Ability Action Australia

NDIS Therapeutic Supports Provider

We’re a dedicated team of highly qualified allied health professionals, behavioural support practitioners and employment advisors. We’re local people, on the ground in your community, delivering services that help NDIS participants get more out of life today. Make a referral to Ability Action Australia today or let our concierge service contact you at a time that suits.

 

Frances

Frances Hyde

Position: Senior Occupational Therapist - Port Macquarie

In recent years Frances has worked closely with NDIS participants, assisting them to gain entry to the scheme and setting them up in the community with the necessary equipment and supports to enable them to live fulfilling lives. This has involved completion of functional capacity assessments, supported independent living assessments, and assessing clients for appropriate accommodation.

She has spent the last 15 years working as an occupational therapist in acute care settings (hospitals), providing clinical services to adults with physical and cognitive impairments. Frances has a passion for trauma care and worked in a trauma and orthopaedics setting for many years.

Throughout this time she has worked with clients with diverse needs, including: multi-trauma, brain injury, amputees, stroke, degenerative conditions, and those requiring hospital at home set-ups.

Frances has many specialised skills, including:

  • Assistive technology assessment and prescription (hoists, hospital beds, mattresses, mobile commodes, manual wheelchairs)
  • Functional assessment and ADL retraining
  • Home assessment and home modifications
  • Pressure injury prevention and management

She believes that everyone has the right to live their life with meaning and purpose, and feels privileged to be able to assist people with a disability to achieve this. Her goal is to assist her clients to live happy, healthy lives as independently as possible.

Frances supports NDIS participants across Port Macquarie.

 

Frances Hyde

Senior Occupational Therapist - Port Macquarie

In recent years Frances has worked closely with NDIS participants,...

Margaret Huang

Margaret Huang

Position: Senior Physiotherapist - Sydney

Margaret is qualified as a Physiotherapist and an Exercise Physiologist, and has worked professionally in both allied health sectors.

She worked for two years as a physiotherapist in private practice, performing musculoskeletal and clinical pilates assessments with adults, adolescents and children.

In this role, she worked with conditions such as:

  • Musculoskeletal injuries
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Pregnancy-related issues, such as incontinence

Earlier, Margaret was employed at a private physiotherapy clinic, also with people from across the age span, and with conditions such as intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy, and back pain.

She also has experience working in a hospital within an orthopaedics ward and fracture clinic, where she performed mobility assessments with people of all ages. She worked with conditions including spinal cord injury, amputation, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

Margaret loves helping people get the most out of their lives by supporting them to live more independently, and seeing them make improvements over time makes her happy to be part of their journey.

She is enjoying her work with Ability Action Australia and supporting NDIS participants across Sydney.

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Margaret Huang

Senior Physiotherapist - Sydney

Margaret is qualified as a Physiotherapist and an Exercise Physiologist,...

Alex Bush physiotherapist Sydney

Alex Bush

Position: Team Leader / Senior Physiotherapist - Sydney

Alex has worked with people of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds, including those living with conditions such as cerebral palsy, acute stroke and Parkinson’s disease.

Her time as a physiotherapist has taken her across continents and clinical settings. In Sydney, she worked at St Vincent’s Hospital in their orthopaedics, respiratory, stroke rehabilitation and neurological wards, as well as at a leading airline as a team leader delivering occupational rehabilitation, physiotherapy, and safety services.

Alex also spent two years on rotation in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, covering most areas of physiotherapy, including respiratory, stroke rehabilitation, musculoskeletal, intensive care, surgical, women’s health, and rehabilitation for the elderly.

Earlier, she gained vital experience during placements in the paediatric neurosciences ward of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, and in the community neurological rehabilitation ward in Newcastle.

Alex thrives on making a difference in people’s lives and helping them achieve their goals.

Alex Bush

Team Leader / Senior Physiotherapist - Sydney

Alex has worked with people of all ages and from...

Chloe

Chloe Lockie

Position: Team Leader / Senior Occupational Therapist - Parramatta

Chloe is an active learner and enthusiastic allied health professional with four years’ clinical experience working with people aged seven years and above.

She is focused on implementing evidence-based interventions within the NDIS space to achieve optimal health outcomes for participants. Taking a goal-oriented, participant-centered approach, Chloe engages not only the participant but also their family, friends and caregivers.

