1800 809 273 (9am - 5pm Monday - Friday). If you are in immediate danger, please contact 000 for police, ambulance and fire.

Working across the Adelaide CBD, southern inner and outer metro areas and Adelaide Hills to prevent and end homelessness.

THA Staff Conference 2024

Toward Home Alliance Annual Staff Conference

11 September 2024 - Adelaide Pavilion, South Terrace

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Registrations for the 2023 Toward Home Conference are now open!

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TICKETS EXHAUSTED/FULLY ALLOCATED – We have now reached FULL capacity for the 2022 Toward Home Conference!!

Inspired by The Toward Home Alliance Mission of ‘Working together, giving hope to prevent and end homelessness’ the focus of the 2022 Conference is practice, policy, advocacy and system reform.  The Conference seeks to further our efforts towards our shared Mission through connections, of people, of conversations, in action and for change. 

Held in Adelaide on August 31, 2022 the Toward Home Alliance Homelessness Conference – Connecting the dots – features some of the nations thought leaders in a day of shared learnings, connections and  conversations  in action and for change.

Wednesday 31 August 2022 |  Rydges South Park Adelaide

This event is open to all Toward Home Alliance staff and affiliated partners. Please register your attendance for Toward Home Alliance Inaugural Homelessness Conference in Adelaide. A registration link and QR code is available in the 2022 THA conference program. 

Bookings close: 11pm, Sunday 7 August 2022. Numbers are strictly limited and capped at 120.

Building on the success of previous THA conferences, we are pleased to announce the 2024 Toward Home Alliance Staff Conference will be held on 11 September 2024 at the Adelaide Pavilion, South Terrace. This year’s conference, Practice-Inspired Leadership, emphasises workforce resilience, inclusivity and connection, and has been designed with THA workforce at the forefront. This is a unique opportunity for us to come together as friends and colleagues, share ideas and reflect on how we can continue to strengthen our work and impact in community, moving forward.

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Staff Awards Nominations

The Toward Home Alliance (THA) Staff Awards aim to recognise and celebrate staff contributions to the Alliance’s mission and values. 

We invite staff to nominate a fellow THA staff member against one of the following criteria: 

Stay tuned, more information coming soon!

Building on our successful THA Conference last year, we are pleased to announce our 2024 Toward Home Alliance Conference will be held on 1 September 2024 at the Adelaide Pavillion, South Terrace. 

This year’s Conference will focus on RESILIENCE, INCLUSIVITY, CONNECTION AND LEADING THROUGH PRACTICE. Once again, the program is designed with our workforce at heart.

We welcome THA team members, partners and key stakeholders to register for this conference. Places are strictly limited – register now!

Again, as this event is a Professional Development offering to our THA workforce, the 2024 THA Conference is FREE to attend!  

Highlights of the program will include: 

  • Quality speakers and panelists
  • Launching the THA Strategic Plan and Client Services Charter
  • Re-launching the Alliance Charter with NEW fantastic artwork 
  • Values Leadership Awards – nominations open soon! 

2022 Conference Keynote Speakers & Presenters

The Hon. Nat Cook | Minister for Human Services | Member for Hurtle Vale

Nat Cook and husband Neil have lived in the same home in Woodcroft for close to 30 years and she is a lifetime local of the southern suburbs. After losing their son Sam to a violent and unprovoked one-punch assault in 2008, Nat and Neil formed the Sammy D Foundation to educate youth about the consequences of violence. They hope that no other family would go through what theirs has. Prior to being elected to the South Australian Parliament in 2014, Nat worked for nearly 30 years as a Registered Nurse, including as an After-Hours Hospital Coordinator, Retrieval, Intensive-Care Nurse and more. Nat is honoured to hold the title of Associate Professor with the School of Nursing and Midwifery University of South Australia. Nat is an active member of the local community and a dedicated Mum.

