Keynote Speakers

We had the great pleasure of hosting two international keynote speakers at the VHC2019: Stephen Gaetz and Melanie Redman

Stephen Gaetz

President & CEO of Homeless Hub Canada


Dr. Gaetz is the President & CEO of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, one of his key projects is the Homeless Hub, an innovative web-based research library internationally recognized as a leading example of innovation in knowledge mobilization. In 2016, Dr. Gaetz was awarded a Research Impact (Connection) award by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and in 2017 he received the honour of Member of the Order of Canada. As a scholar, Dr. Gaetz has had a long-standing interest in understanding homelessness – its causes, how it is experienced, and potential solutions. His program of research has been defined by his desire to ‘make research matter’ through conducting rigorous scholarly research that contributes to our knowledge base on homelessness and is mobilized so that it has an impact on policy, practice and public opinion. As an internationally recognized leader and innovator in the area of knowledge mobilization, Dr. Gaetz has pioneered efforts to bring together researchers, practitioners, policymakers and people with lived experience of homelessness to participate in a broad agenda of community-engaged scholarship and knowledge creation designed to contribute to solutions to homelessness.

Publications and recent news


Melanie Redman

President & CEO, A Way Home Canada


Melanie Redman is the co-founder and President & CEO of A Way Home Canada. Melanie also leads the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness, which is a national community of practice of youth homelessness service providers committed to reducing the amount of time any young person is in an emergency shelter or mired in homelessness. In her previous role as the Director of National Initiatives at Eva’s Initiatives, Melanie led a national pilot project to support a number of communities to develop targeted strategies to prevent and end youth homelessness. Learning from that project, other communities, and international best practices in planning led to the development of A Way Home’s Youth Homelessness Community Planning Toolkit, which is utilized in communities around the world. Melanie is an internationally-recognized thought leader on utilizing Collective Impact to work across the systems that drive young people into homelessness to ensure they are also part of the solutions.

Publications and recent news



Plenary and concurrent session speakers

Mark Chenery


Co-founder, Common Cause


Mark Chenery is a communications expert and trainer who works with social and environmental organisations to incorporate a science-based approach to values in their work. Since establishing Common Cause Australia in 2014, he has supported dozens of cause-based organisations to embed values in their community engagement and trained over 5,000 campaigners, communicators and fundraisers from Australia and New Zealand to do the same. Prior to establishing Common Cause Australia, Mark worked in advertising, journalism and non-profit communications. 


Cathy Humphrey


CEO, Sacred Heart Mission


Cathy Humphrey has been with Sacred Heart Mission (SHM) for more than 17 years. During this time, she has overseen the operations of SHM’s Client Services, in addition to taking on the CEO role in November 2011. Cathy has been working in the disability, community housing and homelessness sector for more than 27 years.

Currently, Cathy is the Chair of the Board of Council to Homeless Persons - the peak body for not-for-profit organisations working with people who are experiencing homelessness in Victoria. Cathy has qualifications in Social Science Training and Assessment, and Coaching. Cathy’s passion is driven by an interest in people, human rights and a desire to make a difference, and that passion continues to burn brightly through leading the development of innovative solutions to ending chronic homelessness- the Journey to Social Inclusion program.


Dr Gerry Naughtin

Strategic Adviser, Mental Health and Psychosocial Disability in the Strategic Advice, Research and Inclusion Division of the NDIA

Gerry Naughtin is the Strategic Adviser, Mental Health and Psychosocial Disability in the Strategic Advice, Research and Inclusion Division of the NDIA.  He brings extensive experience in the community mental health sector to this position.  Prior to taking up his position with the Agency, he was the Chief Executive of Mind Australia and brings nine years of sector and policy experience to his position.  He was a member of the Independent Advisory Council to the Agency and, along with Janet Meagher, led the IAC’s work on mental health and the NDIS.  He has been a member of the Expert Advisory Group to the Mental Health Service Planning Group and was a member of the VICSERV Board for five years.  Gerry has an extensive career in human services in the disability and aged care sectors and has a strong history of engagement on consumer and carer participation.


