About our team
NDIS Principal Consultant
The Ability Connect team share a rare combination of expertise and passion for the work they do. Select any of the profiles below to get to know what drives us as individuals and why we are the best team to support your unique needs.
Elena Tselepi | NDIS Principal Consultant
I have more than 17 years’ experience, working in the disability space, with specialisation in injury and disability management. My career took an interesting turn when one day I found myself researching support options to assist a close family member who had been diagnosed with autism. I was shocked to discover how limited the access to support information is to most of the public, but also how lacking the service delivery was and how frustrating the process could be from a client’s perspective.
I vowed then and there to change this for the better and to create a support coordination service second to none, so in that moment, Ability Connect was born.
As well as being the NDIS Principal Consultant and taking care of the responsibilities that come with running the company, I am very hands-on and involved with supporting clients and the team.
I am inspired by our team and their commitment to our clients, which ultimately leads to our clients reaching their highest potential and living fulfilled, beautiful lives. Hearing their stories of victory and determination tells me we are doing a great job. I am inspired by excellence, and I have been blessed with an experienced team who pursue the highest industry standards and are so well versed at their professions. I feel rewarded when we restore someone's dignity with proper housing or their self-worth with assisted independent living and when we empower participants and their families with the resources, knowledge, and support that they need to prosper in their unique circumstances.
There have been many memorable moments in my career, however, those memories that stay with me are the ones where we get results and breakthroughs for clients who have been in an unfair situation and where they have been let down by people or organisations they trusted to assist them during their darkest moments, this breaks my heart, but there is no challenge to big (or small) for the Ability Connect Team. Other highlights have been the awards and accolades we have received and while we are grateful to have been recognised in our field of work the awards only serve to acknowledge how much we love what we do.
Everyone should have access to do the things they love. I love spending time in nature and more specifically I love horse riding. There is something so healing about reconnecting with nature. My vision is an inclusive society providing access across the board from sport and recreation activities, to career, business, education, lifestyle and leisure activities and the team at Ability Connect echo that vision. We work hard at creating solutions for our clients to create their dream lifestyle, harness the available support and build capacity for participants to achieve their personal goals.
Belinda Fenton | National Manager
With more than a decade of experience, I oversee the day to day running of the company. I started my career at a local public school as a learning support officer in the disability unit, while studying at night to gain my qualifications. From there I took on a role with a company that supports the autism spectrum specifically, here I did business development in Western Sydney and provided 1:1 community support to clients. I later moved on to be the service manager at a start-up company that provided in-home supports and finally in 2019, I found my home with Ability Connect. I am responsible for hiring qualified, capable staff who meet and exceed our client's needs and expectations. I ensure that the team is motivated and that they have every resource available to do their job. My role also involves training new team members, while ensuring that our entire team meets and upholds the high industry benchmarks and standards that Ability Connect subscribes to. I am the go-to person for business development and personally communicate with all new referrals. Our founder, Elena inspires me with her passion for what she does. It’s so refreshing, having worked in the disability space for so long to ultimately work with someone who always puts the client’s best interest first. In my early career, I found the lack of support for families affected by disability so distressing, and so I wanted to help people live more fulfilled lives and that is why I chose to work at Ability Connect. Our clients are more than a statistic or a number, our clients are our every inspiration.
I am a mum of eight children and 3 of my children live with a disability. My eldest daughter was diagnosed with autism and bipolar disorder and two of my sons have autism. As a mum raising children with a disability, I found that there was a lack of proper support available to me to be able to advocate for my children and far too little access to information to source the appropriate services to enable them to work towards their NDIS goals and build their capacity. My goal has always been for my children to become as independent as possible since parents are not here forever. This is what started my disability journey. The passion in our team and the drive they all have inspires me every day. I get true satisfaction out of supporting our clients to live their best life. It could be something as small as organising a food processor to be delivered so the client can have access to suitably textured food to reduce the risk of choking or something bigger like having housing approved for a client to ensure their needs are supported every day. If I can help take the pressure and stress off one family by doing what I do then I go home at the end of each day happy and content. I feel rewarded when I get a call from a client who my team and I supported, and they are in tears of joy because their wheelchair finally got delivered or they now have enough support workers in place to assist them with their daily life and it has changed their world. Also seeing the team grow and achieve things they never thought possible gives me so much job satisfaction. I love watching the joy on their faces when they get a new NDIS plan back, and it is way beyond what anyone expected and that is all because they did their job well and their client can now have the support that they need. The pride and excitement melt my heart.
