ConnectAbility – Meet the team

For over 25 years ConnectAbility Australia has been supporting people throughout the Hunter, focusing on the strengths and abilities of individuals and connecting people with their communities.

We recognise the importance of choice & control over decision making in ensuring your life is your own, and promote and respect your wishes, aspirations and goals.

ConnectAbility Australia has a strong focus on governance. We are led by a Board made up of volunteer members from the community who each bring a particular skill set and breadth of experience to the Committee. Meeting bi-monthly the Committee of Management work to ensure that not only does ConnectAbility remain a vibrant, viable organisation delivering quality services but that the organisation looks at continuously improving all aspects of the service so that we stay abreast of current trends and community expectations.

The board is further supported by a series of sub committees where subcommittee members provide specialist advice in the areas of Finance and Risk, People and Culture, Fundraising and Marketing.

Nathan Franks – Chair

Nathan joined the CoM in 2015 to support ConnectAbility through sharing his ICT skills. He has expertise in cloud computing, information technology and managed services, Nathan is constantly seeking new ways to bring the future of ICT to ConnectAbility. Nathan has a strong commitment to the community and has been integral in developing strategic measures to allow advances in the way that ConnectAbility works as an organisation.

Bernie Garrett – Deputy Chair

Bernie Garrett has over 25 years of corporate leadership and sales management roles in Australia and 10 years working and living in China. Today, Bernie focuses on developing professional teams through his leadership principles and making a difference in their business and personal lives. His vision is to be recognised as an Inspiration Speaker for Leadership growth, to individuals, teams, organisations and educational institutions.

Scott Brooks – Treasurer

Scott Brooks has over 15 years of experience in the accounting and financial services industries, including 7 years working in London, returning to Newcastle in 2014. Scott is currently with Maxim Accounting & Business Advisors and is also a director of the Hunter Business Chamber.

With family using similar service organisations within NSW, Scott is a keen supporter of the industry and committed to ensuring ConnectAbility continues to provide valuable services to the local community.

Kate Grob

Kate’s early career was spent in banking, small business administration and management. This background has provided her with a strong commercial acumen and a sound understanding of the challenges facing small business. Kate has spent the last 22 years in recruitment working as a consultant for National and International companies in the local recruitment market.  She has a Diploma in Management, is an active committee member with the Newcastle Business Club and becoming a board member of ConnectAbility provides her with an opportunity to donate back to the community.

Joan Gatt

Joan joined the CoM in November 2008 and is one of two Participant representatives. Joan has a 28 year old son with a disability and volunteers with the service to assist in his support. Joan is an active member of the Jewells school community, assisting with student banking and other activities.


Management Team

David Carey – CEO

David brings with him a strong background in in supporting people to achieve having worked in the areas of disabilities and children’s services for over ten years. “The most valuable resource of any organisation are its people” David said “Whether you are talking about our participants, families or staff. Each individual presents a unique opportunity to achieve a goal either personally or professionally that together support ConnectAbility to remain a leader within the sector.”

Scott Harvey – Operations Manager, Community Disability

It has almost been 20 years since Scott first walked through the door of ConnectAbility as a very green volunteer. Over this long association with the organisation Scott has fulfilled many roles from providing community supports to participants, developing programs and resources to his current role as Operations Manager for ConnectAbility. Scott has an Arts Degree specialising in Psychology, Cert 4 in Workplace Training & Assessment and Cert 4 in Frontline Management.

Scott says of his role:“Each and every day poses a new challenge, but I am very proud to have been part of the organisations journey. It is these challenges which drive my motivation to inspire change and the opportunity for greater community participation, inclusion and opportunity for people living with a disability. I continually ask myself “what have I done to improve the quality of someone’s life today”? Over many years I have made many long-standing relationships with participants, their families and many staff. These are very important to me and drive my motivation “to do better” every day. My passion has always been to ensure a positive approach to support is provided without focusing on an individual’s limitations and ensuring we have a skilled and knowledgeable workforce to deliver the best outcomes to people using the service. I have a strong belief in human rights and equity for all. We must look at each person’s vision to maximise their independence and social and economic participation as the benefits for the people using ConnectAbility and their families/carers are huge if we get it right.”

Kathryn Watts – Manager Community Aged Care

Kathryn commenced with ConnectAbility in November 2016 with the scope to build and develop the Aged Care division of the organisation. Kathryn has a Bachelor of Health, Ageing and Community Services, Diploma of Management and Cert IV in Mental Health and over 16 years’experience working in a variety of roles within the Aged Care sector from Support Worker, Case Manager, and then moving into Management and Senior Management positions.

With the Ageing population high on the Government’s agenda there has been and will continue to be many changes to the Aged Care system. Advising our customers on a daily basis on what is available and how to access services is a key component of our day to day practice. Kathryn has a commitment to ensuring our aged care community have opportunities to maintain their independence, community connections and to stay in their homes for as long as they are able.

Bridget Noonan – Manager Jesmond

Bridget Noonan has been the Manager of Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre for 3.5 years. She has a social science degree and a Certificate 4 in Frontline Management. She has a history of working in community development for the past 10 years and has managed two community centres.

Bridget provided the following insights into her role:“Initially I was attracted to working in Jesmond because of the high number of migrants and refugee’s. My previous work history was in Western Sydney where the main client group is refugee and migrant populations. As this is my area of speciality the Jesmond community was a good fit. I enjoy my work at Jesmond as our programs bring isolated residents together and allow them to form new friendships and practice new skills. I am motivated by a deep belief in social justice and this is aligned with the community development approach that Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre takes. I believe those who are marginalised or disadvantaged need a foot up to realise their dreams and goals. At Jesmond Neighbourhood Centre we work with those who are on the margins of society and help them create better networks and develop new skills to better meet their needs. We start with people’s strengths and build on them to create enriching programs that foster relationships and new skills.”