About Us

Our Story.

Established in Dandenong in 1959 by local council and parents of children with disabilities, Wallara has evolved over the years to become an innovative, sector leading support service for adults with different abilities.

Our Philosophy

One of the largest barriers to achieving success for our clients is public attitudes, understanding and lack of awareness and opportunity. The more we can change those attitudes and raise awareness and understanding the more opportunities our clients will have in their lives and the better will be their outcomes.

We want to reach and impact the middle third!

In terms of understanding disability, there are typically three groups in the general community. One third are open to disability, one third are quite fearful of things they don’t understand and then there is the middle third that are unsure how to interact but open to learning more.

Wallara’s goal is to reach out to find this middle third and help convert them to be aware and supportive of disability. If we are successful with this goal we will have materially changed society and created more opportunities for our clients to take their place in the community.

This commitment to reach out and engage with the general community and drive social change is the philosophy behind:

WallaraTV, our award winning in-house media team that has created over 150 videos and produced seven 30 minute TV Specials that have been broadcast on C31 in Melbourne and on Foxtel nationally.

Our partnerships with:

-       Monash University ‘Keep On Learning’;

-       Ventura Bus Lines;

-       Mainstream Schools ; and

-       the St Kilda Football Club

The commitment to raising awareness and inclusion is also behind our vision for Sages Cottage Farm where we see a unique opportunity to bring the community to us. That’s why we have opened the café, gift shop and tours and also launched a campaign for $3M to expand our facilities so we can offer more places to the people we support on the farm and welcome more visitors to this amazing property.

Wallara respects all cultures and promotes diversity and equity for all.

Meet the Senior Team

Phil Hayes-Brown


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Phil was appointed CEO in 2010 after 20 years experience in the areas of law, finance and sports marketing including 12 years in senior international roles with the National Basketball Association with assignments in Australia, Singapore, Paris, London and Hong Kong. From his experience as a parent of a child with a disability, Phil feels a responsibility to apply his commercial experience and skills to make a real difference to improving outcomes and driving social change for the people Wallara supports.

Jonny Lee


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Joining Wallara as CFO in 2020, Jonny has over 20 years’ experience as a senior finance executive in the Not for Profit sector, and is a Chartered Accountant. Jonny’s role allows him to apply his financial and commercial expertise to help Wallara deliver on its mission and make a real contribution to people of all abilities.

John Simcocks

General Manager - Employment

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John has had an established career in FMCG and Direct Selling businesses in Senior Sales, Marketing and General Management roles, spanning 30 years. Prior to joining Wallara Logistics as General Manager, John was a Director on the Wallara Australia Board. His current role has enabled him to combine delivery of outstanding customer service with operational excellence while working with people of all abilities, enabling them to be the best that they can be.

Janet Lloyd-McNelis

General Manager - Service Delivery

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Janet Lloyd-McNelis has significant senior management experience across the disability, public health and community sectors. Janet is passionate about person centred, customer focussed service delivery and with her allied health background, understands and promotes quality individualised services.

Meet the Board

David Willersdorf


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Director, General Manager and Company Secretary of all entities in the Grenda Family Group of Companies for the last 30 years, comprising Operating Divisions‐ Bus Operating and Manufacturing plus Investment Companies.
Former Board Member and immediate past President of Chisholm Institute, Former Board Member of TAFE Online Pty Ltd, Inaugural Committee Member of Committee for Dandenong and Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Drum Theatre in Dandenong.
Special responsibilities: Chair of Board of Directors, Operational Risk Management Committee, Audit and Risk Finance Committee
Education: Diploma Commerce, Fellowship Diploma in Industrial Accounting.

Katie Symonds


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Katie joined the Board in April 2021.  Katie is a qualified Occupational Therapist and is currently the Operations Manager of Village Glen Flexicare, a family run business that is an Approved Provider of community based aged care services. Flexicare supports older people to remain living independently at home. Katie was the inaugural Operations Manager with Flexicare which has grown to be a major provider of aged care services across Frankston and Mornington Peninsula.  Katie has worked in community based aged care services for over 20 years, largely in the not-for-profit sector in both metropolitan and rural settings.  She has held various positions across state-wide and regional committees with a view to bettering outcomes for clients and for those who care for them. 

Mark Cowley


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An experienced Executive General Manager who ha worked for major multinational companies such as BHP-Billiton, Bluescope Steel and Toll Holdings, Mark has worked across multiple business functions including corporate strategy, business development, marketing, operations and supply chain. He has provided a distinctive ability to understand all facets of a business and focus on “whole of business” performance. Speciality skills and knowledge in supply chain and logistics are complemented by senior management roles and assignments across Australia and Asia.

