, and services that support employment.

Liz is the current President of Physical Disability Australia (PDA); the PDA representative on the AFDO Board; member of the City of Darwin Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee and a member of the National Disability Insurance Agency Independent Advisory Council.

She was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) Medal in 2020, for service to people with disability, youth and social inclusion.

Trevor Carroll - Vice President and International Coordinator

Nominated by Disability Justice  Australia

Trevor CarrollTrevor is passionate about protecting and enhancing the human rights of people with disabilities.

Trevor acquired an incomplete spinal cord injury in the mid 1990’s and has since acquired bi-lateral sensori-neural hearing loss and Meniere’s disease.

Trevor is the CEO at Disability Justice Australia (DJA) and he represents AFDO as an elected Director and Information Officer on the Board of Disabled Peoples International (DPI), as the Chair of the DPI Asia-Pacific Region, member of the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF), member of the Australian Electoral Commission Disability Advisory Committee; and on the Executive of the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC).

Trevor wears many other hats including:

  • Secretary and a founding member of the Friends of South Morang.
  • Director on the Board of Social Security Rights Victoria
  • Australia Day Ambassador
  • Trustee of an ASIC regulated superannuation fund
  • Co-chair of the Victoria Police Disability Portfolio Reference Group.
  • Volunteer mentor with the Australian Quadriplegics Association; and a
  • Regular member of the judging panel for the annual Victorian Disability Awards.
Janine Neu - Vice President

Nominated by People with Disabilities WA (PWdWA)

Janine Neu looking at camera smiling.Janine was 35 weeks pregnant when she experienced sudden onset of Acute Transverse Myelitis in 1996, rendering her quadriplegic. Following the birth of her son and 6 months of hospital rehabilitation, she returned home to her family to challenge the WA Government for essential funding to enable her family to stay together.  Following receipt of permanent funding, Janine could continue to lead her life in her community.

Janine has personally focused on health and physical rehabilitation since hospital discharge whilst navigating an opaque, complex and compartmentalized system of services for people with disabilities. Staying healthy and active has resulted in Janine continuing to achieve functional improvement.

She is passionate about maximising opportunities for people with disabilities as well as supporting individual and systemic advocacy. She is Vice Chairperson of People with Disabilities WA and is a committee member of ACROD and Companion Card External Appeals in WA.

 

Christine Hunter – Treasurer

Nominated by Deafness Forum of Australia

Image of Christine Hunter smiling at camera.

Christine is President of Hearing Matters Australia (HMA), a volunteer-based hearing support organisation for people with hearing loss, and she represents Deafness Forum on the AFDO Board. Christine has lived with hearing loss since early childhood but following intervention was able to train and work as a secondary school educator for 22 years, before retiring in 2012.

In her role as HMA President, Christine actively promotes the twin missions of Hearing Matters Australia & Deafness Forum through advocacy, advice and support to members and others who seek assistance to best manage hearing loss. Her advocacy activities have included representations to Australian federal & state government agencies and active participation on the Transport for NSW Accessible Transport Committee (ATAC). Her objective in these forums is to have hearing health recognised as a priority health issue and to promote equitable access for people with hearing loss. Her involvement is focused on drawing attention to the many hearing loss issues and barriers confronting those attempting to access services.

Christine also collaborates globally with hearing industry professionals, academics & consumer representatives with the aim of strengthening the quality of hearing care and promoting an international hearing care model focused on the needs of the individual.

 

Nick Rushworth – Director

Nominated by Brain Injury Australia

Nick Rushworth's photoNick has been Executive Officer of Brain Injury Australia since 2008. He was also President of the Brain Injury Association of New South Wales between 2004 and 2008.

In 1996, Nick sustained a severe traumatic brain injury as a result of a bicycle accident. Before joining Brain Injury Australia, Nick worked for the Northern Territory Government setting up their new Office of Disability.

