Finding the support that is right for you

Jody Barney

Jody Barney Jody Barney is a proud descendent of the Birri-Gubba/Urangan/ Bani peoples.
As a dedicated cultural disability trainer and advocate for over 30 years, Jody has developed very strong relationships with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with a disability. Her deep connections across many sectors particularly includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and all those with disabilities living in regional, rural and remote areas.
Jody’s interests are within the disability, LGBTIQA, Women, Children, Justice, Education, Health and Leadership development areas. Her work has extended beyond local and state boundaries to national and international forums.
Her involvement on numerous boards and committees has provided her with a wealth of knowledge, granting experience and excellent governance skills. Her philanthropic work in building communication for Deaf and non-verbal community members is widely known and respected.
Her career highlights include being the first Deaf Aboriginal person to obtain a Business degree in Australia. In 2011/2, she received the Fellowship of Indigenous Leadership, Emerging Leader Award and, in 2014, the Brenda Gabe Award (Women with Disabilities Award, Victoria).
Jody has successfully completed her inaugural Social Equity Fellowship with Atlantic Fellows Social Equity Australia (2017). As the first Deaf Aboriginal woman Senior Fellow in Australia, her work continues to strive for social equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people via inclusion in their communities.

Justen Thomas

Justen Thomas Justen is a public speaker and disability advocate. Justen has lived experience as an Aboriginal man with an intellectual disability. Justen recently returned from Geneva where he was a part of the Australian delegation to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability. Justen is passionate about advocating for people with disabilities who come into contact with the justice system. Justen shares his experiences in order to improve life for others.

Michael Baker

Michael Baker Michael has a background in human and community services. He has worked as a youth worker, disability support worker, support coordinator, manager and case manager across a range of domains of practice, including; at-risk young people, boarding house residents and people with a range of different cognitive impairments in contact with the criminal justice system. Michael managed an autism-specific service during the roll out phase of the NDIS, and has supported many individuals and families to explore and negotiate diverse supports and service systems. He is currently employed by the Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS) as Team Leader and Case Manager on the Cognitive Impairment Diversion Program (CIDP).

Providing services that people with disability want

Brandon Tomlin

Brandon Tomlin Brandon Tomlin is a communication access assessor, trainer and public speaker for Scope (Aust). He is a social justice advocate, who campaigns strongly for everyone to have the right to be treated equally, fairly and ethically - regardless of whether they have a disability or not. Brandon communicates using both eye-gaze and head switching, and is especially passionate about ensuring that everyone can live in an inclusive and accessible world. Brandon has presented at numerous events, as well as to corporate and community organisations such as Yarra Trams, the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) on topics such as the importance of communication access, alternative access awareness and the Australian disability rights movement. Brandon has a strong desire to continue the work of the disability advocates who came before him, who made the world better for the next generation of children with communication difficulties, and who helped to give him the quality of life that he has today.

Georgia Burn

Georgia Burn Georgia Burn is a speech pathologist whose career over the past 8 years has centered around working with people with communication disabilities. Georgia has experience in the assessment, diagnosis and management of communication and swallowing impairments and is passionate about prescribing and tailoring augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) to achieve communicative independence. Georgia has a particular interest in establishing alternative access methods for individuals, through the use of assistive technology (AT) and facilitating the access and inclusion of people with communication disability in mainstream and community settings.
Georgia coordinates the Communication Access Service within the award-winning Communication and Inclusion Resource Centre (CIRC) at Scope (Aust.). The service works within a community capacity development framework, to assist businesses, services and organisations to become awarded with the Communication Access Symbol. Georgia and her team have worked with both small and large corporate and community organisations including Victoria’s public transport services; V/Line and Public Transport Victoria (PTV), and acted as the state project manager to accredit Victoria’s primary law-enforcement agency, Victoria Police, to become communication accessible. Georgia has lectured Masters of Speech Pathology students at Melbourne University and has presented at numerous national and international conferences. Georgia has peer-reviewed publications, and is one of only 20 Talking Mats trainers in Australia.

Chris Nurse

Chris Nurse Chris Nurse and his partner Dr Thanh Ngo founded NamSource in 2015, to empower Australian innovators to create visionary change using technology solutions.
Chris has worked with many leading non-profit organisations including the Telethon Kids Institute, Ability Centre and Southern Cross Care.
In 2016, he was recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 CIOs, and in 2019 has been shortlisted for the second time, in this prestigious list.
At the age of 11, Chris’ mother became disabled after incurring a spinal injury whilst out on her duties as a District Nurse. Chris’ refers to his father as a micro-electronics genius, as Chris says, “Dad built my first computer in 1976”.
Chris is a passionate speaker on the subject of technology and how it can make a difference to people.

