The Venny’s staff are its greatest asset and provides safe attachment figures for the children and young people they engage with. Our staff use trauma informed frameworks and reflective practice principals in their work and maintain current best practice approaches with professional development and training, predominately with the Australian Childhood Trauma group. All Staff at The Venny have a current Working with Children Checks, Police Checks and First Aid certificates.
David Kutcher- General Manager (currently on leave)
David has managed The Venny for the past 18 years. He previously worked as an outreach worker for Open Family and at Aboriginal Affairs Victoria.
Some of the highlights of David’s years at The Venny include the construction of the new building and play space, studying similar models in Play in the UK, Europe and Scandinavia, developing a sustainable financial model, and increasing the usage and profile of the playground. He gains particular satisfaction from listening and responding to the needs of marginalised local children and youth and whether that is by providing assistance with development, growth, health, housing, education and advocacy.
Kirsty Ellem- Acting General Manager
Kirsty is a committed leader with significant cross sector experience in the arts and social impact. At the end of 2010 she left her role as Director of the Monash University Academy of Performing Arts to work full time in her organisation Artistic Merit which she founded in 2007. Through Artistic Merit she has worked with communities and organisations that grapple with challenging social barriers and big ideas for change. She initially worked with The Venny Inc. as a consultant on their strategic plan in 2018. She is currently on the Board of Melbourne Fringe.
Danni von der Borch- Community Development and Therapeutic Support Worker
Danielle has worked in the Communal Backyard/Adventure Playground field for 16 years. Currently in the role of Community Development and Therapeutic Support, her background in creative art practices allows for a synthesis of both art and play in the sessions she runs. Danielle is a creative arts therapist and currently teaches in this field at MIECAT in Melbourne. She engages with a therapeutic intention in her work with vulnerable kids and young people and play is one of the tools she uses.
Leila Gerges- Administration Support Worker
Leila is a visual artist who recently completed her Master of Contemporary Art at the University of Melbourne. She is current studio resident at Collingwood Yards and has a background in customer service, membership sales, administration and volunteer coordination in the Arts sector.
Debby Maziarz- Business Development Manager
Debby is an experienced social entrepreneur, youth worker, mentor, educator and fundraiser in the arts and community sectors. In 1996 she founded the Westside Circus, a not for profit community arts organisation.
Lloyd Greenland – Youth Development Specialist
Lloyd began working at The Venny as a youth mentor at the age of 17 years old. He comes with six years experience as a play worker and holds a qualification in Youth Work from RMIT University, Melbourne. Lloyd has travelled to over 13 countries gaining knowledge globally and has volunteered his skills to ‘The Happiness Project’ working in a play setting in Rajasthan, India in 2019. Lloyd also has experience running programs such as Dinner Night and Boys Group program at The Venny.
Hala Nur- Youth Worker and Play Worker
Hala has competed studies in Youth Work and Counselling at RMIT and is currently studying a Master of Social Work. She has been an active member of the Inner North West Melbourne African Community for several years. Hala has experience managing large community events and camps tailored for youth.
Ciara Moroney – Play Worker and Therapeutic Programs
Ciara has worked closely with children and families for the past 12 years, primarily in the Early Childhood Education sector. At the end of 2019, she completed a Master’s Degree in Therapeutic Arts Practice with The MIECAT Institute and spent the final year of her studies engaged with The Venny’s kids through a photography project called “Stories of Home” as part of her student placement.
Ciara has been involved in several volunteer roles such as earthquake-relief creativity projects in Nepal, The Brotherhood of Saint Laurence’s Urban Camp project and Creative Arts Therapy Australia. She is a passionate advocate for the emotional wellbeing of children and young people, through play-based, nature-focused and creative arts practices.
Jenny Barnes- Play Worker
Jenny has experience teaching local at risk children and community members English, Jenny has also worked on local youth programs. Jenny has completed training in Music, Linguistics, Teaching and is also fluent in Auslan.
Keith Persall- Play Worker
Keith has been a play worker at The Venny for eight years and is a highly experienced play worker with many tools to draw upon such as photography, woodwork and creative building.
Abshiro Hussein- Play Worker
Abshiro is qualified in Children Services and has been working at The Venny for nine years. Abshiro is a key African Community member and is fluent in Somali, Swahili, and has literacy skills in Arabic.
Tracie Overstead- Maintenance and Play Worker
Tracie has been an active member of The Venny community for 38 years and has worked at The Venny for 20 years. Tracie is a experienced play worker and currently completes maintenance at The Venny.