About VDAC

The Victorian Disability Advisory Council (VDAC) was established in July 2007 under the Disability Act 2006.

The council provides advice to the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, the Hon Luke Donnellan MP about policies and strategies to increase the participation and inclusion 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.

To read the media release announcing the appointment of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council please click here.


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 2022.

Amanda Lawrie-Jones

Amanda is President of Scleroderma Victoria, Scleroderma Australia and a board member of Arts Access Victoria. She is a former City of Melbourne Disability Advisory Committee member and has had previous board and governance experience.

Amanda was previously Chair of the National Australia Banks’s Disability Employee Network (2011 to 2014) and Co-Chair for the updating and implementation of their Accessibility Action Plan. She was also a Finalist in the 2018 National Awards for Disability Leadership in the category of ‘Change Making’.

Colin Hiscoe

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 also serves on the Self Advocacy Resource Unit steering committees for the Australian Self Advocacy Project and the Voice at the Table project and is a founding member of the Victorian Self Advocacy Network.

Eliza Hull

Eliza is a parent with disability, living in regional Victoria. She produced the 'We've Got This' audio series on parenting with disability for the ABC. She is currently producing a TV show for ABC KIDS about living with a disability as a child. With an emerging media profile, Eliza is a musician with a background in teaching and education, including mentoring students with disability.

Martin Heng

Martin has a BA and MA in English literature from Cambridge University and an MA in Communications from RMIT University. He left England in 1987 and lived, worked and travelled around the world before migrating to Australia in 1997. He has worked for Lonely Planet since 1999 in numerous roles, including seven years as Editorial Manager. A road accident in 2010 left him a quadriplegic. He has been Lonely Planet’s Accessible Travel Manager & Editorial Adviser since 2013, in which role he has published a number of accessible travel titles, including the world’s largest collection of accessible travel online resources. His most recent publication was an accessible travel phrasebook, featuring disability-specific words and phrases in 35 languages. Since 2014 he has become a regular speaker at travel conferences around the world, including several United Nations World Tourism Organisation events, as well as a speaker and facilitator at local accessible tourism events.

For the last two years he has served as chair of the board of IDEAS, a NSW-based non-profit organisation providing information to and advocacy services for the disability communities throughout Australia. He is also a founding member and on the steering committee of the Melbourne-based Spinal Cord Injury Network of Professionals.

Karen Fankhauser

Karen has been a member of the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Disability Advisory Committee since 2014, and was elected Chairperson in 2019.

She was awarded the Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Citizen of the Year in 2018 for her commitment to her work as an advocate for the achievement of greater inclusion and accessibility for people with disability In the community.

Shol Blustein

Shol is the Co-founder of Impact Co., a consulting agency that works with startups and established organisations and government agencies in the disability, health, mental health and Indigenous sectors. Key to the work of Impact Co. is to enable greater inclusion for people with disabilities through innovative practices; this includes supporting people with disabilities to start their own businesses. Impact Co. was born out of Shol's familial lived experience of psychosocial disability.

Shol completed the Williamsons Community Leadership Program in 2015. Prior to founding Impact Co, Shol was the General Manager, Service Innovation at South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network.

Shol has also completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Policy and Law, which he did while working at Minter Ellison (2009 – 2012).

Jax Jacki Brown

Jax Jacki Brown is a disability and LGBTIQA+ rights activist, writer, and educator. Through her tireless work as a writer, speaker, workshop and forum presenter, lecturer, spoken-word performer and theatre producer, Jax aims to challenge disability stereotypes and spotlight serious issues for change.

Jax is also a current member of the Victorian Ministerial Council on Women's Equality and a former member of the Victorian governments' LGBTI taskforce Health and Human Services Working Group and the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Disability Reference Group. Jax is interested in how we can build resilience, pride and community for people with disability.

Gabrielle Hall

Gabrielle has lived experience both as an autistic person, and as the parent of two autistic children. Her professional background has been in health care as a Division 1 nurse and holistic practitioner. She is also a peer researcher with the Autism Collaborative Research Centre, and has been a committed autism advocate in the community.

George Taleporos

George completed his PhD in psychology investigating disability and relationships and has expertise in disability reform and youth engagement. He has held management roles in advocacy, lectured in disability and health at Deakin University and played a leadership role in the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Victoria.

He is currently the Policy Manager of The Summer Foundation and is a regular media contributor.

Caitlin Syer

Caitlin is a current VPS employee, working with the behavioural insights team at the Department of Premier and Cabinet one day per week. As a young person with an intellectual disability, Caitlin brings a unique and fresh perspective to the Victorian Disability Advisory Council. She is also a member on the Knox City Disability Advisory Council.

Caitlin is passionate about removing the barriers that segregate people with intellectual disability.

Astrid Edwards

Astrid Edwards was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2013 and has been a National Advocate for MS Australia since 2015.

Astrid teaches writing and coordinates the Associate Degree of Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University. She serves on the Board of Melbourne Writers Festival, and previously served as the Deputy Chair of Writers Victoria.

Astrid is one half of Bad Producer Productions, a podcast company with seven successful (and three awarded) podcasts to date. She is also a bibliophile and host of The Garret: Writers on Writing. You can read her book reviews in The Age, The Saturday Paper and Australian Book Review.

Astrid was previously a consultant who specialised in climate and social impact policy development and evaluation.

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VDAC Secretariat
1300 880 043
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Victorian Disability Advisory Council

Level 4, 50 Lonsdale Street