Meet the Essential Skills Team

Leadership and Training Team

Our Highly skilled leadership team and trainers have all come from roles in the community sector where there roles are diverse and required a vast amount of skills and knowledge. We are proud to have a great team of passionate individuals who know exactly what it’s like to work in the sector and how to best deliver the training to ensure our students succeed in their chosen career.

Julie Fletcher – Director

I started Essential Skills Training & Recruitment in 2010 passionate about providing the best quality training that we could offer students and employers. Being a Registered Nurse with experience in both acute settings and residential care, mainly in education and management roles. I worked in group homes for clients with mental illness and went on to be the CEO of the Hunter Women’s Centre, where I learnt so much about the diverse community services sector. I know the importance of having staff with quality skills and experiences.

What inspires me is the knowledge that what we do supports people in multiple ways, we change lives for the better. An individual finding a career or a career pathway and helping employers to meet their needs is a major highlight of what we do, but most of all, I believe we affect thousands of people’s lives for the better, due to the services they receive from our prior students.

Leisa Harrison – Associate Director / CEO

I have been working in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Industry for the past 10 years. My background is in Compliance and I have various management and Vocational Education and Training qualifications. I am a busy mum of 3 beautiful girls and I thoroughly enjoy my job and the team of wonderfully talented people I work with. I am inspired by the passionate and selfless people making a difference in the world today.

What inspires You? …..The most rewarding part of our business is assisting people to realise their potential and gain employment in the community services industry. I believe that if you do well by others and help them succeed in life positive things will be drawn to you naturally.

Dee Cooke – Associate Director / General Manager

Over the years I have had the fortunate ability to have a diverse career where I have been able to progress and advance in many roles starting in hospitality to managing a Hotel/Resort to a Regional liaison Manager for Employment Plus to being a manager for a large 142 Bed aged care facility to a Senior manager here at Essential Skills.

What inspires you? being someone that loves to learn working at Essential Skills Training and Recruitment gives me that opportunity not only to support individuals to reach their goals but also to be surrounded by passionate like minded people that also have the same goals and inspirations

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. helping someone somewhere! In what capacity I’m not sure but I do know that I love seeing people succeed and reach their goals!

Kirsty Allan – Operations Manager

As a qualified Registered Nurse I  have worked in clinical positions, clinical education, Community care Coordinator, community dementia nurse & ACAT assessor as well as training for the past 10 years.

What inspires you? …..Enabling people to achieve something they thought they couldn’t do. It makes you feel great that you have made a difference in someone’s life. To see people grow  within themselves is pretty inspiring.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. I would definitely be working in the community ensuring people’s needs were met and could stay at home as long as possible. Though… I do like the idea of being a flamenco dancer.

Rebecca Webber – Resource Development Manager

After completing an Applied Science degree in Leisure and Health I have predominantly worked in the disability services field in a broad range of areas such as general  and employment support work, then Service Management (both of a large service and shared living group homes) , Person Centred Planning and Program Design and Quality Monitoring. My key interests in the field are augmentative and alternative communication and the impact technology and social media can have on the lives of people with a disability.

Apart from disability I also have experience in designing leisure programs for people with acquired brain injury, in palliative care and for those recovering from stroke.

What inspires me: It may seem a little unusual but I’m inspired by words and stories. I have always had a fascination with words and how they can evoke emotion, whether written in a story or a poem, sung in a song or used to motivate in powerful speeches.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. If I wasn’t a trainer I would be:  Oh so many choices! Ultimately I would love to be a book editor, specialising in crime novels. They are my favourite genre to read and would love to find more that I can’t solve before halfway through the book! I’d love to be paid to read.

Alisha Vicary – Training Manager

I have been with ESTR for over 7 years, working in many different roles from Reception to Management. I am passionate about this organisation as I love seeing the difference we make by supporting people to achieve their goals.

What inspires me: People who work hard to overcome obstacles and succeed

If I wasn’t in this role I would be…..a Personal Trainer, I’m also passionate about health and fitness.

