Meet Danny, Our resident Expert by Experience. Danny’s unique blend of passion, determination, and creativity underscores his role as an Expert by Experience at Assist Ability Australia. His insights and accomplishments enrich our organisation and inspire those around him to strive for excellence in all endeavors. In 2008, Danny was awarded the prestigious title of Young Australian of the Year for his outstanding contributions to the Hobson’s Bay City Council. This accolade is a testament to his commitment to community development and his relentless pursuit of positive change. Beyond his community involvement, Danny’s artistic talents shine through. With a flair for acting, he graced screens as Toby in the acclaimed series “Summer Heights High” and showcased his skills on one of the entertainment industry’s grandest stages, the Logies.

Meet Mike Sabbagh, an exceptional leader, and the driving force behind Assist Ability Australia as a Co-founder. As the CEO of this esteemed organisation, Mike brings with him a wealth of experience in business management and an unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on society.  With over 25 years of proven expertise in his field, Mike has risen to become a beacon of inspiration for his team and the community at large.  Mike is the sibling of a person with a disability and has a truly lived experience of supporting a person with disability.  Mike began his journey in the disability industry 5 years ago as a support worker and has brought that knowledge and information to this senior role. Mike is also an Australian Bravery Medalist.  To find out more about Mike, please see his LinkedIn page here: Mike Sabbagh LinkedIn 

Introducing Lola Nicolouleas, a trailblazer in the disability industry with a profound passion for making a difference. Lola’s journey in this field began at the remarkable age of 17, and for over 12 years, she has been an unwavering educator, advocate, and catalyst for positive change.  As a co-founder and now the Executive Director of Assist Ability Australia, Lola’s commitment to empowering individuals with disabilities is at the core of everything we do. Her extensive experience as an educator has been instrumental in shaping the lives of countless individuals, fostering an inclusive and supportive environment that celebrates diversity.  Lola’s dedication to the disability industry is unmatched, and her genuine empathy for others shines through in every interaction. She believes that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of their abilities, and her work reflects this belief wholeheartedly. As the Executive Director of our organisation, Lola’s vision and leadership have played a pivotal role in our growth and impact. Her guidance has steered us towards new horizons, empowering us to continue making a meaningful and lasting difference in the lives of those we serve.  Lola is also an International Specialised Skills Fellow.  To find out more about Lola, please see her LinkedIn page here: Lola Nicolouleas LinkedIn

Meet Marie Sabbagh, the remarkable Chief Operating Officer of Assist Ability Australia. With a humble beginning as a support worker, Marie’s journey in the disability industry has been nothing short of inspiring.  What sets her apart is not only her dedication and expertise but also her deep-rooted passion for the cause. Marie’s personal connection to the industry runs deep, as she has a brother with a disability. This profound familial experience has ignited an unwavering commitment in Marie to make a meaningful impact in the lives of those with disabilities.  Today, as the COO of Assist Ability Australia, she continues to lead with compassion, driving positive change and creating a more inclusive and empowering environment for all.  To find out more about Marie, please see her LinkedIn page here: Marie Sabbagh LinkedIn 

Business Developement Team

Meet Jermaine Bell, the exceptional Business Development Manager at Assist Ability Australia. As the first-ever staff member of our organization, Jermaine’s remarkable journey reflects his incredible skills and unwavering dedication to our mission.  With over 4 years of experience in the disability industry, Jermaine’s expertise has been a driving force behind our growth and success. His deep understanding of the needs of individuals with disabilities, coupled with his innovative approach, has enabled us to expand our reach and impact.  Jermaine’s strong work ethic is second to none. He approaches every challenge with determination and a positive attitude, consistently exceeding expectations and delivering exceptional results. As a true leader, Jermaine fosters a collaborative and supportive environment, empowering the team to thrive and achieve their best. Beyond his role as a Business Development Manager, Jermaine’s positive impact resonates throughout our organization. His genuine care for the team and the individuals we serve creates a sense of unity and purpose. Jermaine’s passion for making a difference is infectious, inspiring everyone around him to be their best selves.  To find out more about Jermaine, please see his LinkedIn page here: Jermaine Bell LinkedIn 

Meet Priscilla Tabone, Our Business Development Officer.  Priscilla comes to Assist Ability Australia with many years’ experience in Case management, Business Development,  Recruitment, Training & Employment Services and Administration.  Priscilla’s heart for the industry comes from her learned and personal experience as a case manager, an advocate, a parent and a grandparent to those living with a disability.  It is her passion, perspective and understanding relating to issues of equality, inclusivity, respect and dignity that drives her commitment to dedicate herself to her all she does.  Priscilla draws on her life experience and skills to bring a smiling face a positive attitude and sheer determination with her to work everyday.  To find out more about Priscilla please click her LinkedIn page here: Priscilla Tabone