Formerly a producer with the Nine Television Network’s “Sunday” program and ABC Radio National, Nick’s journalism has won a number of awards, including a Silver World Medal at the New York Festival, a National Press Club and TV Week Logie Award.

Debbie Kennewell - Director

Nominated by Deaf Australia

Debbie is an Auslan user and was nominated to the AFDO Board by Deaf Australia.

Debbie previously served on the boards of Deaf Australia and Deaf Community and Sports SA. She is currently studying for a Bachelor in Special Education (Early Childhood)/Disability Studies at Flinders University.

Debbie was born Deaf into a Deaf family which includes both parents being deaf. She primarily uses Auslan (Australian Sign Language), the language of the Deaf community in Australia.

Debbie currently represents AFDO on the Aviation Access Forum (AAF) and has worked on multiple national projects developing guidelines, resources, and training for stakeholders of the Deaf community. Debbie also has an interest in raising disability issues including the promotion of the Australian Deaf community.

Richard Dent – Director

Richard Dent's photoRichard is an Independent Director co-opted to the Board for his governance and leadership expertise.  Richard also has lived experience of disability.

Richard was appointed by the Board for his governance expertise. Richard is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and has been active in the disability field for more than 25 years. He contributed to the leadership of the NDIS campaign, and he has held CEO, Executive and Board member roles within UnitingCare, the E W Tipping Foundation, National Disability Services, and multiple other organisations.

Richard has been active in Australia’s civic life for more than two decades, most recently as Leadership Victoria’s Chief Executive Officer. He is a specialist international consultant in leadership, strategy and NFP governance and has advised governments and contributed to public policy through VCOSS and other peak bodies. Richard’s contributions have included making progress on economic wellbeing, fostering social fairness, maintaining a sustainable environment and upholding human rights, with a particular focus on rights of people with a disability.

Belinda O'Connor - Director

Nominated by Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT)

Belinda O'Connor smiling at the camera

Born with vision impairment, Belinda has forged a life of ongoing growth in personal self-advocacy as a person with disability and for people with disability.

For the past 17 years Belinda has worked in various portfolios across the Australian Government, currently in public policy. She is passionate about improving disability workforce participation and inclusive practices, including through universal design and assistive technology. During this time, Belinda has been actively involved in disability networks.

In 2017 Belinda founded Bioptic Drivers Australia and is working with a multi-disciplinary team to formalise bioptic driving in Australia. Belinda is a Director of Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT), and has a growing interest in the intersectional challenges facing women with disability. She is keen to work with other strong women to advance human rights and inclusion for women with disability.

Mary Henley-Collopy - Director

Nominated by Disability Resources Centre

Mary Henley-Collopy smiling at camera

Mary has a Bachelor of Social Work; Bereavement Counselling qualifications; Certificate in Critical Incidents and Stress Management and, a Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment and Training. Mary has over 30 years experience working as a Social Worker in both the public and private sectors.

Mary was born with a permanent disability stemming from Thalidomide damage – resulting in four limb foreshortening. She is currently the Chairperson of Disability Resources Centre in Victoria. Mary joined the Board of AFDO in late 2019.

John Simpson AM - Director

Nominated by Blind Citizens Australia

John Simpson's photo

On Australia Day 2020 John was honoured with the Award of Member (AM) in the Order of Australia “for significant service to people who are blind or have low vision”.

John’s career has included appointments as Executive Officer with Blind Citizens Australia and later RPH Australia; National Program Manager for the Lions Eye Health Program; and five years as National Manager within Vision Australia’s Accessible Information Solutions Division where he managed the Audio Description Service, Vision Australia Radio and the Division’s broader operations at various times.

Alongside these appointments and his ongoing Directorship with Information Alternatives, John has undertaken many research and project management assignments to address the information needs of people with a print disability.

John is currently the:

  • President, Blind Citizens Australia
  • Chair, Independence and Participation Policy Committee, Vision 2020 Australia
  • Director Information Alternatives

 

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