Ageing, Disability & Home Care

Our former ambassadors and champions

All former Ambassadors and Champions have lived experience of disability. They are passionate advocates for the rights of people with disability and powerful spokespersons on person centred approaches and other disability issues.

Wendy Potter

The Department of Family and Community Services pays tribute to the life of Wendy Potter who passed away in July 2017. Wendy was a Living Life My Way Ambassador and Champion, a committed and passionate advocate and tireless worker who improved the lives of countless people with disability.

Wendy gave decades of service to a number of non government organisations by serving on their boards, as well as being a volunteer, trainer and a community worker.

Wendy also served on a number of Government panels and committees and won an award for her outstanding work in her local community. Wendy truly achieved her aim to a make a difference in the lives of people with disability by encouraging them and sharing her own personal experience

Tribute to Living Life My Way Champion Shane Lipari

The Department of Family and Community Services wishes to honour the life of Shane Lipari, a valued Champion in the Living Life My Way Ambassadors and Champions Program who passed away on 12 January 2017. Shane was from western NSW, and had a neurological disorder which affected his muscle condition, speech quality and heart function.

Shane was enthusiastic and passionate about improving the lives of people with disability. Shane became a Champion in the NSW Government’s Ambassadors and Champions program in 2012. His willingness to share his story to inspire others to strive for the best possible life saw him championing for people with disability in many events across Western, Far West and the Illawarra Shoalhaven districts.

Shane has made a lasting and positive difference in the lives of many others through communicating what is possible from his first-hand experience of a person living with disability.

Alanna Julian

Alanna Julian has two passions: public speaking and performing arts. Her aim as an Ambassador was to spread awareness of people with disability, particularly those with 'hidden disabilities' such as intellectual disability, acquired brain injury and attention deficit disorder. Alanna has travelled around NSW getting people thinking/preparing for the NDIS. Alanna pitched an idea for the NDIS New World Conference, for a friendship and networking website for people with disabilities. Her idea was sponsored and she co-created a website called ‘Befriends.’ She also raises awareness of bullying in schools as it relates to students with special needs. Alanna has also devised a communication tool called 'The B Talk,’ to help service providers consult more effectively with people with communication barriers.

Location preferences: Alanna lives on the Central Coast of NSW and is prepared to travel.

Nathan Basha

Nathan Basha is a social entrepreneur from Huntley’s Cove, pushing the boundaries on perceived preconceptions about people with intellectual disability. Nathan might happen to have Down Syndrome but says "That's not who I am". In his role as motivational speaker, he has presented at national conferences, political forums, universities, schools and workshops where he inspires all people to recognise their potential and pursue their dreams.

Location preferences: I can travel anywhere in Australia.


Nicholas Gleeson

Nick Gleeson, an adventurer and former Paralympic athlete, has built up an enviable reputation for public speaking. He has that rare gift of being able to convey a serious message – that of overcoming the challenges of living with blindness – with warmth, humour and honesty. Much of Nick’s success as a speaker is down to his ability to bring his sporting and travel adventures to life. He connects with people of all backgrounds – for example, when he visited rural communities as part of his Australia Day Ambassador duties. Importantly, Nick possesses a talent for making the audience feel comfortable and confident about asking him questions about blindness. Nick is a mentor to people with disability and conducts disability awareness workshops in order to encourage employment and social inclusion for people with disability. He facilitates leadership courses, a role he very much enjoys. Nick believes that it is critical to start achieving your ‘bucket list’ early in life, as a bigger bucket can always be found later, if you want.

Location preferences: I live in south west Sydney and I am very happy to travel to any location in Australia, as my work takes me to various cities, regional and interstate places.


Ellie Robertson

Ellie Robertson from Holsworthy, South West Sydney has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Ellie is from a Greek background, is married and has always held open employment positions. Ellie is an animal activist, involved in the leadership of her church, politically active and studying for her Diploma. She manages her own self-directed funding package, employing seven carers! Ellie is very excited to share her experience in managing her package, which despite at times presenting some challenges, enables her to undertake all these activities and gives her the freedom to live her life with self-worth and self esteem.

Location preferences: I am prepared to travel.