Introducing Annika Trost, an enthusiastic individual with a profound passion for the disability sector, driven by her personal journey living with Muscular Dystrophy. Annika’s unwavering dedication extends beyond her own experiences, as she is committed to supporting and empowering others in their pursuit of personal growth and living their best lives. Her enthusiasm for community arts shines through, reflecting a belief in the transformative power of artistic expression to foster inclusivity and connection. Annika’s commitment to continuous education is further enriched by her personal interest in neuropsychology, showcasing her keen fascination with the intricate workings of the human mind. This multifaceted approach underscores Annika’s holistic dedication to making a positive impact in both the disability community and the broader realms of psychology and arts.

Finance | Plan Management Team

Meet Vinay Kumar Nuchu, A dedicated Finance Manager and NDIS Plan Manager at Assist Ability Australia.  With a profound passion for empowering individuals with disabilities and a strong financial acumen, I am honored to be part of an organisation that makes a genuine difference in people’s lives.  As a Finance Manager, I am proficient in financial management and accounting practices. My goal is to ensure that every financial decision we make aligns seamlessly with our mission of providing exceptional support and services to our valued clients. I believe that financial stewardship is not just about numbers; it is about enabling opportunities and fostering growth for those we serve.  At Assist Ability Australia, I also take on the vital role of an NDIS Plan Manager. I understand the unique challenges faced by our participants and their families when navigating the NDIS funding landscape. Guided by empathy and expertise, I work closely with our clients to optimize their NDIS plans, ensuring they receive the best possible support tailored to their needs.  My financial practices are founded on compliance and transparency and I take great care in upholding the highest ethical standards, ensuring that our clients and stakeholders have complete confidence in our financial operations. By maintaining precise records and adhering to industry best practices, I strive to create an environment of trust and accountability.

Introducing Ayush, Finance Officer at Assist Ability Australia!  With previous experience as an Assistant Accountant, Ayush is thrilled about the opportunity to contribute his skills and knowledge to our organisation.  During his previous role as an Assistant Accountant, Ayush gained valuable expertise in various aspects of financial management and accounting processes. He was responsible for assisting with month-end close activities, preparing financial statements, reconciling accounts, and managing accounts payable and receivable. Additionally, Ayush actively participated in budgeting and forecasting exercises, providing valuable insights for cost analysis and variance reporting.  Ayush’s proficiency in using accounting software such as Xero, QuickBooks, and Excel has enabled him to efficiently handle financial data and streamline reporting processes. As a detail-oriented and highly organised professional, he ensures accuracy in financial records and possesses strong analytical skills to identify discrepancies and implement necessary corrective actions.  Furthermore, Ayush has developed excellent communication and interpersonal skills through collaborative efforts with cross-functional teams. He effectively communicates financial information to stakeholders and actively supports audit processes. His adaptability to fast-paced environments and meeting deadlines is exceptional, making him an invaluable asset to the finance department’s success.

HR

Meet Megan, Our HR Officer & Community Case manager.  Hailing originally from South Africa, Megan boasts a corporate background that, while once gratifying, revealed a misalignment with her true passion. Throughout her career journey, Megan consistently occupied roles that placed significant emphasis on administration, coordination, and, notably, the art of cultivating and nurturing customer relationships.  What sets Megan apart is her remarkable ability to thrive in environments that prioritise the unique needs of individuals. She is not content with the ordinary; rather, she is an ardent advocate for continuous improvement and consistently goes above and beyond to secure optimal outcomes for both clients and colleagues. Megan possesses a remarkable blend of interpersonal finesse, adept communication skills, and an innate talent for organisational prowess.  For Megan, professional satisfaction isn’t merely a byproduct of work—it’s the heart and soul of her mission. She derives profound contentment from contributing her skills and expertise to organisations that resonate with her deeply-held values. Her work is a testament to her unwavering commitment to success, and she’s ever-ready to champion causes and drive transformative change.  Furthermore, Megan has discovered her true calling through her professional journey, culminating in the recent completion of her Diploma of Community Services. This qualification is a testament to her dedication and readiness to make a meaningful impact in the realm of community services.

