Mel Cooke

I am Mel Cooke, I have been the Chairperson of the board of management for STAR Inc. for 6 years and prior to this I was a member of the Board for 2 years. In my time as Chairperson, I have been privileged to be a part of team that has worked diligently towards ensuring the successful growth of this organisation.

I have worked in education for 20 years specialising in working with students with additional needs, mental health concerns, medical needs and complex challenging behaviours. I have been an integral part in the development of numerous programs within education to support the needs of these students and have won several awards for my work such as the ‘Special Education, Best Program and Practice’ award. I have presented my work on many occasions interstate and support the development of programs for students with additional needs on various levels.

In my spare time I love to spend time with my daughter and enjoy a range of physical activity such as attending the gym, dancing and cricket. I am also very passionate about animal rescue particularly birds, I am often caring for birds that have been orphaned or injured and love to rehabilitate them and release them back into the wild.


Diego Cardenas

I have been employed with STAR Inc. since 2011. My involvement with the organisation started in late 2010 as a student, during my study placement, supporting clients and coordinating volunteers. I have completed a Diploma in Community Services at TAFE SA, and subsequently continued with the Bachelor of Social Work studies at the University of South Australia.

I was offered a permanent position in 2012 as a Living Skills Teacher, and since 2015 I have taken the role as the Executive Manager (CEO) of STAR Inc. I was also part of STAR Inc. Board of Manager as a staff Rep for a period of time before my current position.

Jessica Morris

I have recently been appointed as a General Board Member and feel very privileged to be selected to work such dedicated Board Members and alongside the STAR Community.

My background is in healthcare management with areas of specialty including residential aged care, community aged care and disability services.

I have formal qualifications in Support Work, Business Management and Occupational Therapy.

As a small business owner, I also have a great interest in innovation and strategic thinking.

I have always had a passion for ensuring that everyone has access to high quality services that promote overall wellbeing. The vision and mission of STAR Inc. aligns well with this passion and I look forward to an exciting future ahead for the organization.


Julia Polisena

My career is in education and school leadership, with a special interest in inclusion, wellbeing and trauma informed practice. I have a passion for helping support equity in our schools and communities to ensure all people have the opportunity to make the most out of their life and opportunities.

I have been on the STAR Inc. Board for 4 years and has been my honour, in this time, to see the organisation grow and develop to suit the needs of clients/participants while continually providing high quality services.


Sue Cooke

I am Sue Cooke, I have been involved with STAR Inc. for 26 years. I originally started my involvement with the service as a parent of a client and after seeing the amazing work of the organisation I joined the Board of Management and have been a board member for 26 years.

I worked as a swimming instructor for 30 years specialising in teaching students with additional needs. In addition to this I successfully owned my own swim school for 25 years.

In 2012 I won an award for the South Australian Aust-Swim Teacher of Aquatics for People with Disabilities state award.

In 2022 I won the Prospect Council Community Service Award for Significant Voluntary Contributions to the Community.

In my spare time I like to spend time with my husband of 46 years, my children and granddaughter.


Alison Rosser

Alison Rosser has been a parent representative on the Board of STAR Inc. for over seven years.

Alison Rosser is a flautist and former member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; and Lecturer in Woodwind at the Flinders St. School of Music, Adelaide College of TAFE.

She has a special interest in Disability, largely through supporting a daughter through the minefield of Disability organizations and funding bodies for over 40 years.

Alison has been a speaker for Carers SA and promotes involvement of family carers in decision making.

Alison completed a Masters in Disability in 2003 and has been involved in administration of organizations that support people with disability, especially in helping clients develop independent living skills in their own homes.