100 scholarships awarded to Australian disability leaders

The Albanese Labor Government has awarded 100 scholarships as part of its $2 million investment to develop disability leaders across the country.

The Disability Leadership Program is a pilot offered through the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) for people living with disability to boost their leadership and senior executive skills to undertake board positions.

There was overwhelming interest in the full-fee scholarship program which was expected to offer 85 positions in its first year. Due to the strength of applications received, 100 places have been offered and accepted through this first round.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the program is an important step in increasing the number of people with disability in senior leadership positions and continued the Government’s commitment to meaningful employment for people living with disability. 

“The Albanese Labor Government is committed to a brighter future for all Australians living with disability and investing in disability leaders is key to this future,” Minister Rishworth said.

“We know that people living with disability do face barriers to employment, yet 88 per cent of people living with disability require no adjustments from their employer. They just require the opportunity.

“It’s important that people living with disability who gain employment have leadership pathways. It’s not just good for the individual but good for the business and community too.”

The Disability Leadership Program has a focus on women, First Nations people, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Scholarship winners range from across Australia.

“Australians with disability want to see themselves reflected in their leaders and it is great that this program has broad representation of the diverse disability community. We look forward to seeing the success of this important program,” Minister Rishworth said.

The program will see leaders undertake either the AICD Company Directors Course or Foundations of Directorship Course.

AICD partnered with the Australian Network on Disability (AND) to deliver the initiative and engaged Australian Scholarships Foundation to manage the scholarship application process.

AICD Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Mark Rigotti said the AICD was extremely pleased to be involved in this important partnership with AND, delivering greater opportunity for leaders with disability.

“The AICD understands the value and benefits of diversity around the board table and this initiative is about empowering leaders with disability to participate fully, building on their skills, governance knowledge and director networks,” Mr Rigotti said.

Up to 100 scholarships will be available in the second round of the program, with applications to open in January 2023.

The Disability Leadership Program is an investment to build positive community attitudes under Australia’s Disability Strategy.