Board Directors 2016-2017
Bonnie Millen - President
Bonnie Millen currently lives in the ACT. Prior to entering the advocacy domain, Bonnie worked in public service roles within South Australian Government. Bonnie is hard of hearing and wears a cochlear implant and hearing aid.
Bonnie has been an active member of the PWDA Board since 2014 and also sits on the Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) Management Committee. As part of her Board roles, Bonnie actively advocates for equality for women and girls with disability, challenging the justice system and institutionalisation.
She has proudly represented PWDA as a youth delegate at the United Nations Conference of States Parties (COSP) to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in New York in 2014. In June 2016, she returned as a delegate as part of the Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA).
Bonnie is a currently a Policy Officer at Advocacy for Inclusion based in the ACT and is currently studying a Master of International Law, Governance and Policy via Macquarie University. Her interests lie in social policy, research, and international relations.
In her spare time, Bonnie continues to enjoy being busy, spending time with her 3 young children, is an active Girl Guide Leader and continues to seek the secret of a work/life balance.
Kirsty is in her early 30s and has graduated with a law degree. Her experience on the PWDA board has complemented her commitment to people with disability and also her keen interest in issues of governance.
Kristy is Convenor of the PWDA Governance Advisory Group (GAG) working to strengthen PWDA’s constitution. She also seeks to build a strong and diverse membership for the organisation.
Her interests are reading, going to the movies and having coffee with friends and spending time with family.
Suresh Rajan - Board Director
Suresh Rajan is a former president of the Ethnic Communities Council of Western Australia. He is a regular contributor on the subject of multiculturalism to media in Perth and has been so for many years. He writes for an Online Publication www.thestringer.com.au on issues of Racism, Discrimination, Disability and Migration. He also presents on the Radio Program “Ethnicability” dealing with issues relating to the intersection of Ethnicity and Disability.
Suresh is also an Ambassador for people with disabilities for the Count Me In strategy for the WA Government and is the President of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA). He is also the President of the West Australians for Racial Equality.
Suresh regards as his greatest achievement the handling of media matters relating to his main areas of passion, Refugees, People with Disability, Racism, Aboriginal Community Issues and Human Rights in general. He also holds as significant the passage (on a bi-partisan basis, with his considerable assistance) of amendments to the Criminal Code in WA of the Racial Vilification provisions.
Brendan Pearce - Board Director
Brendan Pearce was born Hard of Hearing and from an early age, faced discrimination because of the two Hearing Aids he wears. Growing up in regional NSW, Brendan learnt what it was like to participate in mainstream life while navigating certain difficulties relating to his hearing loss.
In 2013 Brendan was appointed Chair of the Inaugural Australian Hearing Paediatric Program Advisory Committee. As Chair of this Committee, Brendan led efforts to provide strong client feedback to Australian Hearing on how it could improve its service delivery. In 2014, Brendan was part of the 2014 Australian Youth NGO Delegation to the 7th Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Brendan pushed heavily at that Conference the need for Youth with Disability to be equipped to lead in both their communities and personally in their own lives. Brendan represented People with Disability Australia (PWDA) at the same conference in 2016 as part of the Disabled People’s Organisation Australia Delegation (formerly Australian Cross Disability Alliance).
Brendan comes to the board of PWDA with experience in governance and management, having been a part of the rebuilding of the Lismore an External Students Association at Southern Cross University into a financially sound and transparent organisation. Brendan also holds a Bachelor of Media majoring in Journalism, Policy and Governance.
Brendan is motivated by the need to reduce the likelihood of others facing the barriers he did while growing up with his hearing loss.
Jarad McLoughlin - Board Director
Jarad McLoughlin lives in Adelaide. He is on the high-functioning scale of the Autism Spectrum, as well as beendiagnosed with various vision and hearing impairments since birth. This clearly indicates his vast expertise and skills as a disability and LGBTIQA+ activist when challenging and engaging with Australia's political, social, economic and cultural climates.
McLoughlin began his involvement in disability self-advocacy and leadership in 2003 through Guide Dogs SA and NT's Successful Adults in Life (SAIL) program. Then in 2005 he joined the City of Marion Youth Advisory Committee, where local governance, youth advocacy and fundraising initiatives strengthened his political ideals and knowledge.
Since then Jarad has worked within a magnitude of diverse roles as an activist, mentor, consultant and campaigner with Gay Men's Health SA, JuIia Farr Association (Purple Orange), Disability SA, Youth Affairs Council of South Australia, U.N. Youth Association, Cando4Kids (Townsend House Inc.), the YMCA of SA and The I Can Network. He has also worked efficiently as an autistic self-advocate, executive committee member and elected Treasurer of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) Incorporated (Australia and New Zealand).
In gaining confidence in public speaking, eloquence, determination, humility, accountability, knowledge on national and international human rights statutes and treaties (i.e. United Nations), wit, honesty, academic/political intellect and open mindedness, McLoughlin is hopeful on using his term as board director:
To support local, national disability groups, agencies and organisations;
Eliminate ableist/queerphobic language and rhetoric and;
Creating new opportunities in the media industry.
Vanessa Fanning - Board Director
Vanessa Fanning has a keen interest in advocating for people with disabilities, in improving communication between government and people with disabilities and in improving the interface between disability support and aged care support. She considers that many people with a disability are not receiving the support for which they are eligible and entitled because of institutional and social barriers and deficiencies in communication channels. She believes that PWDA with its broad base of membership is playing an effective role in these areas and can continue to make a major difference in influencing the quality and availability of services and the way they are delivered.
