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26th June 2018
We are sad to advise that Laurie Harkin AM has decided to retire from his position as Disability Services Commissioner effective as of Friday 6 July 2018 due to health and family issues.
Laurie is Victoria’s inaugural Disability Services Commissioner and has been in the role since 2007.
He has been instrumental in ensuring the voice of people with disability is increasingly heard by their disability service provider as the growth in enquiries and complaints from 311 in 2007-08 to 1,213 in 2016-17 shows.
Laurie’s approach to working with disability service providers has also led to a more positive and transparent approach to organisation reporting and handling of complaints, with reported complaints increasing from 992 in 2007-08 to 2,504 in 2016-17. This was in part achieved through the establishment of the online Annual Complaints Reporting Tool, adapted versions of which are now being used in New South Wales and Western Australia.
In 2013 Laurie was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the community, particularly through the care and protection of people with a disability.
Before his appointment as Commissioner, Laurie had a long and distinguished career in a range of social and community services, including disability, over three decades. He held senior executive positions within State and local government, non-government services, and in the private sector, including as a Regional Director in the department’s South and Gippsland Divisions.
As a strong advocate to protect the rights of people with disability, Laurie will be greatly missed by staff at the Disability Services Commissioner, as well as the broader disability community.
In his own words:
“It has been a privilege to be Disability Services Commissioner and have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of people with a disability and their families. During my time as Commissioner, it has been pleasing to see the continued increase in the number of people who have found the confidence to speak up about their disability supports, whether directly to my office or to their service provider.
If, as a sector, we are to realise the aims of the NDIS, I implore all involved in the sector to continue to promote people’s right to speak up about, and wherever possible take charge of, their supports.”
As an office, we extend our heartfelt thanks to Laurie for his leadership and service over the years, and wish him and his family all the best for the years ahead.
Thank you Laurie.
For information on acting arrangements, please click here.
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Melbourne, Victoria, 3000 Australia
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