The Board

The Board is responsible for setting the Agency’s strategic direction and for the performance of Agency functions under the NDIS Act.

The Board has obligations as the accountable authority under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability ( Act 2013). Board members are appointed on a part-time basis for up to three years. Appointments are made by the Commonwealth Minister for Social Services and the appointment process is coordinated by the Department of Social Services.

Under the  Act, members are required to disclose to the Minister any material personal interest in a matter that relates to the affairs of the authority. Board members are asked at each meeting whether a conflict arises between standing interests and the interests of the Agency, and to make a declaration of any interest.

Inaugural Board

The inaugural NDIA Board consisted of a Chair and eight members. Commonwealth legislation was passed in May 2016 to increase the size of the Board by three members, to be constituted of the Chair and 11 members.

The terms of four outgoing Board members, including inaugural Chair Mr Bruce Bonyhady , ended on 31 December 2016.

Board Members

A person is eligible for appointment as a Board member only if the Minister is satisfied that the person has the skills, experience or knowledge in the provision or use of disability services; the operation of insurance schemes, compensation schemes or schemes with long‑term liabilities; financial management; or corporate governance.


Headshot of Helen Nugent

Dr Helen Nugent , Chairman

Dr Helen Nugent  brings significant expertise to her role as Chairman of the Board. She has a strong background in financial services, particularly in insurance amongst other appointments, and is also the Chairman of Australian Rail Track Corporation and Ausgrid, and is Non-Executive Director for Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG).

In 2004, Dr Nugent was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for services to business, the arts and the community, and is currently the Chairman of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Queensland, as well as an MBA (with Distinction) from the Harvard Business School.

Dr Nugent is also Chairman of the Board’s People and Remuneration Committee. She routinely attends meetings of all other Committees.


Headshot of Sandra Birkensleigh

Ms Sandra Birkensleigh

Ms Sandra Birkensleigh is an experienced Non-Executive Director, bringing extensive experience in financial service and insurance industries to the Agency. She currently holds board positions with MLC Insurance Ltd, Auswide Bank Limited, Horizon Oil Limited, 7-11 Holdings Limited (and its subsidiaries) and Sunshine Coast Children’s Therapy Centre. She chairs the Audit Committee for each of these organisations. Ms Birkensleigh is also a member of the Council of the University of the Sunshine Coast and an independent member of the Audit Committee of the Reserve Bank of Australia, and the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee for the Public Trustee of Queensland. She was formerly a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers including their Governance, Risk and Compliance practice.

Ms Birkensleigh is Chairman of the Board Audit Committee.


Headshot of Rhonda Galbally

Professor Rhonda Galbally 

Professor Rhonda Galbally  has been a member of the Board since its inception and was heavily involved in the creation of the Scheme. Professor Galbally has vast experience in health development, disability, and social and housing policy, having in the past served as Chair of the National People with Disabilities and Carer Council. She was previously a CEO, Chair Board Director and member of government, working in both non-government and private entities.

Professor Galbally is a member of the Board’s Sustainability Committee, and Principal Member of the Independent Advisory Council.


Headshot of Glenn Keys

Mr Glenn Keys 

Mr Glenn Keys  has been a member of the NDIS Board since the Scheme’s inception. He has long been involved in efforts to improve the lives of people with disability, including through his involvement in the Special Olympics, the Down Syndrome Association and the disability housing sector. He has a background in the health sector as the co-founder and co-executive Chairman of Aspen Medical, and the Founder and Chairman for Project Independence, an initiative offering home ownership to people with disability. He was awarded an Officer in the General division () in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his distinguished service to disability, business and commerce and as an advocate for corporate social responsibility. Mr Keys was named 2015 Australian Capital Territory Australian of the Year.

He is a member of the Board’s  Committee and has a child with an intellectual disability.


Headshot of Robyn Kruk

Ms Robyn Kruk

Ms Robyn Kruk has extensive experience as Chief Executive of national and state policy, regulatory and service delivery agencies, including NSW Health and Premier and Cabinet. She established and served as inaugural CEO/Commissioner of the National Mental Health Commission. Ms Kruk is currently Chair, Board Director or member of international, national and state statutory, non-government and private entities in healthcare and emergency services, quality and safety, governance and mental healthcare.

