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 and 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 Board. Meeting bi-monthly, the Board work to ensure that not only does ConnectAbility Australia remain a vibrant, viable organisation delivering quality disability services, aged care support, family counselling 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 disability services, aged care support, family counselling, 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.
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.
David is the founding director of CINCH Finance & Operations, Non-Profit Business Transformation Specialists. David has been involved with ConnectAbility as a consultant since 2015 and has presented alongside David Carey at a number of NDIS conferences assisting other NDIS providers learn from the ConnectAbility experience, transition to the NDIS.
David focuses on supporting NDIS providers through a 10 phase process involving Business Review, Culture, Reporting and Continuous Improvement. This process helps understand the key performance drivers and numbers so we have clarity when making decisions. David has worked with NDIS providers since 2014 as a qualified accountant / CFO with over 20 years’ experience in the field including a stint in Europe. David believes in using the skills and knowledge he has gained to build strength within the NFP sector to better support customers
Craig describes his strengths as being highly driven, self-motivated and highly resourceful with a proven ability to develop and manage high value relationships and projects, guide teams through organisational change and engage successfully with stakeholders at all levels. He believes in implementing and delivering business strategies that improve productivity, profitability and customer service. Craig holds a Bachelor of Economics (Majors in Economics, Psychology and Industrial Relations) – University of Newcastle and Marketing Principles Program – University of Sydney. Craig has held senior positions within large corporations and also consulted utilising his strengths in bringing about cultural change that focuses on customer outcomes. Craig sees an opportunity to utilise his business background and people and culture expertise to support ConnectAbility as the organisation grows to ensure that staff, customers and all stakeholders are part of a quality organisation.
Joan joined the CoM in November 2008 and is our customer representative Board member. Joan has an adult son with a disability and volunteers with the service to assist in his support. Joan has always been an active member of her community.. Joan’s advice and support is vital in ensuring customer and family needs are at the forefront of our supports.
Luke is a born and bred Novacastrian, attending Merewether Heights Primary and Merewether High School before completing tertiary studies in education and then law at the University of Newcastle. Luke is the principal of Sessions Legal and an experienced property and commercial lawyer. He established Sessions Legal was in 2013 after working for more than 10 years as a lawyer in local and national law firms. Luke is a keen surfer and mountain bike rider and loves getting outside on the weekends with his family including his 3 children. Luke enjoys being a lawyer because he does interesting work in an environment where you are able to help people achieve their goals. A desire to help people and contribute to the wider community is the reason Luke jumped at the chance to join the ConnectAbility Board.
David Carey – CEO
David brings with him a strong background in in supporting people to achieve having worked in the areas of disability services, aged care support, family counselling 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 customers, 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 customers, 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 customers, 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 disability services, aged care support, family counselling. 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.
Brenda Gledhill – Hunter Valley Disability Services HVDS
Brenda has 34 years’ experience in Supported Accommodation in the public sector.
In 2016 she took a 12 months secondment to work with a Support for Decision Making project which was a joint project between FACS and St Vincent De Paul Society.
Brenda is passionate about making a difference in the lives of the people we support and ensuring our workforce has the drive and commitment to making the transition from Public sector to Private sector a success.
She currently manages 20 SIL models of accommodation support and an In Home Support model.
The challenges of the NDIS have provided a steep learning curve for all of us but our focus is on working through the challenges, facing them head on and getting the best outcomes we can for the people we support.
It is an exciting time for the sector and I am happy to be part of the Connectability family.
Brendan McMahon – Senior Leader, Erina
Brendan has over 14 years of senior leadership experience in the disability, not for profit and community sectors. Holding senior positions in state and national organisations, as well as tertiary institutions, Brendan has proven experience in successfully leading teams through change, developing a high performing culture and ensuring financial sustainability and growth. Brendan has extensive knowledge of the NDIS and implementing service delivery options under this scheme to enhance customer satisfaction.
“The values and work ethic of our staff, and the amazing customers that we work with is truly humbling. It is because of this I am motivated to come to work each day and inspired when I leave.”
Brendan’s experience is supported with a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Applied Science.