The Team


Melinda van der Westhuizen
Chief Executive Officer

Melinda has more than 25 years experience working in property acquisitions, investment, development and asset management across education, office, retail, housing and aged care sectors.  With an authentic “people first” approach to leadership, strategy and outcomes Mel has an undergraduate degree in Business (Land Economy), an MBA and a passion for the not for profit sector having previously served as Chair of YWCA National Housing.


Gabriella Browne

General Manager – Operations


Noel Phillips
Chief Finance Officer

Noel has over 30 years of experience in finance, operations and management. Working in the retail and hospitality sectors, he has worked in leading organisations such as Ray’s Outdoors, National Leisure and Gaming Limited and Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group.


Lauren Stark
General Manager Governance & Quality; Company Secretary

Lauren Stark has ten years’ experience in the not-for-profit housing sector with particular expertise in SDA administration, enrolment and provider compliance. Before this role Lauren gained nine years’ experience in legal and court administration functions. Lauren is responsible for overseeing governance, risk and compliance functions.


Jessica Basnayake
Finance Manager

Jessica has a passion for numbers and people qualified as a CPA and an MBA. She has commercial and not for profit experience of nearly 30 years working in finance/ management roles in hospitals, aged care, community health, airline and realestate sectors.



Angus Stirling
Development Manager

Before joining Summer Housing, Angus worked for Lend Lease  Building working on a range of projects from residential and commercial high-rise projects to award winning public and private health projects and most recently Melbourne Olympic Park.

Housing and its impact personally and socially has always fascinated Angus. As a student he worked in facility management in aged residential care and undertook a social housing research project with the objective to attract teachers into rural Indian villages.


Emily Lam
Customer Experience Administrator

Emily has over 14 years’ experience in administrative roles working across the banking, insurance and hospitality sectors. Emily works to provide administrative support to the broader team and to ensure the seamless operation of the office.


Meg Riordan
Regional Operations Manager – VIC, SA and WA

Meg has worked with children and adults with multiple and complex disability in direct support and support coordination roles. As a support coordinator, Meg had a special interest in working with participants in the NDIS who required support to be discharged from hospital. Meg has a strong background in accessible communication. Prior to working in the disability sector Meg was a professional writer in the education sector.


Emma Punch
Regional Operations Manager – NSW, ACT and QLD

Emma has 8 years’ experience providing person centred supports to people with a disability and complex needs across a variety of settings including; emergency respite, accommodation and community outreach (flexible supports). Most of Emma’s work has been for NGOs and she has a strong understanding of how to engage and respond to people with a disability in an accommodation setting.


Danielle Wakefield
Tenancy Support Manager – SA


Hanna Carpenter
Tenancy Support Officer – QLD

Hanna has a background in disability employment and a passion for working with people to achieve their goals. Hanna has an understanding in responding and working collaboratively with various stakeholders in projects to ensure smooth transitions. She also has experience in the NDIS space with engagement and enquiries for Support Coordination.


Peita O’Loughlin
Tenancy Support Officer – QLD

Peita has a passion for empowering people and is guided in her work by the principles of equity, diversity and social inclusion. She has a background across the social service, arts, public service and hospitality sectors. Peita has previously worked as a paralegal advisor to rental tenants and has fulfilled roles in project implementation, stakeholder engagement, communications, customer care and arts education settings.


Hannah Pennington
Tenancy Support Manager – VIC

Hannah has a lived experience of disability and has worked in the disability sector for 5+ years. Prior to joining Summer Housing, Hannah worked as a Support Coordinator working with children and adults with complex disabilities and as a Customer Engagement Facilitator, creating a space for adults living with disability to provide feedback relating to service delivery. Most of Hannah’s work involved developing frameworks for participants requiring supported decision making, and the development of care teams. Hannah continues to work towards ensuring people living with disability are provided with the same opportunities as able-bodied people.


