Our committee members are all volunteers and parents who have each experienced a very personal and unique journey after the premature birth of their children. They each understand the vulnerability parents feel in a similar situation and the importance of our charity providing an interactive forum and unique programs in the community.
All of our committee members play an important role to ensure that our charity continues to make a difference in the community. United together, they wish the Foundation every bit the success that the site has been over the past nine years.
Meet Our Committee
Shannon Zimmerle ~ President
Shannon Zimmerle is a mother of 2 girls, Miley and Asha. Miley was born full term at 38 weeks in 2011 and Asha was born at 30 weeks in 2013. Asha was born at the Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane, 2 hours from home in Toowoomba. She was born via c/section due to IUGR and Preeclampsia. She spent 10 days is the NICU then transferred back to Toowoomba to spend another 7 weeks in the SCN at St Vincent’s in Toowoomba. She was allowed home at 38 weeks corrected. Miley is now 4 and dotes on her little sister who is now 18mths old and thriving, although has ongoing asthma.
Shannon works in claims in insurance and loves making a difference to peoples lives so she is very excited to be part of the L’il Aussie Prems Foundation team.
Shannon currently resides in Queensland with her family.
Angelique McIntosh ~ Vice President
Angelique McIntosh is a mother of three children. Connor a full term baby born in 2011 and twins Leo and Lilly born at 26 weeks in 2013. Angelique and her husband Frazer came over from South Africa in 2008 and made Brisbane their home. After Connor was born in 2011 they relocated to Gladstone, QLD with work. Leo and Lilly were born unexpectedly at 26 weeks in Gladstone Mater Hospital, weighing 999 grams and 988 grans respectively.
Doctors from Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital flew to Gladstone to retrieve them and brought them back to Brisbane where they spend 12 weeks in ICN and SCN. Angelique and her family went back to Brisbane after the twins were born, where they currently reside. Their family are forever grateful for the doctors and nurses that took care of their twins for those first 12 weeks.
The twins have recently celebrated their first birthday and are doing exceptionally well.
Angelique is a Civil Engineer who is looking forward to being a part of L’il Aussie Prems Foundation. She understands how hard those first few months are and would like to contribute to an organisation that will help others in the same situation.
Angelique currently resides in Brisbane with her family.
Julia Toivonen ~ Treasurer & Founder
Julia founded and created L’il Aussie Prems in February 2007 further to her first pregnancy, which resulted in an extremely early delivery. Although not due until June, she gave birth to her first and eldest son Ronan at 27 weeks gestation, due to a placental abruption in March 2006 at Monash Medical Center in Victoria.
Ronan experienced a lengthy stay in the NICU and has developmental delays. He has worked very hard to catch up and has grown into a healthy 10 year old currently enjoying school. Julia credits the invaluable professional assistance and unlimited family support offered to them which ensured Ronan met milestones and the opportunity to thrive.
Like all good things, L’il Aussie Prems evolved from the need to talk to other parents who could understand the journey. Julia met with Nicole, another premmie mum and together they exchanged ideas on starting an online community. A few days later the website was in development. Julia had single-handedly developed, maintained and kept the L’il Aussie Prems website online since its inception in 2007 until it was registered as a charity in 2012. The members have been instrumental in the success of the website, with many volunteering their time to support Julia over the years who is grateful for their dedication to the community.
Julia also played an integral part as a founding committee member, in setting up the National Premmie Foundation in 2007. In March 2014, she retired her position on the committee after seven years volunteering for the charity. She was also a committee member for Life’s Little Treasures Foundation for a number of years.
She is no stranger to the premmie community, pouring her heart and soul into it which is continually recognised as she continues to be nominated for community awards, such as the ‘Local Hero’ award which she won in 2008 from her local council and in September 2013, she won the Pride of Australia ‘Community Spirit’ Medal in Victoria. Julia is modest and is humbled by her awards and as a leader, she tries to ensure that her committees hard work is recognised as a team effort and thanked often for their dedication.
Julia has an ongoing passion to ensure all families receive the same support and with the same understanding and open arms that the community provided to her family.
Julia resides in Sydney’s western suburbs with her husband and three children.
Danielle Barker ~ Secretary
Danielle Barker is mother to Maxwell, born at 27 weeks and two days’ gestation and weighing 1.021kg. In September 2014, Danielle had been in and out of hospital for two weeks with threatened pre-term labour. During this time, Danielle was sent a link to the Li’l Aussie Prems “Then and Now” page which she read and re-read to give her much needed hope. Despite the reality of her predicament, Danielle never truly thought a premature birth was on the cards for her. Life, of course, had other plans.
