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The Council to Homeless Persons team is a passionate group of people dedicated to ending homelessness. Our staff, board, and volunteers work towards this goal in partnership with people who are or who have been without a home.

Our team

Deborah Di Natale


Deborah has a career-long commitment to social justice and advocacy for those who are experiencing disadvantage.

Deborah joined Council to Homeless Persons in 2023, following her role as CEO of the Northern Territory Council of Social Service, a peak body made up of not-for-profits, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and NGOs. She previously worked at Victoria Legal Aid in the family, law and civil division for over six years, as the Principal Solicitor of the Tenants’ Union advocating for housing as a human right, as the Legal Services Director at Justice Connect across Victoria and New South Wales, and as the Principal Lawyer at the North Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Service.

In both 2021 and 2022, Deborah was named as one of the Northern Territory’s 100 most powerful women. She holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the University of Melbourne.

With a deep interest in access to justice and system reform, Deborah is committed to working with the government, the sector and its allied services to forge better social outcomes for people without a home, while supporting a strong and sustainable homelessness service sector in Victoria.

Contact Deborah

Thomas Johnson

Director, Policy and Communications / Deputy CEO

Tom is part of CHP’s executive team and is responsible for leading the organisation’s policy, advocacy and communications activities.

He has over 20 years experience working across Government, higher education and community sectors in Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory with expertise in advocacy, strategic communications, legislative policy design, government relations and strategy. Passionate about driving change, prior to arriving at CHP Tom was leading Uniting Vic.Tas’ advocacy, policy and research, working alongside service users to confront injustice.

Contact Tom

Helen Duggan

Director of Services

Helen is part of CHP’s executive team and is responsible for leading the strategic growth and development of CHP’s capacity building offerings.

Helen has extensive experience in the community services, education and training sectors within public and non-profit organisations. Helen is passionate about addressing homelessness and ensuring the workforce is well-equipped and resourced to continue their important work.

Contact Helen

Maria Murray

Manager, Lived Experience Programs, Quality and Special Projects

Maria leads the operations and development of CHP’s lived experience programs, including the Homelessness Advocacy Service and Peer Education Support Program. Maria has over 30 years of experience in the not-for-profit and government sectors, including within the areas of child protection and child welfare, alcohol and other drug services, allied and mental health services, and family violence. Through her work, Maria aims to privilege the voices of those affected by marginalisation, dislocation and disadvantage by providing advocacy and support.

Contact Maria

Cassandra Corrone

Team Leader, Peer Education Support Program

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.

Contact Cassandra

Andrew Edgar

SHS Learning Program Coordinator

Andrew works in the Capacity Building Team to coordinate the delivery and ongoing development of the SHS Learning Program. The SHS Learning Program is a central portal for training and educational resources for workers in the Victorian Specialist Homelessness Sector, containing a mix of live training sessions, self-directed eLearning courses, and other useful resources. Previously, Andrew worked within the State-wide Regional Homelessness Networks, resourcing the local homelessness services.

Contact Andrew

Simon Okely

Capacity Building Officer

Simon assists the development and delivery of CHP’s SHS Learning Program, including live training, eLearning, and content. Simon has worked in the homelessness sector for over ten years within Initial Assessment and Planning, Housing Options procurement, and Housing resource prioritisation. Prior to entering the sector, Simon worked with state governments in Victoria and Western Australia; he holds an Undergraduate Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences.

Contact Simon

Noel Murray

Parity Editor

Noel is the editor and manager of our monthly publication, Parity magazine and the CHP annual reports. Prior to joining CHP in 1998, Noel worked with various trade unions in publications, projects, and research capacities. Noel has also lectured in politics, sociology and public health at universities including La Trobe and RMIT.

Contact Noel

Damien Patterson

Policy and Advocacy Officer

Damien works to ensure that homelessness policy in Victoria is focused on the responses that will successfully end homelessness. With a focus on data, research, program evaluation and consumer experience, Damien works to inform government policy, and ensure that the voice of those experiencing homelessness and those who serve them is represented.

Contact Damien

Nilgun Welense


Nilgun oversees the finance function of CHP and provides support to our CEO, including budgeting, reporting, and supporting CHP programmes by monitoring and reporting on their financial status. Nilgun has varied and extensive experience in accounting, having worked across a range of sectors in Australia and the USA. She holds an undergraduate degree in Information Systems and a Master’s degree in Professional Accounting.

Contact Nilgun

Jillie Ly


Jillie is responsible for the daily finance functions at CHP, processing accounts payable and accounts receivable transactions, and bank and credit card reconciliations. Prior to working at CHP, Jillie worked in the media industry for eight years as an assistant accountant. Jillie worked in the disability sector alongside her role at CHP during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Contact Jillie

Our board

Jane Barnes


Jane Barnes joined Wintringham in 2019 and took up the post of Chief of Staff in January 2020. Jane has worked in the homelessness sector for more than 30 years and has extensive experience in service design and management, system reform, policy development and advocacy.  Heavily involved in the redevelopment and subsequent closure of Melbourne’s nightshelters in the 1990’s, Jane is passionate about the need to continually work to improve service options for people experiencing homelessness. Jane has been a member of Ministerial Advisory Committees on Homelessness and Mental Health at both Commonwealth and State levels and is a member of the current Victorian Homelessness Ministerial Advisory Committee. 

