Sarah Johnson “humbled” to be awarded Actuary of the Year 2016

Sarah Johnson, Scheme Actuary of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), has been named 2016 Actuary of the Year in recognition of her innovative and pioneering social reform work.

sarah_johnson_headshotSarah, who has been the Foundation Scheme Actuary of the NDIS since its inception in 2013, said she was “very happy and humbled” to win the award.  “The NDIS is a huge social reform of which I am privileged to be a part. This reform highlights the importance of the actuarial skill set in delivering social reform” said Sarah.

As a critical contributor to the Executive Management Group of the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), Sarah reports directly to the CEO and the Board.  She has led the development of an inhouse actuarial and sustainability capability within the NDIA, which will expand to an annual expenditure of $22 billion over the next three years, embedding the actuarial control cycle into day-to-day operations of the agency and overall governance.

“The NDIS is one of the most important social initiatives in Australia since the introduction of Medicare,” said Lindsay Smartt, President of the Actuaries Institute. “This award recognises Sarah’s major contribution to the success of the NDIS and the introduction of actuarial techniques into a new and exciting area of social policy.” 

Sarah was encouraged by John Walsh AM to complete her actuarial studies and says it was some of the best advice she ever received.  In a 2014 interview with Actuaries Magazine, Sarah said: “An actuary who has a deep understanding and a passion for an industry and can apply their technical actuarial skills, is able to make a real difference and improve that industry. I see a huge potential for actuaries to influence the shape of Australia’s human services sector.”

Prior to taking up her role with the NDIS, Sarah spent 10 years at PwC working closely with governments across Australia in the areas of disability and social policy. She was instrumental in securing an additional $2 billion in funding for disability in NSW under Stronger Together 2, an initiative of the NSW Department of Family and Community services. Through her work with the COAG Disability Investment Group and the Productivity Commission inquiry, Sarah helped lay the foundations for the establishment of the NDIS.

“Sarah has become, with distinction, the face of the actuarial profession in many public forums, highlighting the important role of our profession and skillset in this unique initiative, and it’s potential to contribute to broader social and economic decision-making,” said Lindsay.

Sarah will be presented with the award at the Actuaries Institute Celebration and Networking Dinner being held in Sydney on Tuesday 29 November 2016.  The full citation for the award can be read here.  Congratulations Sarah.


Watch Sarah discuss the role of actuaries in implementing the scheme and her personal satisfaction working in the job.



Following her Plenary talk at the 2015 Injury Schemes Seminar, Sarah outlines participant feedback from a Pilot Study on NDIS trial sites.


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