Support Coordination Team

Support Coordination | Specialist Support Coordination team  Meet Jenny, Support Coordinator Manager for Assist Ability Australia. Jenny has and continues to demonstrate a commitment to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families. Her passion is evident in her work and the positive impact that she has made over her extensive career.  As well as the various roles and extensive experience, Jenny holds the qualification as well including a Bachelor of Applied Science specialising in Intellectual Disability and Graduate Diploma in Recreation, Disability and Ageing.  The qualifications and experience have enabled her to develop a comprehensive understanding about the unique needs of individuals and their families.  As a team leader, she embraces the diverse skills and experience that each team member has and what they can provide to the individuals that we support.  In addition, embracing and inspiring the team’s dedication and motivation to continue to be a driving force to support individuals to live the life that they want and strive for positive change is what makes this team sought after.

Meet James, Support Coordinator at Assist Ability Australia.  James is a highly skilled and compassionate individual who has completed a Certificate IV in Mental Health. James demonstrates a strong commitment to delivering exceptional support with an inclusive and understanding approach.  James has experience in working with individuals with disabilities in day programs, community access, one to one support and now support coordination. James consistently seeks opportunities for growth, and continuously enhancing his knowledge and skills in both mental health and disability. 

Meet Linda, Support Coordinator at Assist Ability Australia!  Linda is a compassionate and dedicated disability professional with an impressive track record of over 11 years in the field. Throughout her career, she has been deeply committed to assisting families as they navigate the challenges of living with a disability.  Drawing from her personal experiences and extensive knowledge of the disability sector, Linda has become a trusted resource and ally for families facing the unique challenges of autism. Her empathetic nature and understanding for the complexities of this journey have made her a pillar of support for countless individuals and their loved ones.  Linda’s unwavering and powerful passion for making a positive difference shines through in her work. As a Support Coordinator, she is driven by the desire to empower families and individuals with disabilities, helping them navigate the complex landscape of the disability sector with confidence and hope.  With Linda’s guidance and genuine care, families find the support they need to overcome obstacles, access essential services, and embark on a path of growth and fulfillment. Her dedication to her clients’ well-being and her commitment to making a positive impact on their lives make Linda an invaluable asset to the Assist Ability Australia team.

Administration Team

Meet Arun, our dedicated Individual Support and Recreational Officer.  With over 15 years of experience in managerial roles in the hospitality industry, Arun brings a wealth of expertise and commitment to his role as an Individual Support Officer. His genuine desire to make a positive impact on the lives of those he supports drives him to promote independence, well-being, and an improved quality of life for all.  Having worked as a support manager, Arun understands the significance of leadership, communication, and empathy in providing excellent service tailored to the unique needs of the organiation. He values building strong relationships with team members, empowering them to reach their full potential, and fostering an environment of growth and development.  Arun’s journey as a manager has come with its challenges, but the opportunity to positively impact the lives of his team members and contribute to the growth of the organization makes it immensely rewarding. At Assist Ability Australia, Arun finds joy in witnessing the growth and success of his team members and the organiation as a whole. Seeing individuals achieve their goals, overcome challenges, and develop their skills brings him a sense of fulfillment that fuels his dedication to providing a supportive and nurturing environment.

Administration team  Meet Vishal Vodapally, Administration Officer at Assist Ability Australia.  I am proud to be part of a team that wholeheartedly believes in providing a comprehensive approach to caregiving.  As an Admin and Support Worker, I collaborate seamlessly with professionals from diverse backgrounds, working together to create a nurturing and all-encompassing environment for those we serve.  At the heart of my responsibilities lies diligence, ensuring that scheduling and coordination flow smoothly to provide efficient and effective services. My role as a Support Worker allows me to grasp the participants’ needs better, and I constantly strive to enhance our daily operations by refining logistics and support. This commitment ensures our community flourishes, empowering our participants with the finest assistance to learn, grow, and achieve independence.  Our values revolve around fostering a community where empathy, respect, and empowerment thrive. Being part of this team reflects my unwavering dedication to meaningful progress and the well-being of those we support. I am privileged to make a difference in the lives of others and contribute to a more inclusive and compassionate world.

Introducing Kate, our dedicated Administration Officer at Assist Ability Australia. With her invaluable lived experience with disability, Katie brings a unique perspective and deep empathy to her role.  As an Administration Officer, Kate’s passion for our mission is evident in her every task. Her firsthand understanding of the challenges and triumphs faced by individuals with disabilities allows her to connect with our community on a profound level.  Kate’s commitment to excellence shines through in her work. She ensures that our administrative processes are seamless and efficient, supporting our team in making a positive impact on the lives of those we serve.  We are honored to have Kate as a part of our team, as her lived experience enriches our organization’s culture and reinforces our dedication to creating an inclusive and supportive environment for all. With her by our side, we continue to march forward with purpose and compassion, driven by our collective vision of empowering individuals with disabilities to thrive and succeed.

