Membership and role of the current council

14 members are appointed to the Council including members with lived experience of disability, and representatives from peak and advocacy organisations. Member biographies are available below.

Dr Sharon Boyce - Chair

Sharon BoyceDr Sharon Boyce has expert knowledge, skills and lived experience of disability. As well as a disability advocate and published author, Sharon is an advisor, consultant and part-time lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland.

Diagnosed with juvenile chronic arthritis as a child, she has used an electric wheelchair since a young adult.

With a passion for early intervention for children and families with disability, Sharon has a strong solutions focus on health, education, employment, housing and prevention of domestic and family violence.

Sharon is committed to creating a world where real lived inclusion is possible. She believes in hands-on education and experience and by telling personal stories, barriers can be broken, and real understanding achieved.

Sharon was awarded a Doctor of Letters from the University of Southern Queensland for research in dyslexia and educational inclusion in 2020. She is currently completing her Doctor of Philosophy (Inclusion) at the University of Southern Queensland. Sharon holds a Masters of Education (Honours) and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Southern Queensland.

In 2001, Sharon founded Discovering Disability and Diversity, and the Disability Training Institute, an educational practice that provides resources and programs that promote disability and diversity for educators, doctors, early childhood teachers, schools and university students.

Sharon is on the boards of the Independent Advisory Council for the National Disability Insurance Agency, Toowoomba Regional Council Access Committee, Australian Institute of Inclusive Education and Research, Physical Disability Australia and Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN).

Chief Executive Officer Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion - Ex-Officio

Matilda AlexanderMatilda Alexander is a human rights lawyer and university lecturer with a long history in the community sector. She has worked at the Queensland Human Rights Commission, Legal Aid Queensland and Griffith University. 

Matilda is the Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Advocacy for Inclusion (QAI).

Established in 1987, QAI is an independent not-for-profit advocacy organisation and specialist community legal centre for people with disability.

As an organisation that lives and breathes the human rights of their clients, Matilda is inspired by the work of QAI in service delivery and systems advocacy. QAI ensures that people with disability are central to building an inclusive society.

Matilda is the patron of LGBTI Community Legal Service and has been a tireless advocate for the rights of LGBTI people. In 2018, Matilda won Activist of the Year and Volunteer of the Year at the Queens Ball hosted by Brisbane Pride.

Matilda holds a Masters Degree from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation, Graduate Diploma in Legal Skills and Ethics, Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Politics and Public Policy) from Griffith University.

Chief Executive Officer Queenslanders with Disability Network - Ex-Officio

Paige ArmstrongPaige Armstrong has led the development of strategic policy, program and service reform initiatives in health, community, disability non-government and government organisations, and most recently in the National Disability Insurance Scheme and COVID-19 spaces.

Paige sees co-design and co-delivery of initiatives with people with disability as key to delivering person-centred, quality services that give people choice and control and support their full inclusion as citizens.

Paige has been the Chief Executive Officer of QDN since October 2013.

QDN is a state-wide network of, for, and by people with diverse disability. The network regularly brings members together to discuss relevant social policy issues that impact upon their lives. QDN is a Disability Support Organisation for the National Disability Insurance Agency. 

Paige holds a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) from the University of Queensland.

Chief Executive Officer Autism Queensland - Ex-Officio

Pam MacrossanPam Macrossan commenced her career as an early childhood teacher and has worked across early childhood, primary and the tertiary sector both nationally and internationally.

Pam joined Autism Queensland in January 2015 as General Manager of Children’s Services. She became General Manager of Operations in January 2017, then Chief Operating Officer before her appointment as Chief Executive Officer in February 2019. 

Autism Queensland is a not-for-profit organisation with a vision for a life of participation, opportunity and choice for people with a diagnosis of Autism.

Autism Queensland provides targeted services to people of all ages on the autism spectrum. It is also registered to provide supports to National Disability Insurance Scheme participants.

Pam is the Chair of the Australian Advisory Board for Autism, incorporating the Australian Autism Alliance, and a past member of the Australian Autism Research Council under the auspice of the Autism Cooperative Research Council.

Pam holds a Master of Education Leadership and Management and Diploma of Teaching Early Childhood from the Queensland University of Technology and a Post Graduate Diploma of Early Childhood (Inclusive Education) from Macquarie University.

