Public Transport Access Committee members

Chris Stewart

PTAC Chair

Chris has close to 40 years’ experience working in the disability sector and currently works as Disability Planner for the City of Greater Dandenong. Chris is a founding member of and on the leadership group for the Victorian Local Government Disability Planners Network and has served on the Taxi Services Commission’s Accessible Taxi Advisory Committee (ATAC). Chris is a daily metropolitan public transport user and uses trains and buses to visit relatives in the country. Chris is legally blind and has considerable hearing loss.

Lisa Peterson

Lisa has been a consumer participant and peer educator in the homeless sector and has been a member of numerous advisory and reference groups. Lisa has growing experience working with and for local communities, in particular people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Lisa has previously been homeless and uses this ‘lived experience’ to advocate for safe, reliable and affordable essential services including health, welfare, housing, employment and public transport.

Liz Ellis

Liz has over 12 years’ experience working in the disability sector, having previously chaired the Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS), is a board member of Association for Children with a Disability (ACD) and recently completed a term on the Taxi Services Commission’s Accessible Taxi Advisory Committee (ATAC) alongside other committees. Liz works as a Family Liaison Officer with Villa Maria Catholic Homes assisting families to navigate disability service system and prepare for the National Disability insurance Scheme (NDIS) rollout. Liz travels with a motorised mobility aid and has a detailed understanding of the barriers faced by people who use a mobility aid to navigate the public transport network.

Karleen Plunkett

Karleen lives and works in Gippsland with over 25 years’ experience working in the disability sector, advocating for regional and rural Victorians and working to ensure public transport is accessible to all of the community. Karleen has previously served on the PTAC as a key advocate for regional and rural access issues and recently left her position of 15 years as Disability Services Officer with Latrobe City Council working to ensure Latrobe City was proactive in creating an environment that is inclusive of all the community. Karleen travels with a motorised mobility aid and has a strong passion for accessible public transport relying on Vline to provide a transport system that is not only physically accessible but also has good customer service and provides information in readable formats.

Daniel Giles

Daniel is a young man with autism and a current member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council (VDAC) (currently reapplying for another term) and a previous member of the Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS). He has also just joined the V/Line Accessibility Reference Group. Daniel is a practising graphic designer based in Bendigo and is passionate about spreading the understanding of Autism and promoting the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the community. Daniel was a member of the Autism State Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group during its implementation and has worked closely with schools, businesses and the wider community to speak about his experience of living with autism, assisting in running disability workshops and mentoring people with autism in school settings. Daniel regularly uses a range of public transport, including the local bus system in Bendigo, V/Line services and metropolitan services.

Jackie King

Jackie has a long-standing interest in the interface between social services, access and equity, diversity and social inclusion. She started her career as a lawyer and advocate before moving to academia and then into the world of philanthropy, social impact, strategic planning, community development and governance. Most recently she has acted as Senior Project Officer, transitioning small-medium size organisations to the NDIS, as well as co-designing projects to build community awareness around social inclusion and accessibility. Jackie is also Founder and CEO of Project Deborah, a women’s capacity-building initiative, and holds a certificate IV in training and assessment, as well as a certificate in not-for-profit governance from the Governance Institute.

Sarah Barton

Sarah works mainly as a documentary writer and director and for the past 20 years has worked mostly making media for, by and with people with disabilities. Her first documentary Untold Desires dealt frankly with the topic of sexuality and disability. This film won numerous awards including a Logie Award and an AFI Award. In 2003, Sarah developed the award-winning community television series No Limits and was the founding series producer of this long-running disability-themed series. In 2010 Sarah travelled to the USA and England on a Churchill Fellowship to interview disability activists who lead campaigns for accessible public transport. This research forms part of her new documentary Defiant Lives, a history of the disability rights movement.

Sarah is the founder of disabilitybusters.com and currently serves on the board of the Anne MacDonald Centre and the Stonnington Access Committee. Sarah is also the parent of a teenage wheelchair user and supports her ageing mother.

