Our Team

DSWA is highly regarded in the WA disability sector for its specialist expertise and its focus on developing community inclusion.
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Down Syndrome WA Team

Cassandra Hughes – Chief Executive Officer

Cassandra commended on 4 October 2021. She comes to DSWA with a diverse work history, working in a range of industries from all tiers of Government to Mining and our Ambulance service. She was a small business owner, owning a confectionery manufacturing business for 8 years, and has worked in organisations of varying sizes, in a diverse range of roles. Most recently Cassandra worked as an Operations Manager with the Country Ambulance Directorate of St John WA, working alongside both staff and volunteers in the Great Southern and in the state office in Belmont. Prior to working for St John, Cassandra worked for a small country local government in Cranbrook as the Manager of Economic and Community Development. She describes both of these roles as a place where she was able to make a contribution to her community which is important to her.

Cassandra brings a strong skill set to DSWA including Governance, Policy and Procedure, Employee Relations, Staff Development and Leadership. Cassandra holds a Bachelor of Business (Management and Industrial Relations), Diploma Occupational Safety and Health, Diploma in Project Management and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

She also loves her garden, bushwalking, the beach, cooking and dancing. Her favourite family (and friends) activity is playing board games. She also told us that since COVID began, she taught herself to paint, and wrote the lyrics for a music CD which was released last year.

Nikki Schwagermann – Senior Coordinator

Nikki has worked at Down syndrome WA since 2011 and been an active member of the association since her youngest of three sons, Wil, was born in 2009.  

Nikki started at DSWA as Family support, welcoming family’s and running the Playgroup. She is currently the Senior Coordinator.  

Nikki brings to the team her years of knowledge and experience and has a strong passion for improving the lives of people with Down syndrome and their families through support, education, advocacy and forming networks within the community.

Sue Summers – Employment and Pathways to Independence Project Coordinator

Sue has worked in broadcast media in management, sales and training, at university presenting and guiding young people on potential career choices, and as a musician and performer in her own small business. Sue has run music and performance workshops for people with disabilities over the past 7 years. She recently graduated from Murdoch University with a bachelor degree in Sound and Radio. In her spare time Sue is an enthusiastic disc golfer, and volunteers for her sport on local and global committees. Sue expressed her excitement about beginning her journey with Down Syndrome WA, and that she is looking forward to meeting everyone.

Siobhan Painter – KiDS Club Coordinator

Siobhian is an Occupational Therapy student going into her third year at Curtin University, and also works part time as a support worker. She is an active fun-loving individual who enjoy sports and the outdoors. Siobhian spent nine years in little athletics and eight years of scouts, and currently participates in netball and volleyball. She loves getting to know others and assisting whenever possible. Siobhian enjoys seeing people trying new things and achieve their goals, live the life they want, and values the role she has in facilitating this.

Claire Martin – FrienDS For Life Coordinator

Claire worked at Down Syndrome WA between 2012 – 2015 as the Aim High Coordinator and left her position to become mum to Conor and Niamh. She is excited to be back working with Down Syndrome WA as the FrienDS for Life Coordinator.

Claire is looking forward to getting to know all the families and members of FrienDS for Life.

Danica Bowes – Playgroup Assistant North

I am Mum to Amelia who is 4 years old and who happens to have Down Syndrome and who some of you might have seen twirling her ribbons around playgroup and her little sister Annabelle who is 5 months old.

I am a preservice early childhood teacher and an educational assistant to children with a disabilities in the early years. I have quite the fascination and love for all things early childhood development and absolutely love seeing children learn and build connections through play. It is my personal philosophy to dance, sing (show tunes preferably) or be playful at least once a day. Since having Amelia I have developed a strong commitment to social inclusion particularly within the education system and it is my hope that all children are able to build the strong sense of belonging they deserve.

Rachel Slevec – Information Technology and Communications

Rachel started volunteering at DSWA in 2020. Rachel’s previous experience is working in Information Technology (IT) for the government, including Heath and Education. In January 2021, Rachel changed from being a volunteer to a staff member, working two days each week. Her current role involves helping DSWA staff with IT questions and issues, managing our member database and updating our website. Rachel ensures that members’ contact information is up to date and sends out important emails to our growing community.

Tracy Bicker – Coordinator North Metro Playgroup

Tracy has worked at Down Syndrome WA since 2020. She is a mum to three kids; her youngest Elliot has Down Syndrome. Tracy loves supporting families into the DSWA playgroup. She enjoys creating fun activities for the kids to learn and explore during their early years.

Tracy is also the photographer for the DSWA annual calendar. This year marks it’s sixth year of shooting.

Amandine Hamilton-Smith – Aim High Coordinator

Amandine has worked in the community sector since 2008 and with people from all ages and backgrounds. She has a Bachelor of Health Science and a Diploma in Community Services.

Throughout her life she has travelled a great deal and loves learning about new cultures and new ways of seeing the world. Her dream is for a world where everyone is included, valued and accepted.
She aims to create an environment where people can experience new things, make new friends, achieve their personal goals and live a life of their choice and make their contribution to the community. 

Nicola Burr – Playgroup Assistant

Nicola is the South Metro Playgroup assistant.

Nicola is Mum of 3 and has been attending the group with her daughter Aoife since its conception in 2018.

Ingrid Zuijdgeest – Administrator

Ingrid studied her Bachelors in Global Studies and History in New York and is now studying her Master of International Development at UWA. Ingrid is originally Dutch but has lived internationally her entire life.

She is incredibly excited to take on this new role, supporting the rest of the team and all the participants at Down Syndrome WA.