Our People

Be Centre is more than just a place – we’re also a team of dedicated people who share a common passion for what we do. Our team includes some of the nation’s most experienced Play therapists, but also a high skilled executive team and engaged Board of directors. We’re also lucky to have the support of amazing interns, volunteers and ambassadors, who all help make us the organisation we are today.

Fiona Howell
Fiona Howell

Play Therapist - Clinical manager
Clinical Manager, PostGrad Dip Play Therapy, BBSc, RN, Clinical Supervisor

Tell us a bit about your experience

Having spent 36 years working the health sector, and 26 as a parent, I have managed to gather a fair few credentials (Post Graduate Diploma Play Therapy, Bachelor of Behavioural Sciences, Registered Nurse, Credentialed Mental Health Nurse, Certificate of Holistic Counselling, Certificate of Life Coaching, Clinical Supervisor, Provisional Filial Play Coach). I’ve spent the last seven years specialising in Play Therapy and love what I do.

Where are you from?

Melbourne originally, but I’ve spent the past 20 years in Sydney.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

Through my years working with adults and adolescents struggling with mental health issues, I saw the importance of early intervention time and time again. Most difficulties have their origins in childhood, yet I always felt there was a lack of services for primary school aged children – especially those in great need. When I first discovered Play Therapy, it made so much sense to me.

What do you like most about your job?

I love advocating for kids, and connecting with them – and I’m passionate about helping children find their voice, build their resilience, feel accepted and not judged, understand they are not alone. I love seeing kids blossom and find joy; and seeing parents and carers find a greater understanding and acceptance. Appropriate help in childhood can change the trajectory of a person’s life.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

In my own life, I enjoy active outdoors play and being on the water… walking, running, dragon boating, sailing. At work, I like messy play with shaving foam and gloop and balloon tennis!

Tjinta Pearse
Tjinta Pearse

Play Therapist - Clinical Team Leader
PostGrad Cert Play Therapy, BA (Psych), Dip Youth Work, APPTA

Tell us a bit about your experience

I’ve spent 20 years working with vulnerable children, youth & families, and seven as a Play Therapist.

Where are you from?

Australia’s Northern Beaches, although I’ve also lived in Papua New Guinea & Indonesia.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

By working with families affected by domestic violence, mental health issues, and alcohol and drug related issues, I realise that as a community, we need to break this cycle. Through Play Therapy, we can offer children a child focused, integrated therapy that promotes and creates healing from the inside.

What do you like most about your job?

That it generates a respectful and empathic environment for children, and inspires me to be a better parent and person.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy sandplay therapy and symbolic, imaginative play as I feel these types of play bring about the most obvious healing.

Sophie Parkinson
Sophie Parkinson

Practitioner of Play Therapy Skills
PostGrad Cert Play Therapy, BA Hons (Psych), Dip NSpH, PTI

Tell us a bit about your experience

My first degree was a BA Honours in psychology from Sussex University (UK). After moving to Australia and having children I did a one-year training course at the Sydney Rudolf Steiner College called ‘The Journey’ (now called ‘Foundations of Early Childhood) which allowed me to work in a Steiner pre-school. I then completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Play Therapy with Play Therapy International. During this time I also trained in counselling and suicide prevention at Lifeline, where I provided support to adults over the phone. Since joining Be Centre in 2014 I have completed a Graduate Diploma in Psychology at Sydney Uni, and am now in my Honours year of a Bachelor of Social Sciences - Psychology at Charles Sturt University.

Where are you from?

Originally I am from the UK but I married an Aussie and move to Australia!

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

During my first degree in Psychology I had a particular interest in developmental psychology and studied the emergence of empathy and Theory of Mind. The 6 years I worked in a Steiner pre-school taught me a great deal about relating to both children and parents, and showed me how helpful play and therapeutic story can be for children who have emotional and psychological difficulties.  This experience, along with counselling adults with mental health problems, served to strengthen my commitment to early intervention and the healing potential of play, which naturally led me to study Play Therapy.

