Our name, Open Place, reflects our service’s intention 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, Senior Manager
Michelle 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.
Fiona Paraman, Assistant Manager
Fiona joined Open Place in January 2023. Fiona has many years’ experience as a counsellor, trainer and in leadership positions primarily in not-for-profit services. Fiona’s specialisation in counselling and support services for trauma and suicide, has led her to care deeply about trauma informed and people-centred service delivery. Her role at Open Place is to support the teams to deliver high quality specialist services for Forgotten Australians.
Tracey Anderson, Client Services Coordinator
Tracey coordinates 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.
Brigitte Mathot, Administration Officer
Brigitte has worked with the health team since July 2021. Brigitte began assisting the team while working on reception, and has since moved to working as an Administration Brokerage Officer full time. Prior to working at Open Place, Brigitte studied Community Services.
Sandy Aston, Receptionist
Sandy joined Open Place in August 2023 as our receptionist. Sandy has previously worked in health care, doing both administration and clinical duties.
Shaye Silver, Drop-in and Intake Worker
Shaye joined Open Place in 2019. Shaye has previously worked as a support worker, predominantly working in the youth sector. Shaye co-facilitates the Gippsland SSG with Liz Saunderson.
Lesley Jones, Coordinator - Coordinated Support
Lesley joined Open Place 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 South Australia as a counsellor, mediator, critical incident stress management facilitator and community educator.
Munni Alves, Coordinated Support Worker
Munni 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, Coordinated Support Team
Raymond started at Open Place in June 2018 working with Lesley Jones and Munni Alves. Raymond has had many years’ experience in the welfare sector predominantly working in the housing and youth sector.
Sharon Guy, Coordinator 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 Fell 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 Child and Family Services in Ballarat.
Annie Fell, Regional Outreach and Support Worker
Annie 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 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, Records, Find & Connect Worker
Siobhan has been working with Open Place since 2012, supporting people to access records of their time in care, and in the search for family. She also co-facilitates the Shepparton Social Support Group with Tracey Anderson.
Siobhan’s background is in Community Development and Genealogy in Australia and Ireland, and she is passionate about supporting people in their quest to learn more of their past and their families.
Lydia Wasilenko, Records, Find & Connect Worker
Lydia supports 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, Records, Find & Connect worker
Diane started with Open Place in November 2015 and is a part of the Records, Find & Connect team assisting 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.
Emma Kitson, Records, Find & Connect Worker
Emma started with Open Place in June 2018 and now supports Forgotten Australians through records and family history inquiries and searches. Emma’s work experience has primarily been case management roles within the Department of Corrections both in Perth and in New Zealand. Emma co-facilitates the Ballarat SSG with Sharon Guy.
Cameron Boyd, Coordinator Counselling and Redress
Cameron started with Open Place in July 2021 and has worked across a range of settings supporting people from all walks of life, particularly adults who have had childhood sexual abuse perpetrated against them. His role at Open Place is mainly to support the Counselling and Redress teams as they continue to provide the best possible service to Forgotten Australians.
Lejla Arnautovic, Senior Counsellor
Lejla has joined open place in February 2023. Lejla has previously worked in counselling and leadership positions in community and public health and other non-for-profit organisations in Australia and overseas. She is passionate about strengths-based counselling and supporting people in building resilience and self-agency.
Kate Derrig, Counsellor
Kate joined Open Place in May 2021. Kate previously worked with Aboriginal 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.
Liz Saunderson, Counsellor
Liz is part of the counselling team and has worked with Forgotten Australians since 2014. Prior to Open Place Liz has worked in the public service and public and private health sectors. Liz co-facilitates the Gippsland SSG with Shaye Silver.
Keegan Tarrant, Counselling Administration Officer
Keegan joined Open Place in May 2023 as the Counselling Administration Officer. Prior to working at Open Place, Keegan studied social sciences.
Erika Mercado, Redress Support Worker
Erika joined Open Place in November 2019. Erika previously worked in the Health/Admin and Counselling teams at Open Place before starting in the Redress team in April 2021. Erika is currently completing a course to become a qualified social worker.
Mary-Cath Murray, Redress Support Worker
Mary-Cath started at Open Place in April 2021 as a redress Support Worker. Mary-Cath has worked in the Community Welfare sector in Melbourne and overseas for over 20 years. Mary-Cath previously worked with children and families experiencing Trauma, Mental health, Alcohol and other drugs and homelessness.
Rose Pearce, Redress Support Worker
Rose joined Open Place in May 2023. Rose is a social worker with a background in family services and family violence. She is passionate about supporting victim survivors of violence and abuse in their journey of recovery and healing.
Janelle Hess, Redress Support Worker
Janelle joined Open Place in April 2023. Janelle previously worked as a Psychosocial Support Worker in acute mental health in a suicide prevention program. Prior to this role she worked as a Forensic Case Manager within the forensic system, where she worked closely with individuals exiting prison back into the community.