Connie Williams
Tenancy Support Officer – VIC

Connie has a background in administration and customer service, across various industries. Currently, they attend university alongside their role at Summer Housing, as they are keen to gain the necessary experience, skills, and knowledge to make a positive impact within the sector. 


Karen MacKenzie
Property Manager

Karen has a background in tenancy and property management, specifically within SDA. Karen believes in establishing strong connections and open communication with all stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition for our tenants. Karen has a working knowledge of SDA and is passionate about providing tenants with a positive housing experience.


Jennifer Merriman
Tenancy Support Officer – ACT

Jennifer is the Summer Foundation’s Project Coordinator ACT for the Housing Matching team. Located in Canberra, Jennifer is responsible for connecting with organisations, hospitals, individuals and networks to generate interest and applications for properties in her region. Meeting with applicants to understand individual needs is a key part of her role and ensures that people are matched with appropriate properties.

Jennifer’s background as an executive director of a not-for-profit assistive technology provider, and her experience in both the disability sector and private sector provide an excellent springboard for the project coordination and networking aspects of her role. Jennifer thrives on helping clients makes the most of their NDIS packages.


Summah McKinnon
Tenancy Support Manager – NSW

Summah has over 8 years of experience in the community sector, which consists of assisting in raising awareness in youth mental health and has spent multiple years working with a disability organisation. In Summah’s most recent role she has harnessed her customer experience and human centred design skill sets to offer a meaningful platform for persons with disability to explain their experience and insights for service improvement.  

At Summer Housing, Summah offers support and guidance to tenants to ensure that they achieve a smooth transition into their new home.


Elodie Raveau
Administrative Coordinator

Elodie has 4+ years experience in the Education sector, in Paris and Melbourne. Prior to joining Summer Housing, she has worked as a Student Support & Admin Officer, offering guidance and counselling to students as well as administrative support to her team. Her experience has taught her a lot about connecting with people, by working with students and colleagues from various backgrounds. 


Sonia Faiz
Assistant Accountant

Sonia is finance officer with over 10 years’ experience, specialising in AR, AP and NDIS Claims. Her industry experience extends over Manufacturing, Building Consultancy, NFP & NDIA. Sonia works closely with finance team on the reporting of financial information, system improvements and providing business support services to senior management teams and interdepartmental business units. Sonia’s aim is to ensure business is cash flow positive.


Bahar Farhang
Accounts Payable Officer

Bahar Farhang is an accountant with over 6 years’ experience. Previously she has worked as an account officer and assistant accountant in the retail and community service sector. She has the passion to use her expertise as the Account Payable Officer to support our team in empowering people with disabilities and bringing them an equal living opportunity. 


Pramit Baweja
Financial Accountant

Pramit is a qualified professional Accountant and Manager with over 10 years’ experience in all accounting, finance and systems functions within the Insurance and Construction industries. Pramit has extensive expertise in process improvement, development and delivering business efficiencies.

Having joined Summer Housing recently, Pramit will play the key role in delivering solutions to solve complex problems and implement change which will assist in propelling Summer Housing forward using technology and relationships.
Pramit’s responsibilities also include Financial Reporting and operational support to the Finance team.


Jocelyn Bell

Tenancy Support Officer – NSW


Cristina Valente
Tenancy Support Officer – NSW

Cristina’s passion is working with vulnerable people in organisations that aim to make a difference in society. She holds 5 years’ experience in the social services sector with expertise in working with people at risk of homelessness. In such work environment, Cristina had the opportunity to assist people to achieve their independent living goals, offer tenancy facilitation and to develop strong advocacy skills. 

Prior to these experiences, she worked in the Communications sector acting as Public Relations consultant for 15 years.  


Eryn Mackenzie
Tenancy Support Officer – VIC

Eryn has a background in Administration in the Legal and Property Consultancy industries. She is passionate about helping people navigate through complex systems and delivering practical yet empathetic support. Eryn hopes to establish strong relationships with our tenants and be able to play a positive part in their journeys.


Catherine Fox

Executive Assistant – VIC