Her work has involved supporting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and children and adolescents with varying conditions, including cerebral palsy, stroke, motor neurone disease and intellectual disability.

Chloe is experienced in occupational therapy assessments, interventions and evaluations in the home and community settings (school or work), including:

  • Functional and psychosocial capacity assessments
  • Assistive technology assessment and prescription
  • Manual handling training and education
  • Supported Independent Living Assessments
  • Supported Disability Accommodation Assessments

She has extensive experience working with people with mental health conditions, and in prescribing assistive technology. Chloe also values holistic and integrative therapies for her clients.

Chloe is passionate about supporting participants to achieve their NDIS goals within all aspects of their life, so they can lead happy and fulfilling lives within our community.

She works full time across the Blue Mountains.

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Chloe Lockie

Team Leader / Senior Occupational Therapist - Parramatta

Chloe is an active learner and enthusiastic allied health professional...

Sophie

Sophie Sprague

Position: Senior Occupational Therapist - Greater Western Sydney

Sophie was inspired to become an occupational therapist after working in the disability support sector and seeing the difference that professionals in this space can make in people’s lives.

Since gaining her qualifications, Sophie has worked with people across the lifespan, providing a range of supports and services to NDIS participants in the community.

She values getting to know participants by finding out what is important to each individual and helping them achieve their goals. Sophie works with her clients to make everyday life easier by building knowledge and skills, finding new ways of doing things and changing the environment to suit different needs.

Sophie has worked with people of all ages living with disability such as developmental delay, autism, cerebral palsy and stroke. She has clinical experience in:

  • Functional capacity assessments
  • Supported independent living assessments
  • Assistive technology assessments for manual and power wheelchairs, transfer equipment, showering equipment and home modifications
  • Everyday skills development for domestic tasks or personal care

Based in Penrith, Sophie is excited to be working with the NDIS community across greater western Sydney.

Sophie Sprague

Senior Occupational Therapist - Greater Western Sydney

Sophie was inspired to become an occupational therapist after working...

Maria Ventouris occupational therapist Sydney

Maria Ventouris

Position: Occupational Therapist - Sydney

Maria previously worked as a carer, supporting a woman in her 80s living with dementia. She assisted her with daily tasks such as shopping, showering, toileting and grooming, and meaningful activities including walking around the block and going to the shops for coffee, which gave her purpose and enjoyment.

Throughout her studies, Maria worked across a range of settings and with people of all ages and abilities, including young indigenous children. She worked with people with knee and hip replacements, mental health conditions, neurological disorders, and vulnerable and trauma patients.

Maria has conducted falls prevention and energy conservation programs, and has experience with the following assessments:

  • Initial assessments
  • Functional assessments
  • Cognitive assessments
  • Car transfer assessments

Prior to joining Ability Action Australia, Maria worked with children as a dance teacher at a private girls’ school in Sydney’s inner west. Some of her students were diagnosed with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety or were blind. Her students moved around to music, learnt routines, presented in front of loved ones and peers, and built their gross motor and attention skills.

Maria is delighted to be working with NDIS participants across the eastern region of Sydney.

Maria Ventouris

Occupational Therapist - Sydney

Maria previously worked as a carer, supporting a woman in...

Photo of Madeline

Madeline Spinelli

Position: Senior Occupational Therapist - Western Sydney

Madeline has over four years’ experience working within the NDIS sector, specialising in assistive technology and home modifications. She is passionate about facilitating clients to increase their independence throughout their daily lives.

Over those four years, Madeline was working with participants and their families to support a range of complex and diverse physical and development disability. Through this she has gained considerable expertise in:

  • Equipment prescription including complex seating
  • Manual handling
  • Assistive technology assessments such as wheelchairs and transfer equipment
  • Minor and major home modification assessments
  • Pressure care
  • ADL and IADL development
  • Gross motor skills and sensory processing

Madeline is excited to be working with Ability Action Australia and assisting people to increase their independence. She loves working holistically to support individuals throughout all areas of their lives to achieve their goals, no matter how big or small.

 

Madeline Spinelli

Senior Occupational Therapist - Western Sydney

Madeline has over four years’ experience working within the NDIS...

