Meet our team

BENH Sarah Headshot August 2020Sarah – Manager

Pronouns: she/her

Sarah was born and grew up on land of which the Traditional Owners and original custodians are the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people. She now lives, volunteers, and works on Wadawurrung Country. Sarah studied environmental science, specialising in river health and was once employed as a geomorphologist (looking at how rivers shape the land). For a couple of years, Sarah coordinated the citizen science program, Waterwatch Victoria for the then Department of Sustainability and Environment. Through volunteering, Sarah became a Ride Director for Bicycle Victoria, managing 9 to 14-day bicycle touring holidays for up to 4000 people at a time (sleeping in tents) in events such as the Great Victorian Bike Ride and the Great Tasmanian Bike Ride. She rides to work when it is not raining and enjoys walking and talking with her friends and family on the Yarrowee River Trail.

In August 2020, Sarah joined the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House team. She has a passion for community newsletters, having started the very successful Brown Hill Community Newsletter in a volunteer capacity in 2016. In partnership with the City of Ballarat, Sarah coordinates the Ballarat Community News Publications Network, providing networking opportunities and a combined voice for community news publications across greater Ballarat.

Sarah loves to chat with and to connect people. Through her role at the Neighbourhood House, she has enjoyed helping community members connect through Playgroup, Chatty Wednesdays, Watercolour classes, Tai Chi and loads of other great activities. She is also a strong believer in volunteering, inspired by her dad who has volunteered with his local CFA for over 50 years.

Liz - Participation Coordinator

Pronouns: she/her

Liz works to ensure all of our existing and potential participants are able to register and attend activities with the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House.

Kay - Community Governance Project Coordinator

Pronouns: she/her

Kay delivers the Community Governance project in partnership with the three other Neighbourhood Houses in Ballarat and the City of Ballarat.

Shalini - Community Project Officer

Pronouns: she/her

Shalini coordinates the Community Road Safety, Be Connected Digital Literacy and Ballarat Buddies projects. She also helps people process their Power Saving Bonus applications.

Jane - Playgroup Development Coordinator and Project Manager 

Pronouns: she/her

Jane facilitates our weekly Playgroup and works to support other Playgroups using the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House Community Room. Jane also manages delivery of several projects, including the Zero-Waste Homes project during 2023, and supports the team with continual improvement of administrative procedures. Jane is also our Auslan teacher.

Bridie - Placement Student (Community and Human Services)

Pronouns: she/her

Bridie leads the Walking Group and Chatty Wednesdays programs.

Eve - Placement Student (Community and Human Services)

Pronouns: she/her

Eve helps out with Playgroup on Tuesdays and supports the team on Fridays.

Brodie - Office Support (Volunteer)

Pronouns: she/her

Brodie is a great support in the office on Fridays.

Tutors, Teachers and Group Leaders

  1. Christine - Sewing, Exploring Watercolour
  2. Clare - Hypnotherapy-Meditation
  3. Greg - Be Connected Digital Literacy
  4. Jane - Auslan, Playgroup, Waste-Free Homes (project management)
  5. Jenette - Drawing Group
  6. Jeni - Tai Chi
  7. Julianne - Alexander Technique
  8. Julie - Waste-Free Living
  9. Kate - Gentle Yoga
  10. Melissa - VicRoads Sessions and Writing courses
  11. Sandra - Winter Woollies
  12. Tegan - Watercolour and Still Life Drawing

Committee of Management

Details available on the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profit Commission (ACNC) website.

  1. Chair - Glen Crompton
  2. Deputy Chair - Bradley Smith
  3. Secretary - Lisa Buckland
  4. Treasurer - Jane Jens
  5. Alan Labas
  6. Annie De Jong
  7. Cameron Duthie
  8. Laura Le Marshall

Past staff

Holly – Administration Assistant

Pronouns: she/her

Holly was born and grew up on Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Wurrang land in the Ballarat region, she still currently resides there. Holly completed school in 2020 and is studying a Diploma of Community Services. She is wanting to continue studying to become a case or social worker in the future. Holly has also volunteered at Mercy Place (an aged care facility) and SCOPE (disability service) prior to commencing work at the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House in August 2021 as an Admin. Assistant.

She has a passion for helping people succeed in life by supporting them with daily activities, helping people work toward their goals and aspirations and always putting 100% into all of her work.