There are so many, it is hard to pick one, however, I once had a client who relied solely on the support of his mother. I was informed that his mother needed to have urgent heart surgery the next day to save her life. There was going to be no in-home support for her son while she was in the hospital and while she recovered. Her son is wheelchair-bound and requires a lot of support to get through each day. I received a call at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon from his mum to ask if funding could be allocated and if supports could be put in place to take care of her son, without which, her son would have to remain at home unable to get out of the wheelchair and without access to food or the bathroom until she returned home from the hospital. What happened within my team was inspirational. Not one person left the office until we were able to solve the situation. Not one person complained on a Friday afternoon at 6 pm that they were still at work. Each person made calls and did research until we had a solution. Some of my staff even offered to give up their weekend to personally go to the client's home to support him if needed. With Ability Connect, the above and beyond mentality in a client's time of need is second to none. Once we had a plan in place, we called her back and she was in tears of joy that she could have her life-saving surgery and that her son would have the support he needed. The Ability Connect team is amazing.
We genuinely care. The entire team is committed to putting the needs of our clients first and will do everything in their power to support our clients and their families. We strive to exceed industry standards and clients will not find more passionate people to have by their side. The lived experience we have in our team is also the reason we "get it". Some of us live the challenges that our clients are faced with every day, so we really do understand. Having a work-life balance is important, without this your well-being would suffer. My soul-food is my 5 am gym routine, it keeps me focussed during the day and relaxes me before the day starts, then watching my babies laugh and to see them live their best life, that is like being plugged into a charger that recharges your everything. At Ability Connect, we want all our clients to thrive, and we help them create the lifestyle they want, implementing infrastructure so that everyone has the power of choice to do at least one thing that ignites their soul each day and to create connected, supportive communities by involving loved ones, friends, and family, because no one deserves to be alone in their darkest moments.
Penny Stivactas | Support Coordinator Administrator
I help Ability Connect clients with Support Coordination services as well as assisting with administrative tasks, such as setting up new and existing client profiles, answering phone calls, tending to inquiries, and approving new referrals for Support Coordination services. The moment I started working at Ability Connect I felt so supported by Elena, our founder, and the team, who have a wealth of knowledge and they make it a priority to provide all new team members with the mentorship and resources required to do a great job. Ability Connect allows me to grow and learn new things daily, in order to offer participants, the best support.
Prior to working for Ability Connect I was a stay-at-home mum for 10 years looking after my 4 children. My son was diagnosed with a speech delay and dyspraxia at 3 years of age. We spent many years doing therapies and when my youngest children started kindergarten, I decided I wanted to return to work. I had seen the positive impact and the opportunities that therapies and the NDIS had provided for my son and for my family and I decided to move into the disability sector. I have a strong administrative background in the banking industry, and I was fortunate to land a role with Ability Connect, which now combines my passion for helping people with disability and my keen administrative skills into one position. I feel rewarded when I can see the positive change and difference, that I can make to someone’s life. At the end of the day, I feel most rewarded when I have been able to help our clients solve a problem or provide some assistance to the team or participants. However big or small the task, I love knowing that I have made a positive contribution to someone’s life. Seeing a meaningful change and measuring the impact on a participant’s life once they finally have the services and supports, they deserve in place, is a gratifying experience, and it inspires me to know that I have made someone’s life a little easier.
My weeks are filled with amazing stories of victory for our clients. One that comes to mind is a participant who had been advised by his previous support coordinator at a different organisation, that he was not able to get a wheelchair funded by the NDIA. As a result, he could not go out and spent most of his time at home alone without any support, besides his family. We met with the client and provided him with the support the NDIA could provide. He now has two wheelchairs, one manual, and one electric, and has been connected to support workers who go to his home to cook meals for him and take him out into the community. He also engages in regular physiotherapy and exercise physiotherapy sessions. His life has completely changed, to the extent that he even went on a holiday with his family.