Ms Kruk is a member of the Board’s Risk Committee and People and Remuneration Committee.


Headshot of John Langoulant

Mr John Langoulant 

Mr John Langoulant  has extensive experience across many areas of public policy development and implementation as the Western Australian Under Treasurer. He is also Chairman of government statutory authorities and member of several government special Councils and Inquiries. Mr Langoulant is also actively involved as a Non-Executive Director in several private and not-for-profit organisations.

Mr John Langoulant is a member of the Board’s Audit Committee as well as being a Non‑Executive Director since January 2017.


Headshot of Martin Laverty

Mr Martin Laverty

Mr Martin Laverty is CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. He is a member of the NSW Public Service Commission Board, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission Board, and chairs the Commonwealth’s General Aviation Board. He is a former CEO of the hospital and aged care group, Catholic Health Australia. Mr Laverty is also a former Board Chair of two disability service organisations, Sunshine and Challenge Southern Highlands, and is a former Director of the New South Wales Muscular Dystrophy Association.

A lawyer by training, Mr Laverty is a member of the Board’s Audit and Risk Committees.


Headshot of Jim Minto

Mr Jim Minto

Mr Jim Minto is a Non-Executive Director of Singapore based Dai-ichi Life Asia Pacific, a Non-Executive Director of Equity Trustees Limited and Independent Chairman of New Zealand-based life insurer Partners Life Limited. He retired as Group CEO and Managing Director of life insurer TAL (formerly TOWER Australia) in March 2015. He had been in that role since November 2006 and prior to that was Group CEO of the Trans-Tasman TOWER Limited Group. Mr Minto has extensive experience in the financial services sector. A Chartered Accountant, Mr Minto retired in 2015 as Chair of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia and was a panel member of the Australian Government’s Review of Natural Disasters Insurance in 2011.

Mr Minto is Chairman of the Board’s Risk Committee.


Headshot of Paul O'Sullivan

Mr Paul O’Sullivan

Mr Paul O’Sullivan has been Chairman of Optus since October 2014. Mr O’Sullivan is a member of the Board of Commissioners of Telkomsel – Indonesia’s largest mobile communications company. He is a Director of Coca-Cola Amatil Limited; Healthscope, one of Australia’s leading private healthcare operations and HOOQ Pte Ltd, a joint venture between Singtel, Warner Bros and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Mr O’Sullivan is also a Board Member of the St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation and a member of the Advisory Board of the UNSW Bright Alliance.

Mr O’Sullivan is Chairman of the Board’s  Committee and a member of the Risk and People and Remuneration Committees.


Headshot of Estelle Pearson

Ms 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, an actuarial and consulting firm and was previously on the Council of the Actuaries Institute, serving as President in 2015.

Ms Pearson is a member of the Board’s Sustainability Committee and a member of the Audit Committee.


Headshot of Andrea Staines

Ms Andrea Staines

Ms Andrea Staines is a Non-Executive Director with ten years’ experience on listed, unlisted, government and for-purpose Boards in the care, infrastructure and transport arenas. Ms Staines is on the Board of UnitingCare Queensland, and was previously on the boards of Goodstart and Early Learning Services. Her executive career was in airlines. She was a member of Qantas ExCo, as CEO Australian Airlines (mark II), an Asia-Australia subsidiary which she co-launched. Previously, Ms Staines worked in finance and strategy at Qantas and at American Airlines’ Dallas headquarters.

Ms Staines is a member of the Board’s  and Audit Committees.


Headshot of John Walsh

Mr John Walsh

Mr John Walsh is one of Australia’s leading actuaries. He is a retired Partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he worked for over 20 years in the areas of social policy and funding across accident compensation, health and disability. He has personal experience of disability, having lived with quadriplegia following a rugby league accident in his early-twenties. Mr Walsh is also a Board member of the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare.

He is currently Chair of the Board’s Sustainability Committee and a member of the Board’s  Committee.


Previous Board Members
(1 July 2016 to 31 December 2016)

Mr Bruce Bonyhady (Chair)

Mr Bruce Bonyhady was the inaugural Chairman of the Board. Mr Bonyhady has worked for over 25 years to improve the lives of people with disability and is widely regarded as one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Scheme. Mr Bonyhady’s term of office expired on 30 December 2016.