Kate Palmer – Administration Manager

With a background in Finance and having many spent years in administrative roles, Kate is highly experienced, efficient and professional in all her dealings with staff and our external stakeholders.

What inspires you? My team inspires me. They are all very capable people, a pleasure to work with and go above and beyond each and every day to make sure things get done. They are the engine room!

If I wasn’t here I would be….. a pastry chef or wedding/events planner.

Sarah Matthews – Quality & Compliance Manager

I have been working in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector for the past 13 years in various administrative and compliance management roles.

What inspires you? Perseverance: Life is not easy. It knocks us down and drives us backwards. But when people decide that they won’t let that stop them, when they pick themselves back up and move forward towards their dreams and goals – that’s inspiring!

If I wasn’t here I would be…..I have an interest in art history, so I’d love to be working in an art gallery.

Kylie Ryan – Finance Operations Manager

I commenced my employment with ESTR in 2016 in an administration role. With their support, I have been able to follow my desired career path into accounting and payroll completing many qualifications to become their Financial Operations Manager. It is a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful for their continued support. This is a job that I love and I work in a fantastic environment that makes coming into work every day rewarding.

What inspires you? Working hard to achieve a desired goal/outcome. I love watching all the pieces come together.

If I wasn’t here I would be…..the owner of a large bit of acreage in the country. I would set it up so I could offer agistment for horses.

Helen Barnett – (RN) Trainer and Assessor

As an experienced Registered Nurse and trainer and assessor I have worked in a number of areas throughout the community sector providing well being and support to those in need. I enjoy all aspects of my nursing and training career and love my daily interactions with both client and student.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. doing my other love in life and that is nursing.

Nicole Dawson – (RN) Trainer and Assessor

An experienced Registered Nurse with almost 30 years in the industry. My career includes working in and managing aged care facilities, wound consultancy and emergency nursing. I have worked as part of the Aged Services Emergency Team in Maitland Hospital. Currently, I’m working as a clinical educator and trainer and assessor in the VET sector.

What inspires me: I am inspired by people who live their lives with purpose and without judgement of others.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. a novelist!

Karen Gwillam – (RN) Trainer and Assessor

I began working in this sector as an AIN in 1993. Several years later I became an EEN in 2007 then completed my Bachelor of Nursing in 2013. Throughout those years I worked predominantly in Aged Care and have a passion for Palliative Care, Dementia Care and Wound Management. What I enjoy most in that role is being able to support individuals wellbeing through using person-centered approach; the interactions with families and supporting them through end-of-life care with their loved ones.

What inspires me: Just being able to give back to community and help the next generation coming through.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. Nursing.

Michelle Worth – Trainer and Assessor

My passion and chosen area of work is supporting people with disability and I have extensive experience in this field, working in large residential, community group homes, on a behaviour support team and various roles in management.

I am very grateful to work with the many talented people at Essential Skills and to continue to provide training that meets the needs of the modern workforce.

What inspires you? …..Supporting and empowering people to grow and achieve their goals.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. a multi-millionaire and invest in houses  (do them up and sell them).

Tania Hardy – Trainer and Assessor

I’ve been working in the Aged Care sector now for 20 years. During that time I worked in Nursing homes, Community home care with a specific interest in Dementia, Palliative and Mental Health Nursing. I moved into teaching in 2019 where I am passionate in being to able to give back to community by helping shape the next generation of workers.

What inspires me:

I am inspired each and every day by the people I work with and our common goal to develop a stronger, better workforce of care workers in our industry.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. 

Free as bird roaming the countryside.

Sara Leslie – Trainer and Assessor

Sara has worked as a trainer & Assessor for 9 years and was formerly the Director of Leading Support Solutions in Brisbane.

What inspires you….. Being able to make real changes in the care sector and being able help improve people’s choice through education.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. writing a book.

Sonia Sims – Trainer and Assessor

I have worked in the aged care industry for approximately 10 years.

I had a terminally ill mother and wanted to be well prepared for when it was time to care for her so I went and studied Certificate III in Aged Care & Home and Community Care.

I have a vast amount of experience in residential facilities and home and community care working as a team leader & physio aide. I also have experience in kitchen, laundry and cleaning operations.

