The committee is made up of passionate and dedicated professionals who are committed to improving the lives of people in our community.
Jenn O'Sullivan - Chairperson
Executive Manager Path 2 Change
Having worked in the inner suburbs of Sydney in the NSW Police Force, Jenn became very aware of the complexities of the social needs of individuals who have been impacted by mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness and domestic violence. Following the Police Force, many of her life experiences and employment opportunities working with disadvantaged people in the community, continued to prepare, strengthen, and shape her to be able to understand and relate to people who face inequalities and adversity.
Jenn currently works in the Specialist Homelessness Sector and recognises the need for homeless people and the community to connect and respond to what is happening with others who share the same spaces. Jenn is passionate about connecting people 365 days a year and believes that as a community, we cannot be passive in our response to homelessness, and hopes with access and opportunities, people will have a choice to change their direction and their lives.
Nikki Ashworth - Treasurer
Nikki is a Chartered Accountant and brings over 10 years of commercial experience to support Hunter Homeless Connect Inc. Nikki is interested in giving back to the community and hopes that by supporting Hunter Homeless Connect Inc., she is able to make a difference in the lives of local people experiencing homelessness.
Professional Officer - Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Alyson works with the Catholic Diocese in Pastoral Ministries which oversees outreach areas such as Chaplaincy (hospital, university, prison and port), Refugee Support Service, Social Justice Council and developing relationships with other faiths communities.
Alyson has a supported the Homeless Connect Day over the past two years, from attending these days has a greater understanding of the many people who are homeless or live in poor housing conditions. Alyson feels as a Christian there is a need to offer support to our brother and sisters, to help them in the struggles of everyday life and provide everyone with suitable housing.
Alyson looks forward to working with Hunter Homeless Connect and that her strong administration and event management skills will further enhance how Hunter Homeless Connect can reach out and improve the lives of those experiencing issue in housing.
Peta is currently a Councillor at City of Newcastle (Ward 3), a Child & Youth Worker with over 20 years experience and a Mother to four children. She is passionate about giving back to her Community. After witnessing the great achievements of Hunter Homeless Connect Day she felt honoured to join the committee and hopes to raise awareness of homelessness and to address the needs our community has resulting from disadvantage; to advocate to ensure that HHC Inc. is at the forefront of discussion in relation to policy development around housing & homelessness; to assist in furthering the valuable work of HHC Inc. within Newcastle and across across region and ensure the ongoing success of all projects undertaken by HHC Inc.
Philip has provided systems and practice-oriented learning, org development and coaching solutions in the Not-For-Profit and Government sector for a number of years. This experience began in the social work sector, in regional NSW/ ACT, supporting children, young people, their families and carers in crisis, short term and long term foster care, as well as in policy development and implementation. Further experience in change management, stakeholder engagement, and end to end product delivery, both for face to face and digital products have resulted from diverse client services roles.
In supporting the HHC Inc., Philip’s motivation is to learn from the experiences of people at risk of, and experiencing homelessness. Philip wants to support the inclusive values of the HHC Inc., and fight to break the stigma of homelessness that persists in our community. To provide a platform for our most in need and connect with their community is a driving motivation that Philip shares with the rest of the HHC Inc. team.
Dave is passionate about leading change to improve outcomes for people, organisations and our community. Dave’s education and experience lean heavily toward strategic People and Culture Management and Organisational Change Management. For over 15 years he has held key roles centred on improving practice and driving innovation across the Community Services, Health, Education and Welfare sectors. His current role People and Culture Partner (Learning and Change) at Samaritans Foundation sees him working to improving practice across Children, Youth, Families and Disabilities portfolios.
Dave is a passionate advocate for access and inclusion in all facets of community life, and is heavily involved in the arts and cultural sector. Having produced safe and inclusive live music festivals and events for the likes of Vivid Sydney for many years, he is also the Executive Manager of The Octapod Association – the primary arts and cultural service organisation to the Lower Hunter.
In his spare time he enjoys learning Auslan, surfing and raising chickens.
Cherrie is a highly accomplished and outcomes driven Executive with 10 years’ experience in consultancy and advisory services to state government, banking, transport and mining. Cherrie provides organisations with opportunities to drive sustainable growth and business longevity through planning and execution of strategic organisational outcomes. Cherrie’s consultative approach has also afforded her the ability to forge strong relationships in the most complex of organisations, including working with Boards to ensure decisions made are appropriate to the risk appetite of the organisation.
Hunter Homeless Connect Inc. is driven by a goal to build an inclusive community through facilitating these events and raising awareness of homelessness issues in the Hunter region in partnership with other volunteers and organisations to deliver meaningful change to our community. This is a vision Cherrie is honoured to stand behind and uphold through this position and looks forward to working hand-in-hand with other volunteers and contributing to the organisation’s efforts to remove the stigma of homelessness and connect people in need with support services that could drastically improve their quality of life and provide a newly positive outlook for their future.
Danielle is a social worker with experience in adult and young person’s mental health and child and family work. Her current role as a Child and Family Practitioner sees her working closely with young people and their families to deliver early interventions for young people at risk of developing a mental illness. Danielle is also a current Ma and Morley Scholar and Ambassador – a scholarship program that fosters leadership and embodies values of social justice, equity and human rights.
The roles and experience Danielle has gained in these areas has highlighted for her the impact of homelessness and precarious and unstable housing on vulnerable people within the community. In particular Danielle is passionate about addressing barriers to participation for people experiencing homelessness, where stigma and stereotypes about homelessness present additional challenges for these individuals and can lead to social exclusion. Danielle is excited to give back to her community as she brings this passion and experience to the board of Hunter Homeless Connect.
Rowan joined the Board of Hunter Homeless Connect Inc. in late 2019 due to a growing internal urge to assist those in need. Rowan comes from the private sector and has over 10 years’ experience in management and senior management roles, primarily within the transport and logistics sector, having overseen business units in Sydney, Auckland and now Newcastle. For the past three years since moving to Newcastle, Rowan has established a growing network within the business community, and will seek out opportunities to leverage these connections for the benefit of HHC. Rowan is a father to four boys, keeping him very busy, however it is the connection with his own kids that has driven him to do more to make a difference, particularly for at-risk children.
Margaret McKay - Secretary