Kate Hopper – Senior Physiotherapist

Hi! My name is Kate. I was born and grew up right here in Mackay. After school I headed to Townsville to study Physio at JCU. I had always loved working with kids and it was interesting to learn how I could use my physio skills to help kids grow and reach their full potential. After graduating from university, I worked in hospitals in both Queensland and Victoria, helping people of all ages with a wide variety of needs, but finding opportunities to keep working with kids whenever I could. Since starting at Move and Play, I have loved being able to work exclusively with kids. I love finding ways to play and do therapy at the same time. Exercise shouldn’t be boring, and if we are having fun and achieving goals at the same time it is a good day!
When I am not working I love to bake all sort of sweet snacks, from cakes to pastries and anything else. I also love to garden and spend time with my family and my dog.

Rachael McConochie – Physiotherapist

Hi!  My name is Rachael and I joined the Move and Play Paediatric Therapy team in January 2018.

I graduated with a Bachelors of Physiotherapy (Honours) from James Cook University and have recently completed my Masters in Advanced Paediatric Physiotherapy Practice through Monash university in 2021. I love the idea that I can help children live their best life whilst also making therapy fun through play.

I am a certified therapist in the Therasuit and Universal Exercise Unit Methods for Intensive Therapy and also the Total Motion Release for Tots and Teens Method.

I have a special interest in working with children with neurological and complex developmental delays, including cerebral palsy and other brain injuries; this is reflected by my extensive postgraduate training in this and other areas, including: ‘If You Can’t Breathe, You Can’t Function” by Mary Massery, Hydrotherapy for Paediatric and Neurological Clients, Introduction to Cortical Visual Impairment, Paediatric Vestibular Dysfunction, Typical Child Development and the Classification and Treatment of Cerebral Palsy.

I love sharing the joy and excitement with each of my families when their child has finally mastered the skill they have been working so hard to achieve – it really makes my work one of the best!

When I am not working, I love to read, travel with my family and friends, play with my dog and going to see theatre shows!

Nicole Blain – Physiotherapist

Hi! My name is Nicole. I grew up in a small town in South Western Ontario, Canada and moved to Australia to pursue my dream of becoming a Physiotherapist. After completing my Master’s Degree at the University of Sydney, I fell in love with the warm weather and laid back aussie lifestyle and started working in a mixed adult and paediatric clinic. I had always worked with kids while I was growing up and found myself being more and more drawn to that facet of physiotherapy. Now that I have joined move and play, I very am excited to be working exclusively with kids. I have a special interest in helping children with developmental delay. It’s such an incredible experience to be apart of a child’s life when they are learning fundamental skills such as crawling and walking. When I’m not in the clinic I enjoy spending time outdoors like going to the beach or out for a hike and I also love reading and writing. It’s my goal to help kids and their families be as physically active as they can be.

Jess Sparks – Physiotherapist

Hi! My name is Jess and I have recently relocated to Mackay to join the Move and Play team! Growing up I moved between NSW, ACT, QLD and even spent a few years in the USA. I have recently relocated from Townsville, where I graduated from James Cook University with a Bachelor of Physiotherapy. I have a strong interest in working with children of all ages. I completed a paediatric placement in Cambodia, where I worked with children with neurological and developmental delay presentations, this experience deepened my desire to pursue a career working with children.

I love putting my creative brain to work by incorporating therapy into play. I can’t wait to work in collaboration with children and families, being a part of their journey to achieve goals and optimise independence.

Outside of work I love spending my time playing sport, exploring the outdoors – especially the beach, doing puzzles and visiting my family.

Chelsea Dendle – Physiotherapist

Hi, my name is Chelsea and I joined the Move and Play Paediatric Team at the beginning of 2022. Home for me is a small country town, Springsure, located in CQ. I completed my Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at Central Queensland University, Rockhampton before moving to Mackay to begin my career as a physiotherapist.
I have always had a passion for sports and being active having played many different sports growing up and I knew that I wanted to work within health, and this led to a career of Physiotherapy.
Spending time with children is something that I have always enjoyed, and after completing a student placement here at Move and Play during my university studies, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I love their reactions and excitement when the children can achieve a skill that they have been working towards, it is such a rewarding experience.
When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my friends exploring new places, keeping fit or going home to enjoy the wide-open spaces of a country lifestyle with my family.
If I wasn’t a physio, I definitely think I would still be within the health care industry!

