Bonyhady Receives Honorary Doctorate
18 March 2014 at 8:14 am
Disability campaigner Bruce Bonyhady has been awarded an honorary doctorate – the highest honour from the University of Melbourne.
Bonyhady is the architect of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which was widely hailed as a milestone in Australia’s cultural history on a par with the introduction of universal health insurance in the 1970s.
The University has conferred Bonyhady with a Degree of Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa).
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said the introduction of the NDIS legislation in 2013 was the culmination of many years of tireless work, strategic lobbying and planning by Bonyhady.
“His comprehensive vision and quiet, methodological approach has secured financial investment in research that will transform the future for individuals and families living with disabilities,” Prof Davis said.
“A strong sense of moral justice compelled him to advocate for the introduction of such legislation after extensive personal experience of negotiating disability services on behalf of his two sons, and as Chairman of Yooralla.”
Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal said Bonyhady was “selfless and strategic. A modest man with original thoughts and ambitious plans”.
The University citation said that with extensive personal experience of negotiating disability services on behalf of two of his sons, and as Chairman of Yooralla, Bonyhady’s sense of moral justice was offended by the “deeply unfair” labyrinth of systems in which successful outcomes for children with developmental disabilities depended largely on their postcode or family’s financial standing.
“His personal crusade to remedy inequity caused by the disarray of social security systems, private medical, health, public liability and third party car insurance and worker’s compensation schemes across Australia, has resulted in the creation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS),” the citation said.
“Bruce Bonyhady took early retirement from a senior executive career to apply his expertise in funds management, insurance, property management and economics, together with his extensive experience of non-executive leadership in disability advocacy and philanthropy, to solve this problem.
“A series of well-placed signposts have marked the progress of Bruce Bonyhady’s carefully moderated rebellion: the ‘light-bulb moment’ when, in conversation with then Deputy Prime Minister, Brian Howe, they decided to approach the issue not as a welfare problem but as an insurance risk; acceptance at the 2020 Summit of the first proposal for national disability insurance as one of the Summit’s Big Ideas; and the passage, in early 2013, of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill 2012.”
In June 2010 Bonyhady was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to people with disabilities, their families and carers, particularly as Chairman of Yooralla, and to the community as a contributor to a range of charitable organisations.
His work as Inaugural Chairman of the Advisory Panel to the Centre for Development Disability Research at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne has been instrumental in the establishment of two University of Melbourne Chairs in the area of Developmental Medicine (the Apex Foundation for Research into Intellectual Disability Chair in Developmental Medicine and the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Chair in Developmental Medicine).
Bonyhady worked to develop numerous partnerships with funders and government to found the Centre for Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy.
Bonyhady has also held a number of senior positions in the funds management industry and insurance industry in Australia and internationally. He is Chairman of Acadian Asset Management Australia Limited and a Director of Dexus Wholesale Property Limited. His earlier career was as an economist and econometrician in the private sector and the Commonwealth Treasury.