I want every client to have access to resources and support that will help them find the balance between getting through life’s challenges and having the opportunity to rest and enjoy life's precious moments because everyone deserves to be happy and content in life. The most effective way to achieve these goals when faced with disability challenges is within the caring circle of support and expertise found within our team. Ability Connect assists families and individuals to achieve a healthy mindset and to find a balance between being constantly on the go and still taking time to enjoy the important things in life like connecting with family and friends or having the freedom to go to the beach on a sunny day. The team at Ability connect make every effort to ensure that people from all walks of life have this freedom of choice and the resources to achieve their dreams and goals.
Emanuel Gini | Service Manager
My role at Ability Connect is to assist staff in being able to provide and maintain the highest possible level of service for the participants we work with. Another part of my role is to upskill the team on current processes internally and externally as well as improve current processes to ensure our team is ready and able to assist the participants we work with as efficiently as possible. The people who work here at Ability Connect are passionate caring people who always go above and beyond for their participants. I felt at home right away during my interview as I could see the team were like-minded individuals. We all work together to support each other to assist in obtaining positive outcomes for the participants we work with. I have always naturally been a person who wants to help people, I enjoy the process of empowering individuals to work towards their goals. It is an amazing feeling when you can see a person realise their own potential and the joy it brings them when they look back on what they have achieved.
I love a good challenge, especially those challenges that seem daunting and hard to overcome. It feels great to be there to help my team and our clients whatever the situation might be, and it inspires me to see the breakthroughs we get when we work together to find solutions for clients. I enjoy using my expertise to assist both the team and our clients achieve their goals. It inspires me just coming to work every day, connecting with our team, and finding out how I can support them for the day, and of course, it inspires me when I work directly with participants knowing that we are able to positively affect their lives. Transitioning to a service manager role with Ability Connect was a proud moment for me, I absolutely believe in this team, everything we represent, and the difference we make in people's daily lives. I am honoured to be a part of bringing the “Ability Connect way” to the disability community and our clients who are the inspiration for the work we do.
I mainly work with complex cases and have had to work through urgent and challenging situations on many occasions. One of my most memorable career moments is when I worked with an individual to assist them in transitioning to a supported accommodation option. When I started working with this person it was their first NDIS plan and they had limited funding, along with limited access to the community due to their situation. I will always remember the moment when this client heard they had been approved for their accommodation option and how grateful they are to now be supported and to live as independently as possible.
Everyone deserves to prosper in life and although it is not always possible to prosper in all areas, for some individuals, this could be as simple as obtaining access to required supports for both physical and mental health needs. I like to be an active person, and I enjoy spending time with my family and friends playing soccer, camping, Water Skiing, Golf and playing games over the internet, with the amazing support we access for our clients at Ability Connect, why should any of these things be withheld from someone's life if there is the slightest chance, we can make it happen for them and if it is within their scope of goals. My greatest wish is to be able to assist clients to achieve their dreams, no matter how big or small their challenges may seem to the outside world, our team at Ability Connect works hard to create an inclusive society for our clients, so that they can live happy fulfilled lives. I would like as many people as possible to find Ability Connect so that our team can do what we do best and that is to assist people in achieving their highest potential - it is the “Ability Connect Way”.
Julie Bonnarens | Support Coordinator
I help clients achieve a lifestyle that is unique to them, providing our clients with greater opportunities and enabling them for a positive future. My area of specialisation is Specialised Disability Accommodation (SDA), Supported Independent Living (SIL) and assistive technology. I love the passion we have for our clients, how we go the extra mile to assist clients with the best possible outcome. I love our team environment and our Integrity.
