Meet the First Nations Homelessness Project Team
Jennifer Kaeshagen – FNHP director
Jennifer is the founder and coordinator of the First Nations Homelessness Project & Advocacy Service. She was an award winning documentary filmmaker. She unit coordinated, lectured and tutored Media and Communications Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle and also taught at Murdoch University.
Jennifer honed her advocacy and coordinator skills as a union organiser, having worked with the CPSU and also as the south west organiser for the AMIEU.
Jennifer also founded the award winning social justice online news site, The Stringer (2013). She is The Stringer’s principal editor and is the producer.
Jennifer has a long history of volunteering assistance to the homeless, particularly large homeless families. Through the FNHP she supports at-risk families and specialises in the prevention of child removals. She also specialises in the prevention of public rental housing evictions, particularly of large families.
BA (Media & English), Honours (First Class).
Mervyn Eades – Cultural Mentor and Principal Advisor to the FNHP & CEO of Ngalla Maya prison to wellbeing project
Mervyn is the founder and CEO of the not-for-profit Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation, a prison to wellbeing project, FNHPAS and Ngalla Maya work in tandem with each other in transforming the lives of vulnerable families and individuals. FNHP is a branch of Ngalla Maya.
Mervyn was a former detainee and inmate, in and out of juvenile detention and adult prisons from the age of 13 to 31. He lost his youngest brother, 18 years old, to a prison suicide. When coming out of prison for the last time, 16 years ago, Mervyn turned his life and became a profound social justice advocate for the incarcerated, for the marginalised. He has fought one human rights campaign after another.
Mervyn founded Ngalla Maya in order to provide training, qualifications and jobs to former inmates. In the first year post-prison release former inmates are 10 times more likely to suicide or end up an unnatural death than while in custody.
Mervyn visits prisons and juvenile detention facilities and inspires inmates to pathway to the transformational. He is a mentor to hundreds of youth and families. He was the 2015 recipient of the Eddie Mabo Social Justice Award at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards.
To read more about Mervyn and his work go to this ABC News story.
Kirsty Oehlers – FNHP social worker
Child and Family Therapist; Mental Health Practitioner
B.SW; Certificate Family Therapy; Grad Dip Child Psychotherapy, Masters in Mental Health Science
Kirsty is a child and family therapist with over 19 years of experience in Western Australia and Victoria in child and adolescent agencies, as well as in private practice. She is a Lecturer at Curtin University’s School of Social Work and teaches counselling, social work with children and child development. She currently specialises in family court work, assisting families and children who have undergone the turmoil of the family court process. She is interested in child and family trauma and helping people heal both within themselves and within the relationships they are a part of.
Other areas of interest include:
- Child anxiety; separation issues and bullying
- Children coping with chronic illness or disability
- Parental childhood issues impacting on parenting
- Gender difference in childhood, particularly for children identifying as transgender
- Family conflict
- Children who feel they ‘don’t fit’ (often seen as eccentric or gifted children)
Kirsty has a positive approach that draws on the strengths and personal insights of individuals, whether they are adults or children to help them reach their own solutions. Therapy with Kirsty is enjoyable and non-threatening for kids and involves play, art and family therapy.
Adult counselling focuses on family strengths, positive parenting, family of origin issues and issues related to abuse, trauma and/or family violence.
Melanie Singh – FNHP psychologist
Melanie is a registered psychologist who has extensive experience in counselling individuals, couples and families.
She is a former academic with Curtin University’s Albany campus. Mel has expertise in response systems to domestic violence, in reference to suicide prevention and to homelessness. She has worked with the Department of Juvenile Justice, Western Australia and also with the AIDS Bureau, Health Department.
Mel provides support to FIFO workers and their families as well as researching the prevention of FIFO suicides.
Mel has extensive experience working with people who have issues with addictions, depression, anxiety, stress-related issues, gender and orientation difficulties, FIFO-related difficulties, trauma – past and present, domestic violence (including against males), chronic pain and other health conditions, PTSD, familial conflicts, communication impasses and school context problems
Clare Chrisite – FNHP counsellor
Clare Christie (Dip Couns) has over 15 years counselling experience working with individuals, families, youth and groups from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.
Working with and supporting families is Clare’s primary area of expertise. Her knowledge and experience; ability to build rapport with kindness and empathy; and excellent communication skills are the foundation of a practical approach that assists clients to draw on innate strengths to gain confidence for capacity building and enhancing wellbeing.
- Client led, strength based counselling & group work
- Group facilitation
- Effective verbal and written communication
- Bespoke workshop design, facilitation and assessment
- Administration, management & leadership
- Licensed Circle of Security™ Parenting Course Facilitator
- Accredited PET (Parent Effectiveness Training) Instructor
- School based CBT ABC Paradigm Bullying Prevention
- Narrative Therapy
- Vice President ETIA (Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia)
Gerry Georgatos – FNHP researcher
MA in Social Justice Advocacy (Murdoch University), Master in Human Rights (Curtin University), GradDip in Human Rights Education (Curtin University), BA in Philosophy, BA in Media, BA in Australian Indigenous Studies.
Gerry is a researcher in the ways forward from homelessness, acute poverty and racism and with an extensive body of work in suicide prevention and prison (pre- and post-release) to wellbeing, to education, to work. He is an expert in trauma recovery and in the positive self.
He has written hundreds of articles on suicide and on suicide prevention – and has positively touched and supported thousands of lives. He has expertise in migrant and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide, in youth suicide, and with other elevated risk groups, particularly individuals who as children were removed from their families and with former inmates. He is the Lead Critical Response Support Advocate for the National Indigenous Critical Response Project. He also founded the federally funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP) – April 16, 2014 and was one of the 2 ½ years long project’s founding members, consultants and field workers.
He has a long history working closely and alongside the homeless, the most vulnerable and the incarcerated, and has guided many into tertiary education. He works closely with the Ngalla Maya prison to work project and visits correctional facilities, inspiring many into positive pathways. He was the founder of Students Without Borders and continues a long association with the charity Wheelchairs for Kids. He sponsors the non-tertiary based Institute of Social Justice and Human Rights.
He is well known for a three-year foray into journalism, writing prolifically on social justice issues and was the recipient of several national awards, including Journalist of the Year at the 2013 Multicultural and Indigenous Media Awards.
Gerry has journeyed to hundreds of communities. Often polarising, he remains a powerful advocate in social justice and human rights causes.