Bashir YoussefBashir (‘Baz’) Youssef was born legally blind, but don’t let that fool you, as it doesn’t show when you meet him. Baz has spoken to thousands of people, for universities, corporate conferences, corporate teams, industry association and not for profit events and conferences. He looks to further grow his keynote speaking career offering different, unique and inspiring perspectives and insights on overcoming individual and collective adversities and challenges, as well as share new, fresh approaches and strategies to prepare for and manage change. These fresh, inspiring and new perspectives have seen him sitting on National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) interview panels as an expert member, during their process of interviewing individual candidates in the financial stream. Baz also truly feels and believes that his so called ‘blindness’ has been a gift, as it’s enabled him to discover abilities he may not have otherwise realised. Through this discovery, Baz has helped entrepreneurs and business owners grow and evolve themselves beyond their ‘limitations,’ increase personal value and clarity, which in turn enables them to expand and grow their businesses.

Location preferences: I now live on the South Gold Coast in Queensland but am willing to travel.


Hilda Payne

Hilda Payne is a young Aboriginal woman who grew up in Broken Hill and now lives in Coffs Harbour. From childhood she has lived with a degenerative visual impairment but still managed to complete her schooling in the mainstream school system. After leaving school, Hilda’s goal was to live as independently as possible. Since relocating to Coffs Harbour she has completed her Transition To Work program, as well as receiving support from Guide Dogs and other services which have helped orientate her in her new environment. Hilda is keen to share her story and be an inspiration to others, just as she has been inspired by some of the other Ambassadors and Champions.

Location preferences: I can present in the mid north coast region of NSW.


Jennie FentonJennie Fenton is the mother of two young children, one of whom has a disability. Jennie is committed to positive outcomes for her daughter and others with disability through individual and community wide social inclusion initiatives. She has the same dreams for her daughter as any parent has for their child and is pursuing the same opportunities across all areas of community participation.        

Location preferences: I live in Bellingen and am prepared to travel.


Kim Frumar

Kim Frumar from Port Macquarie, Mid North Coast NSW, has experienced watching her wonderful son Sam develop into an independent young man, despite his intellectual disability and his communication difficulties. He is a very fortunate recipient of the first round Supported Living Fund package and now lives in his own flat with a flatmate who is a Uni student. Kim has learned over the years how to successfully negotiate positively for Sam. She looks forward to sharing her experiences for other parents and carers.

Location preferences: I am happy to travel throughout the Port Macquarie/Hastings, Kempsey/Macleay and Taree/Manning regions.


Allan Staines

Allan Staines is a C5-C6 quadriplegic due to a water skiing accident in 1981. He lives in Bathurst with his wife and daughter. After moving from Condobolin to Bathurst in 1991 he worked for Australian Quadriplegic Association (AQA) as a Personal Support Worker. While working for AQA he furthered his education gaining certificates in computers and welfare. He is also a bronze licence swimming coach. He is currently working two days a week at Bathurst Panthers and coaches his daughter in swimming. He has been on the Attendant Care Scheme since 1993 and has self managed his package for the last four years.

Location preferences: I can present in my hometown Bathurst and anywhere within an hour’s drive from there.


Ron Prince

Ron Prince from the Hunter area is the father of two adults, David and Belinda who both have an intellectual disability. Ron and his wife Lynne have witnessed the positive change that person centred planning and self managed funding has made to David and Belinda’s independent living arrangements. Ron and Lynne assist David and Belinda to manage their individualised NDIS packages and they have also mentored others in applying and managing their own self directed packages.

Location preferences: I am happy to travel to all regions in NSW.


Athol Callaghan

Athol Callaghan is an Aboriginal Elder of Walbunja and Dhungutti decent. He currently lives with his wife in Surf Beach, Eurobodalla area and has two daughters, one son and three grandchildren who he adores very much. Athol has been a trainee nurse, truck driver and general labourer and has also held several senior executive positions in both the private and Aboriginal community sectors. In 2003 he had a jet ski accident which resulted in him becoming a paraplegic. Since his accident Athol has managed his lifestyle so he can continue to maximise his independence and live a healthy and active lifestyle. He is also a one eyed Rabbitohs supporter!

