Our Team

APIDS has been run by a dedicated team of directors. In 2015 some of the original Board stood down.

Current directors

SALLY BAKER (Director)


ROBYN JAMES (Director)





Former Directors

KATE MATAIRAVULA (Former Director)

WILLIAM (BILL) JOLLEY (Former Treasurer)




Sally has spent her professional life working in disability inclusive development across Asia and the Pacific.several years spent working in the Pacific. Sally has worked with NGOs, Disabled Persons’ Organisations, managing contractors, UN agencies and donors to support the development of disability inclusion across various sectors, including health, education, livelihoods, disaster management, WASH and climate change.

Sally continues to support the capacity development of Disabled Persons’ Organisations and disability service providers in various countries through her work. Sally lead the Solomon Islands Disability Survey, was a co-developer of the Rapid Assessment of Disability toolkit, and is currently a co-investigator on research projects which are investigating indicators for effective inclusive education practice in the Pacific, and barriers to sexual and reproductive health services as experienced by women with disability in the Philippines. Sally has worked for the Government of Samoa, Government of Solomon Islands and Handicap International; and since 2008 has been with the Nossal Institute for Global Health, where she is a Senior Technical Advisor – Disability Inclusive Development. Sally is currently based in Vanuatu.


As an occupational therapist and lawyer, Darryl combines around 20 years of technical and management experience in private and public sectors, to complex disability-related program and policy issues. He is currently Adviser to Australia’s Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, and has previously worked in a variety of settings including conflict and post-conflict affected countries in the Middle East and Asia. Darryl’s most recent work includes Disability Inclusive Development Specialist for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (and the former AusAID). He was based in Cambodia to support DFAT’s programs in Asia, and prior to that was part of the Disability policy section in Canberra.

Prior to this experience he worked for Handicap International in the Middle East, managing a technical team supporting disability services and disability rights programs across the region. Darryl has previously worked in health centres and the community, private and government legal settings, private rehabilitation companies and as an independent consultant. He has particular interests and experience in law and justice, health and rehabilitation including HIV and CBR, governance, policy and human rights.


Robyn James is currently enjoying retirement from paid work in her home town of Melbourne, after living and working in PNG, Cairns, Fiji and Canberra. She trained as a secondary teacher and taught in secondary schools for two years. Robyn worked in the disability sector from 1970, in a variety of non government roles including recreation work, volunteer coordination, consultancy, teaching adults working with people with disabilities and also the Queensland government as a Community Resource Officer.

Robyn has had two volunteer placements with Australian Volunteers International. In 1992/93 she was a Community Development Worker with Kindegaden Long Ples in Madang, Papua New Guinea, and this began a love affair with the Pacific. From 2003-2005 Robyn was Advocacy Officer with Fiji Disabled People’s Association (FDPA).  The idea for APIDS grew out of that experience.

Robyn is currently the Deputy Chair of Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC).


Applying community development principles, Elena is completing her PhD to further develop inclusive methods and understand the human rights priorities of Pacific children with disability, as reported by them. Initially funded by DFAT, this research partnered with DPOs and Save the Children in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Prior to working as a research fellow and still occasionally, Elena lectures, advises, trains and conducts research for Universities, NGOs, INGOs and WHO around disability inclusive practice across a variety of settings.

Elena has previously worked as a technical advisor for Handicap International in Nepal, advisor to a deaf early intervention program and trainer to sign language interpreters in Samoa and held disability coordination roles for the Western Australian and Victorian governments. Elena has a trained background in disability, Auslan interpreting, Auslan linguistics and international and community development.

Elena is interested in the experiences of children with disabilities within development contexts along with factors that influence inclusion and human rights. Elena loves all things Pacific, her family, art, chickens and bees! Short films of the current Pacific research can be found here.



Sophie Plumridge is the Head of Communications at CBM Australia.  Prior to that Sophie held the role of Executive Officer of the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC) for  two years. Sophie was involved in ADDC as Chair prior to taking on the role of Executive Officer and also served as an Executive Committee member.  From 2008-2013 Sophie held Director roles at Vision 2020 Australia in both national and global policy and programs positions, notably leading the secretariat for the Vision 2020 Australia Global Consortium which implements the Avoidable Blindness Initiative.  Sophie also worked at World Vision Australia from 2001-2008, and as Head of Communications she led the organisation’s communications response to the Boxing Day Tsunami. Previously, Sophie held a range of marketing, communication and events roles at the City of Melbourne.  Sophie has an Applied Science qualification in Planning (with distinction) and is a graduate of Melbourne Business School with a Masters of Marketing. 

