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An era ends and a new one begins for Inclusion Australia

There was a sense of change at Inclusion Australia this week with the election of a new chair of our board.

Felicity Crowther, Executive Director of the South Australian Council on Intellectual Disability (SACID) has taken over from our longstanding Chair Kevin Stone AM.

Felicity Crowther, Executive Director of SACID and the new chair of Inclusion Australia with our CEO Catherine McAlpine

Kevin officially stepped down last week after almost 30 years as a board member, first with the National Council on Intellectual Disability (NCID) and latterly with Inclusion Australia.

Kevin is well-known across the disability community in Australia and around the world for his work with people with an intellectual disability. As CEO of VALID in Victoria, Kevin was a committed supporter of self-advocacy and the importance of people with disabilities having a say and control over their own lives.

Through his work with Inclusion Australia, Kevin brought his passion and ideas to the national stage, working collaboratively with our members and others around the country on the big issues including deinstitutionalisation, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Disability Royal Commission and much more.

Kevin with disability advocate Sir Robert Martin from New Zealand at the 2017 VALID Having a Say Conference.

Kevin reflected “When I joined the NCID board back in 1994, I was conscious then of the proud history of our organisation, and felt humbled to be carrying the torch lit by [our] founding members back in the mid-1950’s. As I now stand down from the board, I like to imagine how proud those founders would be to see what has come of their vision.

Reflecting on Kevin’s time, our CEO Catherine McAlpine said “I will never forget Kevin telling me I had his complete trust when I started in the CEO role at IA. To have the backing of such a giant in the sector, a person who has lived their values on a daily basis, felt amazing. Kevin’s generous mentoring on the best way to speak truth to power and his personal reflections on balancing our shared lived experience in our advocacy work has been a privilege to experience. I want to thank Kevin and his family for his enormous contribution in improving the lives of people with an intellectual disability.”

Thinking about the future, Catherine is also looking forward to working with Felicity as the new Chair of Inclusion Australia. “It is wonderful to have Felicity as our new chair. Her leadership from when South Australia had no funded advocacy organisation focused on people with an intellectual disability to now  as the experienced Executive Director of SACID has been fantastic to observe over the past few years. I was lucky enough to be part of the past two SACID conferences and the voice of people with an intellectual disability is at the front of everything they do. I know that Felicity will bring this to her new role too. I look forward to working closely with her in the years to come.”

Kevin with Inclusion Australia Board members in 2021

Reflecting on taking over from Kevin, Felicity told us “The first time I met Kevin I was a student on placement. He came over to South Australia on International Day of Persons with Disability to talk about the work that VALID was doing on rights. I went to visit the team at VALID not long after and remember thinking I wish there was an organisation in South Australia I could work for! That was over 13 years ago, and Kevin has remained an amazing force in the sector. I admire his leadership, so it’s incredible to have an opportunity to try to fill his shoes.”

Sadly, Kevin was not available to attend our recent gathering of the Board in Melbourne for the planned farewell. We will make time in the future to say thank you.

In the meantime, the new look Board has started already including working with members of the Our Voice Committee on their ideas to make sure people with an intellectual disability play an even stronger role in everything we do at Inclusion Australia.