Board profiles

Mr Kurt Fearnley AO

kurt fearnley smiling

Mr Kurt Fearnley AO is an experienced government and non-government director and five-time Australian Paralympian. 

He is a current Board Commissioner of the Australian Sports Commission and Board Director of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee.  

He is a former member of the boards of several organisations including Paralympics Australia, Life Without Barriers, Australian Volunteers International and the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation. 

He was a member of the inaugural NDIS Independent Advisory Council, Vice Chairperson of the International Paralympic Committee Athletes’ Council, carried out a number of roles for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, and was Co-Captain of the Australian Paralympic Team at the Rio 2016 Paralympics. 

Mr Fearnley was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the General Division in 2018 for his distinguished service to people with a disability, as a supporter of, and fundraiser for, indigenous athletics and charitable organisations, and as a Paralympic Athlete. 

He was the 2019 NSW Australian of the Year and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Griffith University for his contribution to sport and disability advocacy. 

He is a high-school teacher, television presenter, podcaster and broadcaster, and former professional wheelchair athlete. 

Qualifications: Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Human Movement, Charles Sturt University. 

Member: Sustainability Committee and Strategic Direction and Participant Outcomes Committee. 

Dr Graeme Innes AM

Graeme Innes

Dr Graeme Innes AM is a lawyer, author, and company director who was Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner for 9 years.  

Dr Innes has been a human rights practitioner for more than 30 years and has been responsible for issues relating to disability, race and human rights.  

Dr Innes was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his work on the development of the Disability Discrimination Act, was a finalist for Australian of the Year. On the international stage, he was a member of the Australian delegation that participated in negotiating the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.  

Dr Innes led the merger of 4 blindness agencies to form Vision Australia and chaired the board of that agency. He is Chancellor of Central Queensland University and a Director of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, regulating workers’ compensation and motor vehicle accident insurance in NSW. His autobiography ‘Finding A Way’ achieved popular acclaim in 2016. 
Chair: Audit and Risk Committee. 

Ms Maryanne Diamond AO

Maryanne Diamond

Ms Maryanne Diamond has lived with disability all her life. She is a NDIS participant and was employed as a senior executive at the NDIA for 5 years. 

Ms Diamond has been employed in the information technology industry, the disability sector, and in government. She has extensive experience leading organisations in Australia, including being Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia, and inaugural CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO). At the international level, Ms Diamond was President of the World Blind Union from 2008-2012, and Chair of The International Disability Alliance from 2014-2016. 

In 2014, Ms Diamond was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to people who are blind or have low vision, and her international leadership roles and advocacy for best practice employment opportunities.  

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science, Monash University; Graduate Diploma Information Technology, Caulfield Institute of Technology; and GAICD. 

Deputy Chair: Audit and Risk Committee. 

Member: Sustainability Committee

Dr Denis Napthine AO

Dr Denis Napthine

Dr Denis Napthine has held various senior positions in government and was the 47th Premier of Victoria. 

As the Premier, Denis led the government to sign the NDIS Agreement with the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has a long history of active involvement in local and regional services for people with disabilities and their families and carers. 

In 2020, Dr Napthine was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to the people and Parliament of Victoria, particularly as Premier, to veterinary science, and to the community. Previously, he was the Victorian State Minister for Community Services which included Disability Services. 

Qualifications: BVSc and MVS (Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine) from University of Melbourne and MBA from Deakin University. 

Member: Audit and Risk Committee. 

Ms Estelle Pearson

Image of Estelle Pearson

Ms Estelle Pearson has extensive experience in the insurance and injury compensation sector having worked as an actuary and consultant in this sector since 1989. She is currently a Director of Finity Consulting Pty Limited, and was previously on the Council of the Actuaries Institute, including a term as President in 2015. 

Qualifications: BA (Hons) Mathematics, University of Oxford and FIAA. 

Chair: Sustainability Committee.  

Dr Peta Seaton AM


Dr Peta Seaton is a former Chair of Hearing Australia, Deputy Chair of the Bradman Foundation and a Non-Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre, BDCU Alliance Bank, and CARE Australia. She is the President of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation (University of Sydney). 

A former NSW Parliamentarian and frontbencher, Dr Seaton served as Director of Transition and Director of Strategic Priorities in the NSW Premier’s Office from 2011-2014. 

In 2017, Dr Seaton was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). She lives in regional NSW and runs a small farm enterprise. 

