Bringing change to the disability sector

Brendan Rees

Ramneek Wayne has a passion for helping others and he is now making an impact in the lives of people with disabilities through co-founding the North Foundation.

Mr Wayne, a former security guard at Centrelink and child protection worker, joined co-founder Evangeline Tee, whom he met through university, in creating a service that focuses on empowering individuals to live their best lives and achieve their goals.

The business, launched in 2022 and based at level eight of 34 Queen St, offers a range of services including assistance in daily living, community engagement, grocery shopping, attending events, education support, meal preparation, and unwavering attention, among others.

Mr Wayne said their mission was to inspire a brighter future for all – even if it meant some out-of-pocket expenses in cases where the National Disability Insurance Scheme funding had been exhausted for a participant.

“I studied to be in this sector – to build a change, to work with people and that’s what I’m passionate about,” Mr Wayne, who has a post-graduate diploma in psychology, said.

“We go outside the box as well when we work with the family, we look for other options, we gather evidence and gather advocacy.”

Mr Wayne, who was born in India before moving to New Zealand aged 17 where he later graduated with a business degree, came to Melbourne in 2016.



But it was while working in child protection that Mr Wayne had a life-changing moment after witnessing a family being separated due to domestic violence.

“That impacted me. The family didn’t know what support was available out there and the child was living with a disability,” he said.


Mr Wayne said he was determined to make a difference in the disability sector “because the funding is out there but not the right support for people who need it”.


In establishing the North Foundation, Mr Wayne and Ms Tee’s team, including CEO Rubhen Jeya, ensures every individual from diverse disability backgrounds is understood, supported, valued, and put in touch with the appropriate supports.

“We know what they’re facing – it’s a holistic support network that we’re empowering around the participant,” Mr Jeya said.

Among their successful participants is Anthony, who has autism spectrum disorder. He was initially shy and didn’t talk face-to-face, but after undergoing exposure therapy he can now catch public transport independently and has a part-time job at Vinnies, which Anthony said had “transformed my life”.

Mr Wayne and Ms Tee also set up the Social Wellness Foundation, a social café in Fitzroy North that provided participants with practical work experience and classroom-based learning.

Unfortunately, the café was not sustainable after six months, but they are proud of what they were able to achieve.

Looking ahead, the North Foundation continues to grow with more than 150 clients on their books. Such has been their success; the business was a finalist in the City of Yarra’s cultural and diversity award last year.

The North Foundation’s ambassador and City of Melbourne councillor Jamal Hakim said, “I saw firsthand the effort they put in truly delivering for people with disabilities - recognising their whole self”.

“Ramneek and Evangeline are determined to drive change in the industry, so that every single person with a disability has the opportunity to live their life to the fullest.” •

Contact the North Foundation via email or call 03 7009 9091

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