Keynote speaker


Professor Eoin O'Sullivan 

Professor O’Sullivan is based at Trinity College Dublin and is a leading academic on homelessness in Europe, and editor of the European Journal of Homelessness. His particular experience relates to housing led approaches to ending homelessness, and to ending homelessness for young people who are experiencing more entrenched homelessness


Lucy Adams

Manager and Principal Lawyer, Homeless Law

Lucy Adams is the manager and principal lawyer of Justice Connect Homeless Law, a specialist legal service for Victorians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

In 2013, Lucy undertook a Churchill Fellowship, travelling to nine international cities and speaking with 60 experts about homelessness and the regulation of public space. Her work with Homeless Law is focussed on preventing homelessness and reducing the negative impact of the law on people experiencing homelessness. In 2016, she was the Law Institute of Victoria’s Community Lawyer of the Year.


Dr Cal Andrews

LGBTI Homelessness Research Project, Gay and Lesbian Foundation of Australia & The University of Melbourne



Dr Justin Barker

Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University

Justin Barker is an urban anthropologist whose work has examined youth homelessness, homeless fathers, homelessness and the role of family, domestic and family violence, program evaluation, and service use with vulnerable population groups. Prior to his career as a researcher Justin was a homelessness worker in Adelaide and Canberra. This experience led onto his PhD at ANU that examined the lives of homeless young people (16-25 years) in Canberra, providing ethnographic insights into the conditions of youth homelessness. 



Jane Barnes

Salvation Army – Adult Services

Jane Barnes has worked with The Salvation Army since 1993 and is General Manager of the Adult Services Network in Melbourne.  Adult Services is an integrated network of support and related services including Homelessness, Mental Health, Alcohol and other Drugs, Justice, Disability and Aged Care.  Jane was a member of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Homelessness from 2000 – 2003, a member of the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committee on Mental Health from 2005 – 2010, a member of the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Committee on Homelessness from 2011 – 2013 and is currently a member of the Ministerial Taskforce on Rough Sleeping.




Cassandra Bawden

Team Leader, Peer Education and Support Program, Council to Homeless Persons

Cassandra has been the team leader of the Peer Education Support Program (PESP) since 2011, after joining CHP as a member of the inaugural PESP team in 2005. Cassandra’s focus is on increasing consumer participation across the sector and promoting consumer rights. Cassandra has also helped to develop consumer articles for Parity Magazine.



John Blewonski

Chair, Council to Homeless Persons

John Blewonski has been the Chief Executive Officer for both VincentCare Victoria and VincentCare Community Housing since February 2010. 

Previously John has held various senior positions with Anglicare Victoria at both state and national levels.  John is a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Associate Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a Graduate of the Harvard University Strategic Perspectives in NonProfit Management.



Trevor Brown

Peer Education and Support Program, Council to Homeless Persons

Trevor is a passionate film maker, balancing his film production studies with his work at CHP. He enjoys filming his work with fellow PESP team members and posting them on his YouTube channel “Weekly Catch Up - Out and About with Trev”. Trevor enjoys working to influence policy and decision making and is a powerful advocate for increasing affordable housing.



Sue Carlile

CEO, Family Access Network

Sue Carlile is the CEO of Family Access Network (FAN), a small organisation, located in Box  Hill - providing a range of services for young people, young parents and accompanying children, and same sex attracted transgender intersex (SSATI) young people, experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  Sue has worked in the homelessness sector for 32 years, and prior to that youth justice and local government. 

FAN established a statewide response for same sex attracted transgender intersex young people in 2006, which include transitional housing and support, housing establishment fund and a weekly social support – Eastern Diversity Group. The establishment of this response included an all of organisation approach and training, audit of assessment processes, documentation, images and language, and a staff led SSATI Portfolio.  A practice guide which outlines FAN’s approach was developed in 2008 and shared broadly with the sector.

Sue was on the steering committee for the development of the Rainbow Tick Standards and evidence guide.  FAN successfully achieved Rainbow Tick Accreditation in 2014, and is about to undertake it for the second time in November this year.

Research and innovative projects and partnerships are actively supported by FAN; current research LGBTIQ & Homelessness, where FAN is one of the four case study organisations. 



