Council welcomes new Access and Inclusion Reference Group members


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Monday, 26 October 2020


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Council is pleased to welcome the new members of its Access and Inclusion Reference Group (AIRG) for the 2020-2021 financial year. 

The Reference Group will provide guidance on the implementation of the final year of the current Disability Inclusion Action Plan and advise Council on the development of a new four-year Disability Inclusion Action Plan for 2021-2025. The plan sets out actions that Council will deliver to enable people with disabilities to better access mainstream services, facilities, information and support to be fully included in the community in an equitable way.

The group reflects the many dimensions and diversity of disability and the local sector. Members were selected for their expertise in accessibility, communication, legislation, advocacy and planning. 

The Access and Inclusion Reference Group enables ongoing genuine dialogue with the community and stakeholders to ensure the Disability Inclusion Plan actions remain current, contemporary and achieve outcomes of full community participation for people with disabilities.

Council would like to thank and acknowledge the outgoing Access and Inclusion Reference Group members for their input and commitment over the past 12 months.

For more, this short video profiles the team of people who have been helping Council to implement our previous Disability Inclusion Action Plan as well as develop our new one for 2021-2025.


Dr Gareth Beal

As the proprietor of 3D Support with 4 years' experience in the disability sector, Gareth has a high level of knowledge about the NDIS, its processes, underpinning legislation and how it aligns itself with the kinds of mainstream services provided by Councils. From 2005-2011, he was an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at Macquarie University and brings strong research and critical thinking skills to the group. Over the past 3 years he has worked with groups and services across the Central Coast including Ability Links, Musicians Making a Difference (MMAD), NSW TAFE, Regional Youth Support Services and Yerin.

Kathy Fela

Kathy has over 18 years management experience across several portfolios within the disability sector and proven project management experience specialising in assistive technology. She currently works as an Access Technology Trainer with Vision Australia. Kathy also has lived experience of blindness which along with her professional background, place her in a strong position to guide Council on best practice for implementing actions to improve accessibility for people in the community who are blind or have low vision. Kathy is actively involved in other community activities including:


  • Blind Citizen's Australia
  • Deep Water Dragon Boat Club
  • Achilles Running Club (committee member)-Hunter Central Coast Chapter
  • Secretary of Owners Corp (Central contact for the Residents, Trades Persons)


Daniel Greenwald

Daniel is a strong advocate for access and inclusion and brings expertise from his own lived experience to the group. Being born with cerebral palsy he has a lifelong understanding of local issues that people with disability face and the barriers to access to full community participation.

Daniel represented at previous Access and Inclusion Reference Group meetings on occasions as an Executive Committee member of the local peer mentoring and advocacy group Voices for Central Coast Disability (VOICCD). Daniel now serves as a core member of the group as an individual community representative.

Cassandra Holmes

Cassandra is an Orientation and Mobility Specialist at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT (Hunter South Region). She works with people who have a vision impairment including those with a broad range of disability and health conditions. A special area of interest is in rehabilitation for people who have a Neurological Vision Impairment. Cassandra holds a Masters Degree in Disability Studies (Sensory impairment).


Maree Jenner

Maree brings experience to the group as an NDIS Local Area Coordinator in Gosford as well as her own lived experience as a person of short stature meeting daily challenges in regard to people’s perceptions of a person of short stature and having to physically adapt to living in a world built for average height people. She is an active member of the local Central Coast community and access and inclusion for all is a key priority her both personally and professionally. She is an Access Advisor with Accessible Arts and regular gallery and theatre goer. Her combination of work and personal lived experience places her in a good position to provide a valuable contribution to the group. Other community organisations she is actively involved with include:


  • Vice President of the Short Stature People of Australia (SSPA)
  • Member of the Peninsular Community Inter-agency group
  • Member of the Woy Woy Community Garden


Carol Oakley

Carol joins the group with skill sets in strategic communications and engagement as well as personal and professional experience in the disability sector. She has over 20 years’ experience in the public, charity and private sectors, both in the UK and Australia and currently works as the Marketing and Communications Manager at Fairhaven. She also has lived experience of disability with a family member who is vision impaired.

Bobby Redman

Bobby is an active educator and advocate for people living with dementia and sits on various committees including:


  • Steering Committee for the Central Coast Dementia Alliance
  • Chair of the Central Coast Lived Experience Dementia Advisory Group, a group made up of local people living with dementia and their care partners.
  • National Dementia Australia Advisory Committee who advise Dementia Australia
  • Board Member of Dementia Alliance International


She is also a local Rotarian and Rotary District 9685 Chair for Dementia Awareness and Support which covers 72 Rotary Clubs including 14 on the Central Coast.

Joy Sinclair

Drawing from her own lived experience, Joy joined the group to give a voice for people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities who have disabilities and a mental health diagnosis. She brings to the group an understanding of the intersections of disability, mental health, discrimination and domestic violence experienced by people from diverse cultural backgrounds having worked in the disability sector for over 15 years. In her home country in Kenya, Joy is a qualified lawyer. She is currently advocating for inclusion and improvement of services for the CALD community on the Central Coast. Organisations and advocacy groups she is involved with:

  • Connected with Happiness Habits – who empower women from diverse backgrounds with mental health disorders, domestic violence and people with children with intellectual or physical disabilities
  • Northern Settlement Services
  • African Women’s Group
Darlene Thornton

Darlene Thornton

Darlene is a third generation Deaf Australian and has been involved with teaching, training, researching and writing on Auslan, Auslan linguistics, Sign Language interpreting, and Australian Deaf History for over 20 years. She is the founder and consultant of “MyAuslan” that delivers deaf accessibility and awareness training, interpreting/translating and Auslan tutoring and products that promote communication between deaf and non-deaf family members. Her passion lies in both Auslan linguistics and Australian Deaf History.



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Last updated : Wed 15 Dec 2021