DEBORAH RHODES (Vice- President)

Deborah has been working in Pacific countries for over 30 years on a wide variety of aid and development activities. She currently works independently as a consultant and this involves designing new aid programs and reviewing existing ones, as well as facilitating meetings and running training courses.  She has particular expertise in capacity-focused activities and cross-cultural competence and has written two books on these topics.  She uses strengths-based approaches in her work.  Deborah teaches aid workers in Australia and many others in a variety of development related topics.

In 2003-04, Deborah first met the leaders and workers of Fiji Disabled Peoples Association (FDPA) and its affiliates, and this led to her undertaking a Master in International Development which focussed on FDPA’s work. The research considered the consequences of FDPA’s use of the rights based approach in its work and involved meetings with many people in Fiji about disability issues.  This led to a deep interest in disability inclusive development and Deborah has participated in a number of disability policy and research activities, developing papers and presenting at conferences since then. She has been an active and enthusiastic Director of APIDS since it first started in 2005.


Daniel is the CEO of Inner Melbourne Community Legal (IMCL), based in North Melbourne, a community legal centre that provides legal services to disadvantaged and marginalised people in Melbourne. Until mid 2009 Daniel worked as a consultant on social policy and organisation development issues in the Pacific. He worked for development agencies, regional and international bodies on human rights issues (often relating to people with disabilities) and civil society organisation issues such as governance and management. Daniel has lived in Fiji, New Caledonia, Canberra and Melbourne. Before working in development Daniel was the Executive Director of a high profile Australian social justice organisation (ACT Council of Social Service). Daniel’s history in the disability sector and his own disability (vision impairment) has seen him develop a strong commitment to the experiences and challenges faced by people living with disadvantage. He has been successful in promoting responses to these issues which are developed, owned and implemented by the affected community. Daniel has experience in both the community and government sectors where he has undertaken research, developed/analysed social policy, implemented social change and community development. He has also worked voluntarily with many small and large organisations on social justice and organisation development issues. Daniel has an honours degree in Economics (University of Melbourne), a Graduate Diploma in Development Economics (ANU) and an honours degree in Law (Macquarie University).


Maryanne is the current chair of the International Disability Alliance (IDA) from 1 July 2014.  IDA was established in 1999 as a network of global and, since 2007, regional disabled people’s organizations (DPOs). The aim of IDA is to promote the effective and full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) worldwide, as well as compliance with the CRPD within the UN system, through the active and coordinated involvement of representative organizations of persons with disabilities at the national, regional and international levels.

She is the Immediate Past President of the World Blind Union (WBU). Her current responsibilities with the WBU include: chair of the employment committee, leader of the Strategic priority “Information sharing and collaborations”, Chair of The Right to read initiative and the collaboration with other international organizations. Maryanne led the WBU’s delegation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) negotiations over  a five year period which resulted in a treaty adopted in June 2013, “The Marrakech Treaty to Facilitate access to information for persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled”. She heads the WBU worldwide treaty ratification campaign.

Maryanne leads Vision Australia’’s Advocacy and Engagement Department which is responsible for: Government Relations and Policy, Advocacy, Client Consultation and Engagement . The fourth element of the department includes Maryanne’s work as Immediate Past President of the WBU, chair of IDA and fostering and developing relationships and collaborations with similar organizations worldwide. She has held a range of positions on community, local, state, national and international boards and committees for more than 30 years.

Maryanne has previously held the positions of: inaugural CEO of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations; and Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia. She also worked for many years in the Information Technology industry and is a mother of four.

Bill was our trusty Treasurer and has many years of experience in boards and committees.  He is currently Chair of the Board of Seeing Eye Dogs Australia and is Australia’s representative on the International Council on English Braille. Bill’s involvement with Blind Citizens Australia goes back to its founding in 1975, and he was President for seven years and Executive Officer for six years until June 2000.

Bill has been involved in capacity building and training projects in Fiji (with UBP), Vietnam, Kenya and Zimbabwe. He recently carried out evaluations of capacity-building and material support projects for the Asian Blind Union on behalf of the funding partners from Norway and Denmark.


Kate works as Manager of Access and Community Development at the Deaf Society of NSW in Sydney. She was previously coordinating accredited Auslan (Australian Sign Language) courses from 2008 to 2011. From 2005 to 2007 she worked with the Fiji Association of the Deaf assisting them to create their first Fiji Sign Language Dictionary and set up the first sign language interpreter training course. Kate has also worked as an actor with Australian Theatre of the Deaf and as a Rehabilitation Counsellor working with people with disabilities to obtain meaningful and stable employment.