Kate Colvin 

Manager - Policy and Communications, Council to Homeless Persons

Kate is responsible for CHP’s policy and strategic communications. With over 20 years’ experience in policy and advocacy roles, Kate has led sector campaigns on housing affordability and minimum rental standards, as well as climate change and transport issues. Kate played a key role in the Australians for Affordable Housing campaign, and led the national Vote Home campaign over the 2016 federal election.



Rachelle Driver

Women's Homelessness Prevention Project Liaison Officer, Homeless Law



Mark Dixon

General Manager, Homelessness Services, UnitingCare Harrison

I have worked in varies staff and management roles in Homelessness services City, metro and country for over 26 years,

Current Senior Manager Uniting Harrison, Open Door, Rooming House, PRAP, Youth / Transitional Homelessness, Creating Connections, CEEP, Leaving care Transitional, APTCH, Tenancy Plus.

Member for 12 months of the UnitingCare Vic & Tas Social Housing project control group to look at innovative strategies to grow the a Social Housing portfolio. 

Current active member of the DHHS Victorian Housing Register working group, reviewing and testing the web based VHR application, policies and procedures.

Housing Service Manager OoH EMR.

Regional Manager SalvoCare THM, Open Door and Gateways Programs in EMR.

Project Manager and then ongoing Manager Gateway Crisis Accommodation Services Croydon. Coordinated set up of Getaways family units and Rooming house, office, security with DHS and COMAC. Set up service model, policies, procedures, employed and trained staff team for 24/7 roster. Successfully partitioned DHS to have 6 family units on site. Developed after hours client intake processes with 5 Open Doors across the EMR.

Manager of Salvation Army Crisis Accommodation Centre St Kilda (CAC). One of the “On call” managers for St Kilda Crisis Contact Centre. Coordinated the Salvation Army State Wide “After Hours” Crisis line response after hours through the refuge. Advocated with Business manager for a new purposed built cluster site to replace existing refuge building.


Faye Chapman

Child and Family Services Ballarat (CAFS)  

My name is Faye, I am a proud Barkindji woman, born in Wentworth, New South Wales on the junction of the Murray and Darling rivers near Mildura.

As part of the Stolen Generation I have a personal and intimate understanding of loss of culture, family and dignity, forced on thousands of my people for such a long and painful period in our history.

Working as an advocate for over 10 years, I have attended numerous training programs relating to my role and have attained my Certificate IV in Social Housing. My experience and training relating to the Residential Tenancies Act has equipped me with the skills to represent and strongly advocate for members of the Aboriginal Community at VCAT (Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal) this ensures that the most equitable outcomes are reached to maintain and keep my clients tenancies secure. 

I have worked in a wide range of fields including the Magistrates Court, Bailiffs Office for several years, in retail and for a number of years I developed and managed my own small business before being approached by PACT Community Support, which has evolved into my current role with CAFS



Karen Derschow

Ngwala Willumbong



Sandy Forbes

NOUS Group

Sandy is a principal in Nous’ Public Policy practice and leads the Nous human services sector work. She has senior executive experience in policy, strategic planning and service delivery in human services, health and education. She particularly has extensive consulting experience in developing approaches to service delivery to vulnerable individuals, families and communities.

Since joining Nous Sandy has led a number of projects including:

  • Leading the development of a multi-agency client coordination and outcomes framework for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to improve and monitor individual outcomes for people who are sleeping rough in the Melbourne CBD.

  • Leading a longitudinal evaluation for Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria to determine the social and economic impacts of a housing and support model for people with mental illness.

  • Facilitation of the Ministerial Forum on Housing Reform for DHHS.

Prior to Nous, Sandy was Director of Policy and Strategic Projects in DHHS where she led the development of the partnership with the community sector, the Forward Plan for Women’s Health, the Aboriginal Services Plan and established the Diversity Unit to drive improved services to women and multicultural communities. 


Poppy Fotiadis

Melbourne City Mission, Frontyard Youth Services

Poppy Fotiadis is a Community Development Worker in the Family Reconciliation Mediation Program (FRMP) at Frontyard Youth Services, Melbourne City Mission. Established in 2005, FRMP is a state-wide program funded by the Department of Health and Human Services for workers to assist young people aged 16–25 years that are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Poppy has over 23 years’ experience in working with government departments, local government, community agencies and CALD and Aboriginal groups since graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Sociology) in 1985. Poppy has held several positions relating to youth affairs some of which have included; Community Access and Youth Liaison Officer with the Victorian Ombudsman, Policy Officer, with the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria, Co-coordinator, Refugee Youth Pathways Program with the Centre for Multicultural Youth Issues and Youth Services Officer for the City of Melbourne.