Shiarna Tarasenko occupational therapy assistant Sydney

Shiarna Tarasenko

Position: Therapy Assistant - Sydney

Shiarna is an integral part of our multidisciplinary therapy team. Guided by our fully qualified therapists, she is involved in producing therapy resources, organising and running groups, and supporting our valued clients to achieve their goals.

Before joining Ability Action Australia, Shiarna worked with adolescents and adults living with autism. Her role as a mentor was to engage with these individuals and their families to provide quality care, guidance and mentorship on life skills.

To date, her university placements have included positions in an acute hospital environment, working in the renal, acute surgical, and sub-acute rehabilitation wards. Shiarna completed initial assessments and functional reviews, and provided patients with falls education, energy conversation techniques, pressure care management and equipment prescription.

In addition to studying to become an Occupational Therapist, Shiarna is a qualified lifeguard and has worked at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre. She is trained in first aid, CPR, and water safety, and is a designated fire warden.

Her goal is to maximise an individual’s independence, and she derives a great deal of satisfaction from seeing people improve their ability to perform meaningful tasks.

Shiarna is excited about working across western Sydney, helping to guide and support NDIS participants to achieve their goals.

Shiarna Tarasenko

Therapy Assistant - Sydney

Shiarna is an integral part of our multidisciplinary therapy team....

Tin Yan/Giselle occupational therapy assistant Sydney

Tin Yan (Giselle) Lo

Position: Therapy Assistant - Sydney

Despite completing a medical degree, Giselle decided to study Occupational Therapy after realising she wanted a career where she could spend more time with her clients.

Prior to joining Ability Action Australia, Giselle was a research assistant at the Black Dog Institute, where she administered neurostimulation to clients with depression.

She was also a support worker, helping vulnerable clients and their families living with a range of conditions. She worked with people living with mental health conditions such as schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and autism, as well as paediatric clients with newly diagnosed leukaemia. She also helped older clients living with dementia, which she could relate to personally as her grandmother has this condition.

Her university studies consisted of clinical placements with:

  • Calvary Hospital home modification team, evaluating their home modification process by interviewing clients/attending home visits
  • Scalabrini (nursing home), organising and leading exercise classes
  • Bankstown (acute inpatient), conducting functional reviews, initial assessments, prescribing commodes/shower chairs

Giselle’s Chinese clients enjoy spending time with her, playing Mahjong, practising Chinese writing, and making Chinese dishes. One of her clients introduced her as her ‘granddaughter from the government’, which gave her great joy because it meant she was viewed as a family member, not just a worker.

She enjoys seeing her participants smile, realise their dreams, and simply say ‘thank you’.

Giselle supports people across eastern Sydney.

Tin Yan (Giselle) Lo

Therapy Assistant - Sydney

Despite completing a medical degree, Giselle decided to study Occupational...

Mary Vargas OT Sydney

Mary Vargas

Position: Occupational Therapist/Team Leader - Sydney

Mary has four years of clinical experience working as an occupational therapist with children and adolescents living with a range of conditions, including intellectual disability, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, anxiety, and rare genetic disorders.

As part of her therapy work, she has conducted assessments and interventions in the home and community settings, including:

  • SOS approach to feeding
  • Sleep intervention
  • Major home modifications
  • Self-care and routine support
  • Play and social skills development
  • Emotional and sensory regulation support

Mary has three years of experience as a disability support worker, supporting children and teens with cerebral palsy, impaired vision, social anxiety, and autism.

She has also worked as a clinical lead in paediatrics, leading the programming and implementation of therapy group programs such as LEGO social skills group, and the Animal Fun program.

Mary supports her NDIS participants across western Sydney, including in Rooty Hill and the surrounding area.

Mary Vargas

Occupational Therapist/Team Leader - Sydney

Mary has four years of clinical experience working as an...

Photo of Yvonne

Yvonne Du

Position: Occupational Therapist - Sydney

Yvonne has enjoyed a broad range of placement experience throughout her studies, supporting people of all ages living with various health conditions and disabilities.

She completed her first placement in an acute neurology ward to assess and assist patients to return safely home after stroke or head injury. Yvonne’s responsibilities included:

  • Cognitive assessments
  • Education around fall risks
  • Functional assessments
  • Sunflower delirium tools

Yvonne also completed a placement within an early childhood centre, supporting educational staff in creating sensory focussed activities for toddlers using the Montessori approach.

