Committee

The committee is made up of passionate and dedicated professionals who are committed to improving the lives of people in our community.

Peter Di Girolamo - Chairperson / Public Officer

Hunter Homeless Connect relies on the generosity of the volunteers and for committee member, Peter Di Girolamo, it is his responsibility to coordinate and recruit volunteers.

Peter has been a committee member since July 2010.  He was inspired to be involved with Hunter Homeless Connect following his experience providing emergency relief and care to people sleeping rough.

Peter’s motivation for helping the homeless is simply being able to put a smile on the faces of people who are experiencing difficult times.

Peter’s areas of expertise include change management, leadership, public speaking, and networking.  Peter is helping to establish an outreach program called "Our Backyard" which seeks to provide a place for people sleeping in their cars to access showers, food and other essential services.

Scott Redman - Vice Chairperson

General Manager - Total Engraving

Accommodation Coordinator-   Response Services Inc.

Scott has a strong background in Operations Management and Business Development Management/Marketing. Scott’s experience has been gained through a variety of sectors, FMCG, Civil/Construction, Mineral Resource and Manufacturing.

Scott also has a passion for the community services sector, advocating for and supporting young adults with disabilities in regards to independent living, employment and community inclusion.

“I am grateful to be able to use some of my skills and expertise to support people in our local region that are doing it tough and could use a hand.”  

Sally Hoyle - Treasurer

Sally retired from publishing and book distribution in 2006 and moved to Newcastle. She is currently in the PhD programme at the University of Newcastle, writing stories about her home town in England and her adopted home. She says “like many older people I want to give something back to my community, and voluntary work is a way to do that”.

Tanya Rowney - Secretary

Involved with HHC Day through current position within Catholic Care Social Services – currently working as an Outreach Case Worker, within the Community Service Team – ‘links to Independence Living’ this program works with young people between the ages of 16yrs to 25yrs within the Maitland/Newcastle/ Lack Macquarie areas, assisting young people to find/obtain their own long term accommodation. As well as providing information/ linking young people in with other relevant services/ being advocates for and with young people within the community. 

Due to an active role in supporting HHC Day, was nominated for a placement within the Committee – the role I have been honoured to accept and will work continuously to support the meaning and purpose of Hunter Homelessness Inc. Tanya has been in the Youth Sector for little over 5 years within varying roles such as in Newcastle – outreach case worker, Toronto – Semi Supported Accommodation residential worker, Maitland youth refuge. Tanya has obtained certificate 3 in Drug and Alcohol Counselling, Diploma in Youth Work and currently working towards a Diploma in Child and Adolescent Counselling.   

Mark O'Dwyer - Fundraising Coordinator

Mark has a background in Advertising Sales and Marketing Management with Yellow Pages Australia (now Sensis) initially based in Sydney and eventually based in Newcastle before retiring though ill health in 1993.  He served as a Non- Executive Director with Compass Housing Services between 2012 and 2014, and in 2015 was appointed Chair of Compass N.S.W Operations Advisory Committee, and is currently a member of that committee, playing a part in fulfilling the Compass vision that all people have safe and affordable housing and are engaged in sustainable communities.

Mark has experienced a period of being homeless which led him to Compass Housing Services, seeking housing in 2008. Mark was keen to join Hunter Homeless Connect to further his personal objective of giving something back to society by assisting those people in our community who fall into hard times or become marginalised and homeless, often through no fault of their own.

Sally Regan 

Bachelor of Social Work/Masters of Advanced Social Work

Operations Manager – Hunter Partners in Recovery

Sally has spent the majority of her social work career in Victoria working in the areas of homelessness, refugees and offenders.   She spent over two years in Ireland managing programs for people with disabilities.  Despite a diverse range of settings, in all roles, Sally has maintained a strong interest in working with people with complex needs and hard to reach populations.  Sally recently returned to live in NSW and after a brief project role with Housing NSW took up the position of PIR Operations Manager with Hunter Medicare Local.

Deborah Backhouse

Deborah has been an active community volunteer since the age of 14 and through recent Community Services studies and volunteering at Wesley Mission has become much more aware, not only of the huge scale of the homelessness issue, but also how each person's story is different and how we need to have flexible solutions to address this. Deb's 'pet' area of interest is the companion animals of the homeless population, their well-being and important role they play.

Rudi Vitasz

Rudi is a Warrant Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and joined the Board of Hunter Homeless Connect in February 2017. Rudi’s military career brings a unique blend of skills to the Board including strong leadership and management across many operational domains. Rudi became interested in supporting Hunter Homeless Connect after witnessing the many homeless living on the streets in and around Newcastle. Rudi’s Air Force career has armed him with many skills and afforded him many wonderful experiences and opportunities. He hopes that in his role with Hunter Homeless Connect he may become a role model to those who have fallen on hard times; help those who are homeless to regain their self-esteem and sense of purpose, and also increasing awareness and education within the broader community. Rudi says that it is imperative that the community highlight that homelessness is a major social issue for Australia and we must do all we can to help those in need. Rudi is also a staunch supporter and Ambassador of the White Ribbon campaign.

Alyson Segrott

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. 

Andrew Nelson

Andrew is a Senior Officer in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and joined the Board of Hunter Homeless Connect in March 2016. Andrew’s military career brings a unique blend of skills to the Board including strong leadership and management across many operational domains.

A staunch advocate of the White Ribbon campaign, Andrew became interested in supporting Hunter Homeless Connect as an opportunity to help victims left homeless as a consequence of domestic violence.

Andrew’s Air Force career has armed him with many skills and afforded him many wonderful experiences and opportunities. He hopes that in his role with Hunter Homeless Connect he may become a role model to those who have fallen on hard times; help those who are homeless to regain their self-esteem and sense of purpose, and also increasing awareness and education within the broader community to highlight that homelessness is a major social issue for Australia that requires urgent attention.