Chief Executive Officer Down Syndrome Queensland - Ex-Officio

Darryl SteffDarryl Steff has a finance background gained in over 15 years’ experience in executive and management roles in large corporations including BHP Billiton, WorleyParsons and as owner/operator of his own business.

He has a passion to influence change in community for people with disability. His experience has shown that people with Down syndrome want the same as anyone else in the community – employment, friends, independence, relationships and happiness.

Darryl has been Chief Executive Officer at Down Syndrome Queensland (DSQ) since 2017.

DSQ works for a better quality of life for people with Down syndrome by supporting and strengthening families and promoting positive and realistic images of people with Down syndrome. DSQ provides information and support services for people needing assistance to ensure they have access to the most suitable services to achieve their goals.

Darryl holds a Bachelor of Accounting from Bournemouth University and is a member of Chartered Accountants of Australia. 

Darryl has three children, including his daughter Bella with Down syndrome.

Dr Reza Borzou - Member

Dr Reza BorzouDr Reza Borzou is a surgeon and university lecturer who is committed to advocating for improving accessibility, community inclusion and reducing stigma for people with disabilities.

Reza founded the Australian first non-government organisation, Health Promotion Unit in partnership with the Gold Coast City Council to advocate and promote good physical and mental health through an active lifestyle.  

After working in the mental health sector as a psychologist, Reza completed further studies to become a physician and currently works at the Gold Coast University Hospital as a surgeon.

In 2020, Reza was involved in an accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury. After a lifelong commitment to supporting and advocating for the disability community, Reza now combines his professional experience with a personal lived experience.

Reza strives to advocate for human rights, employment, accessible housing, equal access to healthcare and participation for people aged over 65 years in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. He is currently working with the Gold Coast City Council on making the community more accessible for people with physical disability. 

Reza has a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) from the University of Liverpool, a Masters in Mental Health Practice from Griffith University, and a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology/Sports) from the University of Queensland.

Ms Laura Rutherford - Member

Laura RutherfordLaura Rutherford is a young neurodivergent woman with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who grew up in a small Central Queensland town.

In 2021, Laura took on a leadership role as Central Queensland University’s Change Champ Ambassador. As part of the role, Laura helped design new ways of connecting students with initiatives to transform their communities.

Laura co-founded The Rural Conversation, an advocacy and education social media platform for rural and regional young people. With a passion for promoting the benefits of living and working in regional Queensland, Laura strives to highlight the impacts of gender disadvantage in accessing health, education and employment.  

Laura is a member of the Queensland Family and Child Commission’s Youth Advocacy Panel, Speak Out, National Rural Women’s Coalition’s Young Rural, Regional and Remote Advisory Panel and Rural Leadership Foundation’s Drought Resilience Program.

Through her networks, Laura runs local advocacy and education events focused on raising disability awareness and regularly volunteers for her local Rural Fire Brigade, State Emergency Services (SES) and RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue. In 2021, Laura was elected as the Central Queensland University Allied Health Representative for Towards Rural and Outback Health Professionals in Queensland and was re-elected in 2022.

Laura is currently studying for a Bachelor of Physiotherapy at Central Queensland University and was recently awarded a NextGen Medics Scholarship with Heart of Australia, allowing her to experience rural health care with leaders in innovative service delivery.

Ms Laura Scurr - Member

Laura ScurrLaura Scurr was born with athetoid cerebral palsy. She has three university degrees and owns a virtual administration business in Toowoomba. Laura is passionate about raising awareness that people with disability can, and do, have employment and are able to contribute as members of society.

Laura is heavily involved in her community, previously serving on the Cambooya District Australia Day Committee and is currently involved with the YWCA Y Connect Program focused on employment for women with disability. 

She has shared her vision for change at the Red Rose Ball, the Toowoomba Business disAbility Awards and Disability Action Week celebrations at the University of Southern Queensland.

Laura has served as board member on the University of Southern Queensland’s Disability Advisory Committee, South West Regional Disability Advisory Council and held the role of Treasurer of the Hodgsonvale Community Sports Club.

