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 Chief Financial Officer of 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.
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 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.
Steve has 30 years of experience within the community services sector and is currently Manager, Quality and Risk at Quantum Support Services. A considerable part of his professional life has been dedicated to working to address homelessness, initially as a practitioner working with youth and families, and then in various program management and senior management positions. For the past 5 years Steve has had a key leadership role in facilitating organisational development and continuous quality improvement for a regional agency in Gippsland. In addition to formal qualifications in Social Work, Steve is also an accredited organisational reviewer with QICSA/QIP.
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.
Jack Panton, Port Phillip Housing Association
Jack has over 15 years of property development and investment experience in private industry, government and the not-for-profit sector. His expertise span the management of multi-disciplinary project teams, negotiating complex property transactions and managing all phases of the property development process.
Jack has worked on major projects for R.Corporation, Development Victoria and RMIT University where he managed the delivery of a $50 million 370-bed student accommodation project.
In Jack’s current role as General Manager Development & Assets he has overall responsibility for the successful delivery of PPHA’s community housing projects of varying size and complexity, developing project partnerships and manages a $310M portfolio of assets.
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.
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.
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.