Sally Goldner

Executive Director, Transgender Victoria



Mark Rosser

Director Scheme Strategies, Scheme practice approaches, Participants and planing, National Disability Insurance Agency

Mark Rosser is the Director of Scheme Strategies at the national office of the NDIA.

Mark oversees the development of strategies to effectively engage with and maximise the benefits of the NDIS for particular population groups. These groups include; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Rural and Remote, CALD, LGBTIQA+ and Hard to Reach.

Mark has a background in homelessness, mental health and disability, working extensively in the community/non-profit sector for more than 20  years.



Lanie Harris 

Media and Communications Coordinator, Council to Homeless Persons

Lanie helps enhance awareness of homelessness, influence policy decisions and create understanding of homelessness solutions via a range of media and communication activities at Council to Homeless Persons. 

Lanie has worked across a range of private sector, not-for-profit, tertiary education and government business enterprises in corporate affairs and media capacities. Her roles have included National Media Manager and External Affairs at Australia Post, Media and Communications Manager at Connex and Metro Trains and co-ordinating the campaign communications for a national anti-tobacco project at Menzies Indigenous Research Centre.




Dr Jess Heerde

The University of Melbourne

Dr. Jess Heerde, The University of Melbourne. Jess is a Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne. For over 10 years she has conducted qualitative and quantitative research focusing on the influence of modifiable factors on the health and behaviour of Australian youth, with a specialised focus on homeless youth. Jess’ research seeks to inform prevention and early intervention programs leading to improving the lives of young Australians and their families. She has published over 50 refereed journal articles, book chapters and reports, predominately in the area of homeless youths’ health and behaviour. Jess continues to ensure the dissemination of her research findings at the grassroots level through community engagement and research-industry collaborations.


Andrew Hollows

Executive General Manager - Research, Policy and Service Development, Launch Housing



Dr Heather Holst

Deputy CEO, Launch Housing

Heather Holst is Deputy CEO of Launch Housing, a Melbourne-based, independent homelessness NGO.
Heather has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Melbourne and has published scholarly articles and a book, as well as lecturing for several years.

Heather’s housing experience spans homelessness service delivery, tenant advice, policy, program development, research and service coordination in both the non-profit sector and government since 1989. Heather has contributed to key housing and homelessness innovations, including redesigning access to Victorian services and as the designer of HomeGround Real Estate.


Cathy Humphrey

CEO Sacred Heart Mission, and Deputy Chair, Council to Homeless Persons

Cathy Humphrey is CEO of Sacred Heart Mission, an organisation that works with people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Cathy Humphrey has been with the Mission for more than eleven years. During this time, she has overseen the operations of a number of different services in the capacity of General Manager, in areas including Aged Care, Sacred Heart Central, Women’s Services and the Rooming House Plus Project, in addition to taking on the CEO role in November 2011. 

Cathy has been working in the disability, community housing and homelessness sector since 1993, and since 1996 she has been working in areas more specifically focused on people experiencing homelessness, both in Government and in various not for profit organisations.



Professor Guy Johnson

Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT University

Professor Johnson is the inaugural Unison Housing Chair of Urban Housing and Homelessness. He leads the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT University, a unique education and research collaboration between RMIT University and Unison Housing. The LaB was established in 2017 and is funded for five years to undertake an innovative research program informed by the experiences of service users and providers. Prior to his appointment, he was Director of the Centre for Applied Social Research (CASR) at RMIT University.

Professor Johnson has been involved in the area of housing and homelessness for over two decades. His research investigates theoretical and applied questions relating to the dynamics of homelessness and housing. His research has contributed extensively to government policy and agency practice that address the housing and support needs of disadvantaged and low-income households.

He is currently an Honorary Principal Research Fellow at The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, and in 2015 spent 12 months in the US as a Visiting Scholar at the School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania.