Neil Willmett | Chief Executive Officer | Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Housing, Queensland

Neil is an Aboriginal man from Queensland and a national leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing, health and economic development. Neil was recruited in December 2020 to be the Chief Executive Officer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Queensland, the peak body for Indigenous housing in Queensland. He is committed to ensuring that there are reforms to achieve greater Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing outcomes in Australia. 

Carmel Williams | Director, Centre for Health All Policies Research Translation SAHMRI | Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Centre, Health in All Policies

Carmel Williams is Director of the Centre for HiAP Research Translation based in South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and School of Public Health, University of Adelaide. Carmel has overseen the establishment and sustainability of South Australia’s Health in All Policies approach, which works across government to influence public policy decision to improve health and wellbeing. She led numerous collaborative projects on the social and environmental determinants of health, drawing research, policy and practice together to deliver evidence informed public policy outcomes. Carmel has earned the honorary academic status of Associate Professor with the University of South Australian and the University of Adelaide. She works extensively with the WHO and other international organizations, and is Co- Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Advancing Health in All Policies.

 Nathan Ian Klinge | Chief Executive Officer, RSL Care SA

With over 23 years of full-time military experience, and now being employed as a CEO in aged care, Nathan has served in a variety of leadership, management and training positions. Nathan has served as a Director on a variety of not-for-profit boards, and he represents veteran health issues on South Australia’s Veterans Advisory Council and on SA Health’s Veterans Health Advisory Council. Nathan is also involved in a number of committees and working groups at the national level focused on improving outcomes for consumers in residential care. Nathan is a passionate advocate of veteran health and wellbeing issues, particularly concerning older veterans and veterans who are homeless. Nathan has three university-aged daughters, and for some reason he still seems to be mowing his ex-wife’s lawn.

David Pearson | Chief Executive Officer, Australian Alliance to End Homelessness

David recognises that ending homelessness is possible and that homelessness is not normal or something we should accept. He has worked towards this goal in a range of roles in the community, government, university and philanthropic sectors, including currently as the CEO of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness. Before this he helped lead the establishment of the Adelaide Zero Project, a collective impact initiative of over 45 organisations all working together to end street homelessness in Adelaide’s inner city. David wasa 2020 Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellow, a 2021 Churchill and is a Senior Advisor for the Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH). In 2019 David was recognised as one of the top 40 Under 40 leaders in South Australia. Prior to this David was the Senior Policy Adviser to several South Australian Premiers and Commonwealth Government Ministers in a range of portfolio areas.

 Caro Mader | Director, SA Alliance to End Homelessness

Caro is a highly experienced public servant, social planning consultant and university lecturer. A social worker by trade, Caro is a leader in the fields of social policy and strategy development, community participation and citizenship, and community development. Nurturing collective capability for positive social impact has driven Caro’s career. Since January 2022, Caro has been the Director of the South Australian Alliance to End Homelessness and currently, Caro holds roles with the University of South Australia, as Director of grassroots consulting and a partner of Nik&Co. Consultancy (Founder/ Director Ngarrindjeri woman, Nicole Gollan).

Rohan Feegrade | Chief Executive Officer, Lutheran Care | Lead, Toward Home Alliance

Rohan is an experienced CEO, senior executive and company director with demonstrated expertise across the not for profit, private and government sectors. He is passionate and future focused with a proven record for creating substantial organisational, stakeholder and client value. He has extensive experience in strategically positioning organisations for transformational change and growth within the health, disability, education and community service sectors. His experience and strengths are in strategic planning, transformational leadership, finance, risk and compliance, continuous improvement frameworks, gaining efficiencies across systems and processes, building cultural alignment and developing high performance cultures and teams. Rohan is a socially responsible professional genuinely passionate about creating opportunities for people who live with disadvantage and disability, always acting ethically to service those he works with and for.

Shaya Nettle | Alliance Senior Manager, Lutheran Care

Shaya is passionate about humane and inclusive service systems. With 20 years’ experience in the South Australian, national and international not-for-profit communities, she has been involved in major change initiatives like NSW’s Going Home Staying Home reform, implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and poverty reducing initiatives in developing countries. For 10 years, she has also been the Treasurer of a not-for-profit charity delivering education and health initiatives for children and families in India and Mongolia.