Debra Simons

Debra is a social worker with over 20 years’ experience working in the aged and disability sector, most recently as Team Leader, Aged and Disability Services at Hume City Council. Debra holds a Masters of Gerontology and proven experience working with complex clients around sensitive issues with ageing, trauma, disability and family dysfunction. Working with clients, Debra has a detailed understanding of how inaccessible transport can result in isolation, financial hardship and incapacity to access social and medical care. Debra, who is legally blind, knows firsthand how the accessibility of public transport impacts on her ability to travel safely and independently to pursue professional and social opportunities.

Rebecca (Becky) Morton

Becky is based in Hamilton, has a strong interest in accessible transport for rural people and is a key advocate for community transport. Over the past 40 years Becky has been associated with a range of organisations supporting people with disabilities, ranging from working as a volunteer for children’s holiday programs, providing support to the Southern Grampians Disability Support Group and Western District Health Service (WDHS). For the past 12 years Becky has worked as Coordinator of the WDHS South West Community Transport Program and currently acts as Chairperson of the Victorian Community Transport Association. Becky is an immediate past member of the PTAC and made a significant contribution in bringing access issues for rural communities to the committee.

Christine Williams

Christine has almost 65 years lived experience of disability as an incomplete quadriplegic (due to polio) with a cultural and linguistically diverse perspective (Polish/Ukrainian) and has been actively involved in disability advocacy at local, state and national level since 1978. Christine is a regular public transport user and understands the challenges of navigating the network in a powered wheelchair. Christine has a strong community spirit evidenced by 17 years of voluntary service with the Salvation Army and has extensive experience serving on committees of management and boards including on the Wyndham Disability Action Group, National Ethnic Disability Alliance and as President of the Porphyria Association.

Mark Tomkins

Mark is living with disability and is a wheelchair user. He is passionate about participation and inclusion of people of all abilities. He is actively working to promote accessibility as the Access and Inclusion Officer of the Greater Shepparton City Council. Mark is a frequent user of public transport in Victoria, with experience using public transport across Australia and Asia.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Urban, Rural and Environmental Planning, and an Advanced Diploma, Disability. Mark is currently studying a Bachelor of Human Services Masters of Social Work at Latrobe University. Mark has held several roles in the disability sector, including working as a Disability Access Consultant, providing advice on Australian building access standards. This experience has enabled Mark to appreciate the importance of broader awareness around accessibility issues and the need for good coordination across the public and private sectors to improve accessibility to our public transport systems in an effective and cost-effective way.

Jeff McNeill

Born and raised in Bairnsdale, East Gippsland, Jeff lost his sight at the age of nine. After years of mainstream schooling, Jeff commenced study at Northrocks School for The Blind in NSW at age 15, where he learned braille and mobility and daily living skills. Jeff studied social work at the Institute of Social Welfare in Melbourne and has had a successful athletic career, participating in five Paralympics and five World Championships, where he competed in long-distance events, including the marathon.

Jeff has been a member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council (VDAC) since 2016. Due to his personal experience as a visually impaired user of public transport in metropolitan and regional Victoria, Jeff has been very proactive in driving consideration of accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities within VDAC. He was member to the board of the Australian Paralympics Association Athletics. From 2012 to 2016 Jeff was a Councillor in the East Gippsland shire. Since 2016, he has held the role of President of the Australians for Disability Diverse Employment centre, where he had a significant role in developing the project Disability Advocacy Research Employment (DARE).

Katherine Marshall

Katherine works for Maribyrnong City Council as a Disability Access and Inclusion Planner. Katherine previously worked as a Transport Accessibility Project Officer at the Disability Resources Centre, where she managed a research project aiming to understand the experiences of public transport users with disabilities in Victoria. In this role, Katherine conducted forums across Victoria, designing online surveys and conducting interviews to gather information from over 400 Victorians to prepare a report for the Office for Disability. Through this work, Katherine developed relationships with community organisations and individuals across the state who advocate for public transport accessibility and built an in-depth understanding of the challenges and barriers that people with disabilities face when using public transport in Victoria.