David Mackenzie


Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Social Work & Social Policy, University of South Australia

David is an Associate Professor at the University of South Australia with a strong record of research and development on youth issues and youth policy and is widely recognised for his work on youth homelessness. In 2007-2008, he was one of the four Commissioners responsible for the influential National Youth Commission Inquiry into Youth Homelessness [NYC]. David is the founder and current Chair of Youth Development Australia Ltd (YDA), a charitable NGO that operates as a ‘platform for change’ as well as backbone support for the ‘community of schools and youth services’ model of early intervention or COSS Model (The high-profile Geelong Project was the first pilot site). David is the founding Director of Upstream Australia. 


Samantha Sowerwine


Principal lawyer, Justice Connects Homeless Law 


Samantha Sowerwine is Principal Lawyer at Justice Connect Homeless Law. Sam has worked in the community legal sector for 15 years, including at the Homeless Person's Legal Service in Sydney, Victoria Legal Aid, and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. 


The Hon. Bronwyn Pike

Chair of Uniting VicTas and Uniting Care Australia and former Victorian Minister for Housing, Aged Care, Community Services, Health, Education and Workforce Participation


Bronwyn is the Chair of Western Heath and the South Australian Urban Renewal Authority (Renewal SA), and a board member of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration. She is the Chair of Uniting Care Australia and serves on the board of Uniting NSW.ACT. Bronwyn is also a board member of Leap In!

As a consultant, Bronwyn provides strategic planning advice, executive mentoring, and support to nongovernment organisations.

Prior to these roles, Bronwyn was the State member for Melbourne and Victorian Minister for Housing, Aged Care, Community Services, Health, Education and Skills. Her 13-year parliamentary career included 11 years as a minister.

Before entering parliament in 1999, she was the director of justice and social responsibility in the Synod of Victoria.


Bevan Warner


Chief Executive, Launch Housing


Bevan Warner is the current Chief Executive Officer for Launch Housing one of Victoria's largest providers of housing and homeless support services, reaching over 18,000 Victorians each year. As a former Managing Director of Victoria Legal Aid Bevan arranged legal advice and advocacy services for over 90,000 vulnerable Victorians each year.

Central to each role has been a concern for fair treatment of people who are vulnerable and who are exposed to the exercise of power by individuals entrusted to confer entitlements or to sanction fellow citizens.  Each role entails leading a workforce exposed to vicarious trauma, arising from the work itself and exacerbated by the many policy and system failures that set individuals and our community up to fail. 

With a belief and passion for individual human dignity, and the need to create healthy communities, Bevan believes that positive social change will always be people led.


Ashleigh Shanahan


LGBTIQ Homelessness and Family Violence Project Worker, Wombat Housing

Ash is the LGBTI+ Family Violence and Homelessness Project Worker at Wombat Housing and Support Services. This project aims to build capacity within housing, homelessness and family violence services through the development of training, resources and collaborative practice. The project was initially funded by the DHHS and Family Safety Victoria as a year-long pilot, but was refunded until June 2020 by Family Safety Victoria due to the ongoing need to bridge gaps for the LGBTIQ+ community within and between the homelessness and family violence sectors.

Ash has a social work background, and prior to this project role worked as a Specialist Family Violence Advocate, particularly with young people and the LGBTIQ+ community. She is also a co-founder and co-chair of the state-wide LGBTIQA+ Family Violence Network that is now an auspice of Rainbow Health Victoria.


Aleisha Armstrong


Aleisha is a member of the Frontyard Youth Advisory Committee, lending her lived experience to support organisations in better practice, addresses local businesses, community groups and schools to create awareness and provide education on various social issues. By day Aleisha works with Frontyard Youth Services delivering homelessness educations sessions to school groups and she also works for the Big Issue engaging communities. By night Aleisha goes by the name DJ Unleash and is in high demand as a DJ for local events.


