View All Presentations

Panel Session – Unpacking DES Reform

Following on from Julian Hill MP and his presentation on DES Reform, this panel will unpack what has been discussed and give some thinking of what DES 2025 will look like. The Australian Government is altering the current DES program, with one key aim of boosting quality services for participants and aiming to provide better and more sustainable employment outcomes for people living with disability. The panel will discuss the positives of the proposed changes and also discuss some of the risks of this reform.  Panellists will also discuss working with new eligibility groups and how to inform employers of the changes to DES. We will ask all panellists how these reforms will drive positive change and how the changes embed the recommendations from the Disability Royal Commission.  This is a panel session not to be missed!


Catherine McAlpine

Catherine McAlpine

CEO, Inclusion Australia

Catherine McAlpine is the Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Australia, the national representative organisation for people with an intellectual disability and their families.

Catherine is a respected leader in the disability community, with previous senior roles in state and national advocacy and not-for-profit disability organisations. Her focus is on supporting the rights and empowerment of people with intellectual disability and their families. She has spoken as a witness at several Disability Royal Commission hearings on employment and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Catherine has a track record of collaboration and innovation to increase the inclusion of people with a disability. This is informed by her previous roles in the corporate sector, and running a small business, which gave insight into the need to base reform around sustainable business models.


Mathew McIntyre

Executive General Manager, The Disability Trust

Mathew is a proud First Nations man having extensive experience working across the Disability and Employment Service Sector. Prior to joining The Disability Trust, Mathew has held senior management and executive leadership roles across regional, state and national footprints where he was responsible for leading high-performing teams, developing emerging leaders and implementing strategic change initiatives.

Mathew prides himself on creating an environment of collaboration and equality in delivering excellence in service delivery with strong collaborations with participants, families and external community support services to ensure he delivers real outcomes that meet the needs and choices of the participants we support.

Ann Nevile

Dr Ann Nevile

Social Policy Researcher, ANU

Ann Nevile is a qualitative social policy researcher who has spent more than twenty years analysing the impact of funding and performance management frameworks on service delivery organisations and outcomes for their clients.  A particular focus of Ann’s research in the disability employment space is service quality – how it is defined and how it can be measured.  Ann has published a number of articles and reports which explore this issue from the perspective of job seekers and employers and has been invited to provide expert evidence to Royal Commissions, Parliamentary Committee Inquiries and government consultations.


Peter Bacon

Peter Bacon

Chief Executive Officer, Disability Employment Australia

Peter started as Chief Executive Officer at DEA in March 2023, having spent over 15 years in the disability employment sector.

He started on the frontline as an Employment Advisor to claimants of health-related benefits in East London, before moving into a range of business development and strategy. He has always been passionate about the transformational impact that decent work can have on people’s lives.

Peter moved to Australia in 2016 to take up a role at Campbell Page, where he was integral in efforts to diversify the business including the launch of environmentally focused social enterprise ‘EcoCrews’.

Peter is a Fellow both of the Social Impact Hub – exemplifying his commitment to driving measurable impact – and the Institute of Employability Professionals, reflecting a long-held commitment to recognise and uphold continuing professional development in the sector.

Peter is delighted at the opportunity to lead DEA and engage with members about how we can best capitalise on the opportunity to help more people living with disability to achieve their employment potential.

Outside of work, he is a devoted father to his two young daughters and a keen fan of Fulham football club.

Suzanne Colbert

Suzanne Colbert AM, GAICD

Advisor, NED, Founder and former CEO of AND, and Inaugural DEA chairperson

Suzanne has had 27 years of executive leadership in the for-purpose sector. She is a trusted advisor, non-executive director, business owner, mentor, and coach. She co-founded the Australian Network on Disability (AND) and nurtured its success and growth as CEO for 20 years.

Suzanne’s work at AND transformed the way private and public sector businesses included employees, customers, and stakeholders with disability. In collaboration with member organisations and people with disability, Suzanne designed, developed, and implemented policies, publications, and world-class programs that successfully facilitate inclusion. AND Members invest in acquiring the behaviours, attitudes, systems, and knowledge that they need to welcome people with disability as employees and customers. AND became recognised as the authoritative voice for businesses on inclusion of people with disability and now one in six Australian employees works for an AND member.

Suzanne also established Australia’s first senior executive network to champion the inclusion of people with disability that facilitated executive learning exchanges as were a powerful way of amplifying the influence and effectiveness of the voices of employees with disability in their organisations and D&I.

It was Suzanne’s previous 10 years’ of assisting people with significant disability into well paid sustainable jobs that led her to realise that large and complex employers needed more help. During that time, she was also inaugural chair of ACE National Network, now DEA. She learned that, given the chance, almost everyone can work.

For Suzanne, her professional experience mirrored her personal experience. Her late husband, businessman John Little, a wheelchair user with significant disability continued working into his 70’s.

Suzanne is driven by the belief that everybody can contribute through work, and it’s up to us to make sure we don’t leave anyone behind.


Professor Erin Wilson

Director, Centre for Social Impact (CSI), Swinburne University

Professor Erin Wilson is the Director of the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology. In this role, she leads a team of researchers and industry fellows building and translating the evidence base in relation to ‘what works’ to support the employment of people with disability including practice, policy and ecosystem design. The team has conducted more than fifteen research projects in this arena in the past two years, through which she has led commentary on relevant social policy and legislation. Professor Wilson has advised the government in areas such as outcomes measurement of social services and is the lead researcher of the team behind the internationally recognised Community Services Outcomes Tree.