Rhiannon German – Senior Occupational Therapist

Hi! My name is Rhiannon and I am a Senior Occupational Therapist. I prefer to be called Rhi (‘ree’) (much easier for the little people to pronounce). I am a born and bred Mackay local and joined the Move and Play family in October 2019.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from James Cook University in 2005. I have had the privilege of working across a range of paediatric OT settings including hospital, community, education, and private settings. In 2017, I completed my graduate certificate in Advanced Occupational Therapy specialising in Paediatrics from Latrobe University. I am also certified in Ayre’s Sensory Integration assessment and therapy. I love keeping up with the recent evidence and research. I have completed a substantial amount of post graduate study and professional development across a range of areas.
My special interest areas are working with infants and children with developmental delay, premature infants, children with sensory processing issues and neurological and complex developmental delays.
I love working with children and their families, sharing the ups, the downs and the joys. I love that in my role I can partner with the whole family to support children to be the best version of themselves. I believe that nothing is impossible and love finding creative solutions so that the children can participate in what ever their hearts desire.
When I’m not working, I’m spending time with my family, at the beach, running and cycling.

Jessica Nikles – Senior Occupational Therapist

Hello! My name’s Jess. I grew up in Brisbane, went to high school in China and came back to Brisbane for university, where I studied Occupational Therapy at the University of Queensland, graduating in 2015. I worked in Emerald for 2 years, then moved to Mackay at the end of 2017. I love being an Occupational Therapist – it means I get to help little people do the things they want to do in life. I have worked in both NGO and public sector with paediatrics and adults, and I’m so excited to focus on working solely with children at Move and Play.
I love helping little people develop their self regulation and play skills, as well as promoting general development and building skills in infants, children and young people with physical, intellectual and neurological conditions. It’s so rewarding to see moments when something *clicks* and they figure out how to do the thing that’s been tricky for them.
When I’m not at work I enjoy spending time with friends, and doing anything outside – camping, swimming in waterholes, bushwalking – I’m always up for an adventure!

Natalia Heelan – Senior Occupational Therapist

My name is Natalia and I joined the Move and Play Paediatric Therapy team in January 2019. I was born and bred in Mackay and moved to Townsville to study Occupational Therapy at James Cook University, graduating in 2009. My husband and I moved to Rockhampton where we lived for the past 9 years and have come back to Mackay in July 2018 to be with our large family after having our beautiful daughter. We are now awaiting the arrival of our second child.

I have always loved playing with, and entertaining my niece and nephews. I found my niche working with kids during one of my uni placements at AEIOU Foundation for children with Autism. I have since held a passion for paediatric work. I have had a variety of jobs working with both adults and children in both private and public sectors. My most recent paediatric work was for Samantha Woods at Therapy Works For Kids in Rockhampton.

I think children are incredibly interesting and I love being able to help them grow and develop their independence and confidence. I love board games and ‘giggle wiggle’ would be my favourite toy to use with kids. At the moment I am loving being a mum, doing pilates and living close to the beach. I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t an Occupational Therapist I would have been a Paramedic.

Suné Waletofea – Occupational Therapist

Emily Baxter – Occupational Therapist

Hi! My name is Emily and I have recently joined the Move and Play Paediatric Therapy team in January 2021.

I am originally from Mackay and moved down to the Sunshine Coast when I was younger. I have recently graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from the University of the Sunshine Coast. During my university degree, I completed a placement at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and was exposed to the wonders of working with children I am excited to help little people achieve their full potential doing the things they want to and need to do in life.

Outside of I work, I enjoy spending time at the beach with my puppy and exploring new places with my partner.

Aimee Hinsch – Occupational Therapist

Hello, my name is Aimee! I graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from James Cook University in 2020 and joined the Move and Play family in January 2021 to begin my career as an Occupational Therapist.

I grew up on my family’s cattle property on the Atherton Tablelands and have recently relocated to Mackay to pursue my dream of working with children. I found my passion for paediatrics when babysitting my two young nieces and during my university placements within a school and the community child development setting.

I chose to study occupational therapy after seeing the positive impact an occupational therapist can have in enabling individuals to engage in meaningful activities to the best of their ability. I love that occupational therapy allows me the opportunity to spend time with children and their families to truly get to know them beyond their difficulties or diagnosis and provide creative solutions to help them to be the best they can be!

In my spare time I enjoy adventuring to new places, playing team sports and spending time with family and friends.

