The Victorian Disability Advisory Council (VDAC) was established in July 2007 under the Disability Act 2006.
The council provides advice to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley MP about policies and strategies to increase the participation of people with disability in the Victorian community.
The council has an important role in overseeing the state disability plan and reviewing the progress being made in different areas.
The council also works with other community and government advisory groups to create opportunities for all Victorians.
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Members are made up of people with disability and carers of people with disability. Members have experience in policy, governance, leadership and collaborations, as it relates to disability.
The current council’s term of office will continue through to 30 June 2019.
Colleen Furlanetto (Chair)
Colleen has represented her community in local government from 2008 – 2016 and is former mayor of Strathbogie Shire Council. Colleen highly values volunteerism and sits on a Women’s Health Board along with numerous other committees, including the strategic leadership committee with the Country Fire Authority. Colleen is a rural Victorian living with an MS-like illness. She is a strong advocate for the rights of people with disability and the prevention of violence against women.
Daniel Giles OAM
Daniel is a young man living and working in Bendigo. He also has autism. He was diagnosed at the age of two and has gone through many challenges. Daniel is a practising graphic designer. He is also passionate about spreading the awareness of autism and promoting the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the community. Daniel is a member of the Public Transport Access Committee and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2017.
Colin is a long-term advocate for the rights of people with intellectual disability. He has volunteered for decades with Reinforce, the longest running self-advocacy group run by and for people with an intellectual disability. Colin has held numerous positions on the Reinforce Committee of Management and is currently President, he serves on the Self Advocacy Resource Unit steering committees for the Australian Self Advocacy Project, the Voice at the Table project and is a founding member of the Victoria Self Advocacy Network.
Jen is a strong advocate for women with disabilities and human rights. Jen studied at Monash University’s Centre for Human Bioethics. Since then, she has brought her experience as a person with a disability and chronic health conditions to public speaking, writing, consulting and committees membership. She developed the Youth Disability Rights Hub, wrote regularly for ABC Ramp Up and has been a Community Visitor for the Office of the Public Advocate.
Cathy is a committed driver of change who has introduced new initiatives to promote social justice in the deafness, disability and education sectors. She has both personal and professional experience of the deaf and hard of hearing communities and brings a wealth of knowledge in the areas of governance, public policy, leadership and accountability.
Jeff is a former councillor at the East Gippsland Shire Council and he has represented Australia five times in the Paralympic Games and 17 international marathons. Jeff, who is blind, is passionate about the contribution that people with disabilities can make and about challenging people’s perceptions otherwise.
Melanie lives with epilepsy and has qualifications in arts, social work, the law, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has worked in the public and private sectors including in the areas of future city strategic planning, social policy and women’s policy, equal opportunity, and as a private sector solicitor. Her diverse non-professional activities have included being Mayor and Councillor of the City of St Kilda, local heritage initiatives, and board member of a wide range of organisations. Melanie is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Hepatitis Victoria.
Stephanie has experience of disability as a sibling and as a parent. Stephanie has a social work background and has worked in the area of disability for 20 years. This has included working in direct service provision, management and governance. Stephanie’s professional and personal experience has enabled her to confront issues regarding fairness, equal opportunity, participation in the community, acceptance of differences and 'best practice' in service delivery. Stephanie is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Children and Young People with Disability Australia.
Professor Anne Kavanagh
Anne is Professor of Women’s Health at The University of Melbourne and Co-Director and Lead Investigator for the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health. Her research aims to improve the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged Australians including women and men with disabilities. She has large research grants that assess the extent to which the health of people with disabilities is influenced by gender, social and economic participation and housing. Anne is a parent of a child with autism and an intellectual impairment and she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2011.
Dr George Taleporos
George completed his PhD in psychology investigating disability and relationships and has expertise in disability reform and youth engagement. He has held managerial roles in advocacy, lectured in disability and health at Deakin University and played a leadership role in the implementation of the NDIS in Victoria. He is currently the Policy Manager of The Summer Foundation and is a regular media contributor.