Chief Executive | Kaiwhakahaere Matua
I started working for TalkLink in September 2004 in the role of Office Manager. With the expansion of TalkLink services in 2007 and the establishment of a TalkLink Trust “national office” I was appointed to the position of Finance Manager.
Prior to my work at TalkLink I had worked for 18 years in finance and administration in a Steiner School, which also involved much community based work and fundraising to build and support the operations of the school.
I am married and have six children. I grew up in Croatia, spent two years in Germany and then moved to New Zealand when I was twelve years old. After finishing high school in Auckland, I trained to be a primary school teacher and taught for two years before having my own children.
I believe that being able to communicate effectively and continuing to learn throughout one’s life is vital in today’s world. Removing barriers to learning caused by disability and enabling individuals to come closer to achieving their potential and leading a fulfilling life has been a major focus of my working life. Coming to terms with a physical disability caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis and then successfully using voice recognition software in my own work, has given me some insight into what can be achieved with appropriate assistive technology.
I am inspired by the difference that TalkLink makes to the lives of so many people with disabilities, who use assistive technology to communicate and interact with their environment as effectively as is possible.
My main role at TalkLink is to ensure that effective business processes and financial management systems are in place, which also supports the delivery of best possible services to our clients. I work closely with the Chief Executive and the Operations Managers to ensure there are sound financial practices.
I also prepare all financial statements and reports and ensure these are distributed to the Chief Executive, Operations Managers and the TalkLink Trust Board through the Chief Executive.
My other responsibilities include managing/maintaining the financial computer systems TalkLink wide, and assisting with raising funds for assistive technology resources. Please contact me if you have any financial queries.
Operations Manager Northern
I have had a long standing interest in the area of technology and disability sector. Coming to work at TalkLink has really been the perfect fit in bringing these areas and related skills together.
I have previously worked as an Occupational Therapist in both acute and community based health settings since 1998. Exposure to multiple workplace and multidisciplinary team environments has provided valuable experience across a range practice areas including, wheelchairs and seating, hand therapy, worksite ergonomics, and adaptive building design. I have assisted with individual, family and community based projects, and also provided training packages to support workers and other education facilities. Joining TalkLink in 2006 provided the opportunity to combine the various compatible skills and familiarity with funding processes to explore assistive technology options for people with disabilities.
I was appointed as Manager at TalkLink’s Auckland office in September 2007. This role has two components. The first of which remains client focused with assessment, application and training of communication and assistive technology. The second part of this role is with managing Talklink’s Auckland based service. Primary responsibilities involve developing and supporting staff to meet and excel with service standards in the area of communication assistive technology. I manage incoming referrals and allocation, manage budget allocations, and help develop service initiatives with projects and general processes in general day to day operations. Regular contact with the TalkLink General Manager provides continued support and alignment with the vision set by the Talklink Trust Board.
Technology will always continue to change and develop, making both old and new ideas to become reality. This will continue to broaden the access and freedom for those with disabilities; making it a continually rewarding area to be involved in.
Operations Manager Central/Southern
I started my SLT career in 2008 on the acute wards at Middlemore Hospital assessing and managing acquired and neurogenic speech, language and swallowing impairments. However having developed a passion for AAC during my undergraduate training, the opportunity to move to TalkLink was too good to pass up and so in December 2009 I joined the Auckland office and had the pleasure of working across Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, Kirikiriora/Hamilton and Tūranga/Gisborne. In 2010 I relocated to my home town of Ōtautahi/Christchurch to work alongside the amazing team down there.
During my time at TalkLink, I’ve had the privilege of working with clients across the whole lifespan and in all sectors including early intervention, mainstream and special schools, residential and disability providers, aged care and hospital settings and in people’s homes throughout the South Island. In 2014, I completed my Post Graduate Certificate in SLT from Massey University with focus areas including early intervention and RETT syndrome. I’ve enjoyed progressing through various roles at TalkLink including 18 months in a Clinical Lead role before taking a short hiatus from TalkLink to pursue private contracting for an ACC therapy provider. During this time, I also completed a short-term contract with the Ministry of Health. However my love of all things AT & AAC pulled me back to TalkLink in April 2022 when I was fortunate to secure the position of Operations Manager for the Central/Southern region.
Whilst my role now is predominantly managerial and administrative, I continue to relish in operating a small clinical caseload. I enjoy the challenge of finding appropriate low & high-tech AAC systems for my clients, and helping to build confidence and competence with internal and external team members. I look forward to continuing to work in this exciting and ever changing field, and most importantly, in helping our clients find their voice.