I am here to make a difference in the lives of people and families living with a disability and to empower them with the resources to flourish in life, despite their challenges. I personally understand how difficult it is for people living with a disability to fit into a world that does not automatically cater for their needs. I feel rewarded when a client says that the home, or service that they have been provided has changed their life for the better. It is so rewarding to know that a client is thriving, and that the world is fitting in around them for a change. Every time a client receives their new wheelchair or their SDA; the grateful look on their face never ceases to move me. My biggest career highlight was receiving “Outstanding Customer Service of the Year 2020” and completing a post grad in Disability services at the tender age of 50 years old!
A client who lived alone with a profound disability, had given up on life after battling through daily challenges on their own, day after day with outdated equipment and poor services. When I met this client, he just wanted to give up and no longer want to live. With care and encouragement, we supported the client and found Specialised Disability Accommodation and I am happy to say that today he is thriving for the first time in his life. He has made new friends and now has access to high quality services. The client told me that I had pulled him out of a dark hole that he thought would never end, I will remember that forever.
To me, wellbeing means thriving in your environment and knowing that you are intrinsically valuable, sometimes that means being able to spend time with your family, enjoying inspirational reading, doing art, pot plant gardening and playing board games. These are simple joys, and everyone should have access to life’s most essential things. You will discover that the team at Ability Connect will empower you to discover what feeds your soul and they will take the time to find solutions so that you have access to not only the essential things like SDA, SIL and assistive technology, but also the things that fuel your passion for life and give you joy. The Ability Connect team have a love for our work, a wealth of industry knowledge and are deeply commitment to our clients through compassion and innovation. We think outside of the box, provide quality outcomes and we are proud of what we do.
Marie Okwara | Support Coordinator
I empower NDIS participants with the expertise to coordinate their NDIS plans, so that they can negotiate appropriate support and services, and connect with community support and mainstream services. I use local knowledge and sector expertise to increase opportunities for people with disability challenges to be connected in local communities. I help liaise with and report to NDIA, as required in relation to NDIS participants and their plans. Building NDIS participant and family capacity to understand and navigate service systems, allows people to be connected in local communities. I regularly monitor expenditure and support participants to remain informed as to their rate of expenditure and the potential effects. Another of my roles is to ensure that support responses focus on participant goals and objectives to prioritise client needs.
Having worked in the aged care sector as a nurse for about five years where I provided direct care to elderly residents, my person-centric approach had a notable positive impact on the progress and recovery of care recipients. It is often the little things like seeing the mood change for the better when you show empathy and doing a job diligently, that inspires me. After completing a master’s degree in health science, I decided to venture into the disability sector to put the knowledge I had gained into practice by working with people from diverse backgrounds and to impact their lives positively. This led me to work with Ability Connect who provide Support Coordination services to NDIS participants at a superior standard. People who are born with a disability or acquire a disability are stereotyped as the marginalized population. I work towards changing that perception by making them feel inclusive in their community, helping them pursue their dreams through empowerment, and maximizing opportunities to live as equal citizens. Other than our expertise and personal commitment, our success as support coordinators, and the breakthroughs we get for our clients is only possible through the ongoing support and training provided by Ability Connect. I feel most rewarded when my clients achieve their goals and aspirations and seeing our clients find that joy.
I took over the support coordination of a client that lived in appalling and precarious conditions, where the client was living in an infested apartment and did not have the basic household appliances like a fridge. Through a formulated plan, by coordinating with all stakeholders, we successfully changed the client’s living environment and standard of living, for which they showed so much gratitude. Being able to restore someone’s self-worth and hope when every shred of human dignity has been stripped away is the most rewarding part of my career.
Wellbeing is a holistic evaluation of being physically and mentally healthy, while being able to process life in a positive and hopeful way. I like reading scripture which impacts my soul positively and I encourage others to fill their minds with inspirational material that they feel will impact their mindset positively. My greatest wish is for my clients and prospective clients to dream big and not to feel constrained due to their disabilities. Ability Connect provides a caring supportive approach to achieve life goals through a qualified, well-trained team and you deserve to live your best life. Reaching out to Ability Connect will change your life for the better and empower you with the resources you need.