Meet Barsha, our Accommodation Officer at Assist Ability Australia.  With 8 years of experience in the Healthcare Industry, Barsha brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role. She firmly believes in bringing positive changes to people’s lives through discipline and determination.  As an Accommodation Officer, Barsha’s role provides her with a platform to make a profound impact on the lives of participants, contributing to their overall well-being. She takes immense satisfaction in witnessing residents enjoy their living spaces and feeling content with their accommodations, making her experience truly fulfilling.  Being an Accommodation Officer requires dedication, compassion, and a passion for creating a welcoming and supportive living environment. Barsha’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that each resident feels at home and cared for shines through in her work.  We are delighted to have Barsha as a valuable member of our team, making a positive difference in the lives of the individuals we support and enhancing their living experiences.

In Memoriam

It is with heavy hearts that we remember Louise Bugeja, a remarkable individual whose legacy will forever resonate within the foundation of Assist Ability Australia. Louise’s unwavering dedication and passionate advocacy played an instrumental role in shaping our organisation and its mission to amplify the voices of people with disabilities.  During the critical inception of Assist Ability Australia, Louise stood as a beacon of insight and empowerment. She not only lent her invaluable expertise to assist in crafting our initial policies and procedures, but she also became our first-ever client, a testament to her faith in our vision. Her contributions went far beyond technical guidance; Louise’s lived experiences illuminated the path we would tread, and her courage ignited a flame of positive change that continues to burn brightly.  Louise’s indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to empowering those around her made her an inspiration to us all. Her advocacy, her compassion, and her fearless dedication to representing the needs of people with disabilities laid the foundation for the inclusive ethos that defines our organisation.  As we reflect on Louise’s legacy, we honor the imprint she left on every facet of Assist Ability Australia. Her spirit will forever remain intertwined with our journey, a guiding light that reminds us of the incredible impact one person can have.  Though Louise is no longer with us, her legacy will continue to shape our endeavors and drive us forward in our mission. May her memory serve as a lasting inspiration, a reminder that advocacy and empowerment are enduring forces that can truly transform lives.

Advisory Board

Lesley Bridge is a Senior Program Manager responsible for leading the implementation of the Skills in Employment Program Project (SKiP) and the Higher Apprenticeships and Traineeships Social Services Extension Project (HATSSEP) at RMIT.  These programs promote workforce development in the community and social services sector. 
 
In her early career she started as a disability/aged care worker and progressed to managing dementia and disability residential houses. This then led to management roles leading learning and development teams for Government and not-for-profit organisations.  

Lesley has developed strong, collaborative working relationships with a diverse set of industry partners due to her nuanced understanding of the needs of specific partners. Lesley has also led the development of a Mentoring Model when she worked in the sector directly. She has more than 20 years’ experience working in community services, predominantly in disability, aged care, children, youth and families and mental health, across the government, not-for-profit and private sectors both in Australia and in the UK.  Lesley’s passion is for lifelong learning, collaboration, partnership working and continually figuring out new ways of working to ensure she, and others, make a difference.

 
In her personal life she has two children, both boys, one living with ASD and a husband who is a fitness fanatic, which Lesley is certainly not!

Tania Ramos is a highly experienced paediatric nurse and nurse educator. Tania, has over 22 years of experience caring for children requiring surgery and their families. She is passionate about providing family centred care and ensuring that patients receive evidence based care. Tania has vast experience in caring for children with developmental and physical disabilities. This work has enabled her to reflect on the many challenges that children and adults with diverse abilities face. She is passionate about working collaboratively with the team at Assist Ability Australia to improve the care and access for clients and their families.

Silvana has over 15 years’ experience in a range of Business and Administrative Development roles in the Commercial and Domestic sector. She has a Masters Degree in International Trade majoring in Economics from Victoria University. Currently Artwork and Packaging Manager at Mirabella International, Silvana has held a senior position for over eight years. She has led the development and execution of the current company style handbook. An advocate in sustainability and environmentally friendly packaging solutions. Silvana has a personal connection to the disability community. She believes in a world of equal opportunity. She hopes for a future that is inclusive and does not marginalise those who identify as living with a disability.

Chemere is a commercially driven professional services leader, with a track record in building commercially sustainable business models across large corporates and small boutique advice firms.  Chemere has twenty years experience in financial services, having spent the past eight years leading high performing teams in advice to deliver quality advice outcomes to clients.  Prior to Perpetual, Chemere was the Head of Advice for MLC Advice, whilst also holding roles across NAB, IOOF and also in small boutique financial planning firms.  Outside of Perpetual, Chemere exudes a pay it forward attitude, and gives back by mentoring aspiring and current advisors , contributing to advisory panels,  and advocates for children with disability via lived experience raising two autistic children.