Practical approaches to support choice and decision making

Michelle Browning

Michelle Browning Michelle Browning is passionate about assisting individuals and organisations to develop their confidence and skill in the practice of supported decision-making through her business Decision Agency.

Michelle completed her doctoral studies in supported decision-making at La Trobe University in 2018. Her research was about developing an understanding of supported decision-making practice in Canada by exploring the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities and their supporters. Michelle is a Churchill Fellow having travelled to England and Canada to explore legal and practice models of supported decision-making in 2010.

In Australia, Michelle has been involved in developing, implementing and evaluating trials of supported decision-making in NSW and Victoria. She has assisted government and non-government organisations to produce supported decision-making resources, policy and practice guidelines. Michelle facilitates regular training and practice group meetings to assist decision makers and their supporters build their decision-making confidence and capability.

Dr John Chesterman

Dr John Chesterman Dr John Chesterman is Victoria’s Deputy Public Advocate. He is a trained lawyer and prior to joining the Office of the Public Advocate he lectured in politics for more than eight years at the University of Melbourne. He has written a number of books, including (as co-author) The Politics of Human Rights in Australia (Cambridge University Press). In his time at the Office of the Public Advocate John has travelled as a Churchill Fellow to the US, Canada and the UK, where he examined a variety of adult protection systems.

Sevinc MacCue

Sevinc MacCue Sevinc MacCue is an Inclusive Practice Facilitator with Northcott . Sev is passionate about sharing her experiences and opinions which she does using a communication device accessed through eye-gaze. This technology provides Sev with full access to communication. Sev enjoys hanging out with friends, social media, travelling in Australia and oversees, and meeting new people. In January 2020, Sev will travel with a friend to Whistler, Canada to go sit skiing. Sev enjoys the feeling of freedom and adrenalin rush she gets from skiing.

Gretta Serov

Gretta Serov Gretta Serov has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Western Sydney University. She works as a writer and presenter for Northcott and in community engagement with Hireup. Gretta is also starting up her own motivational speaking business. Gretta enjoys horse riding, scuba diving, indoor skydiving, and writes a blog called On Our Own Tracks. She is hoping to soon be a resident of an SDA supported apartment.

Supporting people with complex and high support needs

Heather Lawson

Heather Lawson Former President, Deafblind Australia & Member, Deafblind Victorians.
Heather Lawson has Usher Syndrome Type 1 and communicates through tactile Auslan and braille. She works as a voluntary deafblind advocate, mentor and trainer, and was employed by Able Australia on the Deafblind Orientation and Mobility Project as an expert adviser. Heather is one of the founding members of Deafblind Victoria a state based self-advocacy group.

Peter Gibilisco

Peter Gibilisco Peter Gibilisco has a double degree and Master of Arts from Monash University. In 2007 he graduated with a PhD in Sociology from the University of Melbourne and in the same year was awarded as the Emerging Disability Leader of the Year. Peter works as a researcher and is an honorary fellow at the University of Melbourne. He has written and published over 100 articles and has authored three books. Peter writes on the politics of disability and social inclusion.

Jess Kapuscinski-Evans

Jess Kapuscinski-Evans Jess Kapuscinski-Evans is a theatre maker, sings with “crip folk” trio the Bearbrass Asylum Orchestra and recently formed The Waiting Room Arts Company. She has been a writer and performer in the independent arts scene for about five years and her credits include Melbourne Fringe Festival, the National Play Festival in Sydney, the Emerging Writers Festival and projects at Footscray Community Arts Centre. She enjoys playing with existing texts, music and other pop culture references. At the moment Jess is interested in villains from Shakespeare to X-Men and many others, and what they offer to stories about disability.

Dr Sheridan Forster

Dr Sheridan Forster Dr Sheridan Forster has worked as a speech pathologist, researcher, and lecturer in the past, specialising in adults with intellectual disabilities. A twenty year exploration of what communication might mean with people with profound intellectual and multiple disabilities has been the spark of fire that keeps her exploring, questioning and settling on supports needed by this population and those that support them. A recent injury and health shift has helped her better understand what it might be like to only understand one word in a sentence delivered to her, the fluctuations in processing and expressive abilities that happen minute by minute, and appreciate that we all need to be gazed upon with a lense that ponders “how do I need to be in order to be with you?”