Amanda Buchnea

Policy and Planning Coordinator, A Way Home Canada 

Amanda is a social science lover and policy wonk with a passion for creating systems change to solve ‘wicked’ social and economic policy problems. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Toronto’s School of Public Policy and Governance where she specialized in Community Development and worked as the Director of student-led pro-bono policy consulting group, the Public Good Initiative. Amanda works in A Way Home Canada’s Policy & Planning Unit on a range of projects including Canada’s largest national survey on youth homelessness, Without A Home (2019). She is also a member of the Systems Planning Collective where she supports communities across Canada to create and implement housing, homelessness and wellbeing plans by leading community engagement and priority-setting activities, conducting research, data analysis and report-writing. 


Bryan Lipmann AO


CEO, Wintringham

Bryan Lipmann is the CEO and founder of Wintringham, a secular, not-for-profit welfare company employing over 650 people to provide an extensive range of high quality aged care and housing services to elderly men and women, most of whom are homeless. He has worked with elderly homeless people for more than 30 years.

In 2011, the United Nations awarded Wintringham the Habitat Scroll of Honour, the most prestigious human settlements award in the world, and in 2012 Bryan was invited by the OECD to join an international panel of experts on Integrated Services and Housing in Paris in 2012.

Bryan was awarded an Order of Australia in 1999 and in 2015 was the Melburnian of the Year.

In 2018 Wintringham received the Hesta Award for its outstanding contribution to the social justice of ageing Australians experiencing homelessness in Victoria.


Carol Vale

Head of Strategy, McAuley Community Services for Women

Carol Vale is presently the Head of Strategy  at McAuley Community Services for Women.

McAuley  provides accommodation, advocacy  and support for women who are homeless and women and children experiencing  family violence.

After 18 years as Executive Director of Bethlehem Community Inc, Carol led the integration of the Bethlehem Community program into Sacred Heart Mission’s Women’s Services as well as the cultural change process. She has worked in the homeless sector for over 25 years and has vast experience in project management, direct service delivery, networking and advocacy.

Carol was a founding  member and  Convenor of Shekinah Homeless Services for over 10 years and has represented the homeless sector on several Boards and reference groups, including 10 years on the Council of Catholic Social Services Victoria.


Dr Jacqui Theobold

Social Work, Latrobe Rural Health School

Jacqui’s areas of research interest include gender-based violence and homelessness and their related policy and practice responses. She is the co-author with Suellen Murray and Judy Smart of From the Margins to the Mainstream: The Domestic Violence Services Movement in Victoria Australia 1974-2016.  Jacqui has experience collaborating successfully with industry partners across a range of contexts and conducting qualitative research involving in-depth-interviews with diverse groups including women experiencing violence and homelessness. She is a qualified social worker and has worked in related fields in direct practice, policy development and advocacy in government and non-government organisations in Melbourne and Adelaide.


Jeanette Large

CEO, Women’s Property Initiatives

Jeanette Large is the CEO of Women’s Property Initiatives (WPI). WPI creates new beginnings for women facing homelessness by providing affordable, permanent homes. It currently houses over 220 women and children around Melbourne. Jeanette has extensive experience across the housing sector: from running refuges and local housing groups, to management roles in government departments. She has worked in youth housing and led a support service for homeless women. Advocating for and working towards the provision of good quality, safe, secure and affordable housing as a human right has been a passion for many years. By working innovatively with public, corporate, philanthropic and non-government partners, Jeanette has increased the organisation’s size and influence. Jeanette’s vision is to help disadvantaged women achieve independence by providing safe, secure, appropriate and inclusionary housing. She believes this will help to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. 


