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Board of Vision Australia convenes a Client Reference Group to gain advice and feedback on specific matters relating to the experience of our clients and direction of the organisation. This Group operates under Vision Australia's Client Reference Group Charter (Word, 45KB)

The Client Reference Group was established in October 2015.

The Vision Australia Board appoints members to the Group for a three year term. The Client Reference Group meet in person with Vision Australia’s Board twice a year, and at other times via teleconference.

Expressions of Interest in becoming a member of the Client Reference Group are invited through Vision Australia's website and social media platforms, in the FYI electronic newsletter, throughout the blindness and low vision community, through email lists and our Local Vision Australia Centres. Expressions of Interest are sought as vacancies become available.

The Vision Australia Board has appointed the following members to the Client Reference Group.

Stephen Belbin

Profile photo of Stephen

My name is Stephen Belbin and I have had the privilege of working in the field of education for over 25 years. I have followed my passion in teaching and worked at all levels in education, teaching a diverse range of students who are blind or have low vision. Being blind myself, my own lived experience has provided me with a unique understanding of the challenges that can be linked to education through blindness or low vision.

I have always been a strong supporter of assistive technologies as I uniquely understand the benefits associated with their use. This knowledge led me to create my own business which focused on providing access and training in the use of these technologies. I was fortunate in this endeavour as it provided me with the opportunity to immerse myself in new technologies and share this knowledge in the pursuit of improved access to education, employment, and recreation for my clients.

I gain great satisfaction from helping others achieve improved outcomes in their endeavors. Their success encourages me to continue learning new approaches to tackle common goals in the pursuit of equity. I find great pleasure in investing considerable time into regularly undertaking new training and professional development. This allows me to continually broaden my understanding of the education sector and changing demands in the modern workplace.

I have always maintained a commitment to lifelong learning and I pride myself on being not only a skilled teacher but also an exemplary learner and advocate for providing equity. I encourage everyone to follow their passions and seek out assistance where needed as I uniquely understand the benefits that can be gained through accessing the diverse support networks available for people who are blind or have low vision.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (m) 0409 000 100

Trudy Ryall

I’m Trudy Ryall and I have been involved in disability advocacy for over 20 years. I am currently a director on the board of Women with Disabilities Victoria, and a committee member of the Melbourne Council and Casey Council disability advisory committees. I am a co-founder of DeafBlind Victoria (DBV) which has been running for over 10 years and is run by people who are deafblind. DBV promotes self-advocacy, and networks with a wide variety of organisations such as Self Advocacy Resource Unit and Department of Human Services which is a powerful way to promote social inclusion.

Social inclusion to me is about advocating for the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, so that groups or individuals can have equal access to resources within the community we live in. This includes access to employment, education, health care, recreation places, adequate housing, training and so on. I also enjoy volunteering for DBV as a memberships, communications and events manager. I get great enjoyment out of achieving successful advocacy outcomes for people who have fought for their rights.

I always look for ways to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, for example participating in a project about improving the City of Melbourne environments so all people are able to walk safely around the city. I am interested in finding ways to improve the environments for people who are blind, have low vision or are deafblind, and strongly encourage self-advocacy to improve the quality of life for everyone. I have a beautiful dog, Tyson, and love going for long walks with him along the beach or through parks. I enjoy movies, coffee, books, getting creative with multi-media arts and trying out different exotic foods.

I am happy to provide support to anyone from Vision Australia in the area of social inclusion. You can contact me via email on [email protected]

Nadia Mattiazzo

Nadia is sitting on the grass with her black Labrador Seeing Eye Dog, Olympia, sitting in front of her.

Hi, I’m Nadia and I have been a handler for eight years and my current dog is a Labrador/golden retriever cross named Olympia. In the past, I have been a member of Vision Australia’s SEDA Client Advisory Committee. I also enjoy volunteering for SEDA at open days and public awareness events. As a member of SEDA’s volunteer speakers network, I derive great pleasure from talking to groups about the work that goes into training a Seeing Eye Dog and the independence which I experience as a handler. I am very passionate about the amazing work which SEDA does but am also keen to ensure that we strive for service excellence.

I am also a founding member (and current Vice President) of Dog Guide Handlers Australia. DGHA is a consumer group which provides a national voice for people who use dog guides and we are committed to achieving a consistently high level of support to all dog guide handlers across Australia.

I am keen to support you in any way I can in your journey as a SEDA client. And yes! I have cats too!

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (m) 0407 887 366

Paul Hedley

Portrait photo of Paul's face

My name is Paul Hedley and I have worked in manufacturing, in many different industries over the past 40 years and have always been interested in understanding and using technology to enhance our lives. I am currently working as a Product Support Engineer and since losing my vision around 3 years ago,armed with a can do attitude, I have embraced technology to help me get on with life. Vision Australia, has given me much support, to help get me mobile and back at work full time. VA have also provided a broad range of support in other aspects of my life.

I am excited to be part of the CRG and look forward to helping VA and everyone in the blind and low vision community, be the best  that they can be. 

Phone: 0439 912 156
Email: [email protected]

Marilyn Embelton

Portrait photo of Marylyn

My name is Marilyn Embelton. I have been legally blind since the age of 15. I grew up in Kenya but have lived the majority of my life in Australia. My lived experience of vision loss has been challenging.  The support of family, friends, professionals and services that offered creative solutions to my concerns have been extremely helpful. 

I have worked in various sectors of government and non government and have, for the last 25 years worked in schools as a counsellor. My qualifications are in welfare, social work and I have a Masters of Counselling.  

I am very pleased to be a member of the Client Reference Group.  I am very passionate about using this opportunity to help people of all ages with vision loss to have access to excellent choices for technology  and the ability to use it successfully. I look forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions.

Email: [email protected]

Dino Farronato

I am a lawyer based in Melbourne and am passionate about equality of opportunity for all. My parents migrated to Australia in the early 1950s from Italy and I grew up in the cultural melting pot of Canberra in the 1960s and 1970s. Having lived and worked in Indonesia for 3 years and in Hong Kong for 8 years I have a broad understanding of cultural diversity.

I cherish the values of a multicultural Australia and have deep respect for the contributions made by members of the community from culturally diverse backgrounds. It is obvious that overlaying a disability with English as a second language can create additional hurdles to a full participation in community life.

The CALD portfolio has been newly created. I see my role on the CRG as being the voice of people with low or no vision who have a culturally diverse background or English as a second language. I am keen to communicate directly with individuals or organisations on how to improve the services offered by Vision Australia.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (m) +61 430 373 575