19 July 2022

Upheaval continues at disability agency as board chair quits

| Ian Bushnell
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Dr Denis Napthine

Dr Denis Napthine had only been in the job since April. Photo: Wikipedia.

Change at the top of the National Disability Insurance Agency is continuing with Dr Denis Napthine resigning as board chair after only three months in the role.

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten thanked the former Liberal Victorian Premier for his service as chair since April this year, when he was appointed by former minister Linda Reynolds.

“I also wish to acknowledge his work in reaching agreement with the Gillard Labor Government to establish the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Victoria,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Shorten said Jim Minto would act in the role pending the appointment of a new chair as soon as possible.

ACT Minister for Disabilities Emma Davidson also thanked Dr Napthine for his service but urged transparency in finding a successor.

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“There’s a lot of work ahead for the NDIA Board, and I look forward to seeing an open recruitment process for the next permanent chair,” she said.

Dr Naphene’s departure comes only a month after the NDIA CEO Martin Hoffman announced he would quit the role, leaving on 2 July.

NDIA Deputy CEO Dr Lisa Studdert stepped into the CEO role as the board started a search for a successor to Mr Hoffman, who had been in the role since November 2019.

He had overseen increasingly anxious times for the NDIS as it tries to contain costs and amid concerns from participants about their plans being cut.

The NDIA Board said at the time it had accepted Mr Hoffman’s resignation with regret.

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Dr Napthine had commended Mr Hoffman for his stewardship of the scheme through 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,” he said.

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

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

The leadership upheaval follows intense criticism of the NDIS’s direction before the election, including from Mr Shorten.

The NDIS has come under fire for its aborted independent assessments proposal and the spend on lawyers to fight NDIS participants in the courts as appeals against cuts to funding packages steeple.

Some say the changes will allow the Albanese Government to chart a fresh course for the NDIS.

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