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About Synapse

Leadership Team

About Synapse
 
 

Leadership Team

Synapse has an excellent Leadership Team that is responsible for providing strategic and operational management for the organisation. The diversity of specialist disability skills, as well as corporate skills embodied by our creative team, gives our organisation the edge it needs to become the peak body supporting people with Brain Disorders both individually and systemically.

 

Jennifer Cullen

Jennifer Cullen

Chief Executive Officer

 

Adjunct Associate Professor, Jennifer Cullen, is the Chief Executive Officer of Synapse (the Brain Injury Association of Queensland Inc) and has been with the organisation for 12 years. Jennifer is a community services professional with over 26 years' experience working in disability and aged care services. 

 

Jennifer was appointed in 2013 to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Independent Advisory Council as the Queensland Member. Jennifer is also a Member of the NDIA's Rural and Remote & Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group.

 

Jennifer is a descendent of the Wakka Wakka people and has extensive networks with Indigenous people and communities across Queensland and other parts of Australia. 

 

Jennifer is committed to Indigenous issues, rural and remote disability service delivery, and strategies for building on service innovation and delivery for people with disabilities and their families.

Marie Hamilton-Smith

Marie Hamilton-Smith

NSW State Manager

 

Marie is a leader with over 15 years experience in management in health and human services, having worked in both Sydney and in London. Marie has worked in a range of managerial positions in public hospitals leading departments such as allied health services, information services and other clinical services. Marie has a passion for organisational improvement and has led a number of successful large scale projects, often using information technology as the enabler for positive organisational change. She also has experience commissioning new services in both the healthcare arena and the community sector. Marie holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (Health Information Management), an Executive Certificate in Events Management, as well as a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment. 

 

Marie leads the team of Synapse personnel based in the New South Wales office, providing high quality operational management for all established NSW programs. Marie liaises with key stakeholders in the disability sector to influence decision makers to best support the needs of those impacted by brain injury. Marie also has a strong service development focus. Armed with a passion for innovation and a proven track record in implementation, Marie aims to establish new brain injury support services for NSW residents, particularly in areas of unmet need.

 

Marie is transforming the NSW office into a "service provider of choice" under the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) for those impacted by Brain Disorders.

Clare Townsend PhD

Clare Townsend PhD

Research and Development Manager

  

Clare Townsend is the National Manager-Research and Development at Synapse and Adjunct Associate Professor at Griffith and James Cook Universities.

 

She is committed to undertaking research in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to achieve positive outcomes for people with disabilities, their families and community. She manages a portfolio of strategic research which address the rights and needs of marginalized people with neurocognitive and other complex disabilities.

 

She is Chief Investigator of The Guddi Project which includes a point prevalence study to ascertain the level of neurocognitive disabilities amongst Indigenous homeless people in Cairns and Partner Investigator on ARC Linkage Grant (LP140100446) with Griffith University and others.

  

From 2009-2013 Clare was Director Systems Research, Centre of Excellence for Behaviour Support, University of Queensland. From 2000 -2009 she undertook a lead role in the development of state, national and international mental health policies. She has published in industry relevant journals and presents Synapse research in academic and other fora.

 

 

 

Joanne Priestley

Joanne Priestley

NDIS Manager

 

Jo has 20 years experience in Community Service and the Disability Sector. With extensive industry training including a Certificate IV in Disability; University of Queensland Centre of Excellence training in the Development and Implementation of Positive Behavior Support Plans; Leadership Development Program Cerebral Palsy league; and work as the Coordinator of the Rehabilitation and Return to Work Program for Q-COMP (Qld. Workers Compensation Regulatory Authority) Jo is the perfect leader for our Accommodations Team. 

 

Jo began her early working career as a Teachers Aid, and a Therapy Assistant in Special Schools, before progressing to roles as a Residential Support Worker, Senior Support Worker, Household Coordinator, Area Coordinator and Manager.

 

This comprehensive and broad work history has allowed Jo to develop a strong sense of Social Justice and equity which drives her passion today to respond to individual support needs through creative and innovative accommodation models.

Paul Calcott

Paul Calcott

Murri D.A.N. Manager

 

Paul is a Wiradjuri man on his father's side from the Bathurst and Dubbo areas of NSW, his mother is Irish from Guyra NSW. Like many of his people since colonisation, his father's family moved to suburban Sydney seeking accommodation and work in the early 1950s.

 

Paul is a board member of the First Peoples Disability Network Australia , a peak advisory body and voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living with disability.


In 2010 Paul started the Suncare Nandjimadji artist group and annual art exhibitions for Aboriginal and Torres strait islander with disability, and their carers.


Pauls feels that to provide people with the opportunity to connect with culture via art plays a huge part in the healing process and strengthens resilience in individuals, family and community. 

 

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