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 – Chair

Nominated by Physical Disability Australia

Liz Reid's photoLiz Reid is an experienced professional with over 25 years’ experience in the community, disability and social justice sectors. Her career has been dedicated to assisting others to seek equitable opportunities to participate fully in their communities. Liz has a passion for seeking demonstrated economic and social outcomes.

Liz is the Executive Officer of YouthWorX NT; a not for profit organisation committed to partnering with Territorians in supporting their lifelong social, economic and career success. Liz is responsible for the management of diverse programs including life and career coaching, and the delivery of services to support sustainable employment for young Territorians. Liz administers the overall operation, strategic development and corporate health of the organisation.

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

Trevor Carroll - Deputy Chair

Nominated by Disability Justice  Advocacy

Trevor CarrollTrevor Carroll is passionate about protecting and enhancing the human rights of people with disabilities. As CEO at Disability Justice Australia (DJA) he leads a team of 14 staff funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide advocacy to people with disabilities in 28 LGA’s in Metropolitan Melbourne and NDIS Appeals support to Participants in the North East Melbourne Area (NEMA).

Trevor is a trained musician and former Secondary College Principal. He has a Master of Education degree and completed a thesis focussing on intellectual disability and music education. 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.

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, the Pacific Disability Forum and as a member of the Australian Electoral Commission Disability Advisory Committee..

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.
  • Member of the Whittlesea Disability Network;
  • Volunteer mentor with the Australian Quadriplegics Association.
Janine Neu - Deputy Chair

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 never being admitted to hospital since her discharge from the Spinal Unit in 1997 as well as continuing to achieve functional improvement.

She is passionate about maximising opportunities for people with disabilities as well as supporting individual and systemic advocacy. She serves as Treasurer 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 Hunter is President of Hearing Matters Australia Inc (formerly SHHH Australia Inc), a volunteer based hearing support organisation for people with hearing loss. Although Christine has lived with hearing loss since early childhood, she worked as a secondary school teacher for 22 years, including as a Faculty Head for seven years, retiring in 2012.

In her role as President, Christine actively promotes the twin missions of Hearing Matters Australia through its advocacy, advisory and supporting roles to its members, consumers and others who seek assistance to best manage hearing loss. Her advocacy activities have included representations to Australian federal government bodies and the Transport for NSW Accessible Transport Committee (ATAC), with the objective of having hearing health recognised as a priority health issue.

In 2019 Christine has been involved in Community of Practice consultations with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), focusing on identifying the many hearing loss issues & barriers confronting those attempting to access the NDIS. She has also collaborated with hearing industry professionals & consumer representatives at the inaugural Person-Centered Cross-organisational Network seminar at the Ida Institute in Denmark, aimed at strengthening the quality of hearing care and promoting a global hearing care model focused on the needs of the individual.

Christine represents Deafness Forum on the AFDO Board and looks forward to actively contributing to AFDO’s mission.


Nick Rushworth – Director

Nominated by Brain Injury Australia

Nick Rushworth's photoNick Rushworth 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 Kennewell 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 currently works as a General Manager, Group Support Services with Can:Do Group in South Australia with oversight responsibility of Deaf Can:Do.  When she is not working she is studying for her Bachelor in Early Childhood/Disability 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 Dent is an Independent Director co-opted to the Board for his governance and leadership expertise.  Richard also has lived experience of disability.

Richard is the former Chief Executive Officer of Leadership Victoria and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Harvard Club and Disability Professionals Victoria.

Richard has been involved in disability services since 1993, working in a Uniting Care agency, then VCOSS and then 12 years as CEO of the E W Tipping Foundation.

Richard was a significant contributor to the campaign for the NDIS as part of the Premier’s NDIS Taskforce, Chair of the Victorian Every Australian Counts Campaign, and as Victorian Chair of National Disability Services (NDS).

In Richard’s role as CEO of Leadership Victoria he helped develop leaders to make progress on complex issues, and helped broker skilled leaders to support social, economic and environmental causes. Richard maintains an ongoing involvement in disability issues.

Felicity Crowther - Director

Nominated by Inclusion Australia (NCID)

Felicity Crowther smiling at cameraFelicity Crowther is the Executive Director of the South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability (SACID), an organisation who works towards achieving a community inclusive of people with intellectual disability. Felicity is a qualified Developmental Educator having completed a Bachelor of Disability and Community Rehabilitation with Honours. Since completing her studies Felicity has worked in a range of positions in the disability sector including service development, project management and service management roles.

Felicity is passionate about supporting people with intellectual disability to have a voice within their community. In both a professional and voluntary capacity, Felicity has assisted with the development of self-advocacy programs and supported individual people with intellectual disability in their self-advocacy roles. This passion for supporting people with intellectual disability has led Felicity to undertake a PhD in the area of inclusive research.

Felicity also enjoys sharing her knowledge, experience and passion with students through tutoring at Flinders University in the Disability & Community Inclusion Unit.

Belinda O'Connor - Director

Nominated by Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT)

Belinda O'Connor smiling at the cameraBorn 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 15 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 and is currently working with other people with disability to establish with the Digital Transformation Agency a disability network for innovation and technology inclusion.

In 2017 Belinda founded Bioptic Drivers Australia and is working with a multi-disciplinary team to advocate 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 wearing a red jumper, and glasses.  Mary Henley-Collopy has a Bachelor of Social Work and a Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment and Training.  Mary has extensive experience working as a Social Worker, as well as experience in Grief Counselling, and Critical Incidence Debriefing.

Mary was born with a permanent disability as a result of Thalidomide, and her disability is thalidomide congenital quadruple amputee.  She is the Vice President of the Disability Resources Centre in Victoria, and joined the Board of AFDO in late 2019.



John Simpson - Director

Nominated by Blind Citizens Australia

John Simpson's photoJohn’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
• Deputy Chair, Euroa Health Inc.
• Director, Australian Blindness Forum
• Director Information Alternatives