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Our People

Banksia Gardens Community Services continues to impress with its track record of excellence in the delivery of education and community programs. The organisation’s work has been recognised at a local, state and national level.

This dynamic organisation has managed to recruit some of the most inspiring and dedicated staff, who help 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 75+ staff, who gather 500 years of experience in community development and education, speak 23 languages and who have allowed Banksia Gardens to partner with dozens of organisations of varying types and sizes over the last 44 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, co-director NCESE
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.

Georgina Wheeler


Peter Ewer

Manager of Economic Participation and Social Enterprise
Adv Dip Business Management

Paul Atkinson

Manager Community Development and Youth
Master of Peace and Conflict Studies
Paul is a social worker with 20 years’ experience in community service organisations. During that time Paul has worked in direct service roles, policy and advocacy and leadership. Paul moved to Melbourne from Western Australia in 2006 and has worked predominantly in housing and homelessness, including crisis accommodation and with justice-involved people of all ages and their families. Paul has a masters of peace and conflict studies and is a trained mediator, interested in transformational conflict resolution. Paul started working at BGCS in August 2020.

Dr 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.

Seral Fehmi

Project REAL Manager


Seral Fehmi

Lead Teacher at Project REAL
BA Youth Studies, Grad Dip Education (Secondary)
Seral joined the Project REAL team in 2019 and has an extensive background in student wellbeing, re-engagement programs and community partnerships. Her 15 years in mainstream schools have included a diverse range of roles starting out in education support before completing her studies and moving into teaching and student wellbeing, and then taking on a leadership position in Student Wellbeing and Community Partnerships. Seral has also worked with many schools across Victoria during her time working for Hands on Learning as a Schools Partnership Manager, where she assisted schools to set up and implement their own onsite re-engagement programs for students needing an alternative learning experience to strengthen their connection with school. Seral brings with her a love for experiential learning and her passion for improving the lives of children, young people and families through school engagement. You will also find Seral supporting many of our local community members at Banksia Gardens as she has a strong commitment to social work and social justice.

Dr Edgar Caballero Aspe

Education and Sustainability 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.

Georgia Ransome

Good People Act Now 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.

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.

Dhammika Jayawardene

Finance & Payroll Coordinator

Bodhi Sweeny

Study Group & School Holiday Program Team LEader

Tash Alabakov

Youth Transitions Coordinator
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. 

Tess Cheetham

Youth And sustainability officer

Jonathan Chee

Chief Storyteller and WPI Coordinator
BA (Philosophy), Grad Dip Ed, AssocDeg Prof Writ & 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.

Dr Eric Dommers

Co-Director, Northern Centre for Excellence in School Engagement (NCESE)
Doctor of education, HDipTeachSec, Cert Health Prog Eval, Cert ProjManagement

Prior to taking up a role as Co-Director, Northern Centre for Excellence in School Engagement (NCESE), Eric worked at the Brotherhood of St Laurence Research & Policy Centre as Principal Research Fellow, Inclusive Education – where he also worked on the evaluation of Project REAL. Prior to that, Eric worked at the University of Melbourne, as Barr Research Fellow, School of Social and Political Sciences, and as Evaluation Manager – Social Inclusion Projects, Queensland Department of Communities.

In addition to working in evaluation and research roles, Eric also has an extensive background in health and education, with roles including Manager, Organisational Health, Queensland Department of Education; Principal Policy Advisor, Primary Health Care & General Practice, with Qld Health; Director of Strategic Research; QDGP; CEO, Brisbane Inner South Division of General Practice; Director, National Nutrition Education in Schools project, Queensland University of Technology; and Schools Programs Manager, National Heart Foundation (Vic).

Eric has a doctorate in Education, as well as qualifications in evaluation from Melbourne University, and Project Management.

Business Services Team

Georgina Wheeler

Manager People, Finance and Operations

Dhammika Jayawardene

Finance and Operations Officer

Kylie Aloi


Thishali Arangallage

Office coordinator

Parwana Ahmadzai

administration assistant

Siyoda Jayawardene


Dana Ghawi

Early Years Community Worker

Training and Employment Team

Rana Tbaileh

Manager Training and Employment

Jamil El Sabayn

English Tutor

Fatme Al Rai

Sewing tutor/food pantry Assistant

Usama Al Ogidi

IT Tutor

Mathew Colbourn

English Tutor

Kenley Court Neighbourhood House Team

Michael Mansour

Kenley Court Neighbourhood House Coordinator

Nella Centorbi

English Tutor/Study Group Tutor (KNCH)

Thaera Yonan

Client Support Officer & Towards Equality Facilitator

Soni Baidar

Towards equality facilitator
Gargandeep Sharma

Gagandeep Sharma

Towards equality facilitator
Vivian Haya

Vivian Haya

Girls Circle Facilitator

Youth Justice and Community Support team

Paul Atkinson

Community development manager

Melodie Radatti

Community Development Coordinator

Saida Nur

BCYJA Case Worker

John Rutter

Youth and community support worker
emma solai

Emma Solai

Youth and community support worker

NCESE & Project REAL Team

Jaime de Loma-Osorio Ricon

Deputy Chief Executive Officer, co-director NCESE

Dr Eric Dommers

Co-Director Northern Centre for Excellence in School Engagement

Seral Fehmi

Project REAL Lead Teacher
Astrid Decloux - PR

Astrid Decloux

project real teacher

Tallulah O'Brien

Project REAL youth engagement and learning mentor

Ta Tupou

Youth Engagement Learning Mentor

Fakaoho Tupou

Youth Engagement Learning Mentor

Sophie Tsokas

Youth Engagement Learning Mentor

Gender Equity Team

Georgia Ransome


Natasha Guisti


Study Group Team

Tess Cheetham

Youth and sustainability education officer

Bodhi Sweeny

Study Group & School Holiday Program Team LEader

Edgar Caballero Aspe

Education and Sustainability Coordinator

Aiming High VCE Support Team

Dilini Patibendage

Aiming High program coordinator

Marie Spyros

Aiming high program coordinator

Luyee Bai

Aiming high program Tutor

Social Cohesion Through Education

Melodie Radatti

Community Development Coordinator

Tash Alabakov

Youth Transitions Coordinator

Community Development Programs Team

Ann Pavlovic

Great Young Movers coordinator

Dana Ghawi

Early Years Community Worker

The Common Bean Cafe Team

Tod Myles

Common Bean Supervisor

Maddisyn Lang

Cafe Trainee

Facility Team

Puspa Acharya

Lead Maintenance Officer

Ambar Chhettri

Maintenance Officer

Harry Sahin


Sumitra Dhimal

maintenance officer