What inspires you? …..Helping and supporting people to achieve their goals.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. Working in an aged care facility.

Jo Hawkins – Trainer and Assessor

My passion and chosen area of work is supporting people with disability and I have extensive experience in this field, working in large residential, community group homes, on a behaviour support team and various roles in management.

I am very grateful to work with the many talented people at Essential Skills and to continue to provide training that meets the needs of the modern workforce.

What inspires you? …..Supporting and empowering people to grow and achieve their goals.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. a multi-millionaire and invest in houses  (do them up and sell them).

Monique Wadwell – Trainer and Assessor

I have worked in the disability sector for over 25 years, in a large residential facility, In the community and also training people with disabilities literacy and numeracy.

What inspires you?…..Every day I am able support the students that attend our courses, to  build on the life skills they have to open up opportunities and change their lives and the lives of the people they support, whether it be a career change or furthering their career in community services. Also learning from other trainers and the students we support.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be…..working somewhere in the disability sector supporting the education of people with disabilities.

Mark Addison – Trainer and Assessor

I have been working with people in the human service sector for 35 years incorporating youth, family, disability, mental health sectors as both direct service provider and a leader.

I’m passionate about enhancing the life’s journey of people I encounter in my life’s journey.

I do this by fueling curiosity, growing knowledge and then hopefully, a personal sense of hope and purpose within the people I teache.

What inspires you?… Seeing people grow, to become more than they were.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be… A space explorer who can act and play music

Paul Kellman – Trainer and Assessor

I have been a Team Leader in Disability for many years. In that role my duties included – providing residential support for individuals with disabilities; coordinate and organize clients daily activities including transport, medication and employment; responsible for administration duties including detailed daily reports; consult and liaise with clients’ families and carers; manage household budgets; manage rosters and staff coordination.

What inspires you?…. Helping students reach their full potential

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. dividing my time between surfing and acting.

Sharon Wilson – Trainer and Assessor

I started out being an assistance in nursing (AIN), then became an endorsed enrolled nurse. For many years I have worked within the aged, disability and community care environment. I’m thrilled to be working here at Essential Skills where I have the opportunity to give back to community through education.

What inspires you?….I am inspired by helping people achieve their goals and making a difference in their life.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….. If I wasn’t a trainer I would be nursing and thinking of my retirement plans

Ruth Hayne (RN) – Trainer and Assessor

I am a Registered Nurse with over 30 years’ experience in Community Services/Aged care. I have undertaken many roles within the industry, from registered nurse, clinical nurse educator, quality aged care auditor and Care Manager. I have a bank of life/work stories which I enjoy sharing with my students.  My passion is dementia care and I ensure I remain current with dementia research and innovative care strategies. I am halfway through my Masters in Palliative Care and am really enjoying the challenge. (a few more grey hairs). I am also a half glass full type of person and when needed, can easily top that glass up.

What inspires you? …..the delivery of quality care and assistance  for our vulnerable population which means having a skilled and knowledgeable workforce.

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be…..I have had a few career changes throughout my working life, but always returned to nursing and adult education.

Rachelle Hodson – Trainer and Assessor

What inspires you?…..

If I wasn’t a trainer I would be….

Administration & Sales Team

We couldn’t do without our wonderful administrative and sales team. Our staff all have a great passion for providing quality customer service. They are always welcoming to anyone who walks through the door or calls the office, and will go above and beyond to help our students and employers. Our roles are varied, and include providing information on courses, assisting students to find the right qualification and enrol, supporting them throughout their training and ensuring they are issued with their certificate quickly after completion. We also provide support to employers by providing them with regular updates on their staff members’ progress throughout training. We pride ourselves on our product knowledge, knowing that we can give people all the information they need to make decisions about their career paths.

Put a face to the name at the other end of your email / phone.

Jenny Irwin
Sophie Maher
Paula Coleman
Taylah Corling
Kahlan Frost
Samantha Coleman
Ellie Brodie
Jessica Charlton
Marina Sheppard
Shellie Snape
Taylor Jerrett