She has supported people aged 12 to 25 living with mental health conditions through involvement with Headspace. Yvonne helped provide cognitive based therapies to assist young people in establishing healthy routines and improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Yvonne enjoys making a positive impact in her client’s lives and has a strong interest in working with ethnic and minority communities to tackle the stigma of disability.

 

Yvonne Du

Occupational Therapist - Sydney

Yvonne has enjoyed a broad range of placement experience throughout...

Sean Thompson

Sean Thompson

Position: Team Leader - Exercise Physiologist - Sydney

Sean has extensive experience supporting NDIS participants, having worked for five years at NeuroMoves—a department of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.

During this time, he worked with adults and children aged 3–80 with a variety of neurological conditions, including spinal cord injury, stroke, acquired brain injury, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, intellectual disability, and amputees.

Previously, Sean was also a team leader of an allied health team, and a national professional standards coordinator responsible for training and upskilling staff.

Earlier, Sean worked as a tutor at Charles Sturt University, for neurological rehabilitation workshops.

He enjoys breaking down the barriers that people living with disability face in everyday life, and seeing his clients achieve goals they didn’t think were possible.

Working across greater Sydney, Sean is thrilled to be assisting the NDIS community with Ability Action Australia.

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Sean Thompson

Team Leader - Exercise Physiologist - Sydney

Sean has extensive experience supporting NDIS participants, having worked for...

Photo of Elly

Elly Bruggemann

Position: Occupational Therapist - Port Macquarie

Elly is excited to join Ability Action Australia, having completed university placement working alongside experienced occupational therapists in the NDIS sector.

Working with participants of all ages, she has an excellent understanding of the NDIS and can provide therapy across various settings.

Elly previously worked as a Paediatric Occupational Therapy Assistant within an NDIS setting, working with children ages 4 to 18. During this time, Elly supported children living with various conditions, including:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • ADHD
  • ODD

Elly helped plan group and individual therapy sessions to target fine and gross motor skills, social skills and kindergarten transitions for young children.

She is looking forward to a long future with Ability Action Australia and supporting people to achieve their goals. Elly enjoys working with children, helping them grow and learn about themselves and the world around them

 

Elly Bruggemann

Occupational Therapist - Port Macquarie

Elly is excited to join Ability Action Australia, having completed...

Photo of Stacey

Stacey Thomas

Position: Occupational Therapist - Sydney

Stacey has significant experience supporting individuals to improve their health and quality of life. She values working with participants by improving their ability to take part in meaningful activities.

Previously, she worked in aged care supporting people living with dementia, MND, Parkinson’s, and age-related conditions.

In her role in residential care, Stacey’s responsibilities included:

  • Cognitive assessments
  • Equipment prescription
  • Pain management
  • Pressure care and oedema management
  • Seating prescription

Stacey likes to focus on each participant’s individual goals. She is inspired to see progress through therapy and the positive change it has had on her client’s everyday living.

Stacey is excited to be working with Ability Action Australia and NDIS participants across Greater Western Sydney.

 

Stacey Thomas

Occupational Therapist - Sydney

Stacey has significant experience supporting individuals to improve their health...

Sherie Leung OT support worker

Sherie Leung

Position: Therapy Assistant - Sydney

Sherie finds it very rewarding to help people achieve their goals and enjoys celebrating every success with them, no matter how big or small. She especially loves to see her clients smile.

As a support worker, Sherie has worked with adolescents in the NDIS living with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability. Working within a multidisciplinary team, she has experience completing and distributing case notes and correspondence to other allied health professionals, to provide cohesive care.

At university during a field placement, Sherie worked in an inpatient acute and rehabilitation setting, which involved conducting initial and functional assessments as well as cognitive assessments.

A further placement experience involved working with children under eight years of age in a community health setting. While there, she conducted initial assessments and intervention sessions, among other duties.

Guided by our fully qualified therapists, Sherie is excited to be supporting NDIS participants in the western suburbs of Sydney.

Sherie Leung

Therapy Assistant - Sydney

Sherie finds it very rewarding to help people achieve their...

