The name, Open Place, reflects the intent of the service which is to be place-based, accessible and welcoming. We are open to new ideas and to learning from our service users about what works and what doesn’t.
Michelle McDonald joined Open Place in November 2017 as the Senior Manager. She brings many years of experience working within the human services field in senior management and service delivery roles, predominantly working in the area of Child, Youth and Family. Michelle also managed Berry Street’s Heritage Service for people who spent time in any of its former homes or institutions as children for approximately 4 years.
Regina Bremen joined Open Place in May 2021 as the Assistant Manager. She brings a range of experience, predominantly in the child, youth and family and adult mental health sectors. Regina has worked with various organisations in Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra and has held leadership/management roles since 2015.
Tracey Anderson is the Client Services Coordinator at Open Place and co-ordinates the administrative and health funding processes associated with the service. Tracey has previously held administrative and personal assistant positions in a number of large community and private sector organisations.
Allie Amey works in Administration at Open Place and assists service users with health funding requests. Allie works alongside Tracey, Megan and Shaye in the administration team.
Megan Gallagher works as an Administration Officer at Open Place and started in June 2018 and has previously worked in various youth welfare and community organisations. Megan assists Emma with the Friday cookup each week.
Shaye Silver is an Administration Officer who works as the Open Place Receptionist and assists with health funding requests when time allows. Shaye has previously worked in the welfare sector.
Lesley Jones is the Coordinator for the Coordinated Support Team, joining the team in May 2017. Previously Lesley worked as a case manager and counsellor with Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants at Elm Place in Adelaide as well as having a long career in regional, rural and remote SA as a counsellor, mediator, critical incident stress management facilitator and community educator.
Munni Alves is a Coordinated Support Worker who started in her position in January 2018 at Open Place. Munni worked in the adult mental health field for the past 5 years and in the NDIS space for the last year and a half. Prior to that she worked in the youth homelessness sector for 3 years.
Raymond Clancy started in the Coordinated Support Team in June 2018 working with Lesley and Munni. Raymond has had many years’ experience in the welfare sector predominately working in the housing and youth sector.
Emma Kitson started with Open Place as the new Drop-in and Intake Worker in June 2018.
Emma is originally from New Zealand and settled in Melbourne May 2018 having spent time living and working in Perth. Emma’s work experience has primarily been case management roles within the Department of Corrections both in Perth and in New Zealand. Emma has also worked as a Residential Youth Worker in Perth and as a Case Manager for the CALD community; specifically individuals and families seeking asylum in Australia.
Sharon Guy is the Coordinator of Regional Outreach. Sharon joined Open Place in August 2016. Sharon assists Forgotten Australians to access records from their time in ‘care’ and facilitates a number of regional Social Support groups. Sharon works closely with Annie providing outreach support to Forgotten Australians in Western and South Western Victoria. Sharon has 15 years’ experience working with Forgotten Australians from her previous role as the Heritage Coordinator at CAFS in Ballarat.
Annie Fell is the Regional Outreach & Support Worker who started working at Open Place in February, 2018. Annie’s role is primarily to assist service users with access to mainstream and specialist services, and facilitation of the Bendigo, Geelong and Warrnambool Social Support Groups. Annie has 13 years’ experience working in regional and country Victoria in the welfare sector, predominantly working in homelessness, supporting families and Forgotten Australians. Annie also has a 30 years dental nurse experience in the public and private dental health services and continues to have a keen interest in oral health.
Siobhan McGuinness is the Coordinator for the Records, Find & Connect team who joined the Records team in August 2012. The Find and Connect team assists Forgotten Australians to access the records of their time in care and also assists with connecting with family members.
Siobhan moved to Melbourne from Galway in the West of Ireland where she worked for several years as a genealogical researcher, assisting people to locate records and discover the history of their Irish ancestors. During this time, Siobhan was also the Assistant Coordinator of a community response project which supported the long-term unemployed through a programme of adult education, training and personal development.
Lydia Wasilenko is a part of the Records, Find and Connect team and works alongside Siobhan and Diane, supporting Forgotten Australians through records and family history inquiries and searches as well as facilitating the Preston Social Support group. Lydia has worked at Open Place since 2015 and was originally a part of the Administration team.
Diane Jacobson started with Open Place in November 2015 and is a part of the Records, Find and Connect team and works alongside Siobhan and Lydia who assist Forgotten Australians to search for their own and their known family members’ records and past history. Diane previously worked at VANISH from 2002 and has known a number of our Forgotten Australians from that time.
Caroline Carroll OAM is the Community Education Coordinator. Caroline works to help educate other service providers about Forgotten Australians and the ways that the community can work with them. Caroline is the president of the Alliance for Forgotten Australians [AFA]. Caroline is herself a Forgotten Australian and comes to Open Place with a background in providing services and advocacy to Forgotten Australians through her previous role at VANISH and the Interim Service for Forgotten Australians.
Ruth Adams is the Senior Counsellor in our Counselling team. Ruth began working at Open Place in April of 2014. Ruth liaises with external counsellors who provide support to Forgotten Australians through Open Place funding, provides direct counselling to Forgotten Australians and their families, and facilitates the Frankston Social Support Group. Ruth is a professional counsellor with training in psychology, family therapy, and narrative therapy.
Sue Kilfeather is a counsellor who works alongside Ruth within the counselling team at Open Place. Sue’s working life has been varied having worked many years within the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation sector as a qualified counsellor and has gained over 15 years experience of working with people suffering with trauma and PTSD. Sue moved to Melbourne in 1986 from Belfast, North of Ireland where she had a dream to come to Australia as a young teenager.
Kate Derrig is a counsellor who joined Open Place in May 2021. Kate’s previously worked with indigenous Australians and young people in residential care. Kate qualified as an art therapist in 2012 and a counsellor in 2016. Kate moved to Melbourne from the West of Ireland in 2008.
Virginia Carey works on the Counselling and National Redress Scheme teams. Virginia worked as a part of our Royal Commission Support team from 2013 until the completion of the Royal Commission’s inquiry in December 2017. Prior to working at Open Place Virginia worked for 7 years with people experiencing homelessness.
Liz Saunderson works on the Counselling and National Redress Scheme teams. Liz commenced working at Open Place in 2014 and is qualified in Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs. Prior to Open Place Liz worked in the health sector.
Erika Mercado is a Redress Support Worker at Open Place. Erika previously worked in the Health/Admin and the Counselling team at Open Place. Erika also co-facilitates the Gippsland Social Support group with Virginia and is currently completing a course to become a qualified Social Worker.