Liz Kelly, President
My partner Stephen and I have two children and we live in the inner eastern region of Melbourne. Claire is 9 and enjoys playing basket ball and dancing. She also enjoys attending a siblings group once a month. Claire has always accepted Connor as he is, and as any older sister, she can give as little or as much attention to her younger brother, as suits her. Connor is 7, he was born with cerebral palsy and has severe multiple disabilities. Connor has a charming personality that exudes confidence despite his difficulties.
He enjoys life, especially live music, swimming, skiing and anything that involves being social. Connor currently attends a combination of a specialist and mainstream school setting, and inclusion in the community is our long term goal. I am constantly frustrated by the stories of social isolation and human rights challenges that face people with disability and their carers. I joined the Association’s Committee to try and have some input in to changing the bureaucratic rules and inflexibility of the service system and to prompt individual choice based on the Charter of Human Rights.
I have worked within a diversity of settings, initially in finance then in HR and currently have my own HR consulting business which specialises in resolving workplace conflict. I am also a current member of the Disability Services Board. I believe that Australia should introduce and support a system based on the principle that the people with disabilities and their families are the best at defining their need for support, and that they should have control over the funds that will purchase that support.
Georgina Frost, Vice Predsident
I live with my husband Hamish and two children, Evie (14) and Dougal (11). When Evie attended our local primary school she was identified as having auditory processing and learning difficulties. We subsequently moved her from mainstream schooling to the very supportive and experiential environment of Andale in Kew. She has now moved on to secondary school, Rossbourne College in Hawthorn and loves it. Evie is extremely able bodied, she loves dancing and singing, is a talented swimmer, runner and snow skier. Although Dougal is younger, he is empathetic and very supportive of his big sister.
As a lawyer, I became involved in the politics of legal practice early in my career. My passion has been the retention and progression of women in the legal profession. I helped establish Victorian Women Lawyers in 1996 and became its second convenor in 1998. I have also maintained an interest in legal professional development and am currently on the board of the Leo Cussen Institute.
I welcome the opportunity to get involved in ACD and am particularly interested in the education opportunities for children with a disability. A major aim is to ensure adequate funding and resourcing which will result in appropriate settings for all students.
As a case manger in the banking and finance section of the Financial Ombudsman Service, I am often exposed to the difficulties which can arise when people do not understand the credit contracts and banking services they enter into and undertake. I am particularly interested in financial literacy’s impact on society and how our community can assist people with a disability to negotiate this complex area of all our lives.
Nicole Butera, Treasurer
Since joining the Committee, I have seen first hand the fantastic work the Association does helping and supporting families with children with a disability, and the passion and commitment that both the staff and other Committee members have to continually find ways to improve the services available.
I have over 9 years experience working as a Chartered Accountant and as Treasurer look forward to working with the Association to ensure that it continues to have robust and sound financial procedures and policies in place.
Cara Scott, Secretary
My husband and I have three children, Lucy, James and Oliver. James has severe cerebral palsy, epilepsy, is non-verbal and has spent a lot of time at the Royal Children's Hospital.
James loves school and enjoys the company of his family and friends. Lucy adores her brothers and attends two sibling programs which she thoroughly enjoys, and Oliver loves being a part of all the busy activities of his brother and sister. I have a business background and have mainly worked in admin and finance.
James has taught me many things about life which I hope to put to good use, and help make a difference for families with a child with a disability. I have a particular interest in the Royal Children's Hospital and in making sure the new one is family and disability friendly.
Lisa Thomas, Committee member
I have two children; one child has a diagnosis of high functioning autism. As a family we have experienced the many challenges disability brings - the highs and lows - from diagnosis to navigating the service system to dealing with complex education issues and the day to day impact on family.
It is important to acknowledge the highs - as often when we are faced with working through the lows disability can bring the highs may be overshadowed. Our child with a disability is a unique and inspiring individual who brings and gives much to our family and our community.
I have a long history of working with both children and adults with a disability. My work in the disability sector commenced when I was an adolescent; where I worked as a carer for children with intellectual disability and/or neurological disorders at residential care based holiday (respite) program.
My qualifications are in the field of Community Development. As a community development worker I have developed and facilitated a play based social skills program for 5 to 8 year olds with a diagnosis of high functioning autism/Aspergers syndrome. I have lectured in the TAFE sector in the fields of community welfare, youth work and children’s services and worked for not-for-profit organisations as a project worker.
Currently I work as a disability advocate. I advocate for adults with an intellectual disability. I feel my present role as a disability advocate and the experience I bring from my history in the sector complement my ACD committee responsibilities, as does my family experience of disability. They provide both grassroots level insight as well a systemic level understanding of disability.
I have a particular interest in bringing about systemic change and educating the broader community in respect to needs and experiences of children with a disability. All children have the right to an education, to be equipped with the means to reach their full potential, to be treated equally in society and to be valued members of their community.
John McKenna, Committee Member
I have tackled and overcome mobility difficulties since I was born with a condition known as Arthrogryposis (try saying that backwards), anyway this has stood me in good stead for the type of I work I am doing in the 'disability' space. I lead a rich independent life with my wife Robyn and have three kids and six grandchildren.
My personal drive revolves around eliminating fear and promoting awareness and understanding of disability. I have worked in the areas of rehabilitation equipment, telecommunications and website accessibility. I have currently gone out into the world of consulting and set up 'Better Access Consulting'.
In addition to being on the Association's committee, I am an active member of various boards and advisory panels where I contribute my unique personal and business perspectives on disability.
Louise Anderson, Committee Member
My husband Murray and I have one child, our 12-year-old son Dean who was born premature and has severe autism and epilepsy. Dean is a much loved gorgeous 24/7 child. He has a wicked sense of humour and loves music, especially the Seekers (‘Georgy Girl’) and the music from Mary Poppins (‘A spoonful of sugar’). Dean’s other main attraction is water. Any activity will do—riding in the speedboat, ‘donuting’ or ‘tubing’ behind the boat, swimming and holidaying at Lake Eildon in our shared houseboat.
Dean attends the autism specific school known as Wantirna Heights School (WHS). In 2013 this school is relocating to a new site situated in Ferntree Gully. The school will be a P to Yr12 model. Currently WHS is a P to Yr6 model. We are hoping that the new school will be ready in time for Dean.
I am passionate about making the ‘system’ better. My special interests are schooling, particularly the need for diversity, respite and future housing options. I was part of the team who, for many years, advocated for the Wantirna Heights School, an autism-specific secondary school in Melbourne’s outer east. Dreams really can come true.
I have an accounting background and for many years I worked for Chartered Accountants, mainly in the areas of taxation and auditing. Currently I do volunteer work at a counselling centre associated with our church. I find this works well given our family’s special needs.