Location preferences: I can present anywhere in NSW.


Lori Grovenor

Lori Grovenor from the Hunter area is driven to ensure people with disability, their families and carers in rural and remote areas receive information about the disability reforms. When Lori lost her sight she struggled for eight years without any formal supports while she and her husband raised their children. Lori wants to ensure the same thing does not happen to other people with disability. She now has Parkinson's Disease and is confined to a wheelchair which she manages with the use of a white cane. Lori says "There is a way around anything. You just have to find the right path".

Location preferences: I can present in the Hunter Valley region.


Rebecca Donatiello Rebecca Donatiello, from western Sydney, is always willing to put her hand up for something new and challenging. Rebecca really enjoyed making a difference as a Living Life My Way Ambassador. She undertook many public presentations on a variety of issues relating to people with disability. She has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal, but very proficient with technology. Rebecca uses IT devices to deliver her presentations and communicate in her workplace, where she works part-time as a childcare teacher.        

Location preferences: I would like to present in the Parramatta, Bossley Park and Liverpool areas.


Junee Waites

Suzy Trindall a proud single Mother of two wonderful children.  At the age of 12 Suzy was diagnosed with a Juvenile form of Macular Degeneration. This affects the central vision. This has never deterred Suzy from setting and achieving her goals. Having a sister and brother living with the same condition they had a great support system and rarely felt isolated.  Suzy understands that not everyone has the same support and feels it is her time to show support for those who may not be as lucky as she has been.

Location preferences: I am from the Newcastle/Maitland region and I can travel to wherever I am needed to give presentations. It is easy for me to get to Sydney. As an Aboriginal woman, I would definitely travel to Aboriginal communities across NSW.


Tish Peiris

Tish Peiris from Artarmon, Sydney, is a disability advocate, filmmaker and journalist who speaks of her experience of life both with and without a disability, following a car accident in Sri Lanka in 1994 in which she sustained a severe brain injury. She has been the recipient of an Accessible Arts Delineate Award, which gave her the opportunity to create the sizzle reel, “Casualties of War” about the plight of Afghan refugees. This featured many top journalists from the ABC and SBS, including international renowned Middle East commentator, Robert Fisk. The reel was launched at the ABC by the British Vietnam war photographer, Tim Page. Tish has also written numerous articles on topics ranging from military strategy to disability to sport.

Location preferences: I am prepared to travel around Sydney, including to Penrith and the Blue Mountains.


Sarah ButlerSarah Butler has an intellectual and neurological disability. Since 2013, Sarah has spoken at universities, TAFEs, disability and similar organisations about the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Being a Living Life My Way, Ambassador and Champion, made Sarah feel valued and important. It helped her build networks with many organisations and she continues to build those networks. Sarah has spoken at the Australian Society for Intellectual Disability Conferences in New Zealand, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. She has received two encouragement awards and has been nominated for an inspirational individual achievement award by Autism Spectrum Australia. Sarah was one of the first people to attend Uni 2 Beyond (formerly the Inclusive Education Program), at the University of Sydney, through the Centre for Disability Studies. This initiative gives people with intellectual disability the opportunity to go to university classes and experience university life. It supports people with disability to become even better self-advocates.

Location preferences: Sarah lives in Sydney and is willing to travel.


Vicki Lovegreen

Vicki Lovegreen lives in the Newcastle area. Prior to a car accident in 1991 she was a full-time manager, mother, wife and active sportswoman. She emerged from her three month coma suffering short-term memory loss and was unable to talk or walk and doctors said further improvements were unlikely. Since Vicki did not believe her doctors she got out of bed only to fall on the floor. Her courage and belief was the beginning of a long road to recovery which today sees her walking, talking and helping others come to terms with their own injuries. Through hard work and perseverance she is now a qualified Social Worker, and has plans to further her studies in the areas of disability and mental health.

Location preferences: I can present in the Newcastle area.


