Founder, Director & CEO
Sharon began working with people with disabilities as a young teenager through a school based program and has worked in the community services industry for over 25 years primarily in non government organisations, both grassroots and corporate. Holding positions across her career from volunteer & support worker to operations and CEO, has offered her an historically broad perspective.
Sharon has been trained in Strengths Based/Solution Focused Approaches, Person Centred Practices and Personal Outcomes Measures, and has developed a broad skill set over decades of practice. She has set up services, rolled out pilot programs and managed community development projects as well as large regional portfolios. In 2010 an invitation was extended to undertake a PhD in Social Inclusion through the Research Institute for Social Inclusion and Wellbeing (RISIW Newcastle Uni) however due to cost and time constraints this has proven unworkable to date.
Throughout her career there has been significant involvement in areas related to accommodation and support including supported accommodation for people with disabilities. She was largely involved in the development of the Independent Living Support Initiative model (ADHC – ILSI) and participated in the resulting DVD Let the Journey Begin.
Sharon is passionate about social justice, equality, inclusion, choice and control, and, in the rights of people with disabilities to be at the centre of all decision making that involves them.
On a sessional basis, Sharon provides accreditation and verification for community and disability services, also providing services to the NSW Minister for Families and Minister for Disabilities as an Official Community Visitor in conjunction with the NSW Ombudsman’s Office.
Sharon has a Bachelor of Social Science (Southern Cross) and is a full member of the Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA).
John has extensive experience in leadership positions in the broad human services sector across three states. (Victoria, NSW and Queensland.)
Much of his work has involved the interface between different service systems; Eg ageing – disability; mental health- child protection; child protection – disability areas where the work is complex but the rewards are substantial.
John has substantial experience in implementing Quality Systems and external Quality Assessments in Child Safety and Disability in Queensland.
He was involved in the establishment of Disability Services Queensland and also in the establishment of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Homecare in NSW.
John has held senior leadership positions in Government and in the non Government sectors
He is now working Coaching and Mentoring, both individuals and organisations and in quality systems auditing.
He has a continuing interest in how technology, broader than computers, can improve client outcomes.
John has a Bachelor of Social Work (Phillip), a Masters of Social Work (La Trobe), and Executive Masters of Public Administration (Griffith) and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.
Kim has spent 20 years in and around the disability sector but comes with a lifetime of experience. She has broad experience across disability services, including accommodation services and independent living skills. She is trained in MAPs and PATH, Person Centred Approaches, Personal Outcome Measures, and I-CAN assessment.
In her early days in the sector Kim set up the Annual International Day for People with Disabilities event in Forster NSW. More recently, Kim coordinated the Independent Living Support Initiative (ILSI) pilot, in which Let the Journey Begin DVD was made and Kim features – her role in the pilot was to develop the model. ILSI was recognised by the then NSW Minister Andrew Constance in 2012 as a benchmark for independent living support, in a ceremony launching the DVD at Parliament House in Sydney.
Kim is passionate about person centred practices the rights of people with disabilities and has been nominated for a number of industry awards. She has most recently won the ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Award as Emerging Young Leader in 2014. She also supports individuals locally and interstate in their Circle of Support.
Kim is also a loving and devoted sister to a young man who has Downs Syndrome. She enjoys photography and her motto is ‘capturing the moments’ – whether it’s landscapes, seascapes or people. Kim also took many of the photos for the Let the Journey Begin DVD and ILSI manual. Kim has also taken portraits for people with a disability.
Kim is currently the Manager of Disability Services within a community organisation and holds a Cert IV in Disability Studies, and, a Cert IV in Front Line Management.
Elizabeth (Liz) Fritz AM
Liz starting her working life in the health industry, and moved into the homelessness sector in Queensland 28 years ago. The homeless population is unfortunately made up of people with many disabilities and health issues including intellectual and physical disability, mental illness, addictions and acquired brain injury.
Liz has been a leader in the development of an integrative, collaborative and well-coordinated homelessness service system in SE Qld and particularly the Gold Coast. She has managed a homelessness service for 25 years that included managing crisis accommodation and transitional accommodation for families and single adults; project development and management of The GC Street to Home Project, the Gold Coast Housing Assistance Triage Service, the Housing Options Project for Young People, and several other shorter term projects. Throughout she has been committed to the delivery of flexible, quality service delivery with the individual/family at the centre of planning.
She has been a member of numerous committee and advisory mechanisms at national, state and local level including the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Homelessness, a member of both the Council for Homeless Persons Australia and Homelessness Australia, having held executive positions across these activities; QCOSS; Queensland government advisory committees.
Liz was a founding member of the Gold Coast Homelessness Network Inc providing leadership in the development of case management practices across the homelessness and housing sector, and, has worked in consultation with the housing sector – public housing, community housing and private housing initiatives in the development of policy, project development, and direct service delivery strategies and practice focusing on access to housing and sustaining tenancy work.
In 2014 Liz was made a member of the Order of Australia for her work in the homelessness sector.
Liz has a Bachelor of Counselling (UNE), A Master of Counselling (UNE), with further tertiary qualifications in community welfare, community service coordination / management, social welfare and training.
John & Jenny Gavin
John and Jenny own and operate a successful multi-skilled based commercial company, providing tailored services to their customer base. Jenny works with the Education Department providing transport for children with disabilities. John & Jenny have also been actively involved in local community supporting youth and local sports teams.
John has extensive senior management experience and is particularly skilled in Risk Management as well as large Project Management in business environments. Previously he was also board member of the Central Coast Drug & Alcohol committee with Central Coast Health, and, worked as youth Councillor for 5 years at the WEB at the Woy Woy peninsula Centre dealing with troubled youth of the central coast and referring them onto other services.
John & Jenny are also the parents of four young boys/ men including a young man with an intellectual disability. They strive to promote his independence and inclusion, and intend on setting their son up in his own accommodation in the near future.
John has a Bachelors Degree in Risk Management (Sydney), A Bachelor of Security Studies () ,and, a Diploma in Facilities Management (Western Sydney). He is also a Justice of the Peace (JP)
Melanie (Mel) Schlaeger
Mel has extensive experience in the advocacy field and has lived experience of disability. She has a passion for social justice which sees her tirelessly working to improve support networks for people with a disability in the Hunter region. She acknowledges, and works towards, helping people with a disability and their supporters to have access to the choice and control that we all deserve, but are not always naturally afforded.
Mel currently works for a disability service and is an advocate for people with disabilities, She has also recently commenced as an Official Community Visitor (OCV) with the NSW Ombudsman, and, sits on the National Disability Insurance Agency Advisory Committee. She also works for the Physical Disability Council as a Community Connector which involves setting up and facilitating Peer Support Groups around issues of importance for people with a disability and their chosen invited guests/supporters.
Mel is passionate about the rights of people with disabilities including their right to inclusion and participation, in society, in their communities, in their neighborhoods and in their own lives.