What do you like most about your job?

The most rewarding and fascinating part of the job is being a witness to each child’s therapeutic journey and being able to support the unique way they process past experiences and overcome their difficulties. I am always amazed at the inherent wisdom that children possess, and the courage they show in facing their problems.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

As a child I spent many hours playing ‘dress ups’ with my sisters, then performing and playing music on the street for neighbours and any unsuspecting person passing by!

Kati Britton
Kati Britton

Play Therapist
B AppSoSc (Counselling), GradDip (Art & Play), CMCAPA, PACFA, ARCAP, APPTA

Tell us a bit about your experience

I started at Be Centre 3 years ago, but prior to this I worked at South Pacific Private Hospital and in private practice at Youth Psychology for six years.

Where are you from?

Sydney, Australia.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

For personal reasons,l I became interested in Play Therapy for adopted children. Before becoming a Play Therapist I was working at South Pacific Private Hospital in drug and alcohol addictions. I saw the effect of these issues on a family as a whole – the children were greatly affected, and I knew there was a strong need to help them. Play Therapy has given me an amazing way to help these children in need, and stop the cycle of harm before it can recur.

What do you like most about your job?

Seeing the results that Play Therapy can have on a child, and reading parents feedback on the changes that have taken place for the family as a whole.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy every medium in the play room, everything serves a purpose and is utilised to its greatest potential by the children we see on a daily basis. The kind of play I enjoy personally is arts and crafts, making things with my hands. I also love a good game of charades!

Jennifer May
Jennifer May

Play Therapist
Post Grad Dip (non directive Play Therapy), BA Applied Social Studies in Social Care, PTI

Tell us a bit about your experience

I am the forever student and love to learn from those around me. My initially qualifications were in early education before advancing on to a B.A degree in Applied Social Studies in Social Care. This led me to spending the next eight years working in and out of home care working mainly within the residential services in Ireland. Play therapy became an integral part of working with some of my clients, which encouraged to me to undertake a Post Graduate Diploma in Non-Directive Play Therapy with the University of York in 2006. I have been qualified in Play Therapy since 2008 and am still as passionate about it as the day I started.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in beautiful Ireland and emigrated to Australia in 2010.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

I first became inspired by Play Therapy and the impact it has when I became the support person for a client who attended Play Therapy. I became in awe of the relationship that developed between the therapist and the client and saw the amazing impact it played in that child’s life. The level of acceptance and understanding through an authentic relationship gave her confidence in her own ability to process and deal with trauma that she encountered.

What do you like most about your job?

I love watching the children emotionally grow and helping them move forward with their lives. Watching the connection with their families grow and strengthen has been a highlight for me through the Play Therapy process.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

As a child I loved being outdoors with my friends discovering new adventures, climbing trees, making a mess and building cubbies. Although I can’t climb trees in the play room, I still get to make a mess, build cubbies and for that I am very grateful.

Jane Rabie
Jane Rabie

Play Therapist Social Worker
Graduate Certificate Clinical Play Therapy

Tell us a bit about your experience

I am a Social Worker and have a Graduate Certificate of Clinical Play Therapy from Play Therapy Australia. I have worked with children and their families since 2000, incorporating aspects of art and play in my work.

Where are you from?

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa and moved to the USA when I was 10 years with old with my family. My family moved once again, this time to Australia, in my early 20's. After graduating from University of Sydney, I moved to London where I practised as a Social Worker for a number of years.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

Whilst working in London with children in the care system, who had a tough start to their lives, I was introduced to the concept of play therapy. I was inspired when I was able to connect with those hard to reach and closed off kids through play. I had the light bulb moment that not all of us communicate verbally, especially children, and through being playful, creative and following a child's interest and lead I was able to get a glimpse into a child's inner world and then be able to be best advocate and support them.

What do you like most about your job?