Celia Adams

Board Member

Celia Adams is a committed and experienced leader in the social services sector. A graduate in Sociology and Government (Management) from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Celia has over 20 years of dedication to social justice and human rights in the housing, government and disability services. Celia grew up and was educated in Shepparton and is a passionate advocate for regional Victorians experiencing disadvantage, homelessness and housing crisis. Celia has been CEO of BeyondHousing for seven years, and was awarded the prestigious Beth Thomson Lifetime Achievement Award in the 2017 Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards.

Anthony Busuttil


Tony is a Certified Practicing Accountant and a member of the Institute of Company Directors. He brings over 35 years of experience in accounting. He is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for CatholicCare Victoria, and an independent Audit Committee member of the Mercy Ministry of Companions. Prior to joining CatholicCare Victoria, he was the COO for Early Childhood Management Services, a not-for-profit an organisation managing approximately 70 kindergarten and childcare centres. Anthony was also previously the Finance and Corporate Services partner at KPMG, where he managed the finances for the National Partnership which at the time consisted of approximately 400 partners.

Lee-anne Chapman

Board Member

Lee-anne bring 30 years of experience in Community Services along with qualifications in Social Work. She has been working at Uniting Vic.Tas for almost 10 years, her current role is Group Manager Eastern Melbourne overseeing strategy and operations for a large suite of homelessness services, including two large Emergency Relief programs. Lee-anne also Chairs the Inner east Child and Family Services Alliance and is a member of the Orange Door Hub Leadership Group. Recently Lee-Ann has been involved in trialling new initiatives such as Homelessness to a Home and Homes for Families. Lee-anne is passionate about social justice issues, and how she can draw on her skills and experience to influence and advocate wherever she can to bring about positive change for our consumers.

Bernadette McCartney

Board Member

Bernadette is the Executive Director of Services at Meli where she is responsible for the executive oversight of several youth and adult housing and homelessness services across Barwon and South West Victoria. She brings significant experience in board governance, having served on the DVVic Board from 2012 to 2019 where she chaired the Finance Subcommittee. Bernadette also held the inaugural Chair role for Geelong Youth Engagement for more than three years. 

Natalie McDonald

Board Member

Natalie is currently Chief Executive of Quantum Support Service, based in Gippsland. Quantum is a leading provider of community services across Gippsland including housing support and homelessness services in the region. Natalie has extensive experience as an executive leader in the healthcare sector, and began her career as a finance professional for BHP. Natalie brings a wealth of experience in governance, leadership, strategic planning, developing, and supporting collaborative teams.

Wayne Merritt

Board Member

Wayne Merritt is currently the Chief Executive Officer of WAYSS. He brings over 20 years of experience working in the specialist homelessness services system and the adjacent service systems including not-for-profit child, youth and family services, health and local government. Wayne is currently responsible for the delivery of the state’s largest portfolio of youth homelessness services, a significant suite of adult and family homelessness services, alongside justice and integrated family responses..

Stephen Schmidtke

Board Member

Stephen has been working with Sacred Heart Mission since 2012. Before he was appointed Deputy CEO, Stephen held roles as the Executive Director, Client Services and the General Manager for Aged Care Service at Sacred Heart Mission. He has been working in the health and welfare sector since the early 1990s, of which his previous position was General Manager Primary Health at a Community Health Service. Stephen holds a Bachelor of Human Services from Monash University and a Master of Clinical Family Therapy from La Trobe University, The Bouverie Centre. As well as holding paid positions, Stephen has held a number of voluntary board positions and participated in national and regional networks.

Heidi Tucker

Board Member

Heidi Tucker has been CEO of Anchor Inc since 2015. Anchor works with vulnerable children, families and individuals to assist them to attain safe, secure and stable homes. Heidi has high level practitioner knowledge in the community services sector, having experience in both government and non-government organisations in several Australian states. She is a qualified Company Director through the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has previously served on the Victorian Parole Board and the Outer East Living, Learning and Education Network Board and as Chair of the Central Coast Community Legal Service.

Paul Turton

Board Member

Paul has worked in community-based social housing, public housing and specialist homelessness services services for over 35 years. As CEO at VincentCare, Paul leads a team of approximately 300 people to deliver crisis and case management support, supported accommodation, outreach services, homelessness access points, family violence services and accommodation, and alcohol and other drug services. Paul has undergraduate qualifications in community development, counselling, and therapeutic practice, and postgraduate qualifications in clinical research, leadership, and management. He is also qualified in workplace and business coaching, and group-based strategic decision making.

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