Stephania Bejma

National Education Coordinator

I am really enjoying my role and would just like to share my journey coming to the National Education Coordinator’s position. I have worked in some aspect of aged care for over 30 years.

While studying at university, I started work in a local nursing home one summer doing the laundry, then moving into the kitchen, assistant nursing and finding my niche in the recreational activity roles. I studied politics and law at university as there was no DT degree back then!

On completing my degree, I realised where my passion lay and over the next few years worked in a number of different facilities around Sydney and the North Coast playing guitar, encouraging people to write their lifestories and setting up the Diversional Therapy departments of the newly developing dementia specific facilities which seemed to be sprouting up everywhere.I travelled overseas for a number of years learning new languages and perfecting my busking skills until starting my family in a little town in Italy (I now have three sons). On returning to Australia, I worked in recreational activity roles in disability services and aged care facilities until moving into the coordination of daycentres for the elderly- a very different kettle of fish!

My passion for teaching and education began when I studied Yoga in 2004 and developed further when I completed a Diploma in Community Services (Lifestyle & Leisure) 2008.I have a Certificate in Life and Business Coaching and a Cert IV in Training. I am passionate about bringing the professional edge to our industry and encouraging the respect and admiration that our roles deserve. I am really hoping to tap into the heart of what you,the members, are looking for in the state workshops and would love any insight or contributions you would like to make.

Diana Tocknell

DTA Office Administrator

I am the DTA Office Administrator, I took over the reins from Christine Matthews on her retirement in January 2013.

Originally from South Africa, my husband and I emigrated here 30 years ago. We have always loved Australia and we are well and truly, true blue Aussies! I am a Mum with three boys, two in university and one at high school and they keep me pretty busy. Before I had them I worked in accounting and office administration for many years, but stopped working (or should I say, stopped “paid work”!) when I had my first boy. However, through their growing years, I volunteered at all the activities and groups they went to, from being the treasurer at playgroups, scouts and church, to helping in the canteens and uniform shops and just generally being Mum’s Taxi Service to various sports, music and activities! As they have got older, I have been employed for a number of years at their primary school, looking after the library and office for the teachers of children with learning difficulties, where I still work one day a week.

When the opportunity arose to work for DTA, I was very happy to join the DTA office and get to know DTA members and Board – mostly over the phone – and I look forward to meeting members at Conference time and at the AGM annually!

Outside of working, I love gardening and am slowly converting the weed patch of the house we moved into a few years ago into a native garden. I just love the native plants and the animals and birds they attract. We have quite a variety of birds, brush turkeys, possums, bandicoots, so we’re getting there! I also enjoy making all kinds of gingerbread creations, especially around Christmas!

Margie Kennard

Executive Officer and Office Manager

It is a long and winding path that has led me to this door, to misquote Paul McCartney! I am 56 years young, live in Sydney and on Oxley Island (up north near Taree) with my wonderful partner Dave who is a vintage rock n roll guitarist! I am happier than I have ever been in my life…

I have worked from 15 years old in retail pharmacy, office admin, then running small businesses including nursery/landscaping, wireless IT installation services, consultancy support to manufacturing industry and small business IT companies. Then, after being personally affected by some major health issues and having family with major health issues, I decided to involve myself in more meaningful work…. I found DT.

My first exposure to DT was with Tammy Steele of the Northern Beaches DTANSW Regional group. She showed me what it was all about and I joined DTANSW so I could come along to group meetings while I was volunteering in an aged care facility to gain experience. I enrolled in Uni for the first time (I loved it, thanks CSU and Marie Sheahan) and found a part time job in a high care nursing home where I worked for about 2 years and also gained my Cert IV in Community Services (Lifestyle and Leisure) and much wonderful experience – I loved it. Then, the facility where I had been volunteering had a position come up and, as I now had my Cert IV, I was keen to apply for the job which I also enjoyed very much in a low care hostel environment for the next few years. Financial imperatives drove me to find a more highly paid full time job. I then worked in Community Care as a Care Coordinator and Training and DT adviser for the next few years. Then there was that ad in the DTA Newsletter..... and the rest is history!

Executive Officer and Office Manager at DTA is a rewarding and extremely busy role – I love it! I get to work with wonderful people – members, the DTA Board and Diana in the office, Stephania, National Education Coordinator and our amazing volunteers - Emma who is Newsletter and Web Editor and Katrina, National Network Group Coordinator. I know my efforts are going to support these people, their work and their clients.