Our team

Stephanie Davie

Senior ABA therapist

Stephanie is Light Up Autism’s senior ABA Therapist. Her passion for working with children on the autism spectrum shows through her care and professionalism. Stephanie believes that ALL children deserve the right to an education in a setting where they are able to achieve the best outcomes for them.

A former kindergarten teacher and mum of 2 young children, Stephanie has worked extensively with children on the autism spectrum since 2008.


“The work Light Up Autism Foundation does in providing ABA Therapy for students in the comfort of their school setting is outstanding. It’s a brilliant way to help them achieve their best during their school years. I hope to one day see this program in many other Mornington Peninsula and Victorian schools to enable us to help as many children as possible.”

Merae Atkin


Merae Atkin is a registered psychologist with over 20 years’ experience in ABA therapy both as a therapist and a respected program supervisor.


Merae oversees and develops the individualised programs, trains the integration aides and monitors and adapts the programs to ensure maximum success for the students.


“As the Director of Happy Kids Psychology https://www.happykidspsychology.com.au/>  I’m passionate about supporting students with autism in mainstream schools and helping them to reach their potential.”

John Kennedy

Board member

Recently retired, John has been an engaged Mornington Peninsula business owner and community member alongside his wife Diane for many years.


As a respected real estate agent in Rye, John values contributing to community matters that make a genuine difference.


“I’m excited by every opportunity given to our children to lead a happy and full life through education programs like Light Up Autism Foundation program.”

Gill Wright

Board member

As past Principal of Boneo Primary School, Gill  is passionate about maximising educational opportunities for all students, including those on the autism spectrum. Gill was integral to the beginning of Light Up Autism Foundation, agreeing to run the pilot program at Boneo Primary School in 2013.

“Before Boneo Primary School established a link with the Foundation children with autism were working on individual programs set by their class teachers. These programs were good but not as specific as the targeted programs set by the ABA professionals.

Through ABA therapy in the school we saw first-hand the significant difference – children with autism were connected to their learning, while experiencing less anxiety and greater success in the classroom.  I am totally committed to ABA and believe it provides students with an excellent opportunity to grow and develop.”


Danny Jennings


We are extremely grateful for the insight and commitment of experienced community members like Danny. With a fulfilled life with his wife, 2 children and 4 grandchildren, Danny has lived all of his life in Rye and values community.


As a small business owner of  Jennings Garden Supply http://www.cjenningsandsons.com.au/   > Danny has a passion for History on the Southern Peninsula and his beloved Rye Football Club.

Bianca Appleford

Founder & President

Founder and President of the Light Up Autism Foundation, Bianca is passionate about seeing children with autism achieve their personal best both in life and education.

Bianca originally established the Light Up Autism Foundation on the southern peninsula to provide opportunities for children with autism spectrum disorder to access intensive therapy at school for no cost to the families.

Her efforts and commitment to schoolchildren with autism have been recognised through such  honours as Mornington Peninsula Citizen of the Year in 2017 and Queen’s Baton relay baton-bearer for the Gold Coast 2018 Olympic games.


“I am committed to seeing all children with autism educated in an environment that offers the resources and supports to help them achieve total inclusion within the school community. With the support of others, my personal vision is to see our program implemented through all schools on the Mornington Peninsula and in the longer term, Victoria wide.”

Read more about Bianca’s vision and contribution on these links

Mornington Peninsula News Top citizen wants to extend and expand autism care

Mornington Peninsula Shire  title Explore the peninsula street-level detail for the Baton Relay

Southern Peninsula News https://issuu.com/southernpeninsulanews/docs/spn_31_january_2017/5

Fundraising and Events Committee

Tara Davies

Fundraiser, advocate, integration aide, mum

We are grateful to the dedicated energy and commitment of our committee who give so much in encouraging fundraising events and opportunities


Tara has experienced directly how the Light Up Autism Foundation is changing the lives of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families across the Mornington Peninsula.


“It was through my own families Autism journey that I began fundraising and working alongside Bianca and other families in the community. It’s been so rewarding and an absolute privilege to be a part of the foundation and to see firsthand the progress and milestones these children are reaching. I’m passionate about supporting children reach their full potential and living happy and enriched lives.”

Monique Cain

Fundraiser, author, speaker, advocate, mum  https://www.theeverydayautismseries.com.au/>

A mother of 2 children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and the author of The Everyday Autism Series, Monique has been advocating and fundraising for various Autism organizations over the past 7 years.


“I am extremely passionate about raising global Autism Awareness and helping other children and families living with ASD. Both of my 2 children were diagnosed at a young age and ABA therapy played an integral part of their developmental progress.  I’ve personally witnessed the benefits of ABA in my family and continue to be a strong advocate for the Light Up Autism Foundation mission and program. I would love to see this option available to all children in need, in all schools! “

Kate Cronin

Fundraiser and mum

As a mum of children Kate has been a long-term advocate for opportunities that identify an connect with each child strengths and abilities. When her eldest child was diagnosed with autism Kate sought supportive programs that ensured school success and supported their family.


“As a parent of a child who is benefiting from The Light Up Autism ABA program, I have seen first-hand the hugely positive impact it has had on her life and our family’s. I’m so grateful for the support Light Up has provided my daughter and so happy I can in turn support the foundation help more children to achieve their personal best.”