George Paneras

George Paneras

Position: Senior Exercise Physiologist - Sydney

George has considerable experience treating people with neurological conditions to improve their overall physical function and decrease the risk of secondary medical conditions.

He keeps up-to-date with current exercise prescription for many conditions, including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, stroke, acquired brain injury and Parkinson’s disease.

His previous role involved designing structured exercise programs for a range of NDIS clients, based on their individual goals and physical capacity.

He worked with adults, adolescents, and younger children, including a 10-year-old boy with a T12 spinal cord injury.

Over his career, George’s skillset has grown to include expertise in:

  • Evidence-based exercise prescription
  • Exercise prescription for a range of disabilities

George is often involved in managing musculoskeletal injuries to ensure his clients are able to maintain a sufficient amount of function.

He enjoys educating his clients on the importance of exercise and the profound mental benefits it has on wellbeing.

He is passionate about helping people achieve independence in their everyday life, and watching their confidence grow within the community as a result of their participation in his exercise programs.

George works with NDIS participants across western Sydney.

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George Paneras

Senior Exercise Physiologist - Sydney

George has considerable experience treating people with neurological conditions to...

Melissa Coyne

Melissa Coyne

Position: Exercise Physiologist - Western Sydney

Melissa has considerable experience in exercise prescription, rehabilitation from illness and injury, strength and conditioning, and behaviour change strategies.

She has prescribed exercise programs for NDIS participants with a wide range of conditions, including spinal cord injury, brain injury, cerebral palsy, stroke, cancer, multiple sclerosis, autism, and depression and anxiety.

Melissa has experience with cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, women’s health, and active ageing, as well as with athletes in pre- and post-injury rehabilitation.

Her diverse set of skills and abilities includes:

  • Initial assessments, such as strength and endurance tests, and functional measures
  • Ongoing exercise prescription and progressive testing to ensure all participants are reaching their health and wellbeing goals
  • Tailoring exercise sessions to different settings, providing gym-based exercise, home- and park-based training, and hydrotherapy services

Working one-on-one and in groups with adults, adolescents and children, Melissa enjoys helping people achieve their goals and get more out of their daily lives in a fun and supportive environment.

A passionate advocate for using exercise as medicine to optimise overall health and fitness, Melissa is excited to be developing exercise routines for NDIS participants across Western Sydney.

Melissa Coyne

Exercise Physiologist - Western Sydney

Melissa has considerable experience in exercise prescription, rehabilitation from illness...

Emma Felsch

Emma Felsch

Position: Exercise Physiologist - Sydney

Emma enjoys empowering people with the knowledge, tools and ability to live more active and independent lives.

Before joining Ability Action Australia, she worked in a private clinic with people of all ages. Her work there included:

  • Delivering programs for children with cerebral palsy, depression and for sport specific skills and motor control
  • Musculoskeletal and neurological rehabilitation
  • Strength and conditioning training for adults
  • Physical assessments: range of motion, balance, strength

Emma’s previous experience involved occupational rehabilitation for the workers’ compensation sector, completing initial assessments, pre-employment assessments, and ergonomic reviews and set up.

Prior to that as a gym-based exercise trainer, she performed initial exercise assessments, musculoskeletal rehabilitation, general fitness training, and with planning and instructing group fitness classes.

As a student, Emma was involved in aged care assessments, developing and delivering exercise programs, general strength and conditioning, exercise for specific conditions such as osteoporosis and dementia, as well as balance training and functional movements.

She loves helping a person improve their functional capacity and confidence in movement through exercise.

Emma’s favourite quote is: “Look for something positive in each day, even if some days you have to look a little harder.”

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Emma Felsch

Exercise Physiologist - Sydney

Emma enjoys empowering people with the knowledge, tools and ability...

Marie-Eve

Marie-Eve Dostie

Position: National Pediatric Clinical and Team Lead

Marie-Eve has extensive experience with paediatric populations and has been working with children for over 20 years. She graduated from the University of Montreal in Canada in 2012. She worked for three years in Canada where she developed and implemented an Occupational Therapy department in a multi-disciplinary paediatric clinic, before embarking on her Australian journey. Since arriving in Australia, Marie-Eve has been working in private settings, where she continues to thrive working with children and their families.