 Kate McGarry | General Manager Community Services, Baptist Care SA

Kate has over 20 years’ leadership experience in community services, including 7 years as an Executive of Anglicare NT leading service and practice development in Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin. With a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Social Work and AICD, Kate has led service design and delivery for large teams of staff and volunteers across multiple services. She is currently responsible for a variety of programs including youth and Aboriginal specific homelessness services, out of home care for children and young people, adventure therapy AOD programs, family mental health services, youth education and training, and unaccompanied humanitarian minors.

 Mychelle Curran | State Director TAS/SA, Mission Australia

Mychelle has long term experience, commitment and expertise in the development, management, program planning and evaluation as well as operational service delivery of social and affordable housing, homelessness, early intervention, child protection, disability and other client support and assistance programs to vulnerable people, households and communities across four Australian jurisdictions, including Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and New South Wales. Mychelle has been responsible for the development of State-wide and local client information/communication strategies, standards and methods of service delivery, identification of areas for service improvement and developing initiatives for improvement, developing and reviewing strategic and operational policies, procedures and practices to enable the delivery of quality client services consistent with organisational vision, goals and values.

Sagaren Naidoo | Chief Executive Officer, Sonder

Sageran is the CEO of Sonder, one of the largest primary health care agencies in the SA, delivering a suite of clinical mental health services across all diagnostic criteria and across the age spectrum. Sonder is also the lead agency headspace Edinburgh North, headspace Onkaparinga, headspace Adelaide and as of January 2021 headspace Marion.

Chris Burns CSC | Chief Executive Officer, Hutt St Centre

On concluding a 30+ year military career, Chris consulted to the government and private sectors on Defence and international relations. This included a six-year appointment as the CEO of the State’s peak Defence industry body, the Defence Teaming Centre. Chris was then appointed as the inaugural South Australian Mental Health Commissioner where he led the co-design and co-production of the State’s first mental health strategic plan. Chris was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Hutt St Centre in January 2020.

Nick Cowling | Aboriginal Liaison, Royal Adelaide Hospital

Nick is the RN4 clinical lead for the Department of Human Services (DHS) Aboriginal remote visitor outreach service at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH). For the past 2 years he has worked in the Emergency Department setting up Aboriginal Health program and working on projects for DHS.  A critical care nurse for the past 22 years as a critical care nurse, Nick entered into Aboriginal Health as a remote area nurse between 2007 – 2012 for the Top End Remote Health Unit. Nick returned to Adelaide as a Nurse consultant for the Integrated Care team Aboriginal Health at CALHN and ran the Aboriginal health unit at RAH as it transitioned to its new location.

Ian Cox | Head Office for Homelessness Sector Integration, SA Housing Authority

Ian has worked in the homelessness sector for the past 30 years as a social worker, CEO of a homelessness organisation and currently as the Head of the Office for Homelessness Sector Integration in the SA Housing Authority. Ian has been fortunate to have travelled overseas to visit and study homelessness and is fortunate to continue these conversations locally and abroad to help influence new ideas, innovation and connections. Among some major achievements include the development of an employment, education and training pathways program targeted at people experiencing homelessness; the development and implementation of Australia’s first homelessness social impact bond (Aspire); playing a leading role with the introduction of the Zero Project to Adelaide; leading the first Connections Week in South Australia and the initial development and growth of a community housing provider (Unity Housing Company).

Dr. Heather Holst | Commissioner for Residential Tenancies, Victoria

Heather worked for many years in homelessness agencies before being appointed Victoria’s first Commissioner for Residential Tenancies in 2018. The Commissioner role was introduced to give stronger representation to Victorian renters and residents of rooming houses, caravan parks and specialist disability accommodation. Heather is also a member of the independent panel reviewing the regulation of social and affordable housing in Victoria. She previously served as Deputy CEO of Launch Housing, with the Victorian government in homelessness policy and in various other not for profit organisations across Melbourne and regional Victoria. She designed and operated a range of housing projects, support programs and rough sleeping solutions. Heather is a board director of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness.