Melanie Jones

Lead the Way



Anna Wark

Practice Leader, Service Development, Launch Housing

Anna joined the Service Development team at Launch after the successful completion of a Master of Public Health, majoring in Gender and Health at the University of Melbourne in 2015. In this role Anna has been involved in increasing consumer participation, improving data quality and has worked to ensure services are LGBTI inclusive. Prior to this, Anna worked in various direct service delivery roles at the organisation including in Initial Assessment and Planning (IAP) and within the Families Team. Anna is passionate about health equity and its intersection with housing and homelessness. 



Sally Kenyon

Lawyer, Homeless Law




Asami Koike

Registered Music Therapist, Melbourne City Mission

Asami is a music therapist who introduced and implemented the music therapy program at Frontyard Youth Services in December 2015.



Angela Kyriakopoulos

Council to Homeless Persons

Angela is responsible for Council to Homeless Person's Homelessness Advocacy Service (HAS). With more than 25 years of experience behind her in the tenancy, housing and homelessness sector, Angela passionately supports consumers through advocacy, negotiation and conflict resolution work. Angela also provides advice to community services staff on how to advocate for their clients.




Belinda Lack 

Digital Communications Officer, Council to Homeless Persons



Emma Ladd 

General Manager, Quality and Service Development, Wellways Australia 

Emma Ladd has worked in community managed mental health services for 20 years. A trained psychotherapist and rehabilitation specialist, she has led organisational change in recovery oriented practice and evidence based practice. In her current role as General Manager of Quality and Service Development at Wellways Australia, Emma oversees the development of the peer workforce and the creation of leadership opportunities for people with lived experience.



Dan Laws

Ngwala Willumbong

Daniel Laws is proud to have been born on the traditional lands of the Yorta Yorta people at Cummeragunja, on the New South Wales side of the Dhungala (Murray River). The strength of his culture has lead to his professional achievements, with particular focus on responses to the disproportionately high representation of Aboriginal people who are exposed to homelessness.

Dan began his career within his community as the Aboriginal Liaison officer at Centrelink for several years and later accepted a position at Ngwala Willumbong Co-Operative. His early career was in Drug and Alcohol and soon after, Housing Support. During this time he noted a lack of Culturally appropriate services, practise and responses for Aboriginal community and endeavoured to address this topic in mainstream circles. The aim being to gain Autonomous Aboriginal housing programs, to provide greater options to Aboriginal community, to educate mainstream services on culturally safe practise, and highlight the need for Aboriginal housing.

During this time Dan sat on the Board of Directors for Homelessness Australia, represented his community on ATAR reference groups across the state, Local Area Service Networks, and various Aboriginal Network Groups. Dan has initiated strong relationships between Federal and State housing sectors and the Aboriginal community.

Currently Dan is the Victorian Aboriginal Statewide Homelessness Network Coordinator and the manager of the housing programs within  Ngwala Willumbong Co-Operative.

He loves is sport and actively plays golf and is an avid follower of the Collingwood football Club based in Melbourne

Above all this family and friends play the biggest part in his life and mean the most.


Jody Letts

Peer Education and Support Program, Council to Homeless Persons

Jody became a member of PESP in 2016. Her experience of a number of systems; homelessness, veterans affairs, health and welfare inspires her to improve systems co-ordination and design to remove barriers to access and support. Jody aspires to work in veterans affairs to inform an improved response to homelessness.



Eveanne Liddle

Southern office, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA)



Allan Martin

Peer Education and Support Program, Council to Homeless Persons

Allan has worked with PESP for 10 years. A large body of ’s work has been lifting the veil on rooming house conditions and advocating for regulation and legislation to improve conditions for people living in them. A long-standing member of the North and West Homelessness Action Group, Allan is now on the steering committee for a community art project, Different Voices Common Goals.



Associate Professor David Mackenzie

Swinburne Institute for Social ResearchSwinburne University



Fiona McCormack

Domestic Violence Victoria



Paul McDonald

CEO, Anglicare Victoria

Paul is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare Victoria, the State’s leading Agency in delivering out of home care and family support to vulnerable children young people and families. The organisation is renowned for being Australia’s leading edge provider to disadvantaged children, young people and families.

