About Us

Mentor Support Network
Mentor Support Network exists to help young people in the Hunter Region achieve their educational and career goals.

The organisation’s values are: Respect | Service | Responsibility | Leadership

Mentor Support Network is a registered charity and its scholarship fund is endorsed as a deductible gift recipient.

We provide educational scholarships to students in financial need in the Newcastle and Hunter regions.

Our Team

Mentor Support Network
Mentor Support Network

Melinda Smith

Patron

Melinda spent 25 years working as a television journalist, news presenter, and radio broadcaster. She then moved into corporate communication and public relations roles before setting up her own strategic communication and coaching consultancy firm. 

An advocate for young people, she helped establish Hunter Youth Mentor Collaborative, now Mentor Support Network, in 2005 and served on the Executive Committee for many years before being awarded a Life Membership.  She has continued to support and assist MSN across the organisation’s growth and development.

Mentor Support Network

Julie Rich

Chair

Julie Rich is a senior leader and executive with three decades experience across diverse roles within the private sector, government, property and tertiary education sectors.

Principal of Compose Consulting, Julie’s expertise is in leadership coaching, strategy development, stakeholder collaboration, business case development, complex property and infrastructure contractual structures, negotiations and delivery.

She is passionate about economic diversification and social prosperity in the Hunter Region, the value of education and place making. Julie also volunteers her time as a mentor with the Mentor Walks Program, as Chair of the Hunter Chapter of the Property Council of Australia and as a NSW Divisional Council Member of the Property Council.

 

Mentor Support Network

Cheryl Watterson

Secretary

Cheryl’s career spans biological sciences and clinical nutrition where she spent many years as a director of nutrition services across several Hunter local government areas.  She also has been active in children’s service as either a volunteer or as an employee of the health services.

Mentor Support Network

Chris Cull

Treasurer

Chris has worked in rural communities and run projects with Indigenous communities and has been a long-time member of Amnesty International. He has a strong background in leadership, mediation, and corporate governance, has practised as a business consultant, and has been a director on several boards.

Mentor Support Network

Helen Doust

Scholarship Committee

For 37 years, Helen worked in NSW as a teacher in a small rural school, outdoor education schools, and as an Assistant Principal. With school leadership came the opportunity of consultancy positions across the Hunter providing professional learning and mentoring to schools, principals, and staff. After retirement, Helen worked part-time as a teacher mentor/instructional leader until 2016.

Mentor Support Network

Gail Hamer

Membership Committee

Gail has worked in catering, clerical, and human resources positions. Now retired, her last career was as a teacher in a small rural school for over 20 years. She has been involved with the committees of several sporting and cultural community groups over the years.

Mentor Support Network

Steve Gillan

Scholarship Committee

Steve is a long-term member of the University of Newcastle Rugby Union Club, being a past President, Secretary and current Life member. With a work history of 42 years in Education, Steve’s extensive experience includes leadership and management in Independent and Catholic educational environments.

Mentor Support Network

Keith Powell

Communication Committee

Keith’s career started in journalism and developed into a wide range of experience in corporate affairs for both private companies and government instrumentalities. He has been involved with many community organisations and volunteer groups.

Mentor Support Network

Jess Vandenbruggen

Communication Committee

Jess has been in the digital industry for over 14 years, specialising in the online user experience. After 10+ years leading online improvements for a local health insurer, Jess is currently employed as a Digital Experience Lead at an Australian digital agency. 

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