Presenter backgrounds

Keynote and workshop presenters hold diverse experience across a range of specialised settings.

Dr Robyn Miller

Dr Robyn Miller is a social worker and family therapist with over 30 years’ experience in the community sector, local government and child protection. She was a senior clinician and teacher for 14 years at the Bouverie Family Therapy Centre, La Trobe University, and part of an innovative team working with families who have experienced trauma and sexual abuse. Robyn has practiced in the public and private sectors as a therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant and lecturer and was a member of the Victorian Child Death Review Committee for 10 years. She was the recipient of the inaugural Robin Clark memorial PhD scholarship in 2004 and the statewide award for Inspirational Leadership in Victoria in 2010. From 2006-15 she provided professional leadership as the Chief Practitioner within the Department of Human Services in Victoria, and has also worked as a consultant with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Robyn is currently the CEO of MacKillop Family Services, one of the largest providers of specialist services to vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and their families in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Misha Thomas

Misha Thomas, MDiv, has been a trainer in Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology since 1995; works internationally as an organisational training consultant, speaker and group facilitator. Misha was a founding co-contributor and faculty/consultant for The Sanctuary Institute between 2005 - 2015 and former master facilitator for The Energy Project. Jobs throughout his work within education and the mental health sectors include being a teacher/counselor, child behavior specialist, program manager, training director, and textbook question writer for The Princeton Review. Publications include contributions in Therapeutic Communities; textbook article in Danish professional development book, Engelsk: Paedogogisk Assistant, “Caring for Children with Special Needs,” edited by Anne Brunstrom; interview article published in “ACTUAL,” quarterly newspaper of the Australia Childhood Trauma Group, May 2016.

Residing in New York City, Misha is an amateur triathlete and enjoys reading, writing, chess, world travel, horse riding, and sparingly eating very decadent desserts.

Justin Roberts

Justin Roberts is the Head of Campus at MacKillop School Geelong, overseeing the Primary and Secondary Schools, as well as the XTend (DHHS & Mental Health Services), Education Mobile Unit and Children in Residential Care programs. In both his current role, and previously as Head of School (Secondary), Justin has been an integral part of the MacKillop Education Leadership Team since the development and implementation of the new MacKillop School Geelong programs in 2014. His 10 years of experience as a teacher in both Melbourne and Geelong have seen him play a variety of leadership, curriculum and wellbeing roles in both mainstream and alternative settings. Justin’s knowledge and experience in working with disengaged young people, informs his passion for the development and implementation of inclusive, trauma-informed School policies and learning and teaching practices.

Bernadine Kelly                                   

Bernadine Kelly has extensive experience in leadership positions in Catholic Primary Schools in Melbourne. She is passionate about applying effective strategies to support the wellbeing of vulnerable children and their families in the school context. In her previous role as school Principal, Bernadine was committed to ensuring inclusive practices and skill development of teachers to optimize learning for children with additional needs. Bernadine is currently Education and Wellbeing Coordinator with MacKillop School, Maidstone. She has a graduate Diploma in Wellbeing from Melbourne University and holds a Masters in Educational Leadership from Monash University, Melbourne.

Jessi Belli                               

Over the past seven years, Jessi Belli has taught in a range of learning environments and settings, from Greater Manchester and the Solomon Islands, to Melbourne and, most recently, the remote Kimberley of WA. Jessi has a passion for student wellbeing, social and emotional learning; she is committed to providing access to education and success in learning for all students. Educating young people with trauma, focusing on positive relationships, sensory needs and emotional regulation is incredibly important to Jessi. After spending time teaching in a remote indigenous school she has a renewed passion and commitment to teaching students with emotional and behavioural challenges who have experienced trauma and are disengaged from learning.

Caitlin Burman                        

From teaching in remote Northern Territory, Queensland and the Torres Strait Islands, to developing the education curriculum at one of Australia’s leading universities, Caitlin Burman has a Masters in Indigenous Education and more than ten years’ experience educating young people with trauma. In 2015, Caitlin was nominated for the Robin Clarke Award and the Pride of Australia Medal (Education Division) and received the Australian of the Day Award in 2017 for her work in supporting at-risk students to access education. Previously as Head of MacKillop Primary School in Geelong, and now as the Head of Campus at MacKillop School, Maidstone, Caitlin is focusing on implementing a trauma-informed model of education for students with diverse and complex needs, while also undertaking a Masters in Special Education.

Brona Walshe

Brona Walshe is Team Leader of Mackillop’s Education Outreach programs that support children living in out-of-home-care, including foster care, kinship care and residential care in the Western region of Melbourne. Brona has worked with over 60 primary and secondary schools to support students to reengage or remain in education.

With a background in early childhood development and extensive experience in working with at-risk children and young people, Brona has a holistic view of the needs of a child’s path to educational success. Using the seven Sanctuary commitments to guide communication and work practices, Brona has formulated a systematic approach to supporting schools, families, children and young people to address the barriers to school success and celebrate their achievements.

Rhonda Goodall

Rhonda is an exhibiting artist who has had 15 solo shows and 54 group shows in Australia, UK and USA. Rhonda has extensive experience in working with children and young people who are disengaged from education and home-schooled her five children up to Year 10.Her career began working with children and young people with disabilities at Kew Cottages and she currently works to support children and young people at risk and is employed by MacKillop Education, Youth Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services- Child Protection and many local Secondary Schools. For the past 23 years, Rhonda has dedicated her working life to designing and implementing targeted art programs supporting over 2000 youth. These young people have a history and /or ongoing experience of trauma and through the creative process, Rhonda has fostered hope and enabled their journey of healing. Rhonda has extensive experience and proven success working with young people who have experienced trauma and who are disengaged from mainstream learning. Rhonda’s work is informed by MacKillop’s Sanctuary Model, which is a trauma informed model of practice.

Anne Henderson

Anne Henderson is currently the General Manager of Education Services for MacKillop Family Services and the Principal of MacKillop Specialist School in Geelong and Maidstone. Anne has held leadership positions in education over the last 20 years and prior to that was involved in community development programs, supporting young people and adults, at risk. Anne also oversees the education support offered to young people in residential care and to children in out-of-home-care who are currently on court orders.

In her current role, Anne works collaboratively with the Department of Education, Catholic Education Melbourne, the Department of Health and Human Services and regional networks and divisions. She believes that this collaboration enables expertise to be shared across systems and services to promote best practice and enhanced outcomes for those most disenfranchised in our schools and communities. Anne is passionate about the right of every child to access an education that ensures success in learning, the development of the whole person, access to future pathways, and active and engaged participation in the community.