Holly enjoys doing modules and courses to better educate herself on how to help the community in more profound ways. Some of the resource’s Holly looks into most include Family Violence, Friendly Careers and LGBTQIA+. Holly also can’t wait to finish her Diploma in Community Services to further her knowledge in the community service field as it is something she is extremely passionate about.

In Holly’s spare time she loves to read, spend time with family and friends, help people wherever she can and she loves Op. Shopping.

Emily - Administration Assistant, 2020 - 2021

Pronouns: she/her

Emily joined the House in April 2020 as Administration Assistant, a role which offers support in many aspects of House operations.

Emily had recently completed her Bachelor of Community and Human Services through Federation University and completed her 225 hour placement with Kate as her supervisor at BENH in 2019, which was an invaluable insight into Neighbourhood Houses. The opportunity to become part of the BENH team has offered Emily the chance to begin her career in community development. 

Kelsie - Digital Capacity and Engagement Officer, 2020 - 2021

Pronouns: she/her

Kelsie helped us to extend our community engagement in a digital and online capacity, which included ways in which we share our groups and activities with a wider audience. We are committed to exploring a variety of different ways in which we can deliver our programs now and into the future and Kelsie played an invaluable part of this development.

We were very fortunate to have Kelsie join us for six months, due to the Central Highlands Association of Neighbourhood Houses (CHAHN) having successfully applied for funding through the State Government's 'Working for Victoria' program. This created 15 specialised Digital Capacity and Community Development positions throughout Neighbourhood Houses in our region.

2019 07 news new buildingKate - Acting Manager, 2019 - 2020

Pronouns: she/her

Kate Owen, previously working as a Community Development Officer at both the Ballarat and Wendouree Neighbourhood Centres took on the job as the Acting Manager to set up this new House. Kate continued working with the community in Mt Pleasant on activities around the Mt Pleasant History Group and community events, such as the Christmas Carols and producing the newsletter. 

Past students


Social Work Students

  1. Shweta - Federation University


Social Work Students

  1. Alex - Deakin University
  2. Ashleigh - Victoria University
  3. Gundeep - Federation University
  4. Shalini - Federation University
  5. Yara - Federation University

Community and Human Services Students

  1. Charisma - Federation University
  2. Georgina - Federation University
  3. Hanro - Federation University
  4. Holly - Federation Tafe


Social Work Students

  1. Fiona - Victoria University
  2. Holly B - Federation University
  3. Muskan - Federation University

Community and Human Services Students

  1. Dolphina - Victoria University
  2. Rhys - Federation University

Student Stories

Fiona – Placement student, Playgroup coordinator and Volunteer coordinator, 2021

Pronouns: she/her

Fiona grew up in Werribee and now lives in Bacchus Marsh. She is a final year Bachelor of Social Work student at Victoria University.

Her dad is a migrant from Italy and her Mum was born in Australia. She is an ally and has a deep connection and respect of Australia, through the cultural and environmental lens of First Nations people. She believes that it is time for a treaty and is passionate about having a true reconciliation process, to give back and work in unison with Indigenous ways of doing and being.

Her background is in Early childhood, disability, support work and for the last 15 years as a remedial massage therapist. She undertook her first social work placement at Ballarat East Neighbourhood House and had the best experience. She was introduced to many exciting community projects and quickly became a part of them. She also initiated the Chatty Wednesday’s group and Playgroup at Barkly Square in partnership with the Ballarat Toy Library.

Fiona developed the concept to increase social connection in our community through the Ballarat Buddies for International Students project. It is about linking international students of Ballarat to community participants, whereby, friendships and local connections can be formed in a relaxed and casual space.

In her free time, she loves cooking, reading, being in nature, and she has four children who keep her on her toes!

Muskan – Placement Student, 2021

Pronouns: she/her

Muskan was born and grew up in Delhi, India. She moved to Australia in 2017 to pursue Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) majoring in sociology from Deakin University, Burwood campus. She is a final year Master of Social Work student at Federation University, Mt Helen.

Muskan undertook her first social work placement at Ballarat East Neighbourhood House. Her focus was on the Ballarat Buddies for International Student project and she helped with the other projects and daily activities of the Neighbourhood House such as Chatty Wednesdays, Social Media, Drawing Group, Playgroup, etc. In the past, she has volunteered at one of the Australian Red Cross Op. shops in Melbourne and was a project intern at Deakin FreelancingHub.

She is interested in mental health wellbeing and helping people in the community. She loves to learn more about the Australian culture, traditions, and history. In her free time, she loves to read, paint, talk to family and friends and go out for a walk.