This year’s conference program is packed full of insightful sessions, including keynote addresses and plenaries, along with networking sessions and the Victorian Homelessness Achievement Awards.
Learn from leaders of the sector, people with lived experience of being without a home, and experts from home and abroad.
Amanda is a single mum with a very dynamic young daughter. Alongside her advocacy work with CHP’s Peer Education Support Program (PESP), she is also involved with the Council of Single Mothers and their Children (CSMC). Amanda has qualifications in early childhood education and business executive administration – so she’s very busy!
Amanda first experienced homelessness as a teenager and she struggled to get into private rental at that age so she lived in boarding houses and with families that took her in. She found herself without a home again and she lived in refuges, with nuns, and in crisis accommodation while she was pregnant.
Amanda has been in transitional housing for the past three years but is looking forward to the day that she can have a forever home.
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. She is the Chair of the Council to Homeless Persons.
Ainsley Bedggood has more than fourteen years of experience in numerous frontline and leadership roles working with young people experiencing homelessness. She is currently the Operations Manager of the Youth, Early Intervention and Homelessness portfolio. Over the fourteen years Ainsley has worked at Frontyard Youth Services and with various youth refuges where she had the opportunity to build a unique insight and practical skills in working with young people in crisis with complex presentations. Ainsley is a passionate youth worker and a keen supporter of new and emerging practitioners and always welcomes opportunities for discussion, reflection, and debate.
Kaye is currently the LGBTIQA+ Inclusion Lead at Uniting Vic Tas, the community services organisation of the Uniting Church in Victoria & Tasmania. This role supports Uniting’s aspiration to be a culturally safe and competent organisation for their LGBTIQA+ workforce, and for the people who use Uniting services.
Kaye has worked in church and community development settings across Australia and SE Asia for 35 years, partnering with vulnerable communities to leverage social change, including a stint in East Timor after the 1999 vote for independence.
Kaye identifies as queer, trans family, and uses she/her pronouns.
Harrison Carter is a Psychologist and Director at Get Psych’d. He is an adolescent psychologist within private practice working solely with youth and young adults. He is a member of the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc (AAPi) and has worked across non-for-profit and private youth mental health sectors across his career. He has a specific interest in complex trauma and works with families, schools and community organisations for better therapeutic outcomes when working with young people.
Cassandra has been the team leader of the Peer Education Support Program (PESP) at Council to Homeless Persons 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.
Vera lives in over 55’s community housing. A retired corporate accountant working as Company Secretary of a regional airline (PAGAS) for 12 years and Financial Controller of a tourism marketing organisation (GCTB) for 18 years, Vera has a practical financial management outlook which she now applies to social issues.
More recently Vera served as a branch treasurer for CWA for several years and now spreads her time between her role as Hon. Secretary/Treasurer of Fair Go For Pensioners (FGFP) Coalition Victoria Inc.; a sub-committee member of HAAG, and volunteer and Treasurer of The Biography Program – Beyond Words, completing six biographies for residents in aged care facilities.
Sally Coutts is the Manager of the Cornelia Program at the Royal Women’s Hospital.
Sally has an extensive background and significant expertise in leadership and management in the homelessness and community sector.
She has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social work from University of Melbourne and a Masters of Social Sciences and Policy from RMIT.
Prior to her role at the Women’s, Sally worked as Policy Advisor at Beyond Blue and at the Salvation Army in their Crisis Services Network-as Manager of the 24 hour state-wide Crisis Contact Centre and Manager of Research and Program Development.
Kate has extensive experience in senior management and policy and advocacy for social justice, including in housing, homelessness, youth policy and justice. Prior to joining Homelessness Australia, Kate was the spokesperson for the national housing and homelessness campaign, Everybody’s Home and Deputy CEO at the Victorian peak body for homelessness, Council to Homeless Persons. Kate was previously CEO at the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria and Policy Director at the Victorian Council of Social Service.
Kate chairs the Everybody’s Home reference group and is passionate about achieving the changes needed to end homelessness and fix Australia’s housing crisis. Kate has a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) and Graduate Diploma of Women’s Studies (History) from the University of Melbourne.
Dannii de Kretser (she/her)
Danielle de Kretser commenced as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Deputy CEO) of Homes Victoria in July 2023. As the Deputy CEO, Danielle will support the CEO to deliver Homes Victoria’s key priorities, including ensuring continuity and successful ongoing management of the public housing system.