 Associate Professor Yvonne Parry | College of Nursing and Health Services, Flinders University

Associate Professor Yvonne Parry undertakes research into the Social Determinants of Health among marginalised and disadvantaged populations, including working with children, and those experiencing homelessness and discrimination. Yvonne has extensive national and international standing in this area, both in research collaborations and in service on international research and professional committees is the international advisor on projects in the UK researching families with children 0-5 years living in homelessness/housing instability. She has worked collaboratively to co-design research and a model of care that incorporate the developmental and health needs of poly-disadvantaged children. Yvonne shows an innovative approach to research, great co-design and collaborative work and she also works in an interdisciplinary way to trial and scale up changes in interdisciplinary professional practice, models of care and service delivery to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, especially children.

 Dr. Theresa Lynch | Pregnancy & Homelessness Coordinating Committee & Network, Victoria

As a social worker for over 35 years Theresa has remained passionate in seeking justice and equality for disadvantaged and vulnerable women and children. For more than 11 years she managed the Victorian Royal Women’s Hospital Drug and Alcohol Service, providing specialised multidisciplinary clinical care and support to pregnant women and infants impacted by complex drug and alcohol use. Theresa was part of the Women’s team, in partnership with HousingFirst Ltd and Launch Housing, that led the vision and establishment of the Cornelia Program, an Australian first, providing safety, support and a secure home for pregnant women and their babies. She is the Convenor of the Pregnancy and Homelessness Network which advocates for system and policy change so that homeless pregnant women have access to a range of service models to improve women’s and newborn’s health and well-being.

James Packham | Managing Director, Harcourts Packham

James Packham directs a portfolio of businesses which specialise in sales and management for residential, commercial and retirement real estate. James is highly sought as a selling agent and auctioneer and holds respected industry awards from both Harcourts and the Real Estate Institute of South Australia. Harcourts Packham was recently awarded the Number 1 Franchise in Harcourts South Australia and in 2019, James was recognised as the Business Owner of the Year in Harcourts South Australia. He has completed degrees in Business and Economics from Flinders University and studied Operations Management at the Royal Military College (ADFA).

Dr. Alice Clark, Executive Director, Shelter SA

Dr. Alice Clark has been the Executive Director of Shelter SA since 2011 where she applies her passion for social justice and prosecutes the right to a safe, secure and affordable home for South Australians. A published author, Alice has an academic background in social science and public policy. While conducting systemic advocacy, one aspect of Alice’s current work at Shelter SA is bringing people together to create innovative and sustainable financial models that do not rely on governments to succeed, to build rental housing for people living on low incomes.

 Shane Austin | Chief Executive Officer, Baptist Care SA

Shane has extensive Community Sector experience, over 15 years of executive management experience, and played a key leadership role in establishing the Toward Home Alliance partnership in South Australia. He has held senior executive management roles in specialist homelessness services, community housing, cross-cultural international development and social justice philanthropy.   Together with expertise in strategic planning and implementation and stakeholder engagement, he has a really strong interest in social change and public policy.  With a background in law, Shane also has qualifications in Science and Theology.

Bethany Critchley | State Manager SA/WA/NT, Salvations Army Housing

Bethany is driven by her passion for helping people, she takes pride in providing the best Community Housing services possible. As a State Manager for SA WA & NT, her goals include providing long term supportive accommodation for the most vulnerable and supporting her teams to deliver the best outcomes possible. In addition to her primary job functions, Bethany also plays a key role in System and Database Management and Enhancement Projects for the organisation.

Karen Aistrope | Chief Executive Officer, Carrington Cottages Ltd.

