About Us

Happy Oak is 11 years old, 30 friendly faces, 1 resident dog plus a bunch of incredible kids who inspire us endlessly.

Happy Oak provides early childhood supports to preschool and primary school-aged autistic children. Established in 2013, we are privately owned and boutique by choice. This enables us to be sensitive to each young learner’s neurodiversity and assist them accordingly.

We specialise in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) to teach verbal and/or non-vocal communication and daily living skills. We aim to help build our learner’s independence and a balance of connection with others in a trauma informed way. We want each Happy Oak child to develop a strong sense of their own agency and self.

Our approach isn’t about ‘fixing’ ‘recovering’ or ‘curing’. It’s a highly individualised, caring, data-driven approach that focuses on each child’s special interests and strengths to help each session stay fun and engaging. We want to support the children to allow their personality to shine through. We work with all those involved with the child teaching them acceptance and the ways they can support the child by making changes to the environment making their interactions positive and fulfilling.

We recognise ABA’s chequered history and how the use of some of it’s strategies have raised concerns for many, including autistic individuals who engaged in ABA in the past. These voices are important. ABA remains the most effective learning tool for autistic kids, we will continue to listen, learn and adapt our approach to support our little learners. Happy Oak staff are committed to trauma informed practice. We fully understand and appreciate the importance of those in our care and maintaining positive interactions with people they trust and have a strong rapport with.

Our story



Our story starts with where you are now: a concerned parent with a recently diagnosed child looking for something, anything to help them. And not to harm them.

It was 2010 when Sarah’s three-year-old child was diagnosed autistic. Recent language regression, incredible audible memory, expulsion from toddler music class (despite their musical aptitude) meant autism didn’t come as a complete surprise. However, the hardest part, finding gold standard help, was yet to come.

Sarah’s struggle for appropriate early support became a mission and ultimately an obsession. Her focus and research culminated in the development of a bespoke Verbal Behaviour (VB) Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) program for her child under Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) supervision. This program helped her child’s strengths and amazing personality shine through.

Tineke was Sarah’s nanny while doing her masters of journalism. She met Sarah’s child in 2008 when they were one year old and was so inspired to help, she changed careers pursuing her BCBA certification.

The experience forged a strong bond between the pair. With Tineke investigating ways to improve the approach even more, and Sarah resolving to help other children and their parents with the best support possible.

Today, Sarah and Tineke lead Happy Oak’s operations and clinical direction and are co-owners.

They are proud that Happy Oak was the first Victorian provider to have a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst.

Our philosophies
Sometimes you need to stay small to make the biggest difference.
Naturally we’d like to help as many families as possible. But to ensure we can continue to offer a dedicated, bespoke service, we choose to remain a boutique service. It means we’re nimble enough to stay across new therapeutic developments. More importantly, it means we can develop and maintain meaningful relationships with all of our families.
Anything worth doing is worth doing properly.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
Communication and toilet training are a big deal.
Trust the process.
It takes a village.
Child safety

We believe that all children have the right to learn and thrive in a safe environment. Keeping the children with whom we work safe is the most important thing we do. Happy Oak has zero tolerance for child abuse or harm. We instil in our staff from the commencement of their employment these policies. All staff go through a rigorous screening process at the commencement of their employment at Happy Oak. They have a current working with children checkNDIS worker screening check, and/or current police check, first aid – CPR, asthma, anaphylaxis.

We want everyone who comes to Happy Oak to have the best experience possible.
What are you looking for?