Jenny Samms

Lead consultant for the Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework 

Jenny Samms is a non-Executive Director on a number of Boards and undertakes consultancy work mainly in the NFP sector. She is currently, developing the Victorian Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Framework with Aboriginal Housing Victoria and the Victorian Aboriginal community.  Previously  she was the CEO of Aboriginal Housing Victoria. During her time as CEO she led the organisation to achieve Housing Association status and successfully negotiated the historic transfer of ownership of the nearly 1500 DHHS properties that AHV was managing.

She is also an Adjunct with the School of Political & Social Inquiry, Monash University, Director Foyer Foundation and a Fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs & Administration (Victorian Branch)

Jenny’s professional career has spanned 35 years in the Commonwealth and Victorian public services including Departments of Education, Labour, Aboriginal Affairs, Premier and Cabinet and Planning and Community Development. She has held a number of senior executive positions at Deputy Secretary and Executive Director level, focussing on developing and implementing improved social policy and educational and employment opportunities for all Victorians.


Dr Kathryn Taylor

Swinburne University

Dr Taylor is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychology Board of Australia-approved supervisor.  She is the inaugural Convener and National Chair of the Australian Psychological Society Interest Group on Psychology and Homelessness.  Since 2002, Dr Taylor has worked both in the homelessness sector and in homelessness research.  Much of her clinical and research work has focussed on trauma and the assessment and treatment of trauma-related mental health conditions.  She has been invited to present her work on numerous occasions and her research has been published in international journals.  Currently Dr Taylor is a PhD Public Health candidate at Swinburne University.  Her research contributes to the ongoing evaluation of Sacred Heart Mission’s Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program.



Mark Planigale

CEO, Lirata and lead consultant for the CHP Outcomes Project

Mark Planigale is the CEO of Lirata Ltd (www.lirata.com), a not-for-profit social justice consultancy. Lirata works across the health, human services and education sectors around Australia to strengthen policy, practice and advocacy. Mark has a twenty year history of work in the housing and homelessness sector, as a crisis support worker, IAP worker, tenant advocate, manager, researcher and consultant.

Mark has been reviewing and evaluating homelessness programs since 2005, and is currently leading Lirata’s evaluation of The Geelong Project, a collective impact early intervention model for young people at risk of homelessness and educational disengagement. Mark has particular expertise in outcome measurement. Mark has led Lirata’s collaborative work with CHP over the past three years to build outcome measurement capacity in the homelessness sector in Victoria.


Meriki Onus

Advocacy Adviser, Djirra– Resolving homelessness for women and children experiencing family violence

Meriki is the advocacy advisor in the policy team at Djirra, and has been working in Aboriginal community control all her working life and is passionate about ending gendered and state violence against Aboriginal women.  She is a Gunnai and Gundijtmara woman born on Wurunjeri country and grew up in Bung Yarnda and Portland, Western District.


Rob Ellis

State Manager Youth (VIC), Salvation Army 

Rob has held a variety of positions within TSA with significant management experience in Youth Housing and Homelessness responses.  Rob has developed innovative youth accommodation options across the state, with a particular focus to crisis, refuge & psychosocial & education focused accommodation options. Rob has designed, implemented & managed a range of programs & services in the youth sector in Victoria over the past 25 years, with specialist skills & qualifications in mental health & AOD, youth offending populations, Male family violence & (ADVITH), young people with high & complex support needs and program design & evaluation.  


Sherri Bruinhout

Director Housing Pathways and Outcomes, Department of Health and Human Services

Sherri Bruinhout is Director of Housing Pathways and Outcomes at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  She has worked for over 20 years in government and non-government settings, contributing to youth homelessness, affordable housing and community inclusion sectors.

Sherri’s DHHS portfolio is responsible for the Homelessness and Accommodation Support team which includes program strategy and policy of homelessness support services across metropolitan Melbourne and greater Victoria. This portfolio also includes responsibility for operational housing policy in public housing to enhance the experience of Victoria’s public housing communities.


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