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Advisory group

Meet our Advisory Group

The Advisory Group has been established to improve our service design and delivery. It does this by

  • providing expertise and advice
  • facilitating feedback and suggestions from the disability community and
  • sharing information about our service with the disability community.

Advice and feedback from the Advisory Group will be reported to our Steering Committee. The Steering Committee includes senior managers from Your Story who may refer feedback and issues to Directors of the Legal Aid Commissions and the CEOs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service for decision making.

The Advisory Group’s membership includes people with lived experience, carers and organisational and policy/academia – representing young people, women, CALD people, advocates, First Nations people and LGBTIQ people from all states and territories.

Brianna Bell

Brianna Bell is a 24-year-old wheelchair user and Assistance Dog handler living in Brisbane, Queensland. She worked in a range of roles with UN Youth Australia, including as CEO, from 2011-2016 before becoming the UQ Union Disability Officer in 2017. In 2018 she completed her Bachelor of Laws honours thesis on “Hires, Buyers and Affirmative Action: An exploration of the empowerment of vulnerable disabled workers through labour hire and procurement practices in Australia.” She is passionate about using her legal education, lived experience of disability, and experience accessing the NDIS and DSP, to advocate for the rights of disabled people.

Caterina Ponzio

Caterina Ponzio lives in Broome WA and is a primary carer for her son, an NDIS participant.

Caterina works with First Peoples Disability Network, connecting local Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley to services and promoting the rights of people with a disability to participate in community and access essential services all over WA.

She joined the WA Register of Developmental Anomalies – Cerebral Palsy Committee in 2012 and is a current member of the inaugural NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission Disability Sector Consultative Committee.

She has lobbied for realistic pathways to employment and/or education and speaks out against the issues that keep people in poverty. She mentors and assists individual to navigate complex and often dysfunctional government systems and agencies. She supports local Aboriginal artists to promote their work and protect themselves from being exploited.

Caterina has been recognised by the Government of Western Australia for her ‘personal contribution to local inclusion’ as part of the Count Me In awards, which recognise individuals who improve access and inclusion for people with a disability within the community

Dominic Golding

Project Officer Dominic Golding has responsibility for Disability Royal Commission in the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA). Dominic is a strong advocate of the disability and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) community, with more than 17 years of experience in community work, cultural development and multicultural affairs.

Dominic is a person with lived experience of dual disability, being hearing impaired and living with cerebral palsy. He is from the CALD community, originally from Vietnam and migrating to Australia as a baby in the 1970s.

In the past 17 years, Dominic has had extensive work experience within the disability space, providing support and accommodation to refugees with disability.

Dominic has also worked with small NGOs, doing state election multicultural outreach and providing local council community support. He has worked in two separate DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) programs - adoption/wardship records and disability, subsequently developing a passion for social policy and service delivery to marginalised communities.

Dominic has two postgraduate degrees – one in social work and the other one by research on intercountry adoption and race. He has also completed a University of Melbourne fellowship (2018) report on refugees and asylum seekers with disabilities for refugee survivors and ex-detainees.

Dr Scott Avery

Dr Scott Avery is an Indigenous disability researcher and advocate on health and social inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Dr Avery has undertaken extensive community-based research while with the First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN), an NGO for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and their families, and in 2018 authored the publication 'Culture is Inclusion: A narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability' (2018), based on his research.

Dr Avery has extensive experience presenting issues for and on behalf of the First Peoples disability community to government and the United Nations. He serves on the Research Advisory Committee at the Lowitja Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research and has been appointed to several expert advisory groups at the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the collection and use of data affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Based in Sydney NSW, Scott is a senior lecturer at Western Sydney University.

Heidi La Paglia

Heidi La Paglia has nearly a decade of experience advocating for women’s welfare and is currently a Project and Policy Officer at Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA). Heidi sits on a number of advisory groups representing young women with disability and has worked with women with disability from across Australia to develop information and resources for a new website called Our Site; which promotes the rights of all women and girls with disability and aims to empower all women and girls to be safe from violence.

Heidi has previously completed a Bachelor of Arts, Bachler of Philosophy and Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degrees with the University of Tasmania.

Throughout her time at university, Heidi held various voluntary and paid roles advocating for the welfare and rights of young women and women students and has been involved in several projects and campaigns promoting women’s right to be free from all forms of violence.