No day is alike. I get the privilege of working with the inner world of a child, a place many kids don't share easily. I get to sit with a child through all their feelings – big and small – and I get to help them organise and make sense of them. Its beautiful to see the magic that happens in the play room infiltrate other areas of the child's life, especially how their connection and relationship with their carers is strengthened, and they find a renewed self-confidence.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

No matter how bad of a day my son is having I can always get a smile when I suggest making a sausage sandwich. I get him to lie down on a blanket and ask what I can put on him (cheese, tomato sauce, slugs, butter, mud!)  as I spread and condiments, roll him up and eat him, I am sure to get a giggle and sense of reconnection.

Cathy Belousoff
Cathy Belousoff

Practitioner of Therapeutic Play Therapy Skills
Post Graduate Play Therapy P.T.I,, M.Sc (Occupational Therapy), B. App. Sc. (Occupational Therapist)

Tell us a bit about your experience

I have a post graduate diploma in Play Therapy, and I am currently studying to become a clinical supervisor in play therapy. I have worked as a play therapist for the past 4 years at Be Centre. Previously I worked as an Occupational Therapist in hospitals and private practice.

Where are you from?

I am from Sydney, however I spent many years travelling and working in other countries (UK, US, Europe and Saudi Arabia).

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

My inspiration for becoming a Play Therapist came from my seeing my own children benefit from play. I saw how my children were able to freely express themselves and their concerns when playing, rather than trying to verbalise their problems to me.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy being with the children, being part of their play, experiencing their unique characters and seeing them develop and grow. 

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy sand play, and sensory play in the play room. Outside the play room- I enjoy being outdoors with my family, riding our bikes, swimming at the beach and camping.

Lisa McNeil
Lisa McNeil

Play Therapist
BSc (Psychology), Graduate Diploma in Science (Psychology), Psychologist Registration Supervision Program (Registered Psychologist), Play Therapy Australia Child-Centered Play Therapy Training Program

Tell us a bit about your experience

Psychologist for 14 years (organisational psychology, mental health, private practice, university counselling, school counselling) Began play therapy training 3 years ago

Where are you from?

Sydney

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

My sister began her Masters in Play Therapy when I was living in Singapore, while pregnant with my third child. I have always loved working with children and enjoyed my time working as a school counsellor in Sydney. I was searching for a different direction in my psychology career and researched play therapy courses. Play Therapy Australia was about to run a course in Singapore - I feel that play therapy found me!!

What do you like most about your job?

Spending my day with children. Being with a child and accepting them for who they are in the moment they feel safe enough to experience the raw emotion that they have been internalising and watching them grow through their play therapy experience. 

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

In the playroom - sandplay, arts and crafts. Outside the playroom - being outside with my husband and 3 boys (park, beach), exercise (running, bike riding, swimming), jumping on the trampoline with my boys, reading books to my boys.

Sha-Rin Low
Sha-Rin Low

Practitioner of Therapeutic Play Skills
Post Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills P.T.I. B. Commerce (Marketing and Hospitality Management)

Tell us a bit about your experience

I have spent 20 + years working with children in orphanages, aid programmes, childcare, autism therapy. I then over the last two 2 years I have trained and worked as a play therapist / intern

Where are you from?

Originally Malaysia and have lived in Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore in the last 20 years.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

My love for working with children and parenting my adopted children. Both of them have gone through periods of anger and anxiety in various seasons of life. Talking therapies never really helped them when they were young. I continued to question, read and explore other ways. Some of this research led me to play therapy. By this time my children were older but when I found out more, I was both inspired and compelled to help other children with similar difficulties.

What do you like most about your job?

Holding that space for each child I see and knowing what a huge difference it makes to have someone like that.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

Unstructured, quirky, make believe role plays that break the rules a little!

Erin Butler
Erin Butler

Play Therapist
MA in Play Therapy (with Distinction), Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), Filial Therapy

Tell us a bit about your experience

I have had many years of experience educating and therapeutically working with a diverse range of children from 3 to 12 years of age in a variety of settings both in Australia and the UK.

