Who are we?

We are passionate.   Everyone who works with or for The Growing Space is a person with disability and/or a carer: Everyone.

Headshot of Sam Paior, with a blonde bob haircut and pink glasses, wearing a paisley patterned blouse and a smile

Sam Paior founded and directs the Growing Space. She is solo parent to two with disability. Sam has a degree in Architecture with further studies in Journalism, Accessibility Auditing and Design, and Disability, She has worked around Australia and in the USA in senior Public Relations and Crisis Management roles, run as a candidate with the Dignity for Disability party in 2010 and has worked as a parliamentary adviser focused on disability related issues. She is a board member of the CountMeIn Foundation, which aims to increase awareness and takeup of Universal Design principles in public, commercial and residential spaces. She is also board member of accommodation provider, Lutheran Disability Services.

Sam is a Member of the NDIA Independent Advisory Council’s Self-Management reference group, the Inclusive School Communities Project steering group and also is an active consumer health advocate. Sam holds many advisory roles in government and organisations across Australia, and has a particular interest in public speaking and plainly spoken, clearly answered training and communications about the NDIS and disability related topics.

Kate Pensa is a Specialist Support Coordinator with the Growing Space. She is a Developmental Educator and Behaviour Support Specialist with more than 20 years of providing successful positive behaviour support analysis, plans and implementation for people with disability whose behaviour has an extreme impact on their lives and on those around them. Kate generally only works with two to four participants at any one time due to the intensity and quality of her work. 

Monika Dobek is a Support Coordinator with The Growing Space. She is Mum to two children, one of whom has autism and uses a communication device to talk. Monika has a passion for Positive Behaviour Supports and for Inclusion in Education. She has a degree in International Relations and enjoys working with many of the culturally and linguistically diverse families we serve. Monika has had scores of successful personal and professional experiences with NDIS review processes and is a whizz at helping participants and nominees figure out how to make the most of their plans. Monika is also a member of the SA based PBS Community of Practice, and speaks fluent Polish.

Alison Pedersen has three sons on the ASD spectrum with a wide range of abilities, gifts and challenges, and brings a wealth of experience to The Growing Space team. Alison is a Support Coordinator who is specialising in helping families find and facilitate good homes for the adult participants they love, who are ready to move out. Alison’s children have been part of the NDIS since 2013 and she’s managed the ins and outs of the scheme since it began, and watching her children grow and develop through the support of the scheme has been both challenging and rewarding. 

Headshot of Alison smiling beautifully, wih long brown hair wearing a dark jacket and red necklace

Anita Browning, our office manager, has a vast array of business and finance experience gathered from small business and both state and federal government departments. As we are growing – Anita has come on board to help sort out all things admin and has saved Sam's butt on numerous occasions already. A vital part of our team, Anita can help with billing queries and assists the support coordinators with finding information and sorting out their paperwork. Please don't call Anita - email is best when you need to contact Anita as she has a hearing impairment. 

Alicia Edigio started with The Growing Space in 2018 and is completing her Bachelor of Disability and Developmental Education degree. One of her children has a rare neurological disability and she has a passion for inclusion and for serving people with disability and their families. Alicia speaks a smattering of Italian and family and her heritage are integral to her life. Her interest in the field started with the need to advocate for her own child, and blossomed from there. Alicia is now working as a Support Coordinator with The Growing Space and we are thrilled to have her on the team.

Melissa Currinckx, also started with The Growing Space in 2018 and is doing great work supporting people with disability and their families in Adelaide's northern suburbs. Melissa has a background in case management in Community Services and housing, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Social Work. She has a son on the autism spectrum and is a fabulous researcher and supporter for the families we serve.

Ben Paior-Smith is just starting his career having finished his secondary education in 2018. Ben will be working as a marketing assistant to The Growing Space, interviewing, producing and editing videos about the NDIS for the team. Ben has a passion for inclusion, and for getting great outcomes for people with disability. Ben has an intellectual disability and is actively involved in self managing his NDIS plan. He is a member of Julia Farr Youth, an Every Australian Counts National Champion, Access2Arts HeartBeat Club committee member, and frequently presents at conferences about disability and the NDIS. 

Informal Advisory Group: The Growing Space have a number of mentors with disability across Australia whose experience and skills are invaluable to our team as they act as our informal advisory sounding board. We would like to particularly thank Rachel High, Samantha Connor, Ellen Fraser-Barbour, Glenda Lee, Joanne Chua, Naomi Anderson, Kelly Vincent, Jason Shephard, Katharine Annear, Nat Wade, Peter Pascoe, and Jarad McLoughlin for their ongoing support, as well as the deeply missed Madeleine Sobb and Stella Young for their support and sage crip advice in the past.