Over the years, Marie-Eve has worked with babies, children and adolescents with a wide range of abilities and grew a real passion for helping them and their family overcome daily challenges in their home, school and community environments. Marie-Eve is passionate about developmental challenges, trauma-informed care, sensory integration and play-based therapy.

Marie-Eve has experience navigating NDIS and supporting families to achieve their goals via a holistic, evidence-based and family-centred approach. Her experience includes working with children on the autism spectrum, developmental delays, sensory processing difficulties, developmental coordination disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, cerebral palsy and genetic disorders amongst others.

Marie-Eve also enjoys supporting her colleagues and Occupational Therapy students by sharing her knowledge and mentoring.

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Marie-Eve Dostie

National Pediatric Clinical and Team Lead

Marie-Eve has extensive experience with paediatric populations and has been...

Emma Virtue

Emma Virtue

Position: Senior Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Emma has extensive experience and has worked within the NDIS community in Newcastle for almost seven years. She works across the lifespan (0-65 years old) and absolutely loves working with the infant, paediatric and adult populations.

She has significant training and experience in assisting participants living with cerebral palsy, traumatic and acquired brain injuries, stroke, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, and more.

With a strong evidence-based and goal-centred approach to her work, Emma has a great deal of knowledge and passion for the following types of interventions:

  • Complex assistive technology and equipment prescription, including complex seating for children and adults
  • Infant and child development and play-based therapy
  • Bimanual therapy and constraint-induced movement therapy

She has a warm and supportive style of leadership and enjoys encouraging her colleagues and occupational therapy students through supervision and mentoring.

Emma has a passion for ensuring all people are given opportunities to reach their full potential, regardless of their background or ability. She loves building relationships with her participants and families, and supporting them to reach their hopes and dreams.

She is delighted to be part of the team at Ability Action Australia and supports NDIS participants across the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Hunter and Central Coast regions.

Emma Virtue

Senior Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Emma has extensive experience and has worked within the NDIS...

Eilish Medel

Eilish Medel

Position: Senior Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Eilish has worked for several years in the NDIS space and supported participants in a range of ways to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life.

She has worked with people across the lifespan with varying diagnoses, including autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disability, global developmental delay, mental health conditions and traumatic brain injury.

Eilish is a skilled clinician who can assist participants with the following:

  • Functional Capacity Assessment
  • Paediatric Assessment
  • Housing Assessment and Home Modification
  • Assistive Technology Assessment and Prescription
  • Equipment prescription

Eilish has helped many people with disability develop their life skills, activities of daily living, social interactions, sensory and emotional regulation and motor abilities. She can confidently conduct a variety of standardised assessments and set client-centred goals.

A firm believer that everyone deserves to receive the support they need to live a normal life, Eilish is a strong advocate for helping people living with disability to strive and live their best life.

A warm and bubbly personality, Eilish supports NDIS participants in Newcastle, the broader Hunter region and the Central Coast.

Eilish Medel

Senior Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Eilish has worked for several years in the NDIS space...

Esther

Esther McKenzie

Position: Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Esther enjoys supporting adults, adolescents, and children with different needs and goals to live happy and fulfilling lives.

She has gained clinical placement experience working in hospital and community settings, performing:

  • Functional assessments
  • Psycho-social assessments
  • One-on-one play therapy with children in early intervention

Esther moved into Occupational Therapy from an advertising and media background in order to apply her strengths in creative problem-solving in an area where she could make a positive difference in the lives of people in need.

She believes we should celebrate everyone’s uniqueness by solving problems and advocating to build a more inclusive and diverse society.

Esther is thrilled to be working with the NDIS community through Ability Action Australia. She works full-time across the Hunter region of NSW.

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Esther McKenzie

Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Esther enjoys supporting adults, adolescents, and children with different needs...

Lucy Wright occupational therapist Newcastle

Lucy Wright

Position: Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Lucy has worked for more than a year in the NDIS sector, providing early intervention services to support children living with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays.

Using a family-centred approach to consider the unique needs of families, she is skilled in providing functional assessments, activities of daily living skills training, and developing social skills and problem solving through pretend play activities.

For example, Lucy made significant gains using pretend play when working with children who experienced developmental delay as a result of trauma. She worked to develop motor, social and language skills so the children could master basic life skills, learn positive behaviours and build their independence.

