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PWDA Alert
  11 July 2016
New PWDA leadership and
farewell from Craig Wallace

People with Disability is pleased to announce that Bonnie Millen was elected by the PWDA Board to be our acting President, after Craig Wallace stepped down from the position last week. Kristy Trajcevski will fill the role of Acting Vice-President, Stuart Mawbey as Acting Secretary and Suresh Rajan continues as Treasurer.

As required under the constitution a full election, where all members can nominate and vote for the President and PWDA Directors, will be held in September - October. 

Further details about the upcoming Board election will be made available to PWDA members in September.

Read more about the PWDA Board members on our website, and see the following message from Craig Wallace.

Please contact PWDA for any questions or for further information:
Phone: 02 9370 3100
Toll Free: 1800 422 015
Fax: 02 9318 1372
TTY: 02 9318 2138
TTY Toll Free: 1800 422 016

A message from Craig Wallace

Most of you would know by now that I resigned as President of People with Disability Australia last week.
It was a hard decision, but the right one. My term was coming to an end later this year and it’s time to ensure a good transition for PWDA by allowing other members of the Board to come forward and build leadership experience now that the dust is settling from the Federal election.

The new Acting President elected by the Board on Saturday is Bonnie Millen supported by Kristy Trajcevski as Acting Vice President. Bonnie is a young woman who is hard of hearing from South Australia who will shortly be moving to Canberra. Bonnie has led in youth development and international fora while Kristy has been a force for sound governance over several years. I am excited at the chance we have for energy and renewal. Our future is in good hands.

Photo of Craig Wallance showing head and upper chest

Photo: Craig Wallace, past President of PWDA

As required under the constitution a full election where all members can nominate and vote for the President and PWDA Directors will be held in September - October.
Its five years since I returned to the executive of PWDA and four years since I was elected as your President. When I campaigned to step into the role I promised change to grow our membership, strengthen our governance, lobby for the NDIS, work for PWDA to become a national peak, build our policy capacity in new areas such as jobs, boost our media profile and fight abuse in institutions.
I’d like to reflect on a few outcomes of our work together:
  • We kickstarted a debate on funding to push the National Disability Insurance Scheme over the line and embolden the States and Territories to lock it in. Our contribution to the debate was mentioned in Parliament by the Prime Minister as the funding bill passed through the House of Representatives. We’ve started to keep the NDIS accountable through an innovative Citizens Jury process which won International Association for Public Participation International project of the year;
  •  We threw ourselves into the 24 hour media cycle as disability moved from the back page to the front page. We fronted the Canberra Press Gallery time after time and made a concerted effort to swing national opinion behind disability rights through hundreds of interviews, podcasts, opinion pieces, media releases and articles; 
  • When the government sought to demonise all disabled people through harsh crackdowns in the 2014 Budget and media headlines on DSP launched on Easter Sunday and Boxing Day we were there to turn the argument around; 
  • We’ve made inroads on employment - articulating a positive reform plan while rejecting the low road of low paid work, segregated employment and harsh attacks on people on welfare. We’ve spoken up about income inequality and lead a strong civil society defence of the rights of people like Duncan Storrar to speak to their experiences of it; 
  • We’ve exposed crevices of violence and abuse of people with disability by calling for a Royal Commission into this issue, successfully calling for a national senate inquiry, providing disability supports to the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Abuse and Neglect and waging a campaign against institutions, violence, abuse, neglect and murder of people with disability. We also made an important long overdue remembrance of those who died through the White Flower Memorial; 
  • We engaged with members as never before with free online membership, social media forums and member events like the Election Q&A and the one on one interview with NDIA CEO David Bowen. We now have a reach spanning over 25,000 people; 
  • Our individual and systemic advocacy footprint has worked across many fronts and with thousands of individuals to change lives for the better; and
  • Last year we became a national peak body as part of the Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) realising a decade’s long dream of a democratic cross disability voice where any person with disability could stand for election to shape our movement. ACDA is beginning to do strong work, most recently gathering all party responses to the ACDA 2016 Federal Election Platform.
Together we have changed things for the better but there is much to be done. We need a recharged National Disability Strategy, especially to drive effort by States, Territories and local government. We need to ramp up advocacy and critical attention to the NDIS, especially for those who miss out on disability supports due to their age. We should strive to rebuild the voice we’ve lost since the demise of the wonderful ABC Ramp Up and the absence of a national advisory body.
We lack full individual needs based funding for education. Our health system and hospitals are a bad place for people with disability while eugenics and euthanasia imagines a world without us in the long run.
There is also more to do to entrench PWDA as a consumer directed, rights based leader of our movement and to build the ACDA but we’ve made headway. I'm proud of the Board and staff, especially our co-CEO’s Matthew Bowden and Therese Sands, who worked so hard on it all.
I will always support PWDA which along with our ACDA partners is the best hope for a united progressive democratic voice for disabled people in Australia.
Thank you all for the privilege of holding a position of trust in our community.
We’ve done all of this together and you as members have made change happen – by joining, writing, phoning, posting, voting and attending our events.
Maintain your rage about all that is wrong for disabled people and your faith that together we can change it.
Membership makes PWDA strong and I hope you will continue to spread the word about joining PWDA. Joining us is online, easy and free.
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) (02) 9370 3100 1800 422 015