Virginia Samuela

V Samuela from southwest Sydney, has always been a fiercely independent individual, rating choice and individuality extremely highly. In 2007, two massive strokes within three days turned her world upside down. V successfully fought the system to stay out of a nursing home, and went on to work with it to find her way out of supported accommodation, breaking free of the institutionalisation which had consumed her world, and enabling her to live the life of her choosing. This new life sees V living at last with her husband in their own home, managing her own budget and support system. V's sights are now set on how her experiences can help others with disability who crave for the control she's achieved in her journey, being a voice for those that need one most.

Location preferences: I live in Campbelltown and am happy to travel.


Rebecca Sciroli

Rebecca Sciroli from Lurnea, South West Sydney, is a motivated university graduate promoting an inclusive society that focuses on the abilities of all individuals including those with “disabilities”. Rebecca is a professional artist actively facilitating art as therapy to people in the community who identify as having a disability. Rebecca is a counselling diploma graduate who believes in the importance of person centred support and the value of giving people with disability opportunities to be active members of society.

Location preferences: I am prepared to travel.


Hank Duchateau

Hank Duchateau is an army veteran. He is married to Diane and has three children and five grandchildren. Hank likes to participate in art and photography and is the founder of the Disability Art Group (DAG) and RSL Day Care Club for Seniors. He started up an adaptable cycling group. One of his hobbies is land kiting in his wheelchair and land sailing in his Blokart Buggy. He also volunteers for Volunteering Incorporated in Coffs Harbour.

Location preferences: I can present in Coffs Harbour and other parts of the mid and North coasts of NSW.


Suzanne Healy

Suzanne Healy is a parent/carer from northern NSW. Over the past few years, Suzanne and her daughter Hannah have enjoyed presenting to audiences throughout NSW. Hannah is supported to make her own choices and have control of her life – just as any young woman expects. “Hannah and I want to continue to engage in conversations with as many people as possible. In sharing our story, and the ideas and strategies we have used, we hope to help each individual create their own authentic, person-centred life,” says Suzanne.

Location preferences: I live in Tweed Heads and am prepared to travel.

Scott Trevelyan

Scott Trevelyan is a visual artist residing on the north coast of NSW. Scott survived a traumatic motorcycle accident in 2002, resulting in eight broken vertebrae, a dislocated femur, broken ribs, a punctured lung, broken shoulder and severe ABI (acquired brain injury). He spent ten days in a coma. Following that accident, Scott was elected President of a Ballina based, brain injury support group, ‘BISSI’ and has held the position since 2006. He has experience in a variety of public speaking engagements and government programs within the sector, since surviving his ABI. Scott currently facilitates art therapy classes for ABI survivors at his purpose built ‘Willowbank Studio.’ Scott is a strong believer in use of the terminology, ‘diff’Ability.’

Location preferences: I live in Alstonville and am prepared to travel.


Hannah Potapczyk

Hannah Potapczyk, who lives in Newcastle, is passionate about the importance of individualised funding. Although diagnosed with both ADHD and high-functioning autism, she has seen the dramatic difference the right support can make in a person’s life. Hannah recently learnt to drive, and is now on her P plates. She has bought her own car! Hannah is an active participant in her community, with her volunteer work. She is excited about what the future holds for her!

Location preferences: Hannah can present anywhere in NSW.


Leigh Creighton

Leigh Creighton from Newcastle is a people person and loves connecting with the public in his job as doorperson at his local bowling club. Leigh is in a Toastmasters group, has spoken at some major events, and with two others starred in the documentary, Let the Journey Begin. Leigh is looking forward to connecting with people with disability, their families and carers.

Location preferences: I am prepared to travel.


Quang Nguyen

Quang Nguyen, from south-west Sydney, is passionate about technology and computers. Quang is very skilled at using technology as a means of daily communication. He is passionate about improving public transport accessibility for people with disability. He ran a project raising community awareness about safe travel on trains, buses and ferries. Quang was recently appointed an NDIS Champion and just in time, as Quang had recently started as a participant with the NDIS. He is aiming to self manage and has some help from an independent support coordinator. Moving into his own home is big on the agenda for Quang. He has completed the My Leadership Matters, Become a Leader Program, for ex Living Life My Way, Ambassadors and Champions.

Location preferences: I would like to present anywhere in the Sydney area.


