Disability Employment Australia. Represent, Support, Resource

Hall of Fame

Lucy Macali - Awarded August 2014

Lucy Macali is a well-known and instrumental force behind disability employment in Australia.

She has a Masters in Social Sciences from RMIT University.

She is currently the General Manager of the NDRC (the National Disability Recruitment Coordinator) managed by WorkFocus. She was previously the Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Competitive Employment – ACE National Network – now Disability Employment Australia.

Lucy has been involved in disability services for over 20 years. She has worked in both residential and support services before moving into the field of disability employment assistance. She has been at the forefront of disability and mental health employment assistance policy and continuous improvement in practice for two decades

She was Executive Officer of Work Force, a disability employment service that was instrumental in keeping an early version of what became the Personal Support Program operating after government funding had ceased. As Work Force Executive officer, during her time there, Lucy set up a supported employment program, called Clean Force that from day one of operating in 2001 paid its employees Award Based wages. It is still running today as a social enterprise under the WISE Employment banner.

She was also a founder of PEN, the Psychiatric Employment Network, in the late nineties.

In 2003 ACE was transitioning from a collection of state-based entities to a national peak body. Lucy, as Chief Executive Officer firmly established the organisation’s national prominence. She advocated for people with disability during huge government reforms of the disability employment assistance model. She created and maintained a point of difference for ACE’s representation to Government, employers, people with disability and other significant stakeholders. Lucy established ACE as a high end evidence-based policy Peak, as well as the go to Peak for support and training for the  operation of disability employment programs. This is the foundation on which Disability Employment Australia operates today.

Lucy represented ACE members on the disability employment program transition from FaCS to DEWR. In doing so, she was central to maintaining best practice aspects of the program and had input into determining the funding levels.  An important achievement was securing ongoing funding to ACE, now Disability Employment Australia. Even though it came later, uncapping the program was a central tenet of ACE’s position under Lucy’s leadership. Lucy’s biggest policy stand was the evidence-based position that disability employment must be seen and developed as a different program to the general employment service model.

Lucy was one of the chosen delegates of the Rudd Government 2020 Summit (its aim: to help shape a long-term strategy for the nation's future) in the Productivity stream where she advocated for Universal Design Principles – essentially, that access is the cornerstone to increased productivity.

The name change from ACE to Disability Employment Australia was driven by Lucy’s vision. She created ties with Disability Employment Peak Bodies internationally and represented Australia’s advocacy position on disability employment policy and best practice in articles, papers and conferences in Australia and internationally.

Of particular note was her involvement in the development of the Federal Government’s National Mental Health and Disability Employment Strategy.

Lucy has continued to play a seminal role in the sector though her current role as General Manager of the NDRC by broadening the understanding and value of this important program. The NDRC is a forward thinking approach to bridging the gap between large employers and people with disability looking for employment. It acts as a guide for employers and an information centre for DES providers and their participants.

Lucy’s centrality to the DES sector and the development of its national peak body, along with her work directly with Australia's large employers to increase disability confidence, makes her well deserving of a place in Disability Employment Australia’s Hall of Fame.