The Story of Ocean Heroes

All children deserve the opportunity to learn social skills, bond with others, and figure out what works for them.

People living with autism face unique challenges that can make it difficult for them to develop self-confidence and make genuine connections.  Learning to surf offers a fun, healthy, and unique way for people on the autism spectrum to develop their confidence, boost self-esteem and make connections with others. That’s why Ocean Heroes was formed by Sam Moyle, Luke Hallam and Tom Johnston in 2016. 

We provide a unique opportunity for people on the autism spectrum to take part in organised sport backed by a highly supported, safe and inclusive environment. By running free events and surf experiences, we offer the autism community the chance to experience the thrill of riding a wave!

Luke Hallam

Co-Founder & WA Operations and Programs Director

Luke has been in the ocean since he was a grommet either surfing, downwind paddling on the famous Freo Doctor seabreeze or competing in long distance paddleboard events.

Luke ran a successful personal training business for 12 years which specialised in training people with disabilities and he developed a program specific to working with people on the Autism Spectrum. Luke's biggest passion is working with people with ASD and their families to access activities they never thought were possible.

There is only one thing Luke loves more than the ocean and this is his dog Hurley the Groodle.

Tom Johnston

Co-Founder & Board Member

Tom Johnston is the owner/operator of Go Surf Perth, a locally run surf school based in Scarborough.

In his previous life he could be found wandering St. Georges Terrace in a suit and tie however decided to swap his suit for a wet one. Tom holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Graduate Certificate in Project Management as well as all relevant first aid and coaching accreditations for the sport of surfing.

He enjoys the challenge of running his small business and in his down time loves to head to Rottnest for surfing and fishing.

Sam Moyle

Co-Founder & NSW Events, Sponsorships and Fundraising

Formerly a Marine Scientist, Sam heads up the team behind NSW Events, Sponsorship and Fundraising. He’s been involved in not-for-profits since early 2000, and has found his passion in sharing the surf stoke with kids on the spectrum.

Sam see's the positive impacts of Ocean Heroes on both the participants and their families, and the importance for inclusion in the broader community

Michaela Jackson

Board Member & Fundraising Coordinator

Michaela started volunteering with Ocean Heroes in 2017. An avid yogi she is an accredited yoga teacher. who loves all things sun and sea. Fun Fact: originally from the North West of WA her first ever trip to Rotto was when she swam there. Renowned for her lemon slice you'll always find a batch for our volunteers at our events.

Garrick Jackson

Chairperson

Garrick joined Ocean Heroes as a Board Member and Chair in 2023. Holding a Business Degree with areas of specialty in marketing, human resources and psychology, Garrick has held leadership roles throughout his career, working across Australia, and Internationally.  Garrick is a self-confessed surf tragic, and heads to the southwest of WA to enjoy all the region has to offer, as often as work, family and Ocean Heroes commitments will allow! A proud family man, Garrick is married and has two daughters, Emma and Zoe.

Steph Hudson

Board Member

Steph has volunteered with Ocean Heroes since 2016, as the beach coordinator at our local events, managing beach crew and time management. She works as a physiotherapist Monday - Friday, and is passionate about helping people.

When she's not at work or the beach you'll find her at the dog park with Hurley the Groodle!

Nando Zappavigna C.A

Board Member

Nando Zappavigna C.A. is an advisor and auditor for the charity with over 20 years’ experience on not-for-profit organisations. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountant Tax Institute of Australia.

We've tried asking him whether we can cash in all those sand dollars the kids find on the beach, but Nando has yet to find a bank that will accept them.

Prof. Andrew Whitehouse

Board Member

Andrew Whitehouse is the Angela Wright Bennett Professor of Autism Research at the Telethon Kids Institute and Professor of Autism Research, at The University of Western Australia. He is also Chief Research Officer of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) and Adjunct Professor at Curtin University and Edith Cowan University.

At the Telethon Kids Institute he leads a large team that use a wide range of methodologies to investigate the early identification and intervention of children with Autism Spectrum Conditions. Andrew has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles and attracted over $35 million in competitive research grants.

He is an advisor to State and Commonwealth Governments on policies relating to children with Autism Spectrum Conditions, and he is currently the Chair of the committee that is generating Australia’s first national guideline for autism diagnosis.

He has also been awarded Australia’s most prestigious scientific award, the Eureka Prize.

Dr. Andrew Haak

Board Member

Dr Haak works at Glengarry Private Hospital, Joondalup Health Campus and consults out of his rooms in Warwick.

Andrew completed his medical training (MBBS) at UWA 2006 and was admitted as a Fellow of Royal Australian College of Physicians (FRACP) in 2013. He has been involved with WA Child & Adolescent Community Health since 2015.

Andrew loves the ocean, and you'll often finding him trading a surfboard for a pair of budgies on a hot summers day!

Xander de Haan

WA Free Event Program Coordinator

Xander started volunteering with Ocean Heroes in 2018. He holds a Bachelor of Psychology and his background resides in the disability sector. He has worked for many years as a support worker for children on the spectrum, as well as an NDIS Support Coordinator.

When he’s not coordinating the WA Free Events, you’ll find him training jiu jitsu or down by his local beach!

 

Louis Kelly

Head Coach Surf Experience Program
Louis first started working for Ocean Heroes mid 2022 as a Surf Coach. Graduating with a Bachelor of Communications and Media (and very unsure of his career path) Louis instead found passion for community through volunteering. This led to a position as a Support Worker, followed by NDIS Support Coordinator, until eventuating to role as Head Coach at Ocean Heroes (thanks to Xander for all of the above, but don't tell him that). 
If you don't see him down at the van trying to squeeze a wave in between Surf Experience sessions, you will find him singing in his band down at a local bar.

Em Saikovski

Volunteer Coordinator
Em works part-time and came on board as our volley coordinator in early 2022, but she'd been a dedicated volunteer herself since 2019. She loves spending time with the Ocean Heroes groms and can be found at her local break trying to hang ten when she's not rounding up volunteers across WA!
On our regional trips Em is known for keeping the team well caffeinated and will always travel with coffee supplies!
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