Danielle brings expertise in complex social policy contexts across housing, community services and education. Prior to commencing in Homes Victoria, Danielle was a client partner supporting digital transformation in a government relations consulting firm. She was also previously Acting Deputy Secretary and Associate Deputy Secretary Youth Justice at the Department of Justice and Community Safety. She will bring a people and communities first approach to the role, having started her career supporting public housing communities as a housing services officer.
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.
Douschka Dobson (they/them)
Douschka has worked in community services supporting children and young people experiencing disadvantage for the past twenty years and is the Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer at MCM on Wurundjeri Country. Douschka’s key responsibilities at MCM centre on the experiences of young people across systems of care and intervention. To ensure reform by working alongside those young people to create relevant, healing-oriented ecosystems of care that challenge adversarial responses to the diverse needs of our children and young people.
Helen is Director of Services at the Council to Homeless Persons. She is part of CHP’s executive team and is responsible for leading the strategic growth and development of CHP’s capacity building offerings.
She 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.
Tania Farha is the CEO of Safe and Equal, a merged identity of two organisations: the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) and Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic). Previously, Tania has held executive positions across the Victorian Departments of Justice and Community Safety and Premier and Cabinet, including as CEO of the former Office of Prevention and Women’s Equality. Tania worked at UN Women for over four years as a policy specialist in the Ending Violence Against Women Section and worked for Victoria Police for over nine years to improve its responses to family violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
“Currently working as the Principal Practitioner for Pride in Place, I have a combined passion for supporting those experiencing homelessness and the LGBTQIA+ community. Having worked across multiple community services sectors over the last decade my diverse work experience provides a strong foundation to apply a trauma-informed, intersectional approach to all my work.”
Dean Ferris (BA Rural & Social Welfare) is a nationally accredited mediator with a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution. Dean is a provider for the Family Reconciliation Mediation Program and has hands on experience in rural youth homelessness, including work as a youth counsellor in both the public and private school systems; a Family Violence Practitioner; and working as a Group Convenor in the Juvenile Justice system. Dean recently started his own practice, Mirror Bridge – Relationship & Family Separation Services aimed at empowering families to rebuild, reconnect, and strengthen their relationships. Dean offers a wide and varied, practical perspective on key issues relating to youth homelessness.
Dr Heather Holst
Dr Heather Holst is Victoria’s Commissioner for Residential Tenancies. With almost 30 years of experience working in the housing, renting and homelessness sectors, Dr Holst is a strong champion for the rights of Victorian renters and residents of rooming houses, caravan parks and residential parks.
She has worked in Melbourne and regional Victoria in a wide range of roles with community organisations, including Tenants Victoria and Launch Housing. In these roles, Dr Holst designed and operated a range of housing projects, support programs and rough sleeping solutions, and appeared before the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. Until 2015, she led Australia’s only not-for-profit real estate agency, HomeGround Real Estate.
Adam has dedicated 15 years of his career to making a significant impact in the housing and homelessness sector at Uniting. During this time, he has showcased his versatility by taking on various roles within the organisation. Over the course of six years, Adam assumed leadership positions at Uniting, demonstrating his commitment and capability in steering initiatives toward success.
One noteworthy achievement in Adam’s career is his pivotal role in spearheading the pilot project for Street 2 Home in the Central Highlands region in 2016. This initiative not only proved to be successful but also paved the way for sustained positive outcomes. The program’s success was evident through its refunding, signifying its value and effectiveness. Since then, Street 2 Home has consistently achieved and surpassed its goals, standing as a testament to Adam’s leadership and the positive impact of the program on addressing homelessness in the community. Adam plays a prominent role in the community, regularly engaging with the media to address and discuss the challenges faced by those experiencing homelessness and housing crisis. A fierce advocate, his vocal presence underscores his commitment to raising awareness and advocating for positive change in the areas that matter most to him and the community he serves.
Bryan Lipmann, AM
Bryan Lipmann is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Wintringham, a not-for-profit welfare company employing more than 1,000 people to provide an extensive range of innovative high quality residential, community based and outreach services to elderly men and women, most of whom are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Wintringham is the largest provider of aged care to elderly homeless people in Australia. Bryan was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) for his work with the elderly homeless and has received Aged and Community Care Australia’s national individual award for his contribution to aged care and in particular to the aged homeless. The Rockefeller Foundation invited Bryan to join sixteen other homelessness experts from around the world to attend around table meeting in the Rockefeller Centre in Bellagio, Italy and in 2011, the United Nations awarded Wintringham the Habitat Scroll of Honour, the most prestigious human settlements award in the world. In 2012 he was invited by the OECD to join an international panel of experts on Integrated Services and Housing in Paris. In 2015 he was the Melbournian of the Year. Bryan has worked with elderly homeless people for nearly 40 years.
