Our board

CHP 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 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











Chris Povey

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.













Ian Coverdale

Ian has worked in a wide range of roles in the community sector with experience in operations and management of homelessness services including as Manager of the St Kilda Crisis Centre and as founding Director of the Salvation Army Housing Services.  He has considerable experience in service development including as the Red Cross National Manager Social Inclusion Programs, strong policy development skills,  including as Manager Hospital Admission Risk Program  for the Department of Human Services as well as having organisational development skills having been Manager Service Development  at St Vincent’s Health and Executive Manager Organisational Development at Bethany Community Support.  Ian holds a Bachelor of Social Work, Bachelor of Commerce and a Graduate Diploma in Organisational Change and Management.













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.



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.













Sheridan Bruinhout 

Sherri Bruinhout is the Director of Homelessness & Justice at Melbourne City Mission (MCM). Sherri has worked in the community services sector for the past 20 years. Her extensive experience comes from working with young people and homelessness issues and developing effective program and policy responses to changing needs, as well as high-level engagement in social and public policy.

Currently, Sherri is responsible for all MCM homelessness and justice services spanning youth, children, adults and families. These services span the continuum from prevention and early intervention services, through to transitional and tertiary responses. MCM works with over 4000 homeless clients per year and the division employs over 150 staff in sites spread throughout metropolitan Melbourne and across greater Victoria.













Steve Koczwara

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.













Theresa Swanborough, OAM

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.













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.



Rob Sago

Rob is the CEO of Merri Outreach Support Service. MOSS is a homelessness service working across the north and west suburbs of Melbourne.  MOSS delivers crisis, transitional, health, volunteer and capacity building programs to homeless people of all ages and in a range of circumstances but has a particular focus and expertise in working with children.  Rob has overseen the development of the Agency from a tiny 3 people to a burgeoning organisation of 70 people case managing upwards of 2000 people a year.

Rob has over 30 years’ experience in homelessness services both as a practitioner and as a manager. Rob is a strong believer in social justice and human rights.














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.