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, 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 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.

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 takes care of our billing (because Sam is hopeless) and is now also offering Support Coordination. 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. She can help with billing queries and assists the support coordinators with finding information and sorting out their paperwork. Email is best when you need to contact Anita as she has a hearing impairment. 

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.