One of the largest scale projects on which Heidi contributed was the National Survey into Sexual Violence against university students, which she worked with the Australian Human Rights Commission to implement. Heidi has also held positions advocating for women on several boards and advisory groups such as the Tasmanian Women’s Council, the Hobart Women’s Shelter, the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) and the University of Tasmania Council.

Margherita Coppolino

Margherita Coppolino is an influential disability and inclusion consultant who specialises in inclusion and intersectionality. Based in Melbourne (Victoria), she is tertiary-qualified and industry accredited Trainer, Mediator, Auditor and a Company Director. During her consultancy career, she has developed specialist skills in project management, mediation, facilitation, recruitment, case management, auditing and keynote speaking.

She has held several Chair and Company Directors positions on Non-for-Profit organisations since 2013. Margherita believes and lives by the business philosophy that “Inclusion is the Key”. Through her work with government, commercial businesses and social justice organisations, Margherita aims to empower people to take action to improve quality of life both for themselves and others. Margherita brings experience and advice in relation to people with disability who are LGBTIQ+.

Selena Jade Brown

Selena Jade Brown, a Derabulang Bunda & Yarrabah woman, is an Aboriginal Health Practitioner, fully registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency and working with the Wurli Wurlinjang Health Service in Katherine Northern Territory (NT). Selena is also hearing impaired – born deaf, with having profound hearing loss in her left ear, and severe hearing loss in her right, in which she wears a hearing aid. Selena has lived in the NT for most of her life, travelling between Far North Queensland and NT since she was a child.

Along with her personal experiences as a hearing-impaired person, Selena has seen firsthand the disadvantages and the social detriments affecting those with disabilities, and indigenous people in remote communities.

Selena’s goal is to help close the gap on indigenous health, and to help indigenous people in every aspect she can. She is also willing to help advocate for indigenous people with disabilities living in remote areas and for people with disabilities living in remote communities in the NT in general. By joining the Your Story Advocacy Group as the NT representative, Selena hopes to raise awareness of issues that surround indigenous people and indigenous people with disabilities living in communities and help in whatever way she can.

Siobhan Clair

Siobhan Clair is the Project Officer at Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA), a national peak body based in Canberra, ACT.

Following completion of a Bachelor of Creative Industries and a Bachelor of Laws, Siobhan has specialised in disability rights, advocacy and representation. Since 2013 Siobhan has worked in policy roles at Disability Advocacy Network Australia, Advocacy for Inclusion, People With Disabilities ACT and the ACT Government’s Office for Disability.

Working in small organisations, Siobhan has developed varied skills in systemic advocacy, community engagement, projects, events and communications. She has responsibility for the Disability Royal Commission within DANA.

Sonia Hume

Sonia Hume is a woman with intellectual disability who lives on the north west coast of Tasmania.

She is the Speak Out Regional Representative for NW Tasmania.

In 2019 Sonia was part of the Civil Society delegation that travelled to Geneva to present to the United Nations Committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons Living with Disability (CRPD). Sonia spoke from her lived experience and was a valued member of the delegation.

She has presented twice at the Having a Say Conference in Geelong, 2 Speak Out Conferences, the 2018 & 2019 Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability (ASID) conferences and the NDIS CEOs forum.

Sonia has been part of an advisory group for research about personal safety and abuse with Sally Robinson, Senior Research Fellow, Southern Cross University.

As a Community Educator with the Mainstream and Me team, Sonia presented workshops to over 350 people from mainstream services to improve their understanding of intellectual disability and clear communication.

Tammy McGowan

Tammy McGowan is Autistic and has raised two Autistic children. Tammy is in South Australia and is an experienced Coordinator and Trainer who has a fourteen-year history working in the community services sector with a focus on disability advocacy, social inclusion and trauma informed and person-centred practice. Tammy has worked within the Education Department and in the Alternative Care, Disability and Homelessness sectors supporting individuals and groups who have been negatively impacted by trauma, neglect, poverty and social isolation. Tammy bring experience and advice in relation to trauma-informed practice.

Tammy has held roles including Service Options Coordinator, Therapeutic Services Consultant, Manager Alternative Care, Community Mentor Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator, Program Facilitator and Training Facilitator. Tammy is a recent graduate of the Autism CRC Sylvia Roger Academy Future Leaders program and the Autism CRC Sylvia Roger Academy Governance program.