Emma Bracken is the founder and CEO of Ability Surf.
Emma founded Ability Surf in 2019 after working in the disability sector for over a decade as an occupational therapist.
Ability Surf was created after identifying a gap in opportunities for people with a disability in the community. It is the first of its kind in Australia and provides access to the ocean for over 100 people with different abilities.
Ability Surf is based in Lennox Head and Ballina, NSW but also provides surf therapy for people with a disability from across the regions.
Emma's vision for Ability Surf was for everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful experience and therapeutic benefits of the ocean and surfing.
Emma works to create a more inclusive community, supporting people with a disability and their support networks to feel acknowledged, seen and supported.
Emma has also volunteered for the last 6 years at local disability surfing events, as an adaptive ski/snowboard instructor for people with a disability in Canada and at an orphanage in Mexico. Emma is passionate about supporting people to live their most independent and joyful lives.
Ability Surf has grown and now provides holistic family centred support such as social skills, sibling and parent group programs. Ability Surf has also supported people in the local community financially to attend some of these programs as we’ll as surf therapy sessions.
Gayle Dunn is the President and Founder of the Dunn and Lewis Youth Development Foundation, established following events that took place in Bali on October 12, 2002 - 20 years ago. Craig Dunn (Gayle’s son) and his mate Danny Lewis were two of the 88 Australians who lost their lives that day.
The Dunn & Lewis Youth Development Foundation operates a large recreational complex that provides activities for youth, residents and visitors to the Ulladulla area. The key points in its establishment include the memorial for the lives lost, opportunities for youth personally, socially, vocationally, a place for community activities and tourism.
Now operational, the centre is a world class facility that provides the community with exceptional ongoing opportunities to raise funds and conduct effective community programs. This facility is unique, both as a memorial to the victims of the Bali Bombings and as a template for how community can create meaningful change.
Rise Dunn Lewis was a commemorative program of 12 days running for the 20th anniversary of the Bali Bombings from 1-12 October this year.
Dannielle Pickford is a paediatric physiotherapist working in paediatrics who identified gaps within the community and has worked to fill them. Dannielle’s hometown is Lismore and now lives in Banora Point.
Dannielle created a Lymphoedema Support Group after identifying a gap for peer support for people who have lymphoedema. The group has grown to 1,200 community members, mostly women, over the past 5 years. The group aims to provide advocacy, support, participation and discussion within a safe environment. Dannielle also acts to connect Lymphoedema sufferers to therapists and evidence-based information.
During the Lismore floods in 2022, Danielle took the initiative to co-ordinate Facebook pleas for help from those requiring assistance or rescue. She broke up Lismore into suburbs and logged all the pleas for help, directing citizen-led help to those people.
Dannielle worked behind the scenes onboarding volunteers, managing and co-ordinating assistance and logging digital calls for help, which were handed to emergency services.
Dannielle set up the ‘Requesting Help for 2022 Lismore Flood Victims’ Facebook group that connected community members to assistance during the flood clean up.
Dannielle, together with her co-founder Sarah Moran, established The Flood Diaries project to record the impact of the flood from the view of the community. This information was later used in the 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry.
Dannielle also started the Read to Recover Project with the aim to help children in the Lismore area to start to rebuild their home library and recover through the magic of books. Danielle was inspired by her 7-year-old son who asked what they could do to help. As a children's author and mother, Dannielle identified she was in a unique position to create this initiative. She ran a campaign for people to purchase books for kids in regional NSW with 320 books donated to children affected by the floods.
Sally Rogers established the Happy Paws Haven in Grafton in 2006. Happy Paws Haven is a not-for-profit rehoming sanctuary for companion animals, which also provides opportunities for the community to gain work experience and volunteer.
Sally supports people and helps care for their pets when their situation makes it temporarily impossible for the owner to do so. Animals have been housed during situations of illness, incarceration, family violence, family relocation and death. Fires, and more recently the floods, have created an even bigger demand on the work of Happy Paws Haven.
Sally continues to build a pathway for the future based on the needs of animals and the community, continually upgrading skills and resources so new programs can be put in place.
Sally and the Happy Paws Haven have an excellent reputation and are respected for their commitment and excellent care of companion animals. Visitors are welcome to observe the work carried out, and to see how the centre works for the greater good of animals and community.
The 2023 NSW Minerals Council Regional Woman of the Year is sponsored by NSW Minerals Council