The Venny’s staff are its greatest asset and provide 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 current Working with Children Checks, Police Checks and First Aid certificates.
Danni von der Borch- Director Play and Programs
Danni has worked in the The Venny since 2001. Currently in the role of Director of Play and Programs. Her background in creative art practices allows for a synthesis of both creativity, art and play in the sessions she runs. Danni has a Masters in Art Therapy and engages with a therapeutic intention in her work with vulnerable kids and young people. Play and creativity are some of the tools she uses. Her Play Work practice at The Venny has been developed through her deep investigation and ongoing research and training. She has undertaken a study tour and play research in Scandinavia and Germany and is informed by Play Theory and research from the UK and Play Wales.
Leila Gerges – Operations Manager
Leila began at The Venny in 2018 as Administrative Assistant and was instrumental in supporting the Management and Play Teams through the pandemic years. Leila is all all rounder with a passion for food, art, travel all things Venny! When she’s not multi-tasking in The Venny office, Leila can be found multi-tasking somewhere else. Leila is an emerging multi-disciplinary artist with a background in hospitality, arts administration, customer service and volunteer coordination. She has a Master of Contemporary Art from Victorian College of the Arts. Leila is passionate about supporting kids and young people through play.
Lloyd Greenland – Play Lead
Lloyd began working at The Venny as a youth mentor at the age of 17 years old. He comes with 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.
David Kutcher- Honorary Principal Donor Relations (Consultant)
David is the longest serving GM and Board member in The Venny’s history. He has completed well over 10,000 hours of play work practice. Some highlights of David’s years include, an exemplary child safety record including winning an award for The Venny from the National Award for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. He oversaw the The Venny’s transition from a co-operative to an Incorporated Association, which then attained charitable and DGR status. David dramatically increased The Venny’s funding resources, negotiated and acquired more land- doubling the land footprint for children. David drove the consultation and input into a purpose built new building and the implementation of a design concept ‘hills, hollows, hideaways, and horticulture’ for the new play space. He travelled to study models of Playwork in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia. David has a proven track record of building risk competency and play sufficiency and putting children and young people front and center of all decision making and play practice.
Hala Nur- Social Worker and Play Lead
Hala has competed studies in Youth Work and Counselling at RMIT and holds 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.
Bahja Abdi- Social Worker and Play Lead
Bahja is a qualified Social Worker and has completed her Honours degree in Social Work at RMIT, Melbourne. Bahja is highly involved in the Inner North West Melbourne African Community and has experience in policy work, youth focused programs and community engagement.
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.
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.
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 an experienced play worker and also does yard and garden maintenance work at The Venny.
Gabe Smith – Play Lead
Gabe is a fun loving Kensington local who has been coming to The Venny since he was a kid. He is currently studying a Master of Youth Mental Health. A keen cyclist and outdoorsy person, Gabe also enjoys drawing, painting and cooking. Find Gabe outside hanging out on the tramp or taking care of the animals. Say hello: he’s friendly!