Our board

Chair: John Blewonski 

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. 

John’s commitment to the Board of the Council to Homeless Persons is founded on the value he ascribes to the important leadership and support roles that peak bodies perform, most importantly CHPs ability to advocate and give voice to people who have lived the homelessness experience and be an effective influencing agent.


Deputy Chair: Cathy Humphrey 

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.


Treasurer: Michael Deschepper

Michael is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Wintringham and its subsidiary Wintringham Housing Limited which has the mission of providing dignified, affordable, high-quality housing, accommodation, and support services to frail, elderly men and women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Michael is a chartered accountant with over 20 years’ experience in the corporate sector, both in Australia and overseas and now at Wintringham.


CHP Board of Directors

Lucy Adams Justice Connect

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.


Jane Barnes, Salvation Army

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.


Sue Carlile

Sue Carlile is the CEO of Family Access Network (FAN), a small organisation, located in the Eastern Division, based at Box Hill.  The organisation, now in its 33rd year provides a range of services for young people – including same sex attracted transgender intersex, young parents and accompanying children, experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

Sue has worked in the homelessness sector for almost 30 years, and prior to that juvenile justice and local government and has been involved in a number of Boards at local and state level throughout her career.

Sue has been an accredited reviewer with QICSA (now QIP), since 2005.


Michael Horn 

Michael Horn is a Social Research Consultant based in Melbourne working primarily with innovative not-for-profits. Michael has over 28 years’ experience as a social researcher, policy analyst and project manager, following a successful early career as an aerospace materials engineer in the UK and Australia.

Michael was previously a Senior Manager in the Research and Policy Centre at the Brotherhood of St Laurence for 8 years, and led the research activities at Hanover Welfare Services for over 13 years.

Michael has undertaken a wide range of innovative research studies looking into family homelessness and its impact on children, women’s homelessness, problem gambling, suicidal ideation and, begging. He was also responsible for the development of the BSL-MI Social Exclusion Monitor. 

From 2010 to 2015 Michael was an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Social & Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. 


Rita Lawrence 

Rita Lawrence has been the General Manager of The Salvation Army Social Housing and Support (SASHS) Network since 2001. SASHS currently delivers a broad range of housing and homelessness support programs across the Western Melbourne Area, the Homelessness Access Point for Brimbank and Melton and the Commonwealth funded Children and Parenting Support Service (CaPSS), an exciting new add-on to the continuum of services delivered.

Rita has extensive experience in the Housing and Homelessness sector, spanning over 25 years. Prior to this, Rita spent 10 years working for the Education Department, in the Disadvantaged schools program (DSP). The lack of a service response to students at-risk of homelessness and the impact of family violence were to eventually influence her to take a new career direction.


Dr Kathy Mendis

Dr Kathy Mendis is the Risk Assessment and Management Panel Coordinator for Outer Gippsland Region and is based at the Gippsland Lakes Community Health, Bairnsdale. She has experience working in the family violence, child protection, homelessness sectors and community development work as well as academic research and teaching. She was one of the original members of the Peer Educator Support Program at Council to Homeless Persons.

Kathy is passionate about working towards improving the lives of family violence victims, people who experience homelessness and children in out-of-home care. She has published several national and international academic journal articles regarding ways in which to improve the education of children in out-of-home care and currently offers her services as a peer reviewer to a number of academic journals. She wishes to keep advocating to better the lives of disadvantaged groups in the community and through her involvement as a director on the Board of Council to Homeless Persons she aspires to do just this.


Jo Swift 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.



Council to Homeless Persons CEO

Jenny Smith

Jenny has had a long and distinguished career in the public sector and has well over 20 years of experience in leadership and management. She has worked in policy, management, government and in service delivery, and in health, mental health, and community health 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.

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