Max entered the world after a one hour labour. He was breathing on his own and made his presence known with a small but distinct cry. Something Danielle and her husband Stuart were told not to expect. It was a flying start to life and a pace that Danielle hoped would continue. Unfortunately, Max didn’t take to breathing on his own as quickly. As the NICU nurses would say: “Breathing is not an optional extra”. But after a long 70 days on CPAP (with what felt like umpteen attempts at weaning off it) Danielle and Max finally graduated to the SCN at North West Private Hospital.
For the next two weeks, Max learnt to feed and grow and on the 20th December he was finally allowed home. Max’s homecoming remains Danielle and Stuart’s all-time favourite Christmas present.
Max is now a small, cheeky and robust two-year-old who we are delighted to say is extremely well. Danielle is a lawyer who is looking forward to giving back to a community and group that lifted her through some dark times.
Sonya Georgievski ~ Sponsorship Manager
Sonya is a mum of three. Elizabeth is 9 years old and was born in 2007 at full term. Elizabeth became a big sister twice over when her baby brothers Oliver and Xavier were delivered by c-section at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne at 27weeks gestation due to severe IUGR. The boys were transferred to Monash medical centre due to bed shortages and spent 97 and 104 days respectively in NICU and SCN there. They are now two and half years old and are doing well. Xavier who was the more unwell twin has needed a bit more support but all in all they are both active, mischievous toddler boys on the move and happily running rings around their family.
Sonya says of their time in hospital, her family entered a new world they could never have imagined. A world that could only truly be understood by those whose world it had also become for that time too soon. Schedules, alarms, expressing, dark days, all mixed in with hope for miracles still baking in the most unnatural of settings. A time when doctors, nurses and other NICU families became new family, celebrating milestones sharing tears, fears, joys and heartbreak too. A time when connecting was sustenance.
Sonya is a project and operations manager by profession and holds an MBA. Whilst for Sonya and her family NICU days are two years gone they are not forgotten. She’s excited to have the opportunity to be part of our LAPF team and in her way reach out and connect with our families.
Sonya currently resides in Melbourne with her family.
Chloe Hennessy ~ Community Liaison Manager
Chloe gave birth to identical twin boys, Sebastian and Nicholas who were born at 24 weeks gestation in 2015. After an extremely difficult journey, Sebastian sadly lost his life. Nicholas was able to come home with his parents after spending 4 months at the Canberra Hospital NICU and Special Care Unit. Nicholas is a very happy boy and brings lots of happiness, love and laughter to Chloe and her family.
Chloe and her partner Scott will always be grateful for the wonderful support offered by the premature community during their difficult journey. Because of this, Chloe was inspired to give back to the community and is looking forward to being a part of the Lil’ Aussie Prems Foundation committee.
Chloe currently resides in Canberra with her family.
Sophie Allan ~ Marketing & Media Manager
Sophie decided to join the LAPF Committee due to the fact that she herself, is a premmie survivor. She was born at 28 weeks gestation, 3 months early, weighing in at 3 Pounds 6 Ounces. Because of her early arrival, she was born with several disabilities, ailments and conditions ranging from Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy (Level 4, extremely severe), Hypertonia/Dystonia/Hyperekplexia (an extremely severe Neurological disorder)/ Hip Displasia along with Osteo – Arthritis/Perthes Disease, plus many many more, far too many more to list.
When she saw that we were in need of a Media & Marketing Manager, Sophie decided there and then to make contact because she has always wanted to be able to do something where she was able to combine her love of Media & Marketing. She has a Certificate 3 in News Media, PR & Events Management Certificate with News Media qualifications also covering Marketing. She is passionate about volunteering our charity as our soul focus is to assist these precious bubs and their families in any way we can, to ensure that they have the support and services that they need to enable them to have the best start to life despite their early arrival.
As well as all of the above, Sophie too wanted the chance to show the premmie community and the community in general, that despite her own early arrival, that premmie babies, if given the opportunity, can live their lives as normal as possible as Sophie lives independently in her own fully purpose-built wheelchair accessible home.
In between Sophie volunteering for our charity, she sings, writes and performs her own songs and music and also loves Freelance Journalism and reading.