Lucy also has experience working with children and adults to rehabilitate upper limb conditions after an operation or injury to help them re-engage in everyday activities such as working, gardening, sewing, and driving.

Earlier in her career, she worked with older people in aged care, developing a range of skills such as advocating for her clients’ needs and supporting staff to provide high quality manual handling techniques for clients.

She loves helping people achieve the little wins that may appear modest from the outside but that mean the world to her clients. Putting supports in place to improve a client’s participation in meaningful activities is an incredibly rewarding way to work, Lucy believes.

Lucy is thrilled to be supporting NDIS participants in Newcastle.

Lucy Wright

Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Lucy has worked for more than a year in the...

Sarah Richards OT in Newcastle

Sarah Richards

Position: Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Sarah has worked in the NDIS space since starting out as an Occupational Therapist more than two years ago.

She has been lucky to support people aged 2 to 70 years living with physical and intellectual disability, neurological conditions, autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing challenges, and developmental delays.

Sarah is able to complete:

  • Functional capacity assessments
  • Paediatric assessments
  • Sensory assessments
  • Assistive technology prescription
  • Minor home modifications
  • A variety of standardised assessments

She has loved developing her skills in the paediatric space and implementing a strong client and family-centred approach to therapy. She is passionate about building therapeutic rapport with children and their families in a fun and safe environment.

Sarah is always excited to meet her clients with their families/carers and build a strong therapeutic rapport. She believes a great part of her job is explaining the different activities of daily living we can support and creating goals specific to the clients and their environments.

She is excited to be working with the team at Ability Action Australia and working with clients in the Hunter New England region of NSW.

Sarah Richards

Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Sarah has worked in the NDIS space since starting out...

Ishiela

Ishiela Dalao

Position: Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Ishiela has worked with young and older NDIS participants. She thrives on enriching lives by helping people become more independent and participate in meaningful activities.

She has worked with a range of conditions including younger- and late-onset dementia, schizophrenia, personality disorder, cognitive impairment, stroke with one-sided weakness, and chronic pain.

Recently, Ishiela worked in an aged care setting where she prescribed a range of adaptive equipment – wheelchairs, electric beds, adaptive cutlery and mobility aids – to help residents manage everyday tasks.

She was also responsible for pressure care intervention, hoist and sling prescription, education on manual handling techniques, falls prevention strategies, and mobility reviews and safety after a fall.

Ishiela has completed a range of assessments, including:

  • Functional allied health assessments
  • Cognitive assessments
  • Cornell Scale for Depression

She is thrilled to be joining Ability Action Australia where she will enjoy helping participants lead more fulfilling lives, and building on her knowledge and skills.

Ishiela works full time from Newcastle.

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Ishiela Dalao

Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Ishiela has worked with young and older NDIS participants. She...

Shelby Wood occupational therapist Newcastle

Shelby Wood

Position: Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Shelby has considerable experience working with NDIS participants, especially young children and adolescents. She has worked in a range of paediatric settings, including schools, and mobile/private clinics.

As a result, she has an in-depth understanding of NDIS processes, such as:

  • The application process
  • Funding options
  • Supports and services
  • Plan reviews

During her career, Shelby has administered, scored and interpreted a variety of assessments used for people living with disability, including sensory, behavioural, developmental and functional standardised assessments.

She has had experience with children aged 3 to 19 years living with autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, depression, global developmental delay, anxiety disorders, sensory processing disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and physical disabilities.

Through education and training, Shelby has supported families and carers to understand their child’s condition, and help them to use this knowledge to manage their child’s wants and needs and thrive in their daily lives.

Shelby derives her own sense of belonging and happiness from the many things she loves to do in her daily life, and she is grateful that in turn her job allows her to advocate for and support people living with disability to develop their own joy in their everyday lives.

Shelby Wood

Occupational Therapist - Newcastle

Shelby has considerable experience working with NDIS participants, especially young...

Zoe Manning therapy assistant Newcastle

Zoe Manning

Position: Therapy Assistant - Newcastle

Zoe has a passion for working with paediatric clients and their families. In her previous placement experiences, she has worked with clients in clinics, community settings such as schools, and home environments. She has experience with children with Autism, ADHD, sensorimotor difficulties and cognitive challenges to name just a few.