Katherine lives with a chronic illness which causes many symptoms, including fatigue. Because Katherine’s disability is invisible to the public, she is familiar with the challenges of being a public transport user with specific requirements. Katherine’s experience and understanding of disability and inclusion issues, through her personal struggles and her work, drive her commitment to work in improving public transport accessibility across Victoria in a meaningful and practical way. 

Matthew Holland

Matthew is a young Victorian with qualifications in public policy, through his Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) at Swinburne University of Technology. Matthew has professional experience working in policy at the office of the State Member for Carrum since 2015. Matthew has worked in his community to raise and address the challenges that people with a disability are facing.

He has been a member of the Committee of Management (COM) for the Association for Children with a Disability (ACD) since 2017 and has been involved in the Victorian Paralympic Football (Soccer) Program since 2011. The ACD offers help to parents, carers or families of children with a disability. Matthew has advised the ACD on policies aiming to promote and support the well-being of children with a disability. The Victorian Paralympic Football Team is a seven-a-side football team for men and women with cerebral palsy or an acquired brain injury, representing Victoria at a national tournament. The program offers people with disability the opportunity to reach and maintain high levels of achievement in competitive sport, and builds their confidence to pursue and achieve their goals in life regardless of their disability. Matthew has been involved with the program since 2011 and became team captain in 2018.  

Member Bios [new page]

Chris Stewart
PTAC Chair 

Chris has close to 40 years’ experience working in the disability sector and currently works as Disability Planner for the City of Greater Dandenong.  Chris is a founding member of and on the leadership group for the Victorian Local Government Disability Planners Network and has served on the Taxi Services Commission’s Accessible Taxi Advisory Committee (ATAC).  Chris is a daily metropolitan public transport user and uses trains and buses to visit relatives in the country.  Chris is legally blind and has considerable hearing loss.

David Simmonds

David works as Services Development Coordinator with Guide Dogs Victoria, a role that is focused on community education, access and advocacy and stakeholder management.  David was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 15 which has led to full vision loss.  David travels with a guide dog and has firsthand knowledge and experience of having an impairment that affects the way in which one would access public transport.

Lisa Peterson

Lisa has been a consumer participant and peer educator in the homeless sector and has been a member of numerous advisory and reference groups.  Lisa has growing experience working with and for local communities, in particular people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.  Lisa has previously been homeless and uses this ‘lived experience’ to advocate for safe, reliable and affordable essential services including health, welfare, housing, employment and public transport.

Liz Ellis

Liz has over 12 years’ experience working in the disability sector having previously chaired the Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS), is a board member of Association for Children with a Disability (ACD) and recently completed a term on the Taxi Services Commission’s Accessible Taxi Advisory Committee (ATAC) alongside other committees.  Liz works as a Family Liaison Officer with Villa Maria Catholic Homes assisting families to navigate disability service system and prepare for the National Disability insurance Scheme (NDIS) rollout.  Liz travels with a motorised mobility aid and has a detailed understanding of the barriers faced by people who use a mobility aid to navigate the public transport network.

Karleen Plunkett

Karleen lives and works in Gippsland with over 25 years’ experience working in the disability sector, advocating for regional and rural Victorians and working to ensure public transport is accessible to all of the community.  Karleen has previously served on the PTAC as a key advocate for regional and rural access issues and recently left her position of 15 years as Disability Services Officer with Latrobe City Council working to ensure Latrobe City was pro-active in creating an environment that is inclusive of all the community.  Karleen travels with a motorised mobility aid and has a strong passion for accessible public transport relying on Vline to provide a transport system that is not only physically accessible but also has good customer service and provides information in readable formats. 