Profile coming soon…
Sarah Peatey ~ Design Support
Sarah is a busy mum to 5 children with her last 3 children being born prematurely. Hayden was born at 32 weeks in 2006, William born at 30 weeks in 2008 and Thomas born at 28 weeks in 2012. They each spent their NICU/SCN time between the Royal Brisbane Woman’s Hospital and Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland.
Living in remote Central Queensland, Sarah found herself seeking out support from families in similar situations and joined the L’il Aussie Prems forum in mid 2007. The support and friendships she found in the online community has been invaluable throughout the last 6 years. Sarah has spent many years supporting the premmie community and volunteered on the National Premmie Foundation committee for 2 years.
Sarah is currently studying a Bachelor of Nursing and hopes to work closely with premature babies and their families in the near future.
Sarah is thrilled to be a committee member of L’il Aussie Prems Foundation and is looking forward to seeing the foundation continue to grow.
Sarah currently resides in Central Queensland with her family.
Kirsten Williams ~ Social Media Manager
Kirsten is a first-time mum to Parker. He was born at 29weeks due to severe preeclampsia and he had IUGR. Parker was born weighing > 812 grams. He spent 92 days in Hospital. The first 10 weeks was in Monash Medical Centre Clayton NICU and the last 3 weeks were at Frankston Hospital Special Care Nursery in the Children’s Ward. Parker is now 16months old now, small but determined and has minimal issues resulting from his prematurity.
Kirsten decided to volunteer with Lil Aussie Prems when Parker was newly home as a way to share her experience, provide advice and support through social media and the L’il Aussie Prems Foundation support group.
Kirsten is a Physiotherapist, treating humans and animals and has a passion for supporting other families.
Kirsten lives and works on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.
Kimberly Ward ~ Newsletter Manager
Kimberly Nutt is the mother of 2 children, Fletcher born at 28 Weeks in 2013 and Willow at 36 weeks in 2015. Fletcher was born at the Royal Women’s hospital in Melbourne, 1.5hours from home in Ocean Grove. Fletcher was born very quickly at 28 weeks when Kimberly’s water broke unexpectedly. Fletcher spent 1 month in Royal Women’s and then spent a further month in St John of God Geelong and was allowed home at 37 weeks corrected. Willow was born at St John of God in Geelong and spent 1 week in the SCN with mum and bub leaving the hospital together.
Fletcher and Willow are both doing well, with minimal ongoing complications from premature birth and Kimberly looks forward to helping others experiencing premature birth.
Kimberly currently resides in Melbourne with her family.
Vanessa Taylor ~ General Member
Vanessa gave birth to her second son, Tehan 6 weeks early weighing 1.2kgs. He was born unexpectedly at home and then transported to the local hospital where he was admitted into the Special Care Nursery. He had a number of complications and the journey was very difficult for Vanessa and her family. For many years Vanessa could not talk about his early arrival as she found it to be very traumatizing and she believes that L’il Aussie Prems Foundation helped her through the difficult time. Now, eight years later, Vanessa is able to talk about her son, his journey and is proud of how far he has come
Vanessa is a busy mum working full time in the Records Management Industry by day and whilst this is her first year as a general committee member, she looks forward to being a part of the important growth of our Foundation over the next 12 months.
Vanessa currently resides in the coastal villages in Melbourne’s south east.
Rhiann Waterman~ General Member
Rhiann is a first time mum to Isabelle, born at 28 weeks and 1 day in September 2015. Isabelle was born at Monash Medical Centre in Victoria due to Rhiann having severe Pre Eclampsia, HELLP Syndrome & Placental Abruption. Isabelle was born at a tiny 656grams due to severe IUGR. Isabelle spent 8.5 weeks in NICU and SCN at Monash before being transferred to Frankston Hospital SCN for 2.5 weeks. Isabelle was discharged from hospital a week before her due date – just in time for Christmas!
Rhiann works in the Disability field as a Residential Coordinator for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Rhiann has come on board the L’il Aussie Prems Foundation committee as she would like to help other people who are going through the experience of having a premature child. She is very excited about becoming a part of such a wonderful foundation. Rhiann has come on board the L’il Aussie Prems Foundation committee as she would like to help other people who are going through the experience of having a premature child. She is very excited about becoming a part of such a wonderful foundation.
Rhiann resides in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs.
Karly Adams ~ General Member
Profile coming soon…
If you are interested in volunteering for our Foundation, please view the volunteer positions we have available and submit an online application.