Assunta Meleca, Racing for MNDi Foundation
Assunta Meleca, aged 47, has been married for 19 years and is a mother of two boys aged 16 and 14. In April 2017, whilst on Long Service Leave, Assunta founded The Racing for MNDi Foundation. It was established as a result of Assunta discovering her family carries a gene which causes the development of Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Racing for MNDi is now Assunta’s full time job. Assunta chairs The Board consisting of 5 volunteers and she heads the Events Committee which consists of 10 highly energetic women volunteering their time. Since the foundation’s establishment, Assunta has worked tirelessly to grow the ‘business’ and to share what makes Racing for MNDi different to other MND foundations.
Emma Price, Source Kids
Emma Price is the founder and CEO of Source Kids – Australia’s only magazine, digital media and events business for parents and carers of children living with a disability. Emma founded the business five years ago through her own frustrations as a special needs parent navigating the world of disability.
Source Kids delivers relevant, reliable and up-to-date information in a positive and vibrant way to over 300,000 parents every month, creating a community for parents to share the highs and lows of raising a child with a disability. Source Kids has built its community through a multi-faceted approach including a quarterly glossy magazine, website, email, social media and most recently it’s expo events.
Helen Parker OAM, The Babes Project (non profit)
Every woman needs support, knowledge and an understanding ally to thrive in her motherhood. The Babes Project empowers new mamas to face the fears, tears, challenges and joys, through pregnancy and the first crucial year of baby’s life.
Founded by Helen Parker OAM, the not-for-profit support service provides free, holistic and nurturing perinatal care to women facing crisis and challenging pregnancies. At centres in Croydon and Frankston (VIC) and in Cairns (QLD) from October 2019,
Babes staff and volunteers ensure that participants receive regular emotional care, practical advice, essential baby supplies and connections to other health services, all in a safe and nurturing environment. Since 2018, The Babes Project support has also been available Australia-wide through its national triage phone service. In the past decade, hundreds of new mothers have transformed their motherhood journey and their lives through The Babes Project’s perinatal support program.
Jessica Taylor, Endometriosis Association
Jessica Taylor is President of Endometriosis Association, Chair of the Australian Coalition for Endometriosis, and advocates for women and girls on several expert boards. Jessica has been a driving force to change the lives of the 730 000 Australian women and girls with endometriosis.
Jessica re-branded and reignited life into the 31 year old charity and created products for women and girls with chronic illness.
Jessica has a personal struggle with gynaecological diseases, being told she wouldn’t have children. She overcame odds of 0.04% chance and became a Mum in 2017 to her miracle baby.
Lauren Cassimatis, Criminal Law Mums
Lauren Cassimatis is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist and Principal of legal firm Gallant Law. Lauren has over 15 years’ experience as a criminal lawyer and is known for her compassion and commitment to supporting others.
In 2018 Lauren founded Criminal Law Mums, a well-being and professional development group for criminal lawyer mothers and related professionals. The group presently has 400+ members Australia-wide from all legal practices and roles including judges, lawyers and law students.
Melanie Tate, Puddle Jumpers Inc
Melanie Tate is the CEO and Founder of an award winning charitable organisation making life changing differences for society’s most vulnerable children. Melanie manages approximately 650 volunteers and employees. Melanie and Puddle Jumpers provide services to children, primarily those who do not live with their birth parents. Puddle Jumpers runs camps and activity days that give children who may never have been away a holiday, and provides food, clothing and household items weekly at their Community Food Nights. Puddle Jumpers has two op shops as well as owning a children’s birthday party hire company. Melanie started Puddle Jumpers 7 years ago from her kitchen table and since then the organisation has moved into premises owned by the Department of Child Protection with support from the government and private and public sponsors, including both the Minister for Child Protection, Rachel Sanderson MP and Shadow Minister Jayne Stinson MP.
Selina Tomasich, Hair Aid Inc
Selina Tomasich is the founder and CEO of Hair Aid Inc., an Australian based charity doing amazing things both internationally and in communities throughout Australia. With a passion for finding real life learning events for students to engage in and create change in the world, Selina started Hair Aid in 2010. The vision was to provide hands on learning for students and to create livelihood empowerment training for people living in critical poverty. From this first project, Hair Aid was born.
Hair Aid is a social enterprise not for profit. Through several international and national projects, Hair Aid does two things – provide hair cutting training (developed and modified by TAFE educators and industry professionals) for people living in critical poverty in Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia and community haircuts for people living in poverty or crisis in communities throughout Australia. This year, Hair Aid celebrated its 21st project in January to Manila, 22nd Project in Cambodia and 23rd Project in Thailand.
Shae Wissell, Dear Dyslexic Foundation
Shae is a Doctoral Candidate and a passionate advocate for those with dyslexia. She is a qualified Speech Pathologist with a Master’s degree in Public Health and Health Administration. Shortlisted for Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2018, Shae has worked extensively over the last 13 years in the health sector as a clinician and manager. She’s worked on major Federal and State health projects, within the Not-For-Profit and Community sector and more recently has been working and connecting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Communities to improve their access to health care services.
Shae is the CEO and Managing Director of the Dear Dyslexic Foundation. Her Doctoral research is investigating the social and emotional wellbeing of those with dyslexia in the workplace and how they can be better supported through improved HR practices.
Tanya Carne, CONNECT boys dance events
Tanya Carne started her dance studio Dance Action in 1990 and over the last 12years has developed a boys dance program that is now delivered to over 150 boys per week. Tanya is passionate about normalizing boys dance, both in Australia and across the world, just as women’s football is now normalized. She started CONNECT to open up her supportive dance community to other boys who may be isolated at their own studios or experiencing bullying.
CONNECT boys dance event began in 2016. It is a unique one-day event designed to bring together male dance students, families, male dancers, dance teachers, dance studio owners and potential male students. The CONNECT vision is to grow larger communities to support boys, to create an environment of support, mentoring, inspiration and fun, to unite families of boys who dance, to share stories, to celebrate the male dance community, and to normalise boys dance.
Mel Wojtas, Hive Village Project
Mel is an engaging Speaker, Advocate, start-up Founder and single mum of two. After discovering her life’s purpose (following 10+ years in Corporate office support roles), Mel has remained purpose-driven in utilizing her lived expertise with varying forms of abuse, violence and trauma to create impactful and positive change for others.
Mel is creating long-term housing with integrated support services for human and animal survivors of Domestic & Family Abuse, in regional Australia. Each self-contained villa will be freestanding, pet-friendly, accessible and come fully furnished, right down to the toothbrush. To do this, Mel took a chance and went back to school (16 yrs. after leaving Yr. 10) and has been gaining relevant industry qualifications to equip her to run her organisation, Hive Village Project.