Policy Forum: Connecting policy and research in disability and health

On 18 July 2019, the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health invited senior policy makers from government departments and disability organisations to discuss some of the pressing issues facing the health of people with disabilities in Australia.

The main idea for the policy forum was to help the CRE-DH research team to develop a deeper understanding of government and sector priorities in order to frame future work around long-term practical policy application.

The event was held at the Crawford School of Public Policy at ANU, Canberra and included the following speakers:

Kirsten Deane – Campaign Director of Every Australian Counts, the grassroots advocacy campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. She also serves as Executive Director of the National Disability and Carer Alliance. Kirsten’s previous roles include National Manager of Communications and Engagement at the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations. She also served as Co-Chair and Deputy Chair of the National People with Disability and Carer Council. She has been a long-term board member of both Down Syndrome Australia and Down Syndrome Victoria. A former journalist turned academic, Kirsten has three children and as a result has excellent conflict mediation skills.

Dr Ben GauntlettDisability Discrimination Commissioner (since May 2019) at the Australian Human Rights Commission. Prior to this, Ben worked as a barrister in WA and Victoria with a broad ranging practice. He was an associate to the Honourable Justice Kenneth Hayne AC at the High Court of Australia and Counsel Assisting the Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth. He has also taught law in Australia and the UK. Ben holds undergraduate degrees in Law (Hons) and Commerce from the University of Western Australia and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for Western Australia in 2003. He holds a Master of Laws from New York University and a D.Phil. in Law from the University of Oxford. In 2015, Ben completed the Perth to Rottnest swim in a team with three friends.

Michael Lye – Deputy Secretary responsible for the Department of Social Services, Disability and Carers Stream. Michael’s responsibilities include disability and carers policy and programs, the National Disability Strategy, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Disability Employment Services. Michael is the Indigenous Champion, overseeing the Department’s efforts to increase employment of Indigenous Australians.

Samantha Taylor – Registrar for the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. She has more than 20 years’ experience in senior management roles in the New South Wales public sector, mostly in the disability portfolio. As Executive Director within the NSW Department of Family and Community Services, Samantha was responsible for leading the NSW transition to the NDIS from 2012. She also led major disability sector development programs, including the design of the NSW disability quality framework.

Leah van Poppel – CEO of Women with Disabilities Victoria and a long term advocate in the disability sector with extensive experience in project and staff management at a high level. Leah is working to advance real social and economic inclusion for women with disabilities in this State. Previously Leah was the Manager of the Youth Disability Advocacy Service at Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, CEO of Blind Citizens Australia, an NDIS Readiness Coordinator and Manager of Disability Loop project for Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO).