Our story

Our Clinicians

Meet the team

Christine Harkin

Director – Supervisor – Senior Clinician

MEd(IncSpec), MCouns (Hons), Post Graduate Clinical Play Therapy, CertSPT, RPT

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Christine has a special interest in working with children who have experienced family violence. She also strives to weave the findings from interpersonal neurobiology and polyvagal theory into her practice.

Christine is grateful for all the children and families she has had the opportunity to work with and thanks them for extending to her the privilege of being part of their journey. Christine likes to work with all children to support them to integrate their challenges and move towards reaching their full potential and healing.

  • B.A.E., Master of Counselling (Honours)
  • Master of Education (Special Ed)
  • Advanced Certification Clinical Play Therapy
  • Registered Synergetic Play Therapist
  • Associate Member of the Australian Play Therapists Association
  • Registered Member of the Australian Counselling Association
  • Member of the Association For Play Therapy U.S.
  • Member of ACA College Of Supervisors
  • Registered ACA Level 4

ASH golbasi

Senior Clinician

Registered Psychologist, RPT.

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Ash is a provisional psychologist who has completed a Masters of Professional Psychology and is currently completing a Certificate of Child Centred Play Therapy. She is also in the process of fulfilling the hours required to become a registered psychologist.

​Ash has experience working with children with anxiety, autism, challenging behaviours and emotional dysregulation. She is passionate about helping children to use their inner strength to find new ways to heal and connect, by promoting positive self-esteem and resilience, improved ways of communicating, and providing them with healthier coping strategies.

katrina bell

Senior Clinician – Supervisor

PostGradPlayTh, CertSPT, BaSW, AMHSW, RPT

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Katrina Bell has worked with children and families in a variety of roles for over 15 years. She is an accredited mental health social worker and registered clinical play therapist.

Katrina has extensive experience working in case management and clinical roles with children and families. She has worked in social work and therapy roles in Victoria’s child protection and education systems, as well as in private practice.

As a play therapist, Katrina supports children to explore their feelings and process their experiences using the medium of play. Katrina is also committed to supporting the caregivers and systems that interact with children and young people on a day-to-day basis through coaching and training.

Katrina has particular interest in therapeutic modalities that allow clients to express themselves or emotionally regulate without being reliant on ‘finding the right words’. This includes yoga (particularly trauma-sensitive yoga), iRest and meditation practices, creative expression through art and music (including therapeutic drumming).

Katrina also provides professional supervision and support for social workers, play therapists and other professionals needing support around their work with children, families, systems or their own broader professional development and support.

  • Bachelor of Social Work and Accredited Mental Health Social Worker (AMHSW) with the Australian Association of Social Work
  • Post Graduate Training in Family Therapy and Systems Theory
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy
  • Certified Synergetic Play Therapist and Registered Play Therapist (RPT)
  • Level One Certificate in Theraplay
  • Level Two iRest Meditation Teacher
  • Accredited DRUMBEAT Facilitator
  • Currently completing Certification as Synergetic Play Therapy Supervisor
  • Currently completing Advanced Diploma in Children’s Yoga (YogaFun) and 200hour Yoga Teacher Training (Axis Yoga)
  • Accredited Mental Health Social Worker (AMHSW) with the Australian Association of Social Work
  • Accredited Registered Play Therapist (RPT)/Clinical Play Therapist with Australian Association of Play Therapists (APTA)

Chermaine Yeng

Senior Clinician

MCouns, RPT

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Chermaine is a specialist counsellor and a fully accredited play therapist who has completed a Masters of Counselling and specialised training in child-centred play therapy.

​She has an interest in neurodevelopment, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and trauma. She is passionate in helping children to go through their learning journey, reconstruct their world and regain inner resilience through child-centred play therapy, sand tray play and filial therapy with parents.

 

mandy easton

Senior Clinician – Animal-assisted Therapist

BaSW, Registered AAT, MBusCoach, PPT

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Mandy is a social worker and animal-assisted therapist. She is currently completing a Certificate in Child Centred Play Therapy.

​Mandy has a passion for early intervention, empowerment, strengths-based practices, narrative therapy, play therapy and animal-assisted therapy using her own dog, Rubi.

orla gilheany

Senior Clinician

GradDipArts. Play Therapy, RPT

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Orla is a specialist counsellor and a fully accredited play therapist who has completed a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, a Graduate Diploma in Arts and Play Therapy and a Certificate in Youth Arts. ​Orla is interested in using visual arts and symbolic and imaginary play as a means to discover children’s rich inner worlds and help them develop a healthy sense of self. Orla’s focus is on helping children and their families recover joy and confidence.

Robynne TONGUE

Provisional Psychologist

Bachelor of Behavioural Science, PostGrad Educational Psychology

Robynne Tongue has post graduate qualifications in psychology and has worked for 10 years specialising in mental health and wellbeing in the education, workplace and not-for-profit sectors.

 

 

 

Her experience includes counselling students at primary and secondary levels, implementing wellbeing programs, consulting to schools and consulting to health professionals who deliver mental health programs at Headspace and mental health training.

She is the parent of two teenage daughters and an active member of their school wellbeing group.

For 15 years in her earlier career, she worked in organisational development and HR at a large corporate organisation. During this time, Robynne was involved in counselling staff with vocational support and coaching managers in leadership competencies. She led teams of staff on projects and developed and delivered training, and facilitated programs.

Robynne’s career transitioned into mental health following a family tragedy with mental health. She is now dedicated to supporting young people and parents with information, skills and resources to improve wellbeing and mental health. She often works with her therapy dog, Bella, who is highly popular with her young clients.

Robynne is very personable and able to quickly develop rapport and trust with the young people she works with. Robynne also has experience with families from a variety of CALD communities and works to ensure that families are linked to appropriate community supports that may also assist them. That ensures an holistic approach that considers any underpinning and contributing factors.

Robynne has supervised social work students and enjoys mentoring others. She uses a strength-based and client-centred approach in her work.

Robynne is currently enrolled in Synergetic Play Therapy and will complete this training in March. She resides in Eltham and is passionate about supporting the local community.

Qualifications and professional development include:

  • Bachelor of Behavioural Science – La Trobe University
  • Postgraduate in Educational Psychology – Monash University
  • Associate Member of the Australian Psychological Society
  • Cultural Competency – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Focus – Headspace
  • Culturally competent training with vulnerable families – Vicseg
  • Managing trauma and challenging behaviour – The Austin School
  • Respond to client needs – Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare
  • Work with people with mental health needs – Excellence in Child & Family Welfare
  • Curriculum and classroom strategies (4-day intensive workshop) – Berry Street Education Model
  • Culturally competent training with vulnerable families – Vicseg
  • *Lead the Way – Visiting Therapy Dog and Handler Certificate Course (certification finalised upon current Melbourne COVID restrictions changed)
  • Online Introduction to Synergetic Play Therapy – enrolled and completion date in March 2021

ELISHIA HARDING

Senior Clinician, Registered Psychologist

M.Psych (Counselling Psych), PostgradDip (Psych), B.Sc (Psych), B.Com (Economics),Cert Child Centred Play Therapy

Registrations/Memberships: Registered Psychologist, MAPS

Elishia is a psychologist who holds general registration with AHPRA and full membership to the Australian Psychological Society.

Elishia has a warm, collaborative approach to therapy. She has experience in providing play-based therapy to preschool and primary school-aged children using both non-directive (child-led) and directive (therapist-led) approaches, which are appropriate to the client’s age, support needs and presentation. Elishia is particularly drawn to the practice of child-centred play therapy, in which she has recently completed her clinical training program.

Separate to her work with Play Therapy Melbourne, Elishia provides individual therapy to both child and adult clients with a mix of presentations in a private clinic setting.

In her therapeutic practice with both children and adults Elishia is drawn to humanistic approaches, and draws on attachment theory, interpersonal neurobiology and polyvagal theory to support her clients.

dan howell

Senior Clinician

BaSW, AMHSW, RPT.

Dan is an accredited mental health social worker and certified synergetic play therapist. He is also in the process of completing training in eye movement sensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

Dan specialises in counselling children and adolescents impacted by relational trauma, particularly neglect, family violence and sexual abuse. Dan works with reactive attachment disorder, adjustment disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, depression and anxiety.

Sara Khraim

Occupational Therapist

B Psychology, Masters Occupational Therapy

Sara graduated in 2013 and immediately knew her passion was in paediatrics!  Sara has worked across a variety of settings including Early Intervention where she was also a Key Worker, community health and private practice. 
Sara holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology and a Masters in Occupational Therapy practice.   

golnaz behgoo

Senior Clinician

Masters Child Play Therapy, MSW, RPT.

Golnaz is a clinical social worker and play therapist who has completed a master of social work and a master of play therapy. Golnaz has extensive experience working with children, young people and their families who have been involved with the child protection system and living in out of home care. She is passionate about uncovering the effects of adverse childhood experiences and attachment security in young children.

Golnaz is interested in child assessment, therapy, parenting education and skills training. She uses information about attachment, trauma, child development theory and neuroscience to work with children’s emotional, psychological and behavioural difficulties. Much of her work is also with the families, providing the necessary support to strengthen their relationships and build parenting skills.

Genevieve Connolly

Senior Clinician

PostGradDip Ed. RPT. 


Genevieve is a credentialed Child Centred Play Therapist, with a Graduate Diploma in Education and specialised experience working with children impacted by family violence and homelessness.

 

She has a background in working with children who have experienced complex trauma; supporting them through life transitions, encouraging them to overcome challenges and helping them to reconnect with their caregivers.

 

Genevieve is passionate about empowering children to reach their potential. She recognises children as individuals and encourages them to understand their unique life experiences, develop their self expression and self esteem through child centred play therapy.

Zoe

Zoe Tziannis

Clinician

BAppSc(Psych). MCouns&PsychTh, PPT.

Zoe is a dedicated child clinician with broad experience working with children, including with the Ardoch Youth Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services. Zoe has a psychology background and experience in working with children and families in a variety of capacities including case support work and counselling. Zoe has also recently completed the Child-Centred Play Therapy Clinical Training Program 2019.

Vicki Soar Senior Clinician Play Therapy

vicki soar

Senior Clinician
BA(Hons), MA ArtTh. 

Registrations:
HCPC. ANZACATA – AThR (Registered Art Therapist), BAAT – Art Psychotherapist.

Vicki is a qualified art therapist, who has worked across England and Australia in many diverse settings including probation, schools, acute psychiatric inpatient units and a centre against sexual assault. Vicki is experienced in working with vulnerable children and has specialised training in treating symptoms of trauma through art and synergetic play therapy.

 

Vicki understands that each child is unique and will approach internal conflicts differently. She helps children understand, regulate and explore their experiences through art and play. This is nurtured through compassion, neurobiological research and a client-centred approach. With this foundation, Vicki believes clients can achieve their goals in a very gentle, creative and safe way. This approach allows the child and caregivers to have an empowering, enriching experience of the therapeutic journey.

sarah gordon

Senior Clinician

GradDipArts/Play Therapy, Certified Synergetic Play Therapist.

Sara is a qualified creative arts therapist, with a speciality in synergetic play therapy.

She has extensive experience across a wide-range of age groups and has successfully guided clients through the projective qualities of the creative art and play therapy processes.

Sara values the relationship she shares with her clients as a fundamental component of her work, which helps facilitates optimal growth and client self-awareness.

Sara’s work with children on the ASD spectrum combines a number of strategies, including nervous system regulation and interpersonal neurobiology, which can help children respond better to their environment.

tess drummond

Associate Clinician

Mental Health Cert, CertPlayTherapy, PPT.

Tess is a specialist counsellor who is has completed mental health certification and is working towards completing her Bachelor of Social Work (with Honours) at RMIT.  Tess has completed a clinical-level program in centred play therapy.

 

 

Tess enjoys working with children on the autism spectrum. She delights in connecting with them and discovering their unique personalities. She likes to explore beyond this label and learn what is distressing the child. Tess is a warm and compassionate Clinician who children delight in working with. 

KAZ PORCH

Senior Clinician
BAppSc, (Hons), Grad Dip Ed, Certified Practitioner Therapeutic Play Skills, Post Grad Dip Play Therapy (PTI). AAPTA, PTPA, VIT.  


Kaz is a qualified primary school teacher who has worked in education for the past ten years. She has completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills and a Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy, through Play Therapy International.

 

Whilst working as a teacher, it became evident to Kaz, that providing an emotionally, developmentally and culturally appropriate child-centred intervention within the school environment was needed to support children as they navigate their unique worlds. Consequently, she trained as a Play Therapist and has been working in a primary education setting, implementing a child-centred play therapy program to nurture and enhance student’s mental health, social and emotional wellbeing.  This approach uses an expressive toolkit to allow communication through the natural language of play and the creative arts.

 

Kaz’s therapeutic approach is informed through the lens of Attachment Theory, child developmental theories and neuroscience. She believes it as an absolute privilege to be able to work with children and their families in this way, forming relationships that empower a child to process issues that are personally relevant. Kas has a keen interest in Attachment Theory and trauma, supporting children, parents and carers as well as teachers who may be involved in Out of Home Care.  Kaz has supported children of many ages and with varied presentations and diagnoses.  Kaz is committed to providing the highest level of evidence-informed support to the children and families she works with.

Sian Toney

Senior Clinician –
Registered Psychologist

Master of Psychology (Educational and Developmental)

Sian is a registered psychologist currently seeking endorsement as an educational and developmental psychologist. She has experience working with children with autism, ADHD, challenging behaviours, anxiety and depression.

Sian is passionate about working with children and their families to help young people reach their full potential. She has had many years of experience working with children with ASD as an applied behavioural analyst (ABA) therapist. She now works as a psychologist both in schools and privately.

Sian is experienced in providing counselling and assessment services and is trained in the application of:

  • The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI – IV)
  • The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC – V)
  • The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS – IV)
  • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT – III)
  • Childhood Autism Rating Scale, Second Edition (CARS-2)
  • Conners 3
  • Behaviour Assessment System for Children (BASC – 3)
  • Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL)
  • Vineland Adaptive Behaviour Scales (Vineland – 3)

Claire Harkin

Claire HARKIN

Special Educator.  Group Facilitator. 

B.Ed (Disability), BA (Art and Visual Design)

Claire has a Bachelor of Education and Disability and a Bachelor of Visual Art and Design. Claire believes in the power of harnessing and implementing inclusive practices at a whole school level.  As an experienced Educator, Claire’s focus has been on building relationships with parents, teachers, support staff and children.  Claire has a special interest in supporting sensory regulation and communication support in the classroom.

yenee khoo

Clinician

PostGradDip PlayTherapy, RPT.

Yenee is an associate play therapist who has completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills. She is currently completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Play Therapy. Yenee is also completing her Synergetic Play Therapy training. 

She has worked with children for more than a decade in the field of early childhood and primary education. She furthered her skills in play therapy in 2016 and has experience working with children on the autism spectrum, with ADHD, childhood trauma and behavioural problems. She is registered as a Certified Practitioner with Play Therapy International.

Yenee strongly believes in the power of play and has a particular interest in using therapeutic stories and metaphors in helping children heal themselves.

Loretta

Loretta ho

Senior Clinician

MC-MHSC, GradDipPsych, PostGradDipPlayTherapy, M.Sc (Aud), RPT

Certified Play Therapist (PTI)

Audiologist and full member of Audiology Australia (AudA)

PG Dip Play Therapy, GradDipPsychAdv, MSc in Audiology, BSc in Psychology, Speech and Hearing Sciences

Loretta (PGD, GradDipPsychAdv, MSc, BSc) is an audiologist with specific interests in children with hearing disorders and communication difficulties. She has experience working in both public hospital and private clinical settings, which has given her a diverse exposure to people with multiple disabilities and special needs.

As a play therapist, Loretta values her therapeutic relationships with children. She is passionate about holistic childhood development. She believes that children can be empowered through play to use their inner strengths to cope with challenges in life.

Loretta is interested in attachment theories and how early childhood experiences impact a person later in life. She is aspired to integrate audiological knowledge and psychological principles to help children with auditory, emotional and psychosocial needs.

Meagan Otu

Clinician. Play Therapist.

BA Dance and Anthropology, Dip Dance Movement Therapy and currently completing a Masters in Creative Arts Therapies Melbourne University

Meagan is a provisional Dance Movement Therapist, BA Dance and Anthropology, Dip Dance Movement Therapy and currently completing a Masters in Creative Arts Therapies at the University of Melbourne.

Meagan is passionate about the healing power of dance, movement and creative expression to support healthy development of the whole self, and for a child to embody their highest potential in health, happiness and relationships.

She has a special interest working with children experiencing the negative effects of stress and trauma, and supporting children with ASD to best develop emotional regulation, cognitive integration, self-expression, communication and harmonious ways of being in relationship. She informs her dance therapy practice with the psychotherapeutic use of creative movement, rhythm, developmental and relational movement patterns, attachment theory, polyvagal theory and the interpersonal neurobiology of trauma. 

Outside of Play Therapy Melbourne, Meagan provides specialist creative dance classes and one on one dance therapy to support learning, behavioural and special developmental needs within the early childhood education sector. With a background in Kinesiology and HypnoBirthing, Meagan also works with parents and babies to prepare and optimise a positive birth and postpartum time. Meagan balances her professional therapy work with her own practices of dance, and being a Mum.

nicole bester

Occupational Therapist
BOccThy.

Nicole is an occupational therapist who is extremely passionate about working with children of all ages and abilities, and their families, and supporting them to reach their full potential. Nicole has several years of experience volunteering in the early intervention setting and assisting with group therapy. She combines her love of working with children with her knowledge on the development of fine and gross motor skills and social skills to create fun, play-based activities. Nicole has an interest in neurodiversity and autism spectrum disorder.

Nicole is also very creative. She has a strong interest in the arts, especially visual arts, dance and music, and incorporates them into occupational therapy goals.

Nicole uses a strength-based approach as she believes that everyone should be given opportunities to share their skills and participate in society.

Jo Bennallack

Intake Practitioner

Animal Assisted Therapist.
Dip Couns. AIPC.  Certified Supervisor.

Jo joins our Team in the dual role of Animal Assisted Therapist and in an Intake support role.
Jo combines her counselling background with her years of experience as an Executive Assistant in various professional organisations such as Deutsche Bank, Ernst and Young and The General Sir John Monash Foundation.
Jo is passionate about Youth mental health and believes in the unique healing powers of animals and has completed training in Psychology and Animal Assisted Therapy through Lead the Way. Jo is currently completing her training in Synergetic Play Therapy through the Synergetic Play Therapy Institute.

MeG HARRIS

Associate Clinician

 

 

Cert III ECE, DECE, BECE, Studying Master of Child Play Therapy

Meg has a background as an early childhood Educator and is working to complete her Master’s in Child Play Therapy at Deakin University.  Meg has extensive experience working in Educational settings and is passionate about implementing effective interventions to support a child’s needs.   Meg believes the best outcome will be achieved by working collaboratively with families, children, and external networks to help to achieve the greatest outcome of support and intervention for children. Through her work Meg holds a great understanding and respect for the power of play, the importance and significance of play within children’s lives, and the ability that play holds as a therapeutic tool.  Meg feels privileged to be able to facilitate children on their journey within play therapy and support them in reaching their fullest potential.

Alexandra Searles

Associate Clinician

Post Grad Cert Play Therapy, DipCertEarlChildEd, MPT Student

Alex has a Post Graduate Certificate of Play Therapy and is currently completing her Masters of Play Therapy at Deakin University.   Alex has been working in Early Childhood Education for many years and is passionate about the therapeutic powers of play. As an experienced Educator, Alex is skilled at building relationships with children and families, as well as creating warm, welcoming and safe environments. Alex is very excited to join the team at Play Therapy Melbourne, and has a special interest in supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

TIFFANY

Occupational Therapist

BMedSc, MOTPrac

Tiffany is passionate about working with children and has experience in community settings, hospitals and private practice. Tiffany is committed to providing evidence-based practice to improve and maintain the quality of life of children and their families.

Growing up in Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong, Tiffany enjoys interacting with families from different cultural backgrounds and tailoring her practice to suit each family’s goals. As well as English, she can speak Cantonese, Mandarin and basic Spanish.  Tiffany has a special interest in sensory processing and integration and has found that this is highly effective in increasing her clients engagement and participation in therapy.    Tiffany wishes to focus on this area and become an expert in the field of sensory processing and integration as she believes through increased participation her clients will be better able to achieve their goals. 

ALICE Robinson

Associate Clinician

Building on many years of working with children Alice is currently completing her Masters of Play Therapy at Deakin University. With a background in primary teaching, outdoor education, circus teaching, youth work, disability support and community arts, Alice has worked with students of varying ages, skill levels and abilities, ESL students, refugees and ‘at risk’ students. 
Alice has a warm and playful approach to her work supporting children and their families and is excited to join the team at Play Therapy Melbourne.

Photo of Janet

JANET

Occupational Therapist

MOT

Janet completed a Master of Occupational Therapy at Monash University. Janet has experience working with children in Early Childhood Intervention setting, school, private practice, hospital in both Australia and Hong Kong. Janet is passionate about supporting families and children of all ages to reach their therapy goals using a family-centred and evidence-based practice approach. Janet is enthusiastic about providing a play-based therapy session to engage children into sessions and build their capacities in cheerful ways. Outside of work, Janet enjoys playing piano, cooking, and learning new languages. Janet can speak fluently in Cantonese, Mandarin, English, and basic French.

LIVIA LI

Speech Pathologist

MSpPath, MSPA – Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (C.P.S.P)

Livia is a member of Speech Pathology Australia (M.S.P.A.) and is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (C.P.S.P.). She has worked with many children, families, and teachers, to provide person-centred speech therapy services in clinical and community settings. Livia 

is passionate about collaborating with parents helping them assist their children’s communication development. Livia has special interests in autism, literacy, speech sound disorders, and early intervention.

Livia enjoys learning more about therapy techniques. She has completed the following programs: PROMPT therapy for apraxia and speech sound disorders, Hanen More than words, Sounds Write literacy program, Introduction to Floortime, Sensory feeding therapy and oral placement therapy (OPT).   Livia also speaks Mandarin.  


DAVID NGUYEN

Psychologist

BComm, GDipPsych, BPsych(Hons), MEd&DevPsych

David is a registered psychologist currently undertaking his endorsement in educational and developmental psychology. David is passionate about supporting the learning and mental health needs of children, adolescents and adults. David has experience in providing psychological assessment and intervention services to children and adolescents with a range of presentations, including autism, dyslexia, intellectual disability and anxiety. He holds special interests in learning disorders, giftedness, anxiety, resilience and adjustment to transitions. David  has experience working as a psychologist in primary and secondary schools.  David approaches client work with respectful, warm and empathetic style.  

MADY

Account & Payroll Manager

Mady is a highly motivated, process-driven and dedicated team player.

There is nothing she loves more than implementing processes that are rock solid to exceed client and company expectations.

LeESA

Practice Manager

Leesa is responsible for a variety of administrative tasks related to the NDIS, and the smooth running of the practice. Leesa has great knowledge and experience in the field of private practice and in working with families and accessing NDIS services.


Bella & RUBI

Therapy Dogs

Bella, who works with her handler Robynne, is highly popular with her young clients.   

 

Rubi

Rubi and her handler Mandy Easton were trained in animal-assisted therapy in 2012. Rubi has a natural ability to help children and young people through daily struggles, stress, anxiety, depression and anger. Rubi loves to bring about self-awareness, reflection, play, mindfulness, empathy and love in children and young people’s lives.

 


We proudly accept referrals from 

We are proud of the work we do with the following organisations and thank them for their support.
Melbourne City Mission
Elizabeth Morgan House