Mason Fenech – Occupational Therapist

Hello! My name is Mason and am excited to be a part of the Move and Play team. I have recently relocated back to my hometown of Mackay after 7 years on the Sunshine Coast. I graduated from the University of the Sunshine Coast with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) in 2019. I became an Occupational Therapist because strongly believe in the values that people should be viewed holistically and that each person is not limited to their disability. I am passionate about working with children because every child their own unique personality, various skills, and characteristics that make them who they are. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing that smile light up on a child’s face when they feel a sense of achievement or mastery when they have learned something new, no matter how big or small. My favourite toy always changes, but currently it would have to be “Safari Search”. It’s always interesting where the kids decide to hide the animals and if they can find where I have hidden them. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family, playing and training with my dog Benson (German Shepherd), gym and going on adventures. If I wasn’t an occupational therapist, I’m sure I would still be working with children in the health field, potentially a physiotherapist.

Joanna Ruddell – Occupational Therapist

Hello, my name is Joanna! I grew up in the beautiful Airlie Beach and have relocated to Mackay to pursue my dream of working with children. Ever since I can remember I have envisaged working with families and their kiddos. I became an Occupational Therapist after completing work experience during high school. I graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) from James Cook University and have joined the Move and Play team in November 2021.

I am a big kid at heart, so I love that I am able to help children learn and blossom to their full potential through play. I feel privileged to be a part of a family’s journey towards achieving goals for their little ones. I’m pretty sure if I wasn’t an OT I would be a midwife because I have a soft spot for the babies.

I love the outdoors, so when I am not at work you will find me boating, fishing and exploring swimming holes with my puppy, Sadie, friends and family.

Kathleen Davey – Occupational Therapist

Hi! My name is Kathleen and I have just joined the team at Move and Play after graduating from my Occupational Therapy degree in 2018.

My interests include anything outdoors! Mostly: travel, gardening, and playing with my two beautiful pups.

Prior to becoming an OT, I studied 18-months of early-childhood teaching. During this time, I developed a passion for supporting children who experienced challenges in everyday life, due to their physical, cognitive, social or emotional barriers.

Since completing my degree, I have gained a particular interest in neurological development and rehabilitation; Autism Spectrum Disorder; and psychosomatic disorders.

Tammie Cunningham – Senior Speech Pathologist

Luke Mitchell – Speech Pathologist

My name is Luke, and I had the pleasure of joining the Move and Play team in August of 2021. Even though I now consider myself a Mackay local, I am originally from Brisbane, where I went to high school and studied a Bachelor of Speech Pathology at the University of Queensland. After graduating from university, I never envisaged myself working with children on developing their communication and feeding skills. How wrong was I!

Ever since moving to Mackay in 2018 to begin my Speech Pathology career, I have developed a strong interest in working with children with a variety of disabilities including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy and Down Syndrome. In my eyes, nothing ever compares to that moment when a child says their first word, is able to produce all the sounds in their name correctly, takes a bite of a fruit for the first time or uses their communication device to ask for ‘more bubbles’ when they can’t use their voice to ask themselves! It’s a blessing to be able to support children on their journey to communicate and eat, to the best of their own abilities.
I have been fortunate to participate in many professional development courses to ensure I provide the best care to my clients. In addition to completing courses in Augmentative and Alternative Communication, paediatric feeding and Childhood Apraxia of Speech, I am also a Certified Early Start Denver Model Therapist – a specialized therapeutic approach for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

In my spare time, I enjoy making dumplings, shooting hoops, and then eating those same dumplings.

Sarah Black – Allied Health Assistant

Rebekah Leak – Allied Health Assistant

Hi! My name is Bek and I have recently joined Move and Play Paediatric Therapy as a Therapy Assistant. I am currently completing my Cert IV in Allied Health Assistance – Occupational Therapy and was lucky enough to complete my work placement here at Move and Play. I am from Mackay and grew up living in the Pioneer Valley, my partner and I also lived in Canada for two years. As a Mum, there is no better feeling than watching your child learn a new skill for the first time, I’m so excited to start working alongside the talented therapist here to help the little ones learn and master some new skills – big or small. When I am not working, I love spending time with my partner and our two beautiful girls doing anything outdoors and catching up with friends and family.

Chloe Marsh – Allied Health Assistant

Hi, my name is Chloe , I was born and raised in Mackay. I am married to my husband, Adrian and I have 2 little children, Lachlan (4 years) and Isabella (16 months). I am working at Move & Play part -time as an Allied Health Assistant. I come to Move and Play with a Bachelor of Learning Management specialising in the early years. I have a passion for helping children achieve their milestones and get the most out of life. I enjoy working with children of all ages particularly young children. Now that I have joined Move & Play, I am excited to work along side the amazing therapists, families, and children to achieve their goals – big
and small. I feel honoured to be on this journey with you and play a role in helping children develop. When I am not in the clinic, I enjoy spending time with my children and husband, listening to podcasts and shopping.