Mark has a Bachelor of Business (Majors in Economics and Business Management) and a Diploma of Metallurgy.

Philip Scorgie


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Philip Scorgie joined the Board in November 2016. With over 35 years experience working with information technology, Philip has been a senior technology executive for 25 years within professional services. Holding a Masters' Degree in Software Engineering and an interest in anthropology, he has been described as having the "confidence, courage and enthusiasm to drive business change".

Special responsibilities: Audit and Risk Finance Committee

Education: Masters of Software Engineering

Michael Butler


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BA(AS)(Hons)/LLB Past President and Executive Committee Member ‐ Industrial Relations Society of Australia, Past President & Life Member‐ Industrial Relations Society of Victoria, Chair Law Institute of Victoria Employment and Industrial Relations Committee, Founder HR+WorkLaw

Special responsibilities: Chair of Operational Risk Management Committee

Steve Michelson


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Steve is Founder and Director of Michelson Alexander, a full-service social impact firm. He has a diverse background in the private sector, politics and the law, and was a key architect in the fight for marriage equality in Australia.

Steve has worked for the Victorian Department of Health as a Senior Industrial Relations Consultant, and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers as a Senior Lawyer. He also spent six years as a trusted advisor to the Hon. Bill Shorten MP, then Leader of the Opposition. As Director of Caucus and Stakeholder Relations, he provided advice regarding highly complex policy, political and communications issues, often in sensitive media environments, and built networks with business, unions and the community. Most recently he established the National Compact on Permanent Migration and is advising Australians for Mental Health along with a number of government agencies and ASX companies.

Steve holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the Australian National University, and a Master of Laws at Melbourne Law School.

Paul Garrett


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A Partner in a specialised accounting firm on the Mornington Peninsula, Paul has more than 30 years of experience across a range of industries including construction, hospitality, retail, property and service driven. His expertise is in navigating the difficulties associated with business growth and tax planning, and his depth of knowledge offers practical solutions to business issues. 

Paul did his Bachelor of Business (Accounting) at Monash University, and worked as a CPA for other companies before opening his own business in 2011.

Joining the Wallara Board in April 2021, Paul has insights and strategies that will assist the business moving forward. 

Helen Keheler


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Having lived experience with disability through a family member supported by the NDIS and parents with advanced dementia, Helen joined the Board in 2021. Bringing with her knowledge and experience of health gained from careers first in nursing and then public health, Helen held academic appointments at La Trobe and Deakin Universities before being appointed as Chair in Health Sciences at Monash University. She is Past-president and Life Member of the Public Health Association of Australia, former Board member of the South-East Melbourne Medicare Local and Women’s Health in the South-East.  Special interests are in social inclusion, fairness, prevention and health promotion. Helen holds a BA, MA and PhD in health sociology from La Trobe University and is Adjunct Professor, Monash University.

Jane McLennan


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Jane joined the Board in September 2021 and brings extensive experience across the Education and Training sector having worked at both stand-alone TAFE Institutes and Dual Sector Universities. Jane is currently the Chief of Student Success and Support at Chisholm Institute, where she focusses on providing the best possible experience for current, potential and past students.  She initially joined Chisholm as the Chief of Staff where she was providing high-level strategic advice and advising on issues affecting the educational outcome of VE activities within the Institute. Jane is also a member of the Caroline Chisholm Education Foundation which provides scholarships for students in financial difficulty to access education. Jane has studied a BAppSc, Graduate Certificates in Management, Educational Leadership and Tertiary Education and has a Master’s in Education (VET). She is passionate about high quality education and the broad impact it can have on individuals and the wider community.

Wallara Way.

Our Values

We believe that our strong culture is largely due to our five key values being lived, daily, throughout the organisation.

1Be creative and push the boundaries

2Think client first

3Do the right thing

4Together we make a difference

5Have fun and celebrate awesomeness



As a leading provider of disability supports to adults in south eastern Melbourne, Wallara set an ambitious five year strategy to deliver in the areas of Grow, Work, Explore and Live, whilst connecting in to our community of corporate partners and sector groups to ensure the best opportunities for each client in our service.




To be the leading provider of NDIS supports in SE Melbourne by providing quality services that allow our clients to grow, explore and work in our community.

& Work

Become the leading disability educator in Victoria by 2022. Provide pathways to work.


Be the most innovative, progressive provider of supported employment in Australia.


Offer innovative and inclusive living models that provide choice and control.

Cottage Farm

Create Australia’s most inclusive farm and showcase Wallara’s social enterprises.

Reach &

Be the thought leader in the disability space.

Driving social change in our community to empower people with different abilities.