Mr Ryan is a former teacher, public servant and parliamentarian who has devoted his career and personal life to helping and advocating for other people.
The need to help and advocate for others stems from Mr Ryan’s early childhood when he experienced significant violence, neglect and abuse at home from a very young age. At age 15, state child protection authorities arranged for him to be removed from his family and placed in a boys’ home where he remained for three years.
These early experiences had a detrimental effect on Mr Ryan, but he used this experience to motivate him to move forward and look for ways to assist others, which he did through his early work as a teacher at one of Sydney’s most disadvantaged schools.
After almost a decade in the teaching profession, Mr Ryan was elected to the NSW Parliament in 1991 and served as Shadow Minister for Disability Services from 2003-2007. During his time in Parliament he chaired and participated in many parliamentary committees investigating social justice issues, fighting for increased funding for post school programs and advocated for self-managed funding plans for people using disability services.
After Parliament, Mr Ryan joined the NSW public sector where he managed many reform projects aimed at strengthening human rights for people with disability – many of which had been supported by the sector decades but had not been pursued up until that point. These included regulating the private boarding house industry, greater employment opportunities for people with disability, the introduction of options for self-managed funding and the closure of large institutional residential centres.
This dedication to public life saw Mr Ryan made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2018 for significant service to the Parliament of New South Wales, and to public administration, particularly the development of accommodation policy for people with a disability.
Over his 40 years of public service, Mr Ryan has been a strong advocate for progressing the rights of people with disability, paving the way for better integration within the community and opportunities to live more independently.
Outside of his working life, Mr Ryan also devotes a considerable amount of his personal time to serving the community, which includes volunteer work as a Justice of the Peace, and actively supporting people in his local church.