About Us

Mentor Support Network

Mentor Support Network exists to help youth achieve their educational and career goals. We also support mentors through training, networking, and ongoing professional development.

We promote the value of mentoring across the community, link mentors to organisations seeking volunteer mentors and we encourage volunteers to become mentors.

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

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

Our Team

Mentor Support Network
Mentor Support Network

Shayne Connell


Shayne is a community leader with a strong repertoire of experience. He is the Chief Executive of LivingWorks, a leading suicide intervention training company, and has previous experience working for the Cancer Council NSW and the City of Newcastle. Shayne holds an MBA and Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) from the University of Newcastle and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mentor Support Network

Robyn White


Robyn’s career in health spans 45 years, beginning with Mental Health Nursing Certificate progressing through to senior positions in Health Service Management. Robyn has Master of Health Science and numerous other qualifications and retired from her Service Manager position in 2017.

Currently, Robyn is a casual academic at University of Newcastle and participates in the Mentor Support Network Refugee Mentoring program. 

Mentor Support Network

Chris Cull


Chris has worked in rural communities and run projects with Indigenous communities and has been a long-time member of Amnesty International. He also has a strong background in leadership, mediation, and corporate governance.

Prior to coming to Newcastle, Chris lived in Armidale where he practised as a business consultant and was a director on several boards.

Mentor Support Network

Pat O’Flaherty

Fundraising Committee

After a career as a chemist, Pat completed doctoral studies in education and has also been Learning and Development Manager for Thales Australia.

He mentored for two years with The Smith Family, and currently provides advice to small manufacturing operations and start-up companies.

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.

Her work mentoring students at a local high school led to her involvement with Mentor Support Network.

Mentor Support Network

Tom Davison

Scholarship Committee​

Tom has worked as a teacher and community worker for 50 years. He has taught and supported children, adolescents and adults with disability and other learning and social disadvantages. During the last 12 years he has worked with senior students, their families and staff in 15 NSW Government High Schools in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie LGAs, assisting the students to transition to post school employment and community participation. He is looking forward to leaving full-time employment and assisting youth of the region through MSN activities.

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

Matt Linnert

Mentor Training

Matt, who has been mentoring since 2003, knows first-hand how beneficial mentoring can be to both mentors and mentees and is looking forward to supporting his fellow mentors to develop their skills, connections, and confidence.  

Matt’s passion is to help people master their mind and align their activity to live a productive, peaceful, and purposeful life.

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

Jo Martin

Communication Committee

Jo has worked in global Communications and Change Management for over 20 years. She is a Branding Specialist and runs her own publishing company, helping people tell their stories and become best-selling authors.

Jo started her career in Learning and Development, working globally with large corporates to build capability and deliver results through targeted learning initiatives.

Mentor Support Network

Caroline Dando

Communication Committee

After spending a decade managing the marketing and communications function for regional and national organisations, Caroline is currently employed as the Client Service Manager at a local marketing agency.

Before making the decision to specialise in marketing she worked on advertising campaigns for local, national, and international brands as a commercial production director at a local television station. 

Mentor Support Network

Dr Bernie Curran AM


On being appointed Mentor Support Network Patron in 2019, Dr Curran said, “Scholarships for disadvantaged students and support for refugees, these are things that need financial support as well as moral support and genuine interest, and my job is to lead from the front.”

Dr Curran played a central role in The University of Newcastle’s community for over 40 years. He’s been a student, rugby player, academic and teacher, community leader, mentor, donor, and researcher. A boy from the bush, he established Evatt House, a residential college for country students.

Dr Curran was appointed Member of the Order of Australia in 2018 for significant service to tertiary education, particularly through higher learning opportunities for young people in rural areas.

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