In her earlier career, Vanessa was Chief Executive of a national health services organization with over 750 staff for a period of 7 years. She has also been a non-executive director on the Boards of a number of Government agencies as well as a non-government, not-for-profit board. She is currently a member of the Multiple Sclerosis ACT and NSW Regional Advisory Board.
Vanessa is a member of the Centre for Strategy and Governance in Canberra (www.csg.org.au), a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. She also has a good understanding of the way government works and is experienced in dealing directly with senior officials and Federal Ministers.
Suzy Keene - Treasurer
Suzy is employed in the Australian Public Service as a personal assistant and is passionate about inclusion in the workplace. She has been involved with committees to celebrate International Women’s Day and is currently on an LGBTI Ally Network steering committee.
Suzy has an Honours degree in Literature and completed a Visual Arts degree in 2010, studying painting & sound art. She has a burning interest in new technologies and how technology can assist self-expression and bring independence. She has assisted Craig Wallace deliver Nican’s Know As You Go workshops to women in Canberra and has co-published an article with Craig on ABC’s Ramp Up. Suzy is also an associate member of the ANU Gender Institute.
Suzy studied part-time for 10 years to achieve her Visual Arts degree but in that time she also co-founded the not-for-profit inclusive art group, Art Side In. Serving on the ANU Anime Society executive as Treasurer, and then President, her influence was instrumental in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for students & the general public.
Suzy is a Sci-fi and anime fan, who loves occasional Cosplay and cannot resist playing Minecraft. In 2011& 2012 Suzy was convenor of an inclusive anime convention in Canberra. She is also author of a blog exploring gender disparity (a work in progress).
Justin Ray - Director
Justin Ray lives in the ACT and currently works in the public service under two directorates Learning & Community Education (LACE) and Disability ACT (DACT). Justin's professional life has been particularly attached to intellectual disability as well as being involved with groups like the ACT Disability Advisory Council (ACTDAC).
Justin is a professional film maker by trade and intends to make documentaries revolving around topics like intellectual disability from the point of view of a person who has a mild intellectual disability. Recently he has completed his studies at CIT which took him 7 years to complete part-time due to work commitments. He believes that his work will have a positive influence on everybody.
Justin has mentored a number of people with intellectual disability and it is his determination that the world would be a better place in an educated society.
Tim Hart - Secretary
Timothy Hart has worked as a Research/Project and Communications Officer and a National Disability Coordination Officer, a federally funded program to enhance postsecondary employment and education options for people with a disability.
It was through his university studies as a mature age student, that he became involved in the disability rights movement. First with Macquarie’s disability group, then as the convener and co-convener of the Australasian Network of Students with Disabilities (ANSWD) 2002 to 2008 and as the Treasurer and President of the Australian Learning Disability Association (ALDA) 2006 to 2015.
It has been through his experiences as a student with a disability both at University and throughout his schooling that he developed a strong interest in social justice and disability rights. As he sees equity as the best way of improving not just individual outcomes but also societal outcomes, improving our society for all.
He has previously served as a board member of PWDA, 2007 to 2010 and being both the treasurer and secretary.
Timothy has a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Hons) Philosophy and Master of Policy and Applied Social Research (MPASR) both from Macquarie University. He also has an appreciation of art and classical music.
Ebru Sumaktas - Board DIrector
Ebru Sumaktas is a dedicated advocate bringing to the Board over 15 years’ experience in policy and advocacy roles for a variety of social justice and disability peaks, including People With Disability Australia, Vision Australia, NSW Ombudsman’s Office and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services. Committed to championing the access and equitable inclusion of people with disability in our community, particularly in employment.
She believes that accessible and inclusive employment is more than employer platitudes promoting workplace diversity. An employer of choice for people with disability needs to deliberately and purposefully design internal systems and processes that encourage the attraction, retention, learning and development of its collective workforce, irrespective of disability.
Ebru mentors young adults who are blind or have low vision through education, employment and community participation. Her passion to promote and uphold the rights of people with disability, their families and carers is underpinned by her strong community involvement in social justice and community service initiatives. Ebru also brings lived experience of disability, Retinitis Pigmentosa a degenerative eye condition.
James Condren - Board Director
James Condren is a person with intellectual and mental health disability. James has been on the NSW Council for Intellectual Disability (NSWCID) Board since 2001. James has also been on the NSWCID Accommodation Subcommittee, Governance Subcommittee, Employment Subcommittee and Our Voices Subcommittee.
James is passionate about his work around criminal justice and people with intellectual disability and has advocated for services to support people through the Criminal Justice Project. In 2008 James got the Volunteers Justice Award for his work in training volunteers for the Intellectual Disability Rights Service to do police and court support for people with intellectual disability.
James sat on the NSW Disability Council for a 4 year term. James made a Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Violence and told them about the way he was treated at the Hall for Children in the 1980s.
James has sat on the Self-Advocacy Sydney Board as President. In 2013 James’s job was to set up the issues meetings, run board meetings and email members. Currently James is on the Speak out Reach out Committee for NSWCID. The NSWCID Conference was in September 2016.
James is on the Mental Health Consumer Sub Committee at Ministry of Health Job Description as a person with a mental health condition and an intellectual disability. James has been on that committee for the last 2 years. James advises the committee on policy issues that affect people with an intellectual disability and mental health diagnosis. James delivers presentations for different organizations like the Criminal Justice Project and Being.