His previous positions have included being the Deputy Secretary in the Department of Human Services responsible for the leadership and management of Victoria’s Child Protection Services and Youth Justice Program. He also led the Governments response to the heroin overdose crisis that captured Melbourne in the late 1990’s to early 2000. He won, on behalf of the Department of Human Services, the Prime Minister’s Award for his Department’s work in harm minimisation during that time.

He is Founder and National Chair of the Home Stretch Campaign, ( a national campaign which seeks to stop young people in state care becoming homeless, unemployed or in prison when they have their care terminated at 18 years. He leads this evolving national campaign calling for the States to allow the option of state care extending through to 21 years. The campaign is in every state in Australia and regularly features in the media.

He has chaired nationally significant inquiries in the areas of Alcohol Advertising, and Inhalants Abuse, on behalf of the Australian Government, and his recommendations have led to new approaches to the problems of petrol and paint sniffing amongst indigenous youth.



Wayne Merritt

General Manager (Acting), Homelessness and Justice, Melbourne City Mission



Lisa Morgan

Co-ordinator, Gippsland Homelessness Network




Dr Anita Morris, PhD

Department of Health and Human Services

Dr Anita Morris is DHHS Principal Practitioner Family Violence and Project Lead of the SWIFT Collaboration, a trauma informed model of care being trialled in paediatric settings.  Most recently Dr Morris was Allied Health Manager of Social Work and Pastoral Care at Western Health. She holds an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and is a Board Member at McAuley Community Services for Women. Dr Morris has worked across family violence, public health, education and community settings for over 20 years, has a strong interest in trauma informed care and gained her PhD in health responses to children experiencing family violence. 



Tony Nicholson

Executive Director, Brotherhood of St Laurence 

Tony Nicholson is Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne.

In January 2017, the Victorian Government asked Tony to assist it in developing a strategy to reduce rough sleeping throughout the State.



Professor Eoin O’Sullivan

School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin

Professor O’Sullivan is based at Trinity College Dublin and is a leading academic on homelessness in Europe, and editor of the European Journal of Homelessness. His particular experience relates to housing led approaches to ending homelessness, and to ending homelessness for young people who are experiencing more entrenched homelessness



Kate Paterson

Consultant with a background in advocating for appropriate housing and support for people with psycho-social disability

Kate has over 20 years experience in policy and program development, strategic planning and project management in health, mental health, housing, disability and children's services. Working in both State and Commonwealth Governments, and in the community sector, she has played significant roles in policy and program development for community mental health service delivery, and housing and support for people with a mental illness.

Since 2015 Kate has been working in her own consultancy practice. Her clients include homelessness, mental health, community health and health services. Her work encompasses small research and evaluation projects through to service development. She has a commitment to partnership approaches, and facilitation and consultation are key aspects of her service offering. Currently, much of her work is focused on supporting services to understand and respond to the ever changing service system, including the NDIS. 



Danny Pearson MP

State Member for Essendon

Danny Pearson was elected MLA for Essendon in 2014.  He was Senior Advisor to Premier Steve Bracks from 1999-2000 and founder of Connect 2 Government Public Relations Consultants and Agents.  He is a member of the Australian Workers Union, Collingwood Football Club, Early Learning Association Australia (life member), Essendon Historical Society and American Chamber of Commerce in Australia.



Michael Perusco

CEO, Unison Housing



Chris Povey

Head of Policy and Research, Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and on the Board of Directors, Council to Homeless Persons

Chris is the Manager of the Mental Health and Disability Advocacy (MHDA) Program at Victoria Legal Aid (VLA).  The MHDA provides a statewide service that assists people with mental health issues, and those with cognitive and neurological disabilities. This service works to ensure that this group is afforded fair and humane treatment under the law and works to uphold the right of people to participate in decisions that affect them.

Prior to joining VLA, Chris has held previous positions as Manager and Principal Lawyer of the Homeless Law program at Justice Connect, and as Principal Lawyer with the Tenants Union of Victoria. In 2010 Chris was awarded a Churchill Fellowship focussing on sustaining housing for tenants experiencing disadvantage.



Mirella Rao

Flexible Outreach Support Service Coordinator, Launch Housing

Mirella has qualifications in social work, theology and policy and has worked in a variety of roles of the years.