Emma Atkinson | Support Coordinator
I have been with Ability Connect since the early days and I have 28 years’ experience across education, employment, residential respite, and working with children with ASD. At Ability Connect my role as Support Coordinator involves finding the right therapist and support resources for each individual and their unique set of circumstances. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I have solved a problem for my client and that they are adequately supported in reaching their goals. I love that the NDIS enables us to provide choices and opportunities through individualised funding in support of a better quality of life for each of our clients. I value working with a team that is so supportive and passionate about doing their best for each participant.
I have been passionate about supporting people with disabilities for as long as I can remember. I recall going to work with my mother who was a pre-school teacher and ‘volunteering’ during school holidays to work with the kids with disabilities at the centre. After leaving school I completed an Associate Diploma in Education ¬and started my working life in a respite unit for adults with challenging behaviours. It inspires me to empower others and there is nothing as rewarding as supporting an individual or family through the (often stressful) review process and helping them achieve a plan that will not only support the person with a disability but often the family as well. Some of the most challenging issues in my career have revolved around participants running out of funding, however, through expertise and resilience I have been able to secure additional funding, before the budget was exhausted. These situations are highly stressful for the families and participants and as a support coordinator, we feel the pressure of having to resolve a situation like this. It is an amazing feeling when you are able to assist individuals and families to overcome these awful and sometimes unforeseen situations.
Many years ago, I worked with vulnerable young people in care. Something that will stay with me for life was supporting one of the young women, who was 16 at the time. She was pregnant and had no one to support her through the birth process. I was so touched when she asked me to be with her during the birth of her child. It was such a highlight that I was able to build her trust in me and it was incredibly special to be there with her. This was a stand-out moment in my career when I realised that we had truly connected and that there was complete trust. Since that day I have always maintained that where there is trust, there is progress and that is what matters, that our clients move forward and succeed in their community.
I love the balance of “me time” that is quiet and reflective to appreciate my life and those close to me. I also love filling my home with friends and noise and sharing a meal. I enjoy reading, gardening walking on the beach, spending time with those I hold dear. This balance sustains me and gives me energy. I want families and individuals to discover Ability Connect so that they can access the resources and support to have a balanced life and experience joy, contentment, and satisfaction across all areas of life including work, family, and social areas regardless of the challenges they face.
My wish for current and future clients is that they feel heard by our support coordination team and that the trust established enables them to express their wants and needs openly in order for the team to empower them to achieve their goals and to live a fulfilled life. Everyone deserves to have control over their lives through the power of choice and to have the assurance that the Ability Connect team will support them every step of the way is a blueprint for success.
The Ability Connect Team take the time to understand your needs and to put a strategy in place. Their efforts always go above and beyond, to achieving the best outcomes for clients. Your support co-ordinator will explain everything and keep you updated. Our clients appreciate the follow up calls when a service is put in place and we like to ensure that everything is going well. The service providers recommended by Ability Connect are trustworthy and reliable.
Thank you for the gift of
independence Ability Connect
“We are overwhelmed with how much Julie our Support Coordinator has persevered with, supported and empowered Maria to have an amazing life. Julie has believed in Maria, and in Maria’s rights as a young woman, and to that end has worked tirelessly to achieve fabulous outcomes for her. In the last year, Julie and Ability Connect have assisted Maria to move into a lovely home where Maria ‘is the boss’ and her care staff and family and friends visit as ‘guests’. Maria is now motivated to take charge of her life, with of course, assistance and encouragement from carers and family who Julie helps to lead. Julie’s hard work, exceptional knowledge of NDIS and life, her commitment to the client and her warm, friendly nature is an asset to Ability Connect." - MARIA
are so grateful for the service and support that we provide. They have faith in our team and the work we do for them. We give our clients independence, and they often rate our service as first class and life changing.
Our Support Coordinator is passionate, caring and a problem solver!
