Chair of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), Denis Napthine AO, has resigned after holding the position for only three and a half months.
Dr Napthine was appointed to the position by the previous Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Senator Linda Reynolds, on 25 March this year and began a three-year term as the Chair of the Board on 1 April.
He was already serving on the NDIA Board since 1 January, 2022 - only six and a half months ago.
But yesterday, current Minister for the NDIS Bill Shorten announced he had received Dr Napthine’s resignation.
“I wish to thank Dr Napthine for his service as Chair of the NDIA Board since April 2022,” says Minister Shorten.
“I also wish to acknowledge his work in reaching an agreement with the Gillard Labor Government to establish the NDIS in Victoria.
“Dr Napthine is a committed advocate for the NDIS and as a carer and somebody who has worked in the disability area, he has a great deal of passion for NDIS participants and their families.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Dr Napthine in the future to ensure the best outcomes for NDIS participants, their families and carers.”
Dr Napthine was the Premier of Victoria in 2013-2014 as the NDIS was being established and has held a number of senior Government roles, including being the Victorian Minister responsible for disability services, as well as being the father of a person with disability.
Senator Reynolds responded to his resignation on social media saying, “I am saddened by the premature resignation of Denis Napthine as NDIA Chair and thank him for his service.
“I am proud to have appointed him, he was uniquely qualified, as a father, as the Victorian premier who entered into NDIS with [the Australian Labor Party] and through a lifelong commitment to disability support.”
Dr Napthine will be replaced by Jim Minto, who will act as NDIA Chair until a new Chair is appointed.
Mr Minto was also acting Chair of the NDIA for the three months before Dr Napthine was appointed to the role.
With a background in chartered accounting, Mr Minto has been on the NDIA Board since 2017.
Community calls for new appointments to be people with disability
Dr Napthine’s resignation comes after Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NDIA, Martin Hoffman, handed in his resignation in June.
Members of the community have been calling on the Federal Government to appoint people with disability to the CEO role, as well as NDIA Board positions, to ensure the Agency and the NDIS are run by people with lived experience.
National advocacy organisation Physical Disability Australia (PDA) has directly invited Australian disability organisations, NDIS participants, supporters and providers to join in calling for “improved NDIA CEO and Board representation, participation, inclusion and input from people with disability”.
“The NDIS is, essentially, a scheme for people with disabilities, but we have yet to see people with disabilities gain senior management positions within the NDIA,” says PDA.
“PDA believes that the NDIS should have people with disabilities in those roles, to not only increase the representation but to bring real-life experience and understanding of being a person with a disability into the Agency that is supporting us.
“We encourage the Government to do their due diligence in recruiting a new CEO for the Agency and make a positive step to rebuilding the trust of people with disabilities.”
Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John has also supported this call for representation, who told ABC Radio that it was a “massive surprise” to hear of Dr Napthine’s resignation, but also a great opportunity.
“I think what we have now with the vacated CEO position and the vacated Chair position on the Board is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that disabled candidates are chosen for those positions so we actually have lived experience of disabled people guiding the NDIS, working with disabled people, working with advocates and community over these next critical years,” says Senator Steele-John.
He added that there were negative feelings from the community about Dr Napthine’s appointment earlier this year, so his resignation was bringing excitement to those who were concerned.
“There is a clear political context here of Dr Napthine being a former Liberal Premier,” explains Senator Steele-John.
“The community was quite concerned about his appointment and there wasn’t a lot of support for that, particularly in the dying moments of the Morrison Government, and I think what I’m hearing [now] is a lot of excitement at the opportunity of actually fixing the NDIS with disabled people leading that process.”
The NDIA Board has already committed to an “open” recruitment process to find a new CEO, although the start of the process to find a new Chair of the Board is yet to be announced.