Amanda NolanAmanda Nolan has been receiving services from Sunnyfield for many years. She has developed a person centred one-page profile, an Essential Lifestyle plan and facilitated her own person-centred, circle of support meetings. Amanda is currently providing training in person-centred values and facilitation.        

Location preferences: I like to present close to my home in south Sydney.


Sylvana MahmicSylvana Mahmic, from southern Sydney, became interested in disability when her first child was diagnosed with disability. She is the CEO of Plumtree and was previously nominated as NSW Woman of the Year for her work in the disability sector. Sylvana has first-hand experience of individualised and self-managed packages, as her son has been in receipt of one since 2009.

Location preferences: I prefer to present in inner west and southeast Sydney.


Carolyn Campbell-McLean

Carolyn Campbell-McClean, from Parramatta, has been successfully recruiting and self-managing her own team of support workers for many years. With a professional background in social work, Carolyn worked for 12 years in state government, taught disability studies, and was a research associate on the first evaluation of individualised funding in NSW in 2008. Since then, Carolyn has been supporting people with disability and the sector to prepare for change through her roles as a Living Life My Way Champion, and Senior Facilitator at My Choice Matters Leadership Program. Now a Client Services Coordinator at Muscular Dystrophy NSW and consultant trainer, Carolyn is known for her peer support, networking and ability to relate to any audience. Carolyn combines her lifelong lived experience of physical disability with a strong knowledge of self-management and empowerment tools for people with disability.

Location preferences: Carolyn can travel within the greater Sydney area and to the Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Illawarra regions.


Milena Morrow

In the 1980s, Milena Morrow, from northern NSW, was one of Australia’s first people with disability to receive a self-managed attendant care package.) Having choice and control has enabled Milena to live a full life with her husband, Robert. Milena obtained a Diploma in Accounting and was full-time employed for over 20 years, including 16 years in financial management. She later started a consultancy business, offering computerised accounting solutions. Now in governance, she is Chair of Lifebridge Australia Ltd; Chair of Living My Way Ltd; Chair of Tweed Shire Council, Equal Access Advisory Committee; member of the North West Alliance Ability Links Leadership Group; public speaker; professional editor; diploma, Australian College of Journalism and author of ‘Sipping Champagne through a Straw.’ Milena is happy to share her experiences and is committed to shifting community attitudes to recognise everyone’s human right to access the same opportunities across all areas of life.

Location preferences: Milena can present within a 100km radius of her home in Tweed Heads.


Cheryl Gardner

Cheryl Gardner from northern NSW is a passionate believer in person centred approaches for everybody, with or without disability. She is the mother of two beautiful young adults, Angela and Damien. She is also Damien's full-time carer. From 2008-2014 she self-managed Damien's Community Participation package, and in 2014 moved to direct funding. Damien enjoys being fit and is a keen visual artist and Cheryl manages his burgeoning career.

Location preferences: I am happy to present anywhere in Northern NSW.


Jan Gouma

Jan Gouma from Western NSW believes we are only limited by our imagination. By taking a person-centred perspective, Jan has been able to think outside the square to support her son Curt's dreams. Curt began living independently ten years ago in an apartment which has been modified to cater for his personal needs. He leads an active life in the community, managing his personal finances, appointments and is an active participant in many community activities such as APEX, AFL Supporters Club, and RSPCA (as a volunteer) and attends his local gym to maintain his physical fitness and establish social connections.

Location preferences: I live in southern NSW and can travel to any location in NSW.


Lisa Ashford-Potter

Lisa Ashford-Potter is from Southern NSW and mother of Brenton, a young man with Down Syndrome, severe verbal Dyspraxia, and moderate oral and motor Dyspraxia. She has been self managing Brenton's individualised funding since 2009, including directly employing staff since 2013. This has ensured Brenton not only has choice, control, and is a valued member of his local community, but has resulted in him being the first person in NSW to receive NRL Accreditation in MOD League Coaching, and being appointed the coach of two junior rugby league teams. With over 20 years professional experience in the disability and community sector, Lisa continues to assist people through facilitated workshops to identify opportunities to belong, contribute and have a valued role in the community.

Location preferences: I can present anywhere in NSW, especially the southern region, Illawarra/Shoalhaven, southwest Sydney, south Sydney.


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