Meet the Team

Director
Micaela Cronin

Micaela Cronin is an outstanding contributor to her field, having begun her career as a family violence social worker, she has held leadership and service delivery roles across a broad range of fields, both in Australia and internationally.She comes to the FSSI Director’s role from Hagar International, where she has been the global CEO for three years based in Asia, building service delivery and strategic partnerships across the Asia Pacific region to tackle human trafficking and human rights abuses.

Micaela is a past CEO of MacKillop Family Services and has extensive leadership and governance experience including being President of both the Victorian Council of Social Services, and the Australia Council of Social Services. Micaela is also an alumnus of RMIT and a past President of its Student Representative Committee.

 
Paul Ramcharan
Deputy Director Research
Associate Professor Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University

Paul Ramcharan has been involved in research for and with people with disability for over 20 years and has maintained an interest in self advocacy, including acting as an Australian Research Council link with colleagues at La Trobe University and Reinforce (a self advocacy group). 

Since arriving in Australia in 2006 from the UK Paul has undertaken research around the views and experiences of people with disability and family carers of restrictive practices and has  developed a Roadmap for Achieving Dignity Without Restraint.  Paul maintains a keen interest in disability research, human rights and inclusive research practice.

 
Dr Jess Lee-Ack
Deputy Director

Jess’s own life changing experience of higher education has been the key driver shaping her career. A passionate believer in the potential of higher education to broaden horizons and create opportunities, Jess dabbled in lecturing and tutoring roles while she was studying for her PhD at Monash University. While Jess did not pursue an academic career, universities have always felt like “home” so she moved into advisory and managerial roles in the higher education sector focusing on guiding and supporting the development and implementation of projects and organisation-wide initiatives.

During her time at RMIT, Jess has worked across several areas including research planning and policy, project management and academic governance including serving as Secretary to RMIT’s Academic Board and Education Innovation and Quality Committee from 2015-2017. Project managing the development of RMIT’s Research and Innovation Plan 2011-2015 and being part of the #ShapeRMIT Project Team that developed the Ready for Life and Work Strategy in 2015 are among Jess’s career highlights. Prior to joining RMIT in 2008, Jess worked in State Government and Local Government in the UK in project management roles.

Jess brings a wealth of corporate know-how, intimate knowledge of RMIT’s strategy and well-established networks to her role as Deputy Director. In this role, Jess will work with colleagues from RMIT, VCOSS, service providers and government to develop and implement projects to support the growth and transformation of the social service workforce.

Lee Newnham
Executive Officer
Lee Newnham provides executive and administrative services to the FSSI Director and staff, and acts as a liaison between FSSI, RMIT University and VCOSS.  Lee was previously Business Development/Marketing Manager at Moores, a legal firm with a focus on the not-for-profit sector.  Lee has a strong understanding of both the opportunities and the challenges faced in the sector and is passionate about assisting FSSI in achieving its goals.  
Steve Bruechert
VE Program Manager

Steve has more than 35 years’ experience in the health and community services sector in leadership and management roles. His sector experience includes disability, aged care, and health service provision, at state and regional levels.

Steve has been involved with a range of consultancies providing advice and operational responsibility for development and design of new commercial projects. He is an experienced workplace consultant educator in the development of leadership and management programs focused on community service workforce strategies. Academic interests include fundamentals of community service workforce development and the relationship between workplace culture and learning.

Michelle McCann
VE Teacher and Project Officer

Michelle is an experienced community services and disability professional with a commitment to social justice and human rights. In her career she has worked with marginalized members of the community including people with disabilities, complex mental health issues and ex-prisoners. She is currently the Chair of the Newlands and East Coburg Community Hub.

Michelle teaches into the Future Social Service Institute VE programs in Certificate IV in Disability and Certificate III in Individual Support. She has an ongoing commitment to the inclusion of people with disability in all aspects of society, including education. She remains focused on people with disability influencing curriculum and delivery through a co-design process.

 

Dr Shefton Parker
Project Developer and Educator

Shefton Parker has a background in clinical health research and higher education teaching. His research has been in evaluating integrated care delivery and quality of life benefits for patients. He has worked with various health and social service sector organisations in delivering research projects with impact.

Shefton is an active member of various external health organisation governance committees and is an advocate for consumer centred service delivery. He is a past Director of the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) and has a strong interest in enhancing collaboration and engagement between the health and social service sectors to better address complex community needs.

 
Lola Nicolouleas
VE Lead Teacher

Lola has extensive experience in the disability sector, including 15 years at Interchange Western (now Gateways Support Services), and 5 years working within disability employment services as both an employment consultant and a marketing coordinator.

Through these positions, she has developed a strong background in supporting people with disabilities to live empowered lives through recreation activities, and real-life insight into barriers people with disabilities face with employment and education. Lola has taught at a broad range of RTO’s, Boutique RTO’s and now RMIT University.  She is also on the Board of management for the South Kingsville Community centre and volunteer with Wear for Success.

 

Manu Atwal
VE Lead Teacher

Manu is an experienced registered nurse who worked in the residential aged care industry as nurse in charge and care manager. In her career, she has focused on holistic care of her aged care residents and has tried to make their life a bit more comfortable in their final moments.

Manu has also worked as palliative nurse where she enjoyed embarking on the journey of aged care nursing. She has a wealth of experience in the aged care industry as an advocate for the residents and now she is ready to share these experiences with her students.

 

Shae Allen
Project Lead, Family Violence Workforce Development
Shae leads the Family Violence workforce development projects for FSSI. An experienced executive training coordinator and program curator within the tertiary education sector, Shae programs, sources talent and manages varied stakeholder relationships in the social service sector to deliver the highly regarded “Leadership intensives” program for CEO’s and Senior Managers. Shae also oversees the “Leadership Intensive Alumni Network”, a suite of activities for graduates of the “Leadership Intensives”, and the “Feminist Leadership Action Research project”. Shae has previously coordinated the delivery of domestic and international industry training programs for the RMIT School of Media and Communication in Australia and Vietnam. Shae is inspired to deliver innovative educational projects that link people, ideas and causes for progressive social change and also has a background in change and personal transition coaching and consulting, managing clients through significant personal and cultural change.