Claudia Mayes is a dedicated Senior Case Manager with over a decade of experience in the field of youth homelessness and family support, with the Reconnect Program at MacKillop Family Services (MFS). Prior to this Claudia also worked another 10 years in Family Services and Out of Home Care Programs.
She has a deep-rooted passion for empowering vulnerable youth and their families. Claudia has played a pivotal role in transforming the lives of countless individuals. She regularly collaborates with local government agencies, and other community agencies to advocate for comprehensive support systems and policies that can make a real difference in the lives of homeless youth. Claudia holds a Bachelor in Youth Work from Victoria University. Her commitment to the cause of ending youth homelessness is unwavering, and she believes that every young person deserves the chance to achieve their full potential with the support of a loving and stable family.
Wayne Merritt is 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.
Leanne Mitchell is a local government worker, writer and anthropologist, convinced that we can all do better to make the world a fairer place.
Her work and study over the last two decades – in government, the UN and the not-for-profit sector – has allowed her to respond to homelessness in many different forms.
Managing homelessness programs for the City of Melbourne and Brimbank City Council exposed Leanne to the scope and many limitations that local government faces in responding to street sleeping.
In 2022, Leanne undertook a Churchill Fellowship investigating how councils can respond to homelessness while balancing responsibilities to the wider community.
Her report, Everybody’s Business, focuses on the contribution local government can make towards ending homelessness and provides practical guidelines and case studies to assist Councils in taking action.
Shorna has been a leader in the justice, youth and homelessness sectors for more than 15 years and is dedicated to driving positive social change for children and young people. Her work on the issues of youth homelessness and children and young people experiencing family violence has resulted in lasting government and NGO reforms. Shorna also identified schools as an effective environment for young people to access justice and enforce their human rights, and this work has been replicated across Australia and globally.
Shorna is a social justice lawyer and is currently the head of Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations at Melbourne City Mission where she is responsible for leading the organisation’s systemic change work. She is the former Policy and Advocacy director of the peak body for community legal centres, sits on several not-for-profit boards and was inducted into the 2022 Victorian Honour Roll for Women.
Professor Eoin O’Sullivan
Professor Eoin O’Sullivan is a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin, Senior Dean and Professor in Social Policy in the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin. He is a member of the European Observatory on Homelessness since 1992, and editor of the European Journal of Homelessness since 2009. Recent books include Ending Homelessness? The Contrasting Experiences of Denmark, Finland, and Ireland (2020) and Reimagining Homelessness (2020) and his co-authored book Decades in the Making: The Roots of the Homelessness Crisis in Ireland will be published in early 2024.
Stacey Park is the Team Leader of Uniting’s Street 2 Home program and has worked with Uniting in homelessness programs since 2017. With a commitment to tackling homelessness and supporting those sleeping rough, Stacey leads a team of dedicated workers in providing essential and vital support to those experiencing rough sleeping and transitioning into long term stable housing. Stacey is a strong advocate and is passionate about engaging the voices and experience of those who have experienced homelessness and rough sleeping. This is evident in her development of Street to Home’s Homelessness Advocacy and Reference Committee (HARC) and the establishment of Uniting’s first Homelessness Peer Support Position, in Street to Home.
Sarah is Women’s Services Manager at Women’s Housing Ltd and is a member of the Steering Committee for the implementation of the Blueprint for an Aboriginal Homelessness System in Victoria. Sarah brings an extensive experience working with criminalised women and an expert understanding of alcohol and other drug and mental health service delivery to women experiencing homelessness. In 2019–20 Sarah designed the Women’s Justice Diversion Program which now operates as a DoJCS funded service to divert women from prisons and courts into housing and support. This program complements the Initial Assessment and Planning programs for women across Victoria.
