Our People

Banksia Gardens Community Services continues to impress with its track record of excellence in the delivery of community programs. The organisation’s work has been recognised both at a state and national level. This relatively small but dynamic organisation has managed to recruit some of the most inspiring and dedicated staff, who help to attract a wide range of local residents to get involved in the services offered.

Critical to the success of the organisation is the quality and commitment of its 40+ staff, who gather 290 years of experience in community development and education, speak 12 languages and who have allowed Banksia Gardens to partner with dozens of organisations of varying types and sizes over the last 10 years. The following section provides a summary of the skills and experience that the Banksia Gardens team bring to work every day.

Executive Management

Gina Dougall GAICD – Chief Executive Officer

BA Recreation, Dip Education, Dip Business Management, Dip Counselling

Gina brings extensive community, health and leadership experience to her role as CEO of Banksia Gardens Community Services. Her background has been in recreation management, community health and juvenile justice. Prior to commencing at Banksia Gardens in 2001, Gina spent seven years living in Alice Springs where she was employed as Manager for Education and Training for Family Planning Northern Territory. Her role included much remote area work with Indigenous Australians. Her goal is to grow Banksia Gardens Community Services into the most innovative community services organisation in Victoria. In 2017, Gina graduated from the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Jaime de Loma-Osorio Ricon – Deputy Chief Executive Officer

M.Sc. Applied Physics, Master of Engineering

Jaime has had a long association with Banksia Gardens, where he started volunteering as a mathematics tutor a decade ago. In his role, Jaime has been responsible for the establishment of many of the organisation’s current programs and he played a pivotal role in the redevelopment of the organisation’s headquarters. Jaime’s interests are quite diverse and include social and environmental issues, science and languages. Jaime has been a volunteer translator with Greenpeace International for over 11 years and has sat on a number of not-for-profit boards.

Management

Samantha Donaldson – Manager People, Finance and Operations

Adv Dip Business Management

Samantha came to Banksia Gardens in late 2000 as a work for the dole participant, and quickly became the Administration Assistant. To her current role, Samantha brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from her 17 years in the community sector. With a strong passion for graphic design, her self-taught skills are put to use at Banksia. Samantha loves reading, architecture and interior design. Outside of work, she is a proud mum to two boys.

 

Rana Tbaileh – Manager Training and Employment

PhD Engineering, Adv Dip Business Management, Cert IV TAE, Cert IV TESOL

Rana was first involved in Banksia Gardens as a volunteer tutor, soon becoming a Project Coordinator in the Community Development Department. Working at Banksia Gardens has allowed Rana to pursue her passion in the education and teaching field, demonstrated through her role as an adult education trainer and extensive experience, which led her to her current role. Rana enjoys the friendly, supportive and team spirit that shines at Banksia Gardens, and is looking forward to future developments, both personally and professionally through her career.

Michael Mansour – Kenley Court Neighbourhood House Coordinator

Master of Social Science (International Development), Bachelor of Electrical Engineering

Michael is a community development practitioner with a background in engineering. Before joining Banksia Gardens, Michael was a project and community development worker in Sudan for three years, working with marginalised and ethic groups in the education, health and social sectors. Michael also volunteered in several community development projects in Egypt, Philippines and Australia. His practice is influenced by participatory principles and approaches to development. His strong passion for social justice led him to participate in the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. Michael loves reading, travelling and connecting with people from different  backgrounds.

Edgar Caballero Aspe – Education and Youth Development Coordinator

PhD Philosophy, Master of Science (Environmental Biology), Grad Cert Marine and Coastal Sciences, Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology)

Edgar has a strong background in education and biological sciences. He has many years of experience teaching and working with multicultural youth from Mexico, the United States and Australia. Edgar complete his PhD in Environmental Education, researching his interest in creating innovative and educative experiences and opportunities for young people. He is part of a network of emerging environmental leaders after participating in the ‘Global Environmental Summer Academy’ in Switzerland. He loves speaking languages, like his native Spanish, about different cultures of the world and sharing his Mexican food skills. Edgar also has a moving background that includes acrobatics and dance, and firmly believes that movement and creative expressions are essential elements for learning.

 

Seral Fehmi – Lead Teacher  Project REAL

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Christie Sinclair GAICD – WHS Officer & COVID-19 Safety Officer, Facilities Maintenance Coordinator

Dip Frontline Management, Cert IV TAE, Cert Training and Development, Cert Effective Personal Leadership, Cert HR Management

Christie came to Banksia Gardens in 2016 on a work for the dole program. He has had a vast and varied background and brings a wealth of experience, including two decades in the entertainment industry, leadership, human resources and senior management roles, and 10 years as a self-employed learning and development consultant where he designed and facilitated learning programs for thousands of participants. Christie is also considered to be extremely hands on which gives him the ability to build just about anything. In his spare time he enjoys music, computers and spending time with family, especially jamming with his son.