Daniel Giles

Daniel is a young man with Autism and a current member of the Victorian Disability Advisory Council (VDAC) (currently reapplying for another term) and a previous member of the Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS).  He has also just joined the V/Line Accessibility Reference Group.

Daniel is a practising graphic designer based in Bendigo and is passionate about spreading the understanding of Autism and promoting the full inclusion of people with disabilities into the community.  Daniel was a member of the Autism State Plan Stakeholder Advisory Group during its implementation and has worked closely with schools, businesses and the wider community to speak about his experience of living with Autism, assisting in running disability workshops and mentoring people with Autism in school settings. 

Daniel regularly uses a range of public transport, including the local bus system in Bendigo, V/Line services and metropolitan services.

Jackie King

Jackie has a long-standing interest in the interface between social services, access and equity, diversity and social inclusion.  She started her career as a lawyer and advocate before moving to academia and then into the world of philanthropy, social impact, strategic planning, community development and governance. Most recently she has acted as Senior Project Officer, transitioning small-medium size organsiations to the NDIS, as well as co-designing projects to build community awareness around social inclusion and accessibility. 

Jackie is also Founder and CEO of Project Deborah, a women’s capacity building initiative, and holds a certificate IV in training and assessment, as well as a certificate in not for profit governance from the Governance Institute. 

Sarah Barton

Sarah works mainly as a documentary writer and director and for the past 20 years has worked mostly making media for, by and with people with disabilities.  Her first documentary Untold Desires dealt frankly with the topic of sexuality and disability.  This film won numerous awards including a Logie Award and an AFI Award.   In 2003, Sarah developed the award winning community television series No Limits and was the founding series producer of this long running disability themed series.  In 2010 Sarah travelled to the USA and England on a Churchill Fellowship to interview disability activists who lead campaigns for accessible public transport.  This research forms part of her new documentary Defiant Lives, a history of the disability rights movement. 

Sarah is the founder of disabilitybusters.com and currently serves on the board of the Anne MacDonald Centre and the Stonnington Access Committee.  Sarah is also the parent of a teenage wheelchair user and supports her ageing mother.

Debra Simons

Debra is a Social Worker with over twenty years’ experience working in the aged and disability sector, most recently as Team Leader, Aged and Disability Services at Hume City Council.  Debra holds a Masters of Gerontology and proven experience working with complex clients around sensitive issues with ageing, trauma, disability and family dysfunction.  Working with clients Debra has a detailed understanding of how inaccessible transport can result in isolation, financial hardship and incapacity to access social and medical care.  Debra, who is legally blind, knows firsthand how the accessibility of public transport impacts on her ability to travel safely and independently to pursue professional and social opportunities.

Rebecca (Becky) Morton

Becky is based in Hamilton and has a strong interest in accessible transport for rural people and a key advocate for community transport.  Over the past 40 years Becky has been associated with a range of organisations supporting people with disabilities ranging from working as a volunteer for children’s holiday programs, providing support to the Southern Grampians Disability Support Group and Western District Health Service (WDHS).  For the past twelve years Becky has worked as Coordinator of the WDHS South West Community Transport Program and currently acts as Chairperson of the Victorian Community Transport Association.  Becky is an immediate past member of the PTAC and made a significant contribution in bringing access issues for rural communities to the committee.

Christine Williams

Christine has almost 65 years lived experience of disability as an incomplete quadriplegic (due to polio) with a cultural and linguistically diverse perspective (Polish/Ukrainian) and has been actively involved in disability advocacy at local, state and national level since 1978.  Christine is a regular public transport user and understands the challenges of navigating the network in a powered wheelchair.  Christine has a strong community spirit evidenced by 17 years of voluntary service with the Salvation Army and has extensive experience serving on committees of management and boards including on the Wyndham Disability Action Group, National Ethnic Disability Alliance and as President of the Porphyria Association.