At its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Wednesday 15 November, over 50 members of People with Disability Australia (PWDA), Australia’s leading cross-disability advocacy organisation, celebrated the appointment of two new board members
PWDA members approved the appointment of Eva Sifis and Kevyn Morris as new board directors for a two-year term. They join returning board directors Arun Barramundi, Haidi Badawi, Marayke Jonkers, Dr Michelle Hyde, Nicole Lee, Presley Chihuri, Suresh Rajan and Dr Zhila Hasanloo.
The AGM also marked the departure of co-Vice President Samantha Connor and Board Secretary Clare Gibellini, whose leadership and advocacy have been integral to PWDA’s work over the last few years.
PWDA President Nicole Lee reflected that for an organisation led by and for people with disability the AGM marked an important moment.
“The presence of three presidents – past and present – and engagement from our members at our AGM epitomises what has been at the heart of our organisation for over forty years – our actively engaged members. We know our strength continues to lie in being governed and led by people with disability and our collective voice. The appointment of Eva and Kevyn brings new energy and perspectives to our Board, which will support the progress of our organisation’s important work,” Ms Lee said.
Ms Lee also thanked outgoing co-Vice President Samantha Connor and Secretary Clare Gibellini for their contributions over the last few years.
“On behalf of the board I thank our outgoing directors for their work over the last few years as President, co-Vice President, Secretary and Directors. They steered PWDA through challenges and uncertain times of COVID-19 and have both been strong advocates for our members and the disability rights movement more broadly. While they may be leaving the Board it’s not goodbye; both will be in and around the disability sector and community and will always be here fighting for our rights,” Ms Lee said.
PWDA member and past PWDA President David Abello also attended the AGM, sharing a reflection on the historical efforts to advance disability rights in Australia, emphasising what PWDA has achieved over the last 40 years has been hard won and the work is not done.
Members also endorsed PWDA’s 2022/23 audited financials and Annual Report, which PWDA CEO Sebastian Zagarella has welcomed. “In a year marked by the continued challenges of COVID-19, I am proud of what we have collectively achieved, including a strong financial position and a 19 per cent increase in membership. The successful launch of our three-year strategic plan, the result of the united efforts of our Board, members and staff, sets a strong foundation and offers us a guide for PWDA’s future work advocating for the rights of people with disability,” Mr Zagarella said.
Following the AGM, Nicole Lee was unanimously re-elected as President, with Marayke Jonkers continuing as co-Vice President alongside newly elected co-Vice President, Dr Michelle Hyde. Suresh Rajan transitioned from Treasurer to Secretary, with Presley Chihuri being elected as the new Treasurer.
Anastasia Symons, PWDA Media and Communications
0491 034 479
About People with Disability Australia (PWDA)
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) is a national peak disability rights and advocacy organisation made up of and led by people with disability.
Founded in 1981, PWDA represents the interests of people with all kinds of disability. We’re a not-for-profit community-based organisation and our members comprise a diverse range of individuals and organisations from across Australia.
Our vision is for a socially just, accessible and inclusive community, in which the human rights, belonging, contribution, potential and diversity of all people with disability are recognised, respected and celebrated with pride.
We work both nationally and internationally, and our work is grounded in a human rights framework that recognises the United Nations human rights conventions and related mechanisms as fundamental tools for advancing the rights of people with disability.