She has been employed at Launch Housing Collingwood for the last 7 years in her capacity as a coordinator of an outreach team


Aisha Rizanovic

Young person with an experience of out-of-home care



Steven Roche

Research Associate, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University

Steven is a research officer at the Institute of Child Protection Studies (ICPS) at the Australian Catholic University and a PhD candidate in the Department of Social Work at Monash University. Following several years of social work practice,

Steven has worked on research projects investigating identity construction among homeless men, children’s safety in institutions and in residential care, the post-settlement experiences of children and their families from a refugee background, father’s experiences of homelessness, the relationship between family conflict and youth homelessness, as well as policy and practice in the out-of-home care sector.

Steven completed a Master of Social Policy from the University of Melbourne in 2016 and has published in Australian Social Work, The British Journal of Social Work, Children and Youth Services Review and Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies



Jason Russell

Peer Education and Support Program, Council to Homeless Persons

Jason is a committed volunteer, working with both CHP’s PESP and St Mark’s meals programs. He works passionately to further community understanding of what its like for someone to be without a home. His presentation of the Walk in My Shoes tours are having a powerful impact on those who participate, including the politicians who joined him for Homelessness Week. Jason hopes to establish a bush rehab and provide peer support to help people to overcome drug misuse.


Sami Shah - Awards Presentertre

Comedian, ABC RN, ABC Melbourne, The Project and more

Sami Shah is a multi-award winning writer and comedian. He's been profiled in the New York Times, ABC's The Australian Story, BBC Radio 4, NPR, and appeared on QI with Stephen Fry and The Project.

Sami has been performing award-winning and highly acclaimed comedy for over a decade, and used his acerbic wit to address world affairs and social issues, in comedy clubs and even international platforms like TEDx. 

His autobiography, "I, MIGRANT" (Allen & Unwin) has been nominated for the NSW Premier's Literary Award, WA Premier's Literary Award, and the Russell Prize for Humour Writing. His first novel "FIRE BOY"(Fantastica) was released in 2016, and is now available in South Asia as "The Boy of Fire and Earth" (Picador). His latest non-fiction book is "THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AUSTRALIA" (Harper Collins). 

Sami has written columns for national and international newspapers and magazines, short stories for anthologies, and documentaries for radio. He's currently based in Melbourne, and is a frequent contributor to ABC RN and ABC Melbourne.



Jenny Smith

Council to Homeless Person

Jenny’s professional life has been dedicated to the public sector.  This includes 25 years in leadership and management roles in policy,  management, government, in training and service delivery, and in health, mental health, community health and community sectors.

Jenny joined the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) in 2011, following her role as General Manager Medical Services at St Vincent’s in Fitzroy. There her responsibilities included emergency demand, addiction medicine, correctional health and mental health.

Jenny began her career as a social worker and family therapist. She has since completed a Master’s degree in social work and a Master’s qualification in public policy and management. She is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has considerable experience as a Board director of community sector agencies and she is currently Chair of Homelessness Australia.

Across her career, Jenny has partnered with colleagues to author a number of papers published in refereed journals. These include the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, Australian Social Work and The British Journal of Psychiatry.

Jenny is passionate about applying her skills and experience to ending homelessness and about working in partnership with those who have experienced homelessness, the specialist homelessness sector, public sector providers, government and the philanthropic and corporate communities.



Josh Smith

Director, Human Services at Department of Premier and Cabinet

Josh Smith,  is a Dunghutti man from Northern NSW and is currently the Director Human Services, Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The Human Services Branch in DPC strives to improve outcomes for vulnerable Victorians by providing authorative advice to the Premier and working with our partners across government and within community to drive systemic reforms to deliver human services that are structured around people, and that recognise the importance of relationships and partnerships in achieving positives outcomes.

Formally the Director, Diverse Communities, Family Violence and Service Delivery Reform in DPC, Josh had policy oversight for all Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations specific to diverse communities and primary responsibility for partnering across government, sectors and community engagement structures to embed an understanding and responsiveness to diverse communities in the design and accessibility of family violence reform. This included creating engagement channels and building responsiveness to: Aboriginal communities; diverse cultural, linguistic and faith communities; LGBTI communities; women with disabilities; seniors; women in prison, women in the sex industry, male victims; and rural and regional communities.

Josh has extensive executive experience across health, human services, family violence and justice portfolios and has worked in the community sector as a Criminal Law Solicitor at the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service. 