Karen Aistrope is the CEO of Carrington Cottages Limited, an innovative Transitional Housing Accommodation Provider who leads the pathway from “At risk to the journey home”. Karen has worked in both the not-for-profit and corporate sectors and brings a wealth of relevant experience in strategic development, operational delivery, culture and leadership, collaborative partnerships, facilities management, innovation and growth including championing pilot programs where there is an unmet need. She has deep insights into the multiple factors that contribute to social disadvantage and a genuine desire to respond holistically to the needs of vulnerable people.

Tim Best | Lead, Toward Home Alliance & Adelaide Zero Project

Working as a Case Manager across multiple NGO’s in the homelessness sector since 2013, Tim is passionate about improving systems and service delivery for those most vulnerable in our community. Working in the sector both before and after the formation of the Alliances, Tim has witnessed improvements and challenges and is committed to make services easier to navigate. Tim studied a Bachelor of Social Work and Social Planning at Flinders University.

Robb Smart | Data Lead, Adelaide Zero Project

Robb works both as Community Data Lead for the Adelaide Zero Project and as Project Officer for the Office for Homelessness Sector Integration, SA Housing Authority. Robb joined the Authority in 2018 after graduating with a major in Community Development, and has worked across a number of different roles, including in Strategy and Governance and Planning and Reporting supporting the Authority’s leadership, and as a Housing Officer and Tenancy Practitioner working with at risk and vulnerable public housing tenancies in Northern Adelaide. Robb is keen to demonstrate how the Adelaide Zero Project By Name List can inform services, system integration and targeted advocacy to reduce the experiences of rough sleeping toward functional zero.

Victoria Skinner | Innovation Partner, SA Housing Authority

Dr Victoria Skinner works for the SA Housing Authority as Innovation Partner for the Toward Home Alliance. She has experience in homelessness research, law, and service reform. Victoria obtained her PhD regarding homelessness services and has since been involved in various initiatives, including the Adelaide Zero Project.

Kate Stock | Partnerships Manager, Good360

As Partnerships Manager for Good360 in South Australia, Kate Stock is passionate about supporting local charities and disadvantaged schools. Good360 is a matchmaker between businesses with surplus and people in need. By partnering with retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers, Good360 has connected over RRP$250M in new, unsold stock to our charity members at only the small cost of shipping. Our platform for product gifting allows companies to share what they no longer need, or have too much of. Whether it’s clothes and toys to a family violence service or mattresses and linen for a homeless shelter — if Australians have the need, our business partners have the goods.

Livia Carusi | Conference Facilitator | Strategic Advisor, Lead, Toward Home Alliance

Liv Carusi has worked in the homelessness, family violence and housing sectors for almost 25 years. The positions held have included, Chairperson of Women’s Housing Limited for 9 years, homelessness case management, human rights and homelessness advocacy, senior strategic housing positions, public and social policy as well as senior management positions including her work for the Council to Homelessness Persons as well as her current position of Strategic Advisor, Lead for the Toward Home Alliance.

Prior to her current position, Liv was the National General Manager, Homelessness for the Salvation Army where she led the homelessness response in South Australia. In addition, she has recently been appointed to the position of Senior Project Officer, Office for Homelessness Sector Integration with SA Housing Authority. with formal qualifications in: political science, sociology, urban research and policy and a Master’s in public policy. Most recently, Liv has completed a Graduate Diploma in Theology.

She has a deep interest and passion in the space of improving health care responses for people rough sleeping, street sleeping specially for people living with diabetes.

2024 Toward Home Staff Conference

Conference Program

For more details about the 2024 THA Conference, download the full program here.


2024 Toward Home Staff Conference

Conference Keynote Speakers & Presenters

Image of Nat Cook MP

The Hon. Nat Cook MP | Minister for Human Services and Minister for Seniors and Ageing Well 

Nat Cook is the South Australian Minister for Human Services and Minister for Seniors and Ageing Well. She has been an elected Member of Parliament since 2014.

She was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Housing and Urban Development in the previous Labor government.

Nat is a lifetime local of Adelaide’s southern suburbs, a fierce advocate for her local constituents and a dedicated mum.

Nat’s passions lie in health and disability care, ending homelessness, and making our families and communities fairer and safer places in which to live.