Ms Fiona Payne

Ms Fiona Payne has more than 25 years’ experience on boards and committees in the community sector. Ms Payne was a member of the Board’s Sustainability Committee and  Committee and has a son with a vision impairment. Ms Payne’s term of office expired on 30 December 2016.

Ms Geraldine Harwood

Ms Geraldine Harwood brought many years of expertise across the disability sector in Tasmania to the NDIA. Ms Harwood was a member of the Board’s Audit, Risk and Finance Committee. Ms Harwood’s term of office expired on 30 December 2016.

Mr John Hill PSM

Mr John Hill is a former Deputy Under Treasurer with the South Australian Department of Treasury and Finance bringing extensive knowledge of government and financial matters to the Scheme. Mr Hill was Chair of the Agency’s Board Audit, Risk and Finance Committee, and a member of the Sustainability Committee. Mr Hill’s term of office expired on 30 December 2016.

Board members’ positions, terms and meetings attended are detailed in Appendix 2.

Board committees

There are a number of Board committees in place to ensure that the NDIA meets its governance requirements. In February 2017, the structure of the Board committees was expanded to include five committees.

Table 5: NDIA Board committees 2016‑17 financial year

July 2016 –
February 2017
February 2017 –
June 2017
Audit, Risk and Finance Committee Audit Committee
Sustainability Committee Sustainability Committee
Information and Communication Technology () Committee Information and Communication Technology () Committee
Risk Committee
People and Remuneration Committee

Audit Committee

The Audit Committee was established in compliance with section 45 of the  Act and assists the Board in the management and oversight of the quality and integrity of the accounting, auditing and financial reporting of the NDIA.

Board members on the Committee are Ms Sandra Birkensleigh (Chairman), Mr John Langoulant , Mr Martin Laverty and Ms Estelle Pearson. The Audit Committee also has two independent members, Ms Marian Micalizzi and Ms Helen Williams .

The Australian National Audit Office () attends Audit Committee meetings as external auditor, along with appointed internal auditors.

Sustainability Committee

The Sustainability Committee’s objective is to provide advice in assessing, monitoring, reporting on and managing the financial sustainability of the NDIS.

Board members on the Committee are Mr John Walsh (Chairman), Professor Rhonda Galbally , Mr Jim Minto and Ms Estelle Pearson. The Committee includes one external member, Mr Tom Karp.

Previous members of the Sustainability Committee in the 2016-17 financial year were Mr John Hill PSM and Ms Fiona Payne, and external member Mr Peter Whiteford.

Information and Communication Technology Committee

The Information and Communication Technology () Committee assists the Board in the management and oversight of the Agency’s  solutions including providing input to the Board on the design, development, delivery and performance of the  strategy and systems.

Board members on the  Committee are Mr Paul O’Sullivan (Chairman), Mr Glenn Keys  (previous Chairman), Ms Andrea Staines and Mr John Walsh . The committee has two independent members, Mr Serdar Avsar and Ms Helen Williams .

Former board member Ms Fiona Payne was a member of the  Committee.

Risk Committee

The Risk Committee assists the Board in the management and oversight of the Agency’s approach to risk management. The role of the Risk Committee is to advise the Board in relation to the development and implementation of the NDIA’s overall risk management approach.

Board members on the Risk Committee are Mr Jim Minto (Chairman), Ms Robyn Kruk , Mr Martin Laverty and Mr Paul O’Sullivan.

People and Remuneration Committee

The People and Remuneration Committee’s role includes supporting the Agency to attract, retain and develop high-performing employees, overseeing strategies, frameworks and programs related to people and remuneration and providing recommendations to the Board on CEO succession planning.

Board members on the People and Remuneration Committee are Dr Helen Nugent  (Chairman), Professor Rhonda Galbally , Ms Robyn Kruk and Mr Paul O’Sullivan.

Audit, Risk and Finance Committee

The Audit, Risk and Finance Committee () operated until 31 December 2016, when it was replaced by a dedicated Audit Committee and Risk Committee.

Board members on the Audit, Risk and Finance Committee were Mr John Hill PSM (Chair), Ms Geraldine Harwood and Mr Martin Laverty. The  also had two independent members, Ms Marian Micalizzi and Ms Helen Williams .