Hayden White – Allied Health Assistant

Hi! My name is Hayden, and I joined the Move and Play team in October 2021. I am a Mackay Local and graduated with a Bachelor of Music at the end of 2020. Before completing my degree I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in music therapy. To begin the journey, I began private instrumental tuition in 2018 and later moved to group lessons. I have now come to the point where I want to immerse myself in the therapy sector, by becoming an Allied Health Assistant. The next stage in the journey will be to study a Master of Music Therapy part time in 2023, which I feel very privileged to do so while being part of the Move and Play team.

I never thought I would pursue a career working with children, until I began teaching young minds. Seeing the progress of confidence, pride and character convinced me that this was what I wanted to do as a career. I have always had an interest in the allied health sector and would love to bring my musical background to this setting. Every day brings something new, including small wins and victories. There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t hear laughter or see smiling faces.

Leanne Kugis – Allied Health Assistant

Hi, my name is Leanne and I recently joined the Move and Play team as an Allied
Health Assistant after working in Education as a Teacher’s Aide for the past 10
I have a Certificate IV in Education Support as well as a Certificate IV in Allied
Health Assistance focusing on Speech Therapy.
Born in Sydney, I have lived in Mackay with my husband for the past 20 years
and am a mum to two teenagers.
The opportunity to work with children and see those “lightbulb moments” gives
me so much joy and satisfaction and to be able to be a small part of that journey
is both rewarding and inspiring.

Lisa Pearson – Allied Health Assistant

Linda Bourke – Practice Manager

Hi! My name is Linda and I recently joined Move and Play Paediatric Therapy in a new role as Practice Manager. I have worked in varied business roles since graduating from Queensland University of Technology with a Business degree in my early 20’s.  I have worked in large organisations, government agencies and small businesses, most recently in the healthcare sector. I enjoy working in healthcare as I feel a great sense of achievement and purpose in improving the health outcomes for our clients.

I enjoy working with closely with the owners of a business, supporting them in all non-clinical aspects of their business including finance, HR and marketing. Providing a high level of business support to them means they can focus their energies on the clinical aspects of the business and ultimately achieve better outcomes for our many young clients (and their families).

I have always really enjoyed working with children, and am a parent of a very adventurous teenage boy, so joining the Move and Play team was a perfect fit for me. I am really enjoying working with the team of Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists and finding out what they do and why they do it. Their commitment to the children (and parents) they work with is inspiring.

Client Services Team – Rachel Mann, Kathryn Jones. Ashleigh Haines

Hi! We are the Client Services Team. We are the first smiling faces you will see upon your arrival to Move and Play!

On the left is Rachel. Hi, I moved to Mackay around 5 years ago, after growing up between Victoria and NSW. I have worked with people with disabilities for over 10 years supporting individuals and their families. Outside of work I love adventures on the land or the sea, and spending nights camping under the stars.

In the middle we have Kathryn. Hi, I have lived in Mackay for 11 years and have enjoyed working in the health industry for the past 10 years. I joined Move and Play in November 2019 and love providing a welcoming and friendly service to all clients and families each shift. In my spare time I love walking, reading, catching up with friends and planning the next traveling adventure.

On the right is Ashleigh. Hi, I moved to Mackay at the end of 2018 and have been enjoying exploring Central and North QLD. In my spare time I am either finding beautiful new camp spots or spending time at the beach wearing the important Surf Lifesaving red and yellow uniform.

Emily Hayles – Principal Physiotherapist & Owner

Hi! I’m Emily, the owner and principal physiotherapist for Move and Play Paediatric Therapy. I founded Move and Play Paediatric Therapy in 2015 in order to meet a growing need for private paediatric specific physiotherapy services within the Mackay region, while also providing me with flexibility to look after my little girl.

I have worked in the area of paediatric physiotherapy for almost 10 years. I have extensive experience in managing the needs of infants and children with a wide range of conditions, from mild conditions and injuries to complex neurological conditions.  I have worked as a Senior Paediatric Physiotherapist across a number of settings in both Mackay and Brisbane, including hospitals and community health services.

I have a special interest in the treatment of children with developmental delay, movement difficulties, and/or disability, in particular cerebral palsy and brain injuries, and I have undertaken substantial postgraduate education and training in this area. I am a member of the Australian Physiotherapy Association and National Paediatric Group, and the Australian Bobath Neurodevelopmental Therapy Association.

As well as my clinical experience, I have also completed a Masters of Physiotherapy, through which I researched how parents of children with cerebral palsy experience health care for their child. As a result of this degree, I have published a thesis, a number of research articles on health care service delivery for children with cerebral palsy, and presented my research findings at national and international professional conferences.