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.

David Simmonds

David works as the Lead Workshop Facilitator at Dialogue in the Dark, a sensory experience brought to Australia by Guide Dogs Australia. David was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 15 which has led to full vision loss. David uses a guide dog for his mobility and has firsthand knowledge and experience of having an impairment that affects the way in which one would access public transport, utilising multiple modes of public transport on a daily basis.

David’s former role with Guide Dogs Victoria saw him providing advocacy at both an individual and systemic level in the area of accessibility and is also a former representitive of the Taxi Service Commission’s Accessible Taxi Advisory Committee (ATAC) and is a current member of V/Line’s Disability Reference Group (DRG).

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.

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.