Having spent nearly 30 years as a Registered Nurse in specialty areas such as intensive care and brain injury rehabilitation, Nat is honoured to hold the title of Adjunct Associate Professor with the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia.

After losing their son Sam to a violent and unprovoked one-punch assault in 2008, Nat and husband Neil formed the Sammy D Foundation to educate youth about the consequences of violence.

On becoming the Minister in 2022, Nat committed to a proactive and collaborative approach to delivering improved policy and services for marginalised South Australians.

In 2024, Minister Nat Cook added the portfolio, Minister for Seniors and Ageing Well, where she will focus on improving the lives of senior South Australians and promoting the benefits of an age-diverse, accessible workplace and community.

Image of Courtney Ugle

Courtney Ugle | Founder | Waangkiny

Western Bulldog, keynote speaker and advocate. Courtney’s life and career are testaments to resilience, leadership, and advocacy. As a proud Noongar woman from Bunbury, Western Australia, Courtney Ugle has faced immense challenges, including the devastating loss of both her parents.

Despite these hardships, she found solace and strength in football, which has become a transformative force in her life. Excelling on the field and making meaningful contributions off it, Courtney’s achievements in sports are just one facet of her impact. 

Beyond the athletic field, Courtney is deeply committed to raising awareness about domestic violence. Drawing from her own experiences, she advocates for change and has emerged as a spokesperson on issues of domestic violence, resilience, and breaking cycles. She travels across the country delivering speeches that aim to inspire others to overcome adversity. 

In addition to her speaking engagements, Courtney works part-time for Djirra, an Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Service, where she coordinates and delivers the Young Luv workshop. This initiative focuses on promoting healthy and safe relationships among Aboriginal young girls and women, underscoring the importance of support networks, the power of community, and the transformative role sports can play in fostering positive life changes. Courtney hopes her engagements will ignite a fire in people’s bellies and inspire them to dream. She seeks to spark powerful conversations with open hearts and open minds. 

Image of Sandy Pitcher

Sandy Pitcher | Chief Executive | South Australian Department of Human Services

Sandy is an accomplished public-sector leader, with experience leading agencies to make significant contributions to public policy and deliver outcomes that improve people’s lives.

As Chief Executive of the South Australian Department of Human Services, Sandy is dedicated to promoting inclusion, independence, community support and modern services.

Prior to this role Sandy was Deputy Under Treasurer with the South Australian Department of Treasury and Finance. 

She was the inaugural Secretary of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing in Victoria, an agency which includes child protection and women’s policy.

Throughout 2020 Sandy led the Victorian COVID-19 response, returning the state to COVID-19 zero.

Sandy has also held roles with the SA Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources the UK’s Commission for Racial Equality and the South Australian Office for Women.

In 2012, Sandy won the Telstra Businesswoman of the year ‘Community and Public Sector’ category, and in 2013 she was inducted as an IPAA National Fellow.

Educated at the University of Adelaide, Sandy has degrees in law and the humanities.

Image of Kate Rush

Kate Rush | Director of Learning and Development | South Australian Country Fire Service

Kate Rush is an awarded public speaker driven by building collaborative leadership and team capabilities and performance. An outstanding communicator, Kate has a track record for inspiring groups, building alignment across difference and achieving strategic results. Kate understands the challenges and opportunities of leadership, leveraging the importance of character, competencies and community in addressing complex challenges. Kate has a unique ability to find growth opportunities in everyday occurrences and bring learning to life through her own demonstrations of resilience, having for example, recently completely her first Ironman.

Kate is an experienced board director, having held director roles on the SA Police Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Port Adelaide Cricket Club, Triathlon SA and A Sign of Respect. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute Company of Directors and lifetime Fellow of the Governors Leadership Foundation.

Some of Kate’s prominent achievements have included the Dennis Mutton Award for leadership, nomination for the Channel 10 SA and Port Adelaide Enfield Community Services Awards, and Program Ambassador Award for the Advantage SA Speakers in Schools program. Kate lives with her partner and their dog and is a passionate triathlete and member of the Country Fire Service.

