NDIA boss resigns, prompting response from sector

Posted 2 years ago by Anna Christian
CEO of the NDIA Martin Hoffman has announced his resignation. [Source: Twitter]
CEO of the NDIA Martin Hoffman has announced his resignation. [Source: Twitter]

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), Martin Hoffman, has announced his resignation today.

Mr Hoffman has held the top role in the organisation that runs the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) since November 2019 and will be stepping down on 1 July, 2022.

Despite Mr Hoffman and the NDIA releasing information about the announcement, no reason has been given for the sudden resignation.

Mr Hoffman says, “It has been an absolute privilege to have served in this role for the last three years.

“I wish the Scheme, and its participants, families, carers and providers all the very best for the future.

“I thank the amazing staff of the Agency for their dedication and support.”

Chair of the NDIA Board, Dr Denis Napthine AO, says he commends Mr Hoffman on his work with the NDIS during “such an important stage of its evolution”.

“During Martin’s leadership the NDIS completed the full transition from the old systems – and grew dramatically with now more than 520,000 participants benefiting from the Scheme,” says Dr Napthine.

“He has also overseen significant participant experience improvements, with an emphasis on digital investment that will deliver further improvements in [the] future.

“He led the Agency with passion, grace and commitment, including managing through the impacts of the COVID pandemic.”

Mr Hoffman previously held roles as the lead of a Services Australia Taskforce and was Secretary of the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation.

Before working for Government, Mr Hoffman held private sector roles in digital media and technology organisations, such as Optus and Fairfax Media.

The NDIA Board is starting an open recruitment process to find a new CEO and in the meantime current Deputy CEO for Markets, Government and Engagement, Dr Lisa Studdert, will act in the position.

Politicians weigh in on resignation

Part of the new Labor Government’s plan to improve the NDIS is to increase the number of people with disability on the NDIA Board and co-design all changes to the Scheme from here on, however, new Minister for the NDIS, Bill Shorten, confirmed he did not remove Mr Hoffman from the position.

Minister Shorten says he was “informed” that the Board and CEO had agreed on the resignation.

“I thank Mr Hoffman for his service and wish him well in his next endeavours,” says Minister Shorten.

The Australian Greens Spokesperson for Disability, Senator Jordon Steele-John, took to social media soon after the announcement, saying, “Martin Hoffman broke trust with the disability community while CEO of the NDIS, and knowing that he had so much control over your choices was a source of fear for many. His resignation will bring so much relief to the disability community.”

“Under his leadership, plans were slashed and people were kicked off the NDIS, and thousands of people were forced to fight in courtrooms for the basic supports and services they need.

“As if this wasn’t enough, he also led the NDIA’s attempt at forcing through ‘independent assessments’, causing widespread trauma and distress to thousands of disabled people.

“Our community continually attempted to reach out and offer him the opportunity to work with us to fix our NDIS. Our offers and solutions were too often met with arrogance and a reflexive dismissal of our lived experience as disabled people.”

Senator Steele-John says the next CEO of the NDIA needs to rebuild trust by stopping plan cuts and calling off the cases of funding decisions appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

“The next CEO must also demonstrate a commitment to working with disabled people and our organisations to authentically co-design solutions to fix our NDIS. And, ideally, this person will be a disabled person,” adds Senator Steele-John.

Peak advocacy organisation, People With Disability Australia (PWDA), also weighed in on the conversation, welcoming the news of the resignation and saying it hopes it “heralds the beginning of cultural change” to ensure people with disability are at the centre of the NDIS.

PWDA President Samantha Connor agrees the role should be filled by a person with disability and says future roles should preference people with disability.

“The new Federal Government should also consider job carving and shared responsibility in executive roles,” says Ms Connor.

“The idea that appointments for executive roles within the NDIA be based on executive performance rather than lived experience of disability is outdated thinking.

“We hope that future appointments of executives in statutory authorities will be conducted in an open and transparent manner – not just at the NDIA but also the AAT, ABC and [Australian Human Rights Commission] (AHRC) – and that processes are put in place to ensure these arrangements remain in the future.

“Mr Hoffman’s resignation also provides a valuable opportunity to reflect on how many people with disability are employed at the agency at the senior tiers of management and within the ranks of outsourced labour hire.”

NDIA figures released at the end of March this year showed a majority of the organisation’s 12,428 strong workforce (7,486 workers) were not Australian Public Sector employees, highlighting the outsourcing of work to external agencies.

This is another issue Labor has committed to investigating, with the short term plan to lift the current staffing cap at the NDIA and employ hundreds more workers until the broader problem can be investigated.