In 2010, she was awarded the Australia Day Young Citizen of the Year (Greenmount District) and in 2015, Laura won Outstanding Individual at the Toowoomba Business disAbility Awards. She is now the owner and Principal Consultant at Toowoomba’s Business Solutions and was until recently, owner of two hospitality businesses.

Laura holds a Graduate Certificate in Business, a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Business (Accounting & Management) from the University of Southern Queensland.

Ms Pamela Spelling - Member

Pam SpellingPam Spelling works as a manager at a non-government organisation in Queensland. Pam has an unwavering commitment to social justice for all people that are often marginalised.

Diagnosed with juvenile chronic arthritis as a two-year old, Pam has significant vision impairment and uses an electric wheelchair. Growing up with disability has led her to have a strong commitment to inclusion.

With a passion for promoting human rights, increasing and advocating for diversity and participation in the workplace and community, Pam strives to support and build the confidence of people with disability so they can pursue all their dreams.  

Pam strongly believes the whole community learns and advances from experiencing the benefits of inclusivity. She demonstrates this by increasing people’s involvement with their community and works on breaking down the barriers that people with disability face every day.

Pam is an active member of the Community Resource Unit Stewardship Committee and was previously involved in the Townsville City Council Inclusive Communities Advisory Committee and was Chair of the Board of Directors Independent Advocacy Townsville. For over 15 years, Pam has been a member of Blind Citizens Australia, Queensland Advocacy Incorporated, Queenslanders with Disability Network, People with Disability Australia and Arthritis Queensland.

Pam holds a Graduate Diploma in Community Services Management, a Bachelor of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and Sociology) from Monash University.

Mr Peter Tully - Member

Peter TullyPeter Tully is a valued member of the Ipswich community, striving to ensure people with disability have accurate information, knowledge and confidence to speak up on a range of issues that directly affect them.

Peter has worked within grassroots community organisations, the not-for-profit sector and government. He is a volunteer, disability advocate, motivational speaker, IT consultant, group convenor and housing champion. 

Peter grew up attending CPL – Choice, Passion, Life (previously Cerebral Palsy League) in New Farm and was involved in all areas of the CPL community into his early adult life. After starting a computer business in Brisbane, Peter moved to Ipswich and joined the Catalyst Church as the IT Support Manager.

In 2008, Peter founded Disability Community Awareness Mentoring Supports (DCAMS) offering services that focus on advocating, networking, promoting community engagement and supporting National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants and their families.

Peter is currently on the boards of the Ipswich Disability Interagency Network, Ipswich Hospital Community Reference Group, Ipswich Support Coordinators Community of Practice, and the Disability Inclusive Disaster Resilient Queensland project.

Peter is a Board Director of QDN and in 2017, was awarded life membership to QDN for his significant service and commitment to the Queensland disability community.

Mr Peter Gurr - Member

Peter GurrPeter has extensive business knowledge and is passionate about helping other people with disabilities.  Peter is a licensed building contractor who operated his own business and was involved in manufacturing disability equipment.  Peter has a Diploma in Community Service with electives in disability.

Peter has had first-hand experience of living with disability as he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis eleven years ago. Peter has actively advocated for people with disability at a local, state and federal level. 

Peter is a Queensland Disability Network member who has been involved in various initiatives including Peer Facilitator for QDN’s Ready to go Project, Housing champion, Peer support and Coordinator for Disaster preparedness.

Peter has been a member on the Queensland Disability Advisory Council for six years and has been involved in the NDIS pathways work. Peter enjoys volunteering at Sailability Townsville where he encourages people with disability to experience freedom and hope through sailing.

Peter is married to Joy and they have two children, Emma and Lachlan.

Uncle Paul Calcott - Member

Uncle Paul CalcottUncle Paul Constable Calcott is recognised as a Community Elder with working knowledge of disability. Paul is a renowned Australian artist who has lived with a degenerative disability for most of his life after he contracted polio when he was 18 months old.

As a proud Wiradjuri man growing up with disability and a member of the LGBTIQ+ community, he has first-hand experience of how intersectionality can lead to marginalisation and discrimination.

A long-time advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, Paul is passionate about supporting Australia’s First Peoples living with disability who are LGBTIQ+.