Qualifications: PhD and BA (Hons) from University of Sydney and a GAICD. 

Chair: Strategic Direction and Participant Outcomes Committee. 

Member: Sustainability Committee.

Ms Meredith Allan


Ms Meredith Allan is a former president of the International Society of Alternative and Augmentative Communication (ISAAC), an organisation working to improve the lives of children and adults with complex communication needs. She was the first president to speak via alternative and augmentative communication (AAC). 

Ms Allan recently retired from her 30-year career in the public service but continues working as a communication assessor for Scope and lecturer for Deakin University, La Trobe University, University of Newcastle and University of Technology Sydney. 

Qualifications: Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Arts, Monash University. 

Member:  Audit and Risk Committee. 

Ms Leah van Poppel


Ms Leah van Poppel is Chair of the Victorian NDIS Community Advisory and a member of the NDIS Independent Advisory Council (IAC). 

A highly-respected leader and disability rights advocate, Ms van Poppel was CEO of Women with Disabilities Victoria from 2018-2021. 

In this position, she worked to empower marginalised women in the community through education and mentoring, as well as research, policy advice and government advocacy. 

Previously, Ms van Poppel was CEO of Blind Citizens Australia, Manager at Youth Disability Advocacy Service and NDIS Readiness Project Officer at Australian Federation of Disability Organisations (AFDO). 

Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts, Macquarie University. 

Member: Sustainability Committee and Strategic Direction and Participant Outcomes Committee. 

Mrs Joan McKenna Kerr

Joan McKenna Kerr smiling

Joan McKenna Kerr is an experienced Chief Executive Officer in the field of disability with significant experiences as a Board Director. 

She was a member of the Expert Advisory Group reporting to the Select Council of Treasurers and Ministers (COAG) on the development and establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). 

She was a member of the Inaugural NDIS Independent Advisory Council and Co-Chair of the NDIS Working Party on Eligibility and Assessment. 

Her past involvements also include Chairing and serving on numerous Working Parties throughout her career tasked with disability sector reform and sustainability.   

She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin from where she gained a Moderatorship in Sociology.   

She is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.  

Joan is a former President of National Disability Services (NDS) and the former National Chair of the Australian Advisory Board on Autism. 

She has also been involved for the last decade in the Sister-State initiative between the West Australian Government and East Java, Indonesia, assisting in the development of disability services in 5 regional government-areas of East Java. 

In 2017 she was awarded the Asia Pacific Autism Award for a lifetime of service to people with Autism and their families. 

Qualifications:  Bachelor of Arts, Moderatorship in Sociology, Trinity College, Dublin. 

Member: Strategic Direction and Participant Outcomes Committee. 

Dr. Richard Fejo


Dr. Richard Fejo, better known as Richie, is a Larrakia man of direct male descent, through his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. 

Richie has devoted his life to improving education and health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within urban, rural and remote communities. 

Richie previously sat on the City of Darwin’s International Relations Committee and has recently become a committee member of the Northern Territory branch of the Australian Institute of company directors.  

In 2022, Richie was awarded an honorary doctorate by Flinders University in recognition of his contribution to education and Indigenous health, where he is also the Senior Elder on campus. 

In addition to his service to the community, Richie is a talented comedian and singer-songwriter, performing regularly around town, and nurturing the next generation of comics. 

Member: Strategic Direction and Participant Outcomes Committee. 

Mr Mark Darras

Mark Darras was appointed a Director of the NDIA on 24 November 2023. At present, Mark is also Acting Chairman and a Commissioner of the Essential Services Commission of South Australia.

Mark is a former corporate lawyer and adviser (Ashurst Lawyers), and an experienced company director, having served as a Director, and in leadership roles at Boards including Australia Post and Australia Post Superannuation, Southern Rural Water Board, John Holland Engineering and John Holland Queensland, and the South Australian Forestry Corporation.

Mark was formerly the Chairman of the Commonwealth Government's $7billion Telecommunications Universal Services Management Agency, and has also served as a Member of the Australian Takeovers Panel.

Prior to his appointment to the National Disability Insurance Agency, Mark was the Independent Chair of the NSW Government's Advisory Board for Strategic Release. Mark is from South Australia's Riverland area, was schooled in Renmark.

Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (University of Tasmania), Master of Laws (ANU), and Bachelor of Education (Uni of South Australia).

Member: Audit and Risk Committee.

This page current as of
28 June 2024