 

Naomi Brouwer

BA Creative Arts, MA Education (Applied Theatre)

Naomi is an artist and educator with a socially engaged practice who has taught, directed and collaborated with community and cultural organisations such Signal, City of Melbourne, Footscray Community Arts Centre, St Martins Youth Arts Centre, Melbourne City Mission and Canberra Youth Theatre. Her work is grounded in a humanistic philosophy and an inclusive participant-centred approach to creativity and learning.

Her role at Banksia Gardens for the Social Cohesion through Education Project involves conceiving and delivering responsive, school-based arts and education programs, events and initiatives. She is currently the Artistic Director of Flag Inc., a performance-making arts collective with a focus on pursuing cross-cultural and intergenerational connections.

 

Georgia Ransome – Gender Equity Coordinator

Bachelor of Health Sciences

Georgia first came to Banksia Gardens in 2017 as a volunteer for the GPAN Project. She undertook her final university placement in the same year with the Community Development team. She continued to volunteer for GPAN for a number of years and first stepped into the role of Gender Equity Coordinator in 2020. She is a passionate feminist and committed to helping create a gender equitable future.

Georgia loves travelling,  DIY home renovations and spending time with her family, friends and her dog, Ollie.

 

Tash Alabakov – Youth Engagement Officer

Bachelor of Health Promotion, Cert Education Support

Tash first came to Banksia Gardens Community Services as a volunteer in mid 2012, assisting in Study Groups and encouraging friendly competition in weekly pick up games on the outdoor basketball court with local youth. She has since become one of Banksia Gardens’ Youth Engagement Officers, leading the Youth Transitions Program and supporting newly arrived young people into work, study and volunteer opportunities. Tash also helps facilitate various primary and high school activities as part of Social Cohesion Through Education projects.

Tash has worked in schools and local councils, and she loves all sports. Tash hopes to empower and engage local youth in making lifestyle choices that impact positively on their health, and encourages youth-led participation in projects and programs. 

Paul Atkinson – Youth Justice and Community Support Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jonathan Chee – Chief Storyteller and WPI Coordinator

BA (Philosophy), GradDipEd, AssocDegProfWrit&Edit, Cert IV TAE, CELTA

Jono has been part of the Banksia family for most of the last decade, and prior to that worked in education and community services for the preceding six years in Victoria and New South Wales. Jono now oversees communications at Banksia Gardens, the first time in the organisation’s forty-plus years of operation that a dedicated role has existed, and loves to share the extraordinary stories of achievement, resilience and impact at Banksia.

Jono is also the local coordinator for Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) Melbourne Project Centre, and helps to coordinate 18 teams of WPI students each year to do projects with organisations in Melbourne.

Eric Dommers – Co-Director, Northern Centre for Excellence in School Engagement (NCESE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business Services Team

Samantha Donaldson
Manager Business, HR and Communications

Dhammika Jayawardene
Business Assistant

Natasha Downes
Business Assistant

Mark Rice IT Consultant

Mark Rice
IT Consultant

Training and Employment Team

Rana Tbaileh
Manager Training and Employment

Jamil El Sabayn
Adult Education Officer

Fatme Al Rai
Adult Education Tutor

Nella Centorbi
Adult Education Tutor

Mathew Colbourn
Adult Education Tutor

Miriam Johnson Adult Education Tutor

Miriam Johnson
Adult Education Tutor

 

Kenley Court Neighbourhood House Team

Michael Mansour
Kenley Court Neighbourhood House Coordinator

Thaera Yonan
Administration Assistant

Youth Justice and Community Support team

Paul Atkinson
Youth Justice and Community Support Coordinator

Melodie Radatti
Youth Arts & SCTE Engagement Officer

Emily Sporik

Channa De Silva
Youth Engagement Officer

Project REAL Team

Seral Fehmi Lead Teacher – Project REAL

Claudia Spinnler
Project REAL Family and Student Support Worker

Ta Tupou

Eric Dommers
Co-Director Northern Centre for Excellence in School Engagement

Good People Act Now Team

Georgia Ransome
Gender Equality Coordinator

Emily Sporik
Gender Equality Officer

Study Group Team

Edgar Caballero Aspe
Education and Youth Development Coordinator

Chun Liang

Aiming High VCE Support Team

Chun Liang

Andrea Poblete Education Tutor

Andrea Poblete
Education Tutor

Social Cohesion Through Education

Naomi Brouwer
SCTE Engagement Officer

Tash Alabakov
Youth Engagement Officer

Melodie Radatti
Youth Arts & SCTE Engagement Officer

Community Development programs Team

Derya Secgin Great Young Movers Assistant Facilitator

Derya Secgin
Great Young Movers Assistant Facilitator

The Common Bean Cafe Team

Filiz Arslan
Cafe Trainee

Hansani Patabendige
Cafe Trainee

Tod Myles

Facility Team

Puspa Acharya
Cleaner

Ambar Chhettri
Cleaner

Harry Sahin Hallkeeper

Harry Sahin
Hallkeeper