Our Team | Our People at Forward Ability Support

Our team

Melissa Decker

Chief Executive Officer, Chartered Accountant CAANZ, B.Com Accounting

I joined Forward in 2021 initially serving as the organisations Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary.

With over 28 years’ experience as a Chartered Accountant across a wide range of sectors I’ve been responsible for overseeing operations and business activities to ensure they produce desired results consistent with the overall vision and strategy.

As a commercially focused finance professional my focus is on developing and implementing strategic plans, delivering efficient processes, and fostering an environment where our staff can thrive and truly feel like they belong. My commitment to continuous improvement is delivered through collaboration, thought leadership and innovation.

It’s inspiring to witness the profound impact our organisation has made supporting people with spinal cord injury and the wider sector and to see all the lives we continue to touch along the way. It’s an exciting time for us as we work together to extend our reach and our positive impact supported by our unified vision and sense of purpose.

When I’m not at work I love spending time with family & friends, traveling, playing sport and waterskiing.

Sarah Bowe

Director Home and Living Support, BA Psych

My name is Sarah Bowe and I am the Director of Home and Living Supports at Forward. I joined the organisation in April 2020 after working across a broad range of community, social and health organisations. In addition to my operational experience and Psychology qualifications, I bring my passion for social justice, equity and creating opportunities for people, together with my drive to contribute to my community. 

I love working at Forward because of the passionate history of grassroots advocacy that has led to meaningful improvements in support and services for people living with a spinal cord injury.

It is an organisation that prides itself on working with individuals to live their best life and supporting them where they are at in their journey to move forward. 

The team at Forward has a care factor that drives them and the passion of the team is evident every day. My role covers the support that we provide people living in the community, those that need specialised accommodation as well as those with higher care needs. Every day my team works hard to make a difference in the lives of those we support and they know that every day matters. Joining Forward and my role as a Director has been a highlight of my career to date and I look forward to many more years working with this great team. 

Shane Donaghy

CFO, MCom Accounting, MBA Accounting and businesss management

With 28 years of experience in corporate accounting roles, my focus is on driving results in line with our vision and strategy. My academic background includes an MBA and a Master of Professional Accounting.

Prior to joining FAS, I’ve been involved in various initiatives such as an actuarial review of land management trusts in Sydney, leading to the preparation of a financial investment plan. Additionally, I’ve implemented various finance ERP systems, including automated invoice processing systems.

Joining FAS in October 2022 was an exciting opportunity to contribute to a leading not-for-profit organisation, making a profound impact in supporting people with spinal cord injuries.
I’m inspired by the lives we touch daily and look forward to navigating future opportunities together.

Outside work, I cherish family time with my two kids and stay active through fitness and sports. I’m passionate about continuous learning, exploring share markets, finance, and personal growth through reading and listening to podcasts.

Rashmi Dixit-Sharma


My name is Rashmi Dixit Sharma. My role at Forward is the Head of People and Culture. I completed my honours in psychology, a diploma in computer programming, trained as a special educator and went on to do my post graduate qualification in Human Resources. I commenced with Forward in January 2019. 

I joined Forward because I have grown up seeing the impact of serious injury on a person’s life and on their family and loved ones. I am passionate about an equitable world where people with disabilities have equal opportunities and the ability to live an ordinary life with dignity and support. 

Forward is committed to ensuring the best life for their clients, employees and community. As someone who is responsible for people and culture, I see this first hand. Everyday, I am in awe of the work that we do, and our focus on doing what’s right, what’s good. I love working with the amazing people at forward who bring their expertise and understanding to everyday matters and make sure that we move forward every day. 

I am excited to witness Forward becoming an Employer of Choice.

Chris Pike


With an extensive 25-year IT background, I possess a deep understanding of the entire segment. Continual improvement is at the core of my approach, and I’ve been actively pursuing my Masters of Information Technology Leadership to enhance my skills. Beyond work, I find passion in the outdoors, enjoying camping, dirt bikes, and advocating for Mental Health and Leadership.

The decision to join Forward was driven by my desire to contribute to an organisation with a clear purpose, where I could leverage both my technical expertise and leadership skills to drive growth and prosperity.

A significant career highlight for me was being part of the successful bid that granted the Hammon Family the rights to operate tourism operations on the Sydney Harbour Bridge—an achievement that filled me with pride and accomplishment.

Looking forward, my focus is on bringing efficiency and automation to streamline business operations, reducing administrative overhead throughout the organisation. Additionally, ensuring a stable and secure IT operating environment remains a top priority.

I am thrilled to be part of Forward’s journey, making a positive impact through innovative IT solutions and contributing to the organisation’s overall success.

Kelly Wallace


I joined Forward in February 2022 as the Executive Business Partner and Office Manager, bringing over two decades of expertise in governance, operations management, project management, contract management and strategic leadership.

Throughout my career, I’ve excelled in working within complex governance frameworks, consistently surpassing business outcomes. As an accomplished Executive Officer and Business Manager, I’ve provided extensive support to company leaders and Boards, combining a commercial mindset with a strong commitment to customer service.

My passion for making a difference is a driving force in my role, aligning seamlessly with Forward’s overall vision, purpose, values and strategic plans.  I am dedicated to leveraging my skills and experience to contribute to Forward’s impactful initiatives.

Outside of work, I find joy in spending time with my family and friends, actively participating in kids’ sport through volunteering, and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle.  This balance fuels my commitment to both personal and professional excellence, ensuring a holistic approach to my role at Forward.

Adrian Smith


I am Adrian Smith and I joined BrightSky Australia in January 2024 as Operations Director. I have over 25 years of experience working within an FMCG environment, in all facets of business including manufacturing, customer support, warehousing, logistics, marketing and end-to-end supply chain. I have also gained experience working in the disability sector in supported employment, training and accommodation when the NDIS was being rolled out to the sector.

I joined Forward and BrightSky because I am passionate about our clients and customers, and have seen first-hand how they rely on our social enterprise, BrightSky, to support their day-to-day needs. I enjoy working at BrightSky, supporting our team to make a positive impact, and driving the business in the direction that best suits our customers.

Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM

Chief Clinical Advisor, LLB, GradDipLP, Cert EM, GAICD, MD

My name is Dr Dinesh Palipana OAM. I joined Forward in October 2023 as Chief Clinical Advisor and am part of the Executive Management Team.  Halfway through medical school, I was involved in a motor vehicle accident that caused a cervical spinal cord injury. I was the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland and am a doctor, lawyer, disability advocate, and researcher.

In addition to working with Forward, I am a compassionate and skilled doctor working in the emergency department of one of Australia’s busiest hospitals. I am also a researcher and senior lecturer at the Griffith University, a researcher in spinal cord injury, a doctor for the Gold Coast Titans physical disability rugby team, and a senior advisor to the Disability Royal Commission.

I am also an ambassador to the Human Rights Commission’s Include ability program, a founding member of Doctors with Disabilities Australia and an advisory board member to HealthyLife. My voice will ensure Forward continues to create a positive impact for the community we serve.

In 2018, I was the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service’s Junior Doctor of the Year and in 2019 was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2019. I was also the third Australian to be awarded a Henry Viscardi Achievement Award and in 2021 was the Griffith University Young Alumnus of the Year and Queensland Australian of the Year for 2021. In 2022, I was listed as number 33 in the Courier Mail’s top 100 power list for Queensland’s most influential in health and wellbeing.

If you would like to read more about my journey, my autobiography, Stronger, was published by Pan Macmillan in 2022.

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