Mark Smoljo

Community Housing Federation of Victoria

Mark Smoljo is the Tenancy and Property consultant at the Community Housing Federation of Victoria (CHFV), where he has worked since 2003. His current roles include co-ordinating the THM sector group, running the Residential Tenancies Act/VCAT help line for CHFV members and representing the community housing sector on the VCAT Residential Tenancies Users Group and the Residential Tenancies Act Review.


Theresa Swanborough OAM

Royal District Nursing Service and on the Board of Directors, Council to Homeless Persons

Theresa has been part of the RDNS Homeless Persons Program (RDNS HPP) for the last 25 years, the last 23 years as the Manager.  Theresa has held positions on Ministerial advisory committees; numerous community-based committees, and was the President of Council to Homeless Persons Victoria 1995-2001.

Theresa is an unstoppable advocate for sustainable structural changes that prevent homelessness and for a service system that can effectively identify, respond and support people who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless.

In 2002 Theresa received an Order of Australia Medal for her work both as a nurse and as an advocate on homelessness issues.



Jo Swift

CEO, Kids Under Cover

Jo Swift joined Kids Under Cover 15 years ago, and in 2017 celebrates 10 years as CEO.
Under her leadership, Kids Under Cover has seen significant growth in personnel, revenue, and service delivery, as the organisation continues to fight to prevent young people from becoming homeless.

Jo oversees a team of 19 staff to deliver two core programs; Studio Program and Scholarship Program.
Stakeholder management and business development make up a large part of Jo’s role, however one phone call can turn her whole week upside down. “That's the nature of dealing with families and young people in crisis. Everything becomes immediate and time is of the essence."

For Jo, watching a young person join a Kids Under Cover program and seeing them progress through life with the help of a studio and scholarship, is one of the most rewarding aspects of her role.

"In the beginning, we have a person who is lost and disenfranchised. What we end up with is a young person coming out the other side full of hope, confidence and opportunity. This is why I get out of bed every day and continue to do what I do: having the power to change someone's life."




Christine Thirkell

Peer Education and Support Program, Council to Homeless Persons

Christine is a Teacher, Art Therapist and is currently studying to become a Counsellor. She was recruited to PESP in 2016.

Christine is a strong advocate for improved systems access and responses for people in crisis, including health, mental health, homelessness and housing. She hopes to work in community services in the near future. Christine is currently the face of CHP’s campaign for 100,000 Homes.  




Paul Turton

Seniior Manager, Melbourne City Mission

Paul Turton is the senior manager of Melbourne City Mission’s ‘Youth and Family Homelessness Services’ team.  He works with a highly skilled team of case managers, crisis workers and youth coaches who support young people, adults and families who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Paul has worked across the community sector for over 25 years in roles such as youth work, counselling, clinical supervision, training and community development. He has worked with Melbourne City Mission for over eleven years, providing pastoral care, counselling, management and leadership in early intervention and crisis homelessness support services, including the Family Reconciliation and Mediation Program (FRMP).

Core principles that influence Paul’s leadership include person-centred practice, inclusion, creativity and justice. Paul has a strong commitment to developing family responsive practices that integrate peer learning and coaching frameworks.

Paul has completed clinical research that explored experiences of personal transformation using collaborative and qualitative research methodologies (Grounded Theory), has presented at numerous conferences on Homelessness (Chair and Keynote presentation at the ‘National Homelessness Conference’, Sydney - July 2015; Keynote at ‘The Future of Welfare in Australia’, Melbourne - Oct 2014; Quantum Conference, Morwell – 2014; and the 'End Youth Homelessness' conference, Sydney – Nov 2011).  


Jamie Waring

Service Manager of 'Wadamba Wilam' at Neami National



David Wells

General Manager - Early Years, Education & Employment, Melbourne City Mission

Dave has a range of experiences in the community services sector, holding a number of leadership roles within the youth services & education portfolios. Working across a range of organisations in both NZ and Australia has provided Dave with wide exposure to community service models & practices. Dave is keenly aware of the important role education plays from day one of people's lives and throughout their journey. For this reason Dave is passionate about ensuring every individual receives a quality start & a solid education regardless of the situation they are born into, and whatever barriers they come up against. Dave has a Masters in Theology and post graduate qualifications in both philosophy & education.


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