Dana Shen | Director | DS Consultancy

Dana is Aboriginal/Chinese and a descendant of the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia and has a passion for working with Aboriginal people and communities.

Dana has over 20 years’ experience working across the public and not for profit sectors in the areas of health, families and child protection. She commenced her career as a Youth Community Development Officer in both the Adelaide Hills and the Murray Lands. In this role she worked with young people, many of whom were at risk, to create better environments for young people in their communities.

Dana went on to work in a number of senior roles with the SA public sector in which she had responsibility for program management, service delivery, policy development and strategic planning and worked with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) where she held the role of Principal, Social Services, Systems & Aboriginal Policy and Director of the Family by Family program.

Dana’s current work includes supporting organisations to plan for the future and elevating the voices of living experience to make service and systemic change. In addition, Dana recently completed a two-year mindfulness meditation teacher’s course with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach and is committed to making this accessible to organisations and communities in South Australia and bringing a strong First Nations and Ngarrindjeri lens to mindfulness practice.

Image of Tristan Avella-O'Brien

Tristan Avella-O’Brien | Mindful Somatic Psychotherapist | Connected Self

Tristan was born in Adelaide to parents from Australia and Colombia, with Chibcha / Muisca, Spanish, English, German, and Irish backgrounds. He has worked as a trauma-focused somatic psychotherapist since 2022, as well as empowering government and non-government organisations in trauma-responsive workshop facilitation.

He has a professional background in social work, ecology, sustainability and outdoor education.

In 2017, Tristan walked over 1900 kilometres from Adelaide to Darwin on a self-supported journey to raise awareness for the over 1900 threatened species in Australia, to speak with people around the importance of our human connection with nature and to raise money for conservation-focused habitat restoration programs and organisations that provide young people with opportunities in the outdoors.

A highlight Tristan’s career involved his work in sustainability with The City of Adelaide, during which he facilitated conversations between local and state government bodies and the Kaurna community for a project that lead to the reestablishment of burning on country and an historic cultural burn in the south Park Lands in May 2021.

Tristan’s passion for connection underpins his approach, from fostering connections between people and nature, within and between communities, and now supporting people to connect deeply with their own internal environments through somatic, or body-based mindful therapy.

Sean Lappin | Managing Director | Connected Self


Connected Self is a South Australian agency that provides a range of therapeutic services, including supports to children and young people in schools, the out of home care sector, and the disability services sector. Connected Self also work alongside government and non-government organisations to support their capacity building through consultancy and training services.


Michael Buchan | Chief Executive Officer | SA Housing Authority

Michael was appointed South Australian Housing Authority Chief Executive in January 2019 after leading the machinery of government changes which separated the operations of the South Australian Housing Trust into an independent stand-alone statutory corporation. 

Michael’s executive management career spans more than 20 years with experience in public and private commercial finance, residential and commercial property development, public policy advice and organisational and executive leadership. 

Michael is passionate about supporting and developing people to achieve their best by focusing on staff success and wellbeing. 

Rob Macfarlane | Chief Operations Officer | National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association

Rob Macfarlane is a proud Wiradjuri man raised in Western Sydney, with deep connections to Darlington Point, NSW. With over 20 years of experience as an executive leader, Rob has specialised in various areas such as Aboriginal housing, Aboriginal employment and training, and Aboriginal cultural heritage and cultural land management. 

In recent years, Rob has held several executive leadership positions within the Aboriginal Housing Office NSW. Currently he serves as the Chief Operations Officer for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Housing Association (NATSIHA). 

He actively contributes to the community as a Board Director of The Parenthood and as a Member of the Youth Koori Court for Parramatta and Surry Hills NSW Children’s Court.

Skye Thompson | Chief Executive Officer | Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory

Skye grew up in Central Australia and is a proud Arrernte/Kaytetye woman from her mother’s side and has non-indigenous heritage from her father’s side.