"I am taking a little time to say just how grateful I am in the support co-ordinator you have provided to look after the most essential needs of my son Vincent. Julie our Support Coordinator is so kind and most sensitive to our son’s needs. It was she who connected us with a most efficient care agency, whose gentle, caring, and expert workers tend to all of Vincent’s needs with a cheerful spirit. Julie suggested the installation of a ceiling hoist of which I knew nothing about, and it has proved to be the most useful and practical equipment provided it to us. Also, Julie pushed for that extra bit of funding to cover all of Vincent’s needs with NDIS plan managers; and for this we are most grateful. Julie is gentle, compassionate and most understanding with regards to challenges that arise and finds a speedy solution to problems. She was instrumental in getting our son out of the aged care facility and organising support for his most urgent needs in our home. Thank you for allocating Julie as Support Co-ordinator for Vincent. She does a wonderful job!" - JULIETTE
is easy to deal with, right from the start and keeps you informed throughout the process when developing your NDIS plan. We have a wealth of experience and as overwhelming as the NDIS may seem in the beginning, we help you understand everything in simple terms and will put you in touch with the right people and team to support your journey. Our team are fast to act and easy to get in touch with when you need us, so avoid the nightmare, headaches and uncertainties of going and come onboard with Ability Connect.
Excellent accommodation, Support and Care
"We first met Emma our Support Coordinator in 2018 as my son, and I were beginning to navigate the NDIS and appropriate care for him. Without the Support Coordination from Ability Connect the task would have been almost impossible. We received the highest level of support, care, and assistance at every part of the journey with no obstacle being too hard (and there were very many over the three years). Just two weeks ago my son moved to excellent accommodation with high level supports but also maintaining his independence in his own unit within the small, complex. Through the continual persistence of our Support Coordinator this has been achieved and we give thanks for her understanding, care, and kindness to us both." - MARY
Invaluable Support and Guidance
"Our daughter Jennifer (44) lives in a group home and needs 24/7 personal care, while our son Timothy (41) still lives at home with us. On most occasions our phone calls or emails will involve both Jennifer and Timothy and, it is never an issue. We have been using Ability Connect for a few years now and have had Belinda as our SC for over 12 months. During this time, we have had several issues with our service providers and Belinda has always been there to help us out. She has made my life a lot easier with dealing with service providers. Whenever we have had meetings that involve Belinda, I have been told by my other service providers, “you have a great SC there in Belinda don’t ever lose her, she is the best we have ever dealt with.” Nothing is too hard for her or too much trouble. She is very friendly, respectful, supportive, and willing to help us with whatever help we need no matter how complicated things are. Without her I really don’t think I would cope anymore; she truly is wonderful and definitely one of a kind in our books." - DEANNA
Services are fresh, interesting, always improving
"I have been a client of Ability Connect for over 2 years now and have found they have always had a sincere interest in helping me and others to get the most out of the services that they provide. They continually surprise me in that they are always improving their services, keeping their services fresh and interesting. Without Ability Connect, I know I would not be able to have the life that I have now. So, thank you to Emanuel and all the staff from Ability Connect for the outstanding service that you have provided to me." - DARREN
Excellent Support for NDIS Review
"I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Elena for helping us with our comprehensive NDIS Review for our son. It is impressive how assertive, thorough, efficient, and organised you are on the day. Thanks for your time & your efforts towards the strategical background work behind the scenes, leading up to the Review day to prepare us and help with our overall case." - IAN
The Ability Connect Team is amazing!
"I have been using Ability Connect to help manage my NDIS funding. They have been amazing with helping me source providers to help with my day-to-day needs. Emanuel and his team have been wonderful to work with and they always return calls within 24 hours. I feel extremely comfortable recommending Ability Connect to anyone who may need their expertise." - ANTHONY
Thank you for the confidence and
change in my life
"Elena has helped me understand how to reach my goals. She listens to me and always responds. Ever since she has been helping me I feel confident when making decisions about my services. There has been so much change I know I could not have done this without her." - IAN
Unmatched support, professionalism and care
"You have changed our lives, your support, professionalism, and care has meant so much to me and my family. You have renewed my faith in service providers. Thank you Elena for everything!!" - TRACEY
"Thank you, Elena, for everything that you do for me and for just being there." - KERRY
Best support coordination ever
"As the carer of a client, I would like to thank the Ability Connect Team for being so supportive of me and my daughter. It is therapeutic to talk to Emma our support coordinator and she always does her best to resolve my issues. Best support coordination I have ever come across. Thanks once more for all your support." - NAHID