Peter is the CEO of United Housing Co-operative Ltd. UHC which is a Rental Housing Co-operative operating in the inner metro west under the Interim Head Lease with the Director of Housing. UHC is a Registered Housing Provider operating under a Co-operative Model with a strong focus on Tenant Member Voice. We currently manage 125 properties leased from Director of Housing and own 12 properties. UHC was also the recipient of a Big Build Housing grant to construct 49 apartment development in West Footscray in a Co-operative Village model.
Prior to that Peter worked in the community housing sector for over 20 years including Rental Housing Co-operatives in 14 years, Latrobe Valley Regional Housing and Western Region Councils, which included focus on policy, advocacy and service development. Peter is currently Victorian representative on Australian Co-operative Housing Alliance and Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals; and a member of the Aboriginal Housing and Homelessness Program Advisory Group.
Professor Wendy Stone
Wendy Stone is Professor of Housing and Social Policy in the Centre for Urban Transitions at Swinburne University of Technology. Wendy conducts research at the intersection of people’s housing needs and aspirations, the adequacy of available housing, and the policy development and innovation needed to address housing gaps. With a commitment to inclusive public policy, Wendy is leading the specialist team of researchers conducting the ‘Housing on the edge: older persons homelessness prevention project’ on behalf of the Housing for the Aged Action Group; has recently undertaken a ‘Private Rental Access Project: “Excluded from the Start” analysis of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tenants’ experiences of private rental housing, for the Office of the Residential Tenancies Commissioner, Victoria; is Chief Investigator to the ARC ‘Australian Housing Monitor’ (2022-2024) study and ARC-funded investigation ‘Articulating the Value of Housing Co-operatives’ in the community housing sector; and has made a significant contribution to Australian housing evidence-base via the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute. Wendy has previously held senior roles at the Australian Institute of Family Studies and AHURI.
Vicki is Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne City Mission (MCM), a diverse community services organisation that supports Victorians overcome barriers and challenges to an ordinary life. Vicki is passionate about ensuring young people have access to the housing, education, employment experiences and support services they need to achieve a positive future of their imagining.
MCM is Victoria’s largest youth homelessness provider, operates an alternative flexible secondary school Hester Hornbrook Academy, and has established MCM Housing as Victoria’s first youth specific social housing provider to address a significant gap in housing for young people. Vicki brings a breadth of experience from senior roles spanning commercial and for purpose organisations with skills in strategy, finance, and leadership. She is an experienced board director (GAICD) and is serving on the boards of VCOSS and ACOSS. She holds a Masters in Applied Finance, is a Fellow CPA and is currently studying psychology
Michelle Thompson is the CEO at Family Access Network (FAN). Michelle has worked in the Community Sector for over 25 years mainly working with young people and their families. She has worked in leadership positions for over 20 years. Michelle has worked in a variety of settings including Alcohol and Other Drugs, Mental Health, Family Services, Community Health and Youth Homelessness. Michelle holds a Bachelor Degree in Youth Work, Graduate Diploma in Substance Abuse and a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. Michelle was part of the inaugural LGBTIQ Leadership program in 2018 run by Leadership Victoria.
Michelle also teaches in the Tertiary Sector at RMIT in the Diploma of Youth Work. Advanced Diploma Community Sector Management and Recognising and Responding to Sexual Violence.
Josh Tilley-Darvill (he/him) is the Northern Community Hub Manager at Vincent Care. He has worked in the homelessness service system for over ten years in both service delivery and leadership roles. His most recent role was overseeing Ozanam House crisis supported accommodation and the Homelessness Resource Centre drop-in service, and is currently the Program Coordinator for Pride in Place – a specialist program to support LGBTQIA+ people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness.
Heidi Tucker has been CEO of Anchor Community Care for seven years. Heidi is an experienced senior manager in the community services sector. Her experience has been gained in both government and non-government organisations in several states of Australia and across a wide range of service types including Housing and Homelessness, Child & Family, Disability, Justice and Mental Health services.
Fiona is the Executive Officer of Housing for the Aged Action Group. Fiona has been working with older people for almost 20 years in a variety of roles within the community sector, including in elder abuse, community aged care, cultural diversity and most recently, in housing. She has post-graduate qualifications in Community Development, Ethics and Legal Studies and brings a social justice perspective to all aspects of her work. She has worked with Housing for the Aged Action Group since 2016, and has been in the Executive Officer role since May 2018, leading the organisations strong commitment to diversity and advocacy for older people in housing stress.
Speakers will be added to this page leading up to the conference. Please check back or sign up for conference updates below.