Her passion is working in the outstations/homelands sector. She has an intimate understanding of homelands and town camps having resided in both and still has strong family connections to her family’s homeland Artekerre.

Before commencing with Aboriginal Housing Northern Territory, Skye held various roles with Ingkerreke Services Aboriginal Corporation, starting as a receptionist and then working her way up to the role of Chief Executive Officer.

Image of Kate McGarry

Kate McGarry | General Manager Community Services | Baptist Care SA

Kate McGarry is a social worker with over 20 years’ experience leading and delivering a broad range of community services.

Kate has worked in local government and not for profits in both South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Kate was appointed General Manager Community Services at Baptist Care SA in 2019, where she leads a portfolio including Practice Excellence and Quality, Disability, Homeless Support Programs, Out of Home Care Services, Adventure Therapy and Camping Programs, Family and Youth Programs.

Kate’s aim is to embed restorative practices by enabling effective systems of leadership, practice, culturally responsive approaches, service design and partnerships. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Social Work. 

Scott Wilson | Chief Executive Officer | Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council 

Scott Wilson is a well-respected Aboriginal leader and CEO of the Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (South Australia). He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney

Scott’s former leadership roles include being Deputy Chair of both the National Indigenous Drug and Alcohol Committee and the Alcohol Education Rehabilitation Foundation. 

His personal and professional experience in substance misuse has made him a valued member of nearly every major governmental and non-governmental committee in Australia for more than 30 years.

Scott has received several awards including the Australian Centenary Medal and the Sister Alison Bush Award from the University of Sydney.  

Image of Paul Nixon

Paul Nixon | Specialist in Restorative Practice and Leadership  

Paul Nixon is a registered Independent Social Worker and a well-known international specialist in restorative practice and leadership, with more than 33 years’ continuous experience in working in the field. 

Paul currently works as a consultant with government and non-government agencies, and universities in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia.

Paul has specialist interest in restorative practices, child protection, working with families, children’s voice and participation, and kinship care. 

He has written and edited a number of books on social work, empowerment practice and social work with children and families alongside numerous published articles and chapters.

Image of Karyn Walsh

Karyn Walsh | Chair of the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness and Chief Executive Officer of Micah Projects

Karyn Walsh has worked in the not-for-profit sector addressing homelessness since 1978. 

During this time, Karyn has worked with many groups to create organisations and services to respond to the local circumstances of people experiencing homelessness and the economic and social systems which create homelessness in the first place. 

This has involved work with young people, young pregnant and parenting women, women and children escaping domestic violence, individuals, couples and families living rough.

In recognising our current housing crisis across all communities in Australia, Karyn is particularly interested in how we create a more equitable and inclusive housing system that is affordable and has security of tenure.

Image of David Pearson

David Pearson | Chief Executive Officer | Australian Alliance to End Homelessness

David recognises that ending homelessness is possible and that homelessness is not normal or something we should accept.

He has worked towards this goal in a range of roles in the community, government, university and philanthropic sectors, including as the current Australian Alliance to End Homelessness CEO. 

Before this he helped lead the establishment of the Adelaide Zero Project, a collective impact initiative of over 45 organisations all working together to end street homelessness in Adelaide’s inner city.

In 2019, David was recognised as one of the top 40 under 40 leaders in South Australia.

Image of Geoff Slack

Geoff Slack | Chief Executive Officer | YourPlace Housing Ltd

Geoff Slack believes that safe and secure housing is fundamental to enabling people and their families to live their lives as they choose. 

Geoff has spent the last 20 years working on housing and homelessness policy, programs and service delivery, and has worked in the not-for-profit, government and corporate sectors, including nearly a decade working for Housing SA. 

Geoff is currently the Chief Executive Officer of YourPlace Housing Ltd, a community housing provider that provides housing for people with disability in the Adelaide area. 

Geoff is also the Chair of the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA) in South Australia and sits on the national CHIA Board. 

The following organisations are all working together in the Toward Home Alliance

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