Zoe’s excellent communication skills and encouraging nature means that she easily connects with children and their support network, which builds strong therapeutic relationships. She likes to make her therapy sessions fun and uses a play-based approach to assist paediatric clients in achieving their goals and increasing their independence in everyday activities.

Working with a variety of age groups, Zoe has completed functional capacity assessments, assistive technology trials/prescriptions, and initial assessments in both hospital and private settings.

Zoe loves supporting people living with disability to achieve goals that are meaningful to them. She uses a collaborative, goal-based approach with NDIS participants, working closely with Occupational Therapists and participants to apply treatment plans and allow participants to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Recently, Zoe completed her third-year placement with Ability Action Australia in the Newcastle area. She is excited to now be working with the team to support NDIS participants.

Zoe Manning

Therapy Assistant - Newcastle

Zoe has a passion for working with paediatric clients and...

Josh Knuiman exercise physiologist Newcastle

Josh Knuiman

Position: Senior Exercise Physiologist - Newcastle

Before joining Ability Action Australia, Josh worked as an Exercise Physiologist and Provisional Behaviour Support Practitioner, developing individualised exercise programs for children, adolescents and adults as part of an NDIS multidisciplinary therapy team.

Over the same period, Josh ran his own business working with and supporting youth living with autism spectrum disorder and helping them to live healthy, happy lives through exercise.

Josh has extensive experience working with children, having worked at a paediatric exercise clinic and in early childhood physical literacy. He also has experience in chronic disease management.

He has conducted many different types of assessments, including:

  • Health and mobility assessments (e.g. Timed Up and Go Test, 6 Minute Walk Test, Functional Reach Test)
  • Comprehensive motor assessments
  • Fundamental Movement Skill Assessment

Josh loves helping people reach that moment when they realise they can do it, and seeing the joy it brings them (e.g. teaching a kid to ride a bike/walk independently/participate in the community). He firmly believes that everyone has the ability to participate in and enjoy physical activity, if given the time, care and support.

He is thrilled to be working with Ability Action Australia, supporting NDIS participants in and around Newcastle.

Josh Knuiman

Senior Exercise Physiologist - Newcastle

Before joining Ability Action Australia, Josh worked as an Exercise...

Kayley Townsend

Kayley Townsend

Position: Therapy Assistant - Tamworth

Kayley enjoys supporting people who are experiencing disadvantage and helping them to reach their full potential. She also values giving those without a voice a means to speak.

As a student, she completed professional placements in a number of areas of occupational therapy, including:

  • School learning support officer (support class + mainstream)
  • Motor proficiency testing
  • Non-verbal assessments
  • Handwriting assessments

Kayley has experience with various types of disability, including autism spectrum disorder, achondroplasia, sensory processing disorder, and intellectual disability.

Currently completing her final year of study, Kayley works part-time with Ability Action Australia supporting NDIS participants across Tamworth, NSW.

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Kayley Townsend

Therapy Assistant - Tamworth

Kayley enjoys supporting people who are experiencing disadvantage and helping...

Emily Yeo occupational therapy assistant Tamworth

Emily Yeo

Position: Therapy Assistant - Tamworth

As part of her university studies, Emily completed her second-year practical placement at a primary school, where she focused on improving handwriting and classroom functioning.

Within this placement Emily gained experience with:

  • Paediatric assessments and group intervention
  • Handwriting and classroom functioning
  • Behavioural and emotional regulation

Emily also has experience supporting a child with autism spectrum disorder. She assisted the child with play, activity flexibility and completing program plans developed by his Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist.

She has discovered she has a passion for paediatrics, and hopes to continue working in this area after graduating next year.

Emily completed her third-year practical placement in an occupational rehabilitation setting, assisting adults to return to work following a workplace injury. While there, Emily gained experience with activity of daily living assessments, equipment and service recommendations, and formal report writing.

Emily loves supporting people living with disabilities as she wants to make a difference to the way people live and enjoy life. She especially loves being able to offer support to rural communities as she understands the barriers people experience when trying to receive assistance.

Emily Yeo

Therapy Assistant - Tamworth

As part of her university studies, Emily completed her second-year...

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