President: Svetlana Holman
Hello, my name is Svetlana Holman. As the new president of the FOCAS board, I thought I should let you know a little about me and how I came to be invited to be part of this organization.
I am a first generation Australian from a non-English speaking background, with a disability (I am legally blind). My first language is Russian and my fifth is English, which I learnt when I started school.
I have five adult children scattered around this country, from Mount Gambier to Gladstone, from Wodonga to Canberra all pursuing amazing lives and careers. My husband and I live in a rural setting with our three dogs and a menagerie of chooks and ducks. I love to cook and grow as much of my own food as I can. Although drought and bushfires have limited this, I am excited at the change in conditions and expect this winter’s harvest to be more abundant. My other interests include crochet, monster trucks, fishing (especially reef), my grandchildren, science (particularly biology, and increasingly epigenetics) and definitely the ocean where I find my peace.
My active role in community engagement began in 1980 as vice chairperson of the Fairfield City Youth Committee where we had a budget and engaged a Youth worker and a Youth Development officer in a diverse and somewhat disadvantaged community. There were many programs including programs and snow trips for disadvantaged youth, and camps for refugees through SEACA (South East Asian Community Aid) as we did have an influx of refugee families from Vietnam and Laos in our area in the late seventies and eighties.
I was also involved with Russian Scouts in Exile as a senior youth, and junior leader. When I moved to Wollongong to study, I worked as an English tutor for AMES (Adult Migrant Education Service). While I spent 25 years as a stay at home mum, I served on several P&C committees with eight years as vice president or president and was instrumental in establishing new programs including a P&C funded fresh fruit program at our primary school. During this time I was also involved in our local church as an elder (even chairing the elders' group for several years) and I was also involved in mothers’ programs and our youth group. I was also part of Vision Australia’s Speakers network and have had many public speaking engagements throughout our community and beyond through this connection.
I have spent the last two years studying again and have completed a Diploma in Community Services. I plan to gain employment in this industry soon. I was honoured to be invited to join the FOCAS board and I am excited about the future as this agency grows into a new phase. I understand the transition (particularly to NDIS) has been a bit difficult, but it looks like FOCAS will continue to set its own standards for disability support for the foreseeable future and that is fantastic news. I am proud to be a small part of that for now. I have met many of the support staff and I am encouraged by their commitment to provide a quality service for FOCAS consumers.
Thank you for having me and I look forward to meeting you in person.
Vice President: Leith Hamilton
Leith has been connected to FOCAS Shoalhaven for 12 years. Leith has previously held the position of Vice President and is keen to return to the board. Leith has Spina Bifida and continues to be a very powerful advocate for others
Secretary: Frances Morris - Clarke
I am a parent of an adult with a mild intellectual disability, who suffers anxiety and has type-one diabetes and celiac disease. His journey has been an intense one and while being in the front line of the battle, I have attempted to ensure he remains healthy, and functions competently in a just, fair and equitable mainstream community and disability based supported employment. At one point in time, when he was three years old, he was supported by many professional people in an intensive early intervention program i.e. educational therapist, special education teachers, preschool teacher, teachers aide, speech pathologists, physios, occupational therapists ophthalmologist, optometrist, GP, pediatrician, physician, social workers. Then began the ‘round about’ of specialized educational classes (infants and Primary school), combined mainstreaming and special education classes in high school setting, all of which accompanied extra curricular therapy sessions. Sound familiar?
My initial training as a Mathematics and Science high school teacher quickly utilized and transferred my skills to the special education setting, i.e. working at Havenlee Special SSP as a casual teacher, Job Coach and Transition Education Coordinator across three school districts (Transition Education Program). I also spent many evenings working at the Kip McGrath Education Centre and Bomaderry TAFE teaching adults COMPIC – a pictorial communication program that supported students with severe language communication disabilities
I gained a position with Essential Personnel in Wollongong, as an Individual Supported Jobs (ISJ) Coordinator – working with high support needs clients (physical, sensory and psychiatric impairments) in finding and keeping a job in the open employment setting e.g. retail, administration and hospitality.
For four years I was employed by Shoalhaven Advanced Industries in many capacities which include: Employment Support Officer, Human Service Manager, Project Manager for the GATE Program, Service Manager at the Open Employment Agency - Workplace Shoalhaven.
Following my studies in Certificate IV and Diploma in Disabilities, I worked as a Work Place Assessor with Illawarra TAFE, Bomaderry, conducting onsite RPL assessments for work based Trainees and was a classroom Facilitator and Tutorial support teacher for students studying– Certificate III and IV in Disabilities.
After moving to Queensland, I was employed at Tropical North Queensland TAFE in Cairns, conducted RPL Assessments for disability industry based workers (Certificate III and IV in Disability Work). Far North Queensland gave me numerous opportunities to assess and train Indigenous disability industry based workers. I completed my Bachelor of Education at James Cook University in 2011 with a special education and indigenous study focus.
One of my most interesting positions was working as a Counselor at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre, assessing prisoners at risk of self-harm, providing counseling session, supporting individual welfare needs and facilitating prisoner Induction Programs.
As you can see from this blurb, I must be very old to have worked in so many places…. YES…it is true and now I am a very busy and happy retiree and I look forward to supporting the FOCAS program in the position of Secretary in 2020….which is proving to be a very challenging year.
Treasurer: Margaret Perkins:
Teacher | Community Services | Human Services, Tourism & Hospitality
TAFE Illawarra Nowra
Kath works full time as a Teacher in the Community Services Section of Nowra TAFE Campus. She is responsible for developing and delivering Certificate to Diploma level training for people working in, or wishing to work in, the community services sector, particularly those with an interest in disability services.
Kath was born locally but left Nowra after high school to study at the University of Sydney, firstly gaining a Social Sciences degree and then later a Masters in Rehabilitation Counselling. After university Kath commenced working in disability services primarily in the areas of open employment and case management. After some years, Kath combined her work in disability services with part time teaching at TAFE and worked in several campuses across the Sydney area. This lead to her securing a full time teaching position. In 2010 she returned to Nowra with her young family and leads an active life, supporting her three boys’ academic, sporting and community pursuits, while also finding some time to participate in a number of sporting and community activities herself.
Kath is a strong advocate for strength-based practices leading to valued roles and inclusion for all members of our community.
FOCAS is governed by a management committee which is responsible for corporate governance of the organisation. The Committee meets monthly to discuss and consider present and future considerations concerning services offered. Individuals, families and supporters with industry experience make up the majority of the management committee. The committee stresses the importance of the provision for a service that authentically addresses the needs and aspirations of individuals and continuously strives for improvement and value.