Paul works with the First Peoples Disability Network Australia on improving the engagement with, and resources for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and advocates for more culturally appropriate programs and activities for people with disability.

Paul facilitates a local art group of First Peoples artists living with disability, using traditional art and storytelling to raise awareness around issues impacting his community, such as health, social isolation, economic participation and resilience building.  

In 2019, his art group held an exhibition at the United Nations in Geneva called ‘Culture is Inclusion’ and in 2017 spoke at the United Nations Headquarters in New York regarding LGBTIQ+ First Nations Peoples living with disability and the intersectionality between them.

Locally, Paul sits on the Murri Court on the Sunshine Coast as a recognised Community Elder.

Ms Rachael Watson AOM - Member

Rachael WatsonRachael Watson OAM is an Australian Paralympic swimmer who represented Australia at the Rio and Tokyo Paralympics winning gold in the 50m Freestyle S4. At the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Rachael won the gold medal in the Women's 50m Freestyle S4 in a Paralympic record time.

One of triplets, Rachael was born in Brisbane with cerebral palsy. As a young adult, she acquired Guillain Barre Syndrome that led to severe rapid muscle weakness and peripheral nervous system damage, resulting in quadriplegia and the loss of the ability to walk.

Rachael took up swimming as part of her rehabilitation and was classified as an S4 swimmer. At her first international competition, she won the gold medal in the multi class 50m Freestyle.

At the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London, Rachael won a silver medal in the 50m Freestyle S4 and a bronze medal in the 100m Freestyle S4. At the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships in Portugal, Rachael won the silver medal in the Women's 50m Freestyle S4.

As the Ambassador for the Guillain Barre Syndrome Foundation of Australia and the Queensland Children’s Hospital Foundation, Rachael provides direct health liaison support and advocacy for patients and families. Rachael is a member of the University of Queensland ParaSTART, Queensland Health Disability Advisory Committee and the Paralympics Australia Leadership Group.

Rachael holds Honours in piano and music, and in 2017 was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Rachael is currently completing a Master of Social Work from the University of Queensland and holds a Bachelor of Early Childhood Studies from the Queensland University of Technology.

Mr Nigel Webb - Member

Nigel WebbNigel Webb has been a social justice advocate in his community for the past 35 years. He is a trusted voice, advisor and leader across the community services sector, business and government.

His extensive knowledge and experience have guided state and national advisory and representative groups, boards and community organisations.

Nigel’s strength is his strategic advice and direction on the social and economic inclusion of people with disabilities, and a range of issues of importance to the disability and carer sectors around the National Disability Insurance Scheme and reforms to employment.

From 2018–2019, Nigel was Co-Chair of the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council for the Department of Social Services.

On a part-time basis, Nigel works as a Client Liaison Officer at CPL – Choice, Passion, Life (formerly the Cerebral Palsy League) and is a Peer Mentor with Queenslanders with Disability Network.

Nigel has Diplomas in Community Services, Justice Administration, Certificate SAI Global – Lead Auditor Quality Management Systems and is a Qualified Justice of the Peace (QLD).

Role

The Queensland Disability Advisory Council operates as a key channel for independent advice to the Minister for Seniors and Disability Services and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, and for the Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, on regional, state and national disability related matters. The council represents the views and opinions of the disability community that are important to Queenslanders.

In doing so, the council:

  1. provides frank, independent and evidence-based advice to the Minister and department on major policy, program and practice initiatives and systemic issues impacting people with disability, their families and carers, with an emphasis on the experiences of people with disability and the sector that supports them
  2. provides feedback on issues that may include participants’ experiences with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and access to mainstream services systems
  3. promotes a socially and economically inclusive Queensland with a particular focus on increasing employment for people with disability, in line with the Queensland State Disability Plan and priorities under Australia’s Disability Strategy 2021-2031
  4. acts as a consultative forum for policy and program initiatives under development by Queensland Government agencies or on other occasions where the government or Minister requests stakeholder views
  5. supports communication and understanding among the community about opportunities presented through development of the new State Disability Plan, Australia’s Disability Strategy and about the NDIS
  6. fosters strong working relationships with other disability-related advisory councils and networks in other jurisdictions and within Queensland and including the National Disability Advisory Council.