Where are you from?

Originally from rural NSW, I recently returned to Australia from the UK following the completion of a MA in Play Therapy and gaining post-qualifying experience in London.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

As a young child, I personally experienced the power of therapeutic play whilst in hospital for a period of time. This early experience had a long lasting impact throughout my lifetime, inspiring me to become a Play Therapist so I could support other children who have gone through life difficulties.

What do you like most about your job?

I am passionate about providing Play Therapy to all children in need, supporting them through play to decrease internal conflict, enhance emotional regulation, build resiliency and achieve holistic wellbeing. Witnessing the change that can happen within the child and the family unit is just magic!

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

In the play room I enjoy engaging with sensory materials, exploring sand trays, participating in role play and any form of creative expression - I love all of it! Personally, I enjoy practising yoga, expressing myself creatively through art and playing board or card games with others.

Michelle Mott
Michelle Mott

Parent Support, Volunteer
Registered Nurse (1986), MCAP Masters in counselling and Applied Psychotherapy (2013) (3 years’ experience), 10094 NAT Course in mentoring (2016).

Tell us a bit about your experience

I have 20 years of experience.

Where are you from?

I was born in the UK.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

I love working in a supportive environment with other health professionals. I am very passionate about my role supporting the parents, either through counselling or facilitating parenting courses. Therefore the parents feel heard and supported, so small changes may occur, altering the home environment for the children.

What do you like most about your job?

I used to build camps for my kids and do lots of creative play either through playing roles or using art. I still love board games!!

Heather Coull
Heather Coull

Play Therapist
Master of Child Play Therapy, Post Graduate Certificate In Therapeutic Play Skills Certificate of Sand Play and Symbol Work with Children, Adolescents & Adults Bachelor of Applied Social Science BSocSC (Counselling)

Tell us a bit about your experience

I became involved with the Be Centre in 2011 as an intern Play Therapist as part of the Post Graduate Certificate In Therapeutic Play Skills. In 2014, I became a Certified Practitioner In Therapeutic Play Skills and I initiated a play therapy program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children with the Be Centre. I have been providing play therapy with this population since then in partnership with Glebe TreeHouse, Weave Youth and Community Services and Deakin University.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Norfolk, England. When I was 25 years old, I travelled to Sydney and fell in love with Australia. I have lived in Sydney since then and now call it home.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

In 2008 I was employed as a Caseworker/Counsellor through Weave Youth and Community Services working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents 12 – 18 years old. During my time there, I noticed a considerable need for Play Therapy to be made available to younger Indigenous children within the community. My vision was to make play therapy accessible to these children so that they could reach their full potential in older years.

What do you like most about your job?

I feel so lucky to develop unique relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by supporting their autonomy, creativity, self expression and mastery. It is a joy to come to work every week being immersed and connected to this special community.

What kind of play do you like the most?

When I was a child in England, I grew up in the countryside. I loved unstructured play and exploring the natural environment as it was magical. I feel so lucky to have had experienced the sense of adventure and freedom that it gave me.

Lynda Williams
Lynda Williams

Community Liaison
Aboriginal Program

Tell us a bit about your experience

I have a Community Work Diploma obtained at TAFE NSW, I also have experience working with and supporting Indigenous families. Most of my qualifications have been obtained at work, I facilitate parenting programs Triple P Indigenous, Circle of Security, Domestic Violence Support Groups and other healthy relationship groups to Indigenous women, children and families.
I have 25 year’s experience working with and supporting Indigenous families in city and country NSW.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Sydney, although I am a Wiradjuri woman through my parents birth rights, currently living in La Perouse, Sydney.

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

I was inspired to work with play therapy out of curiosity, it’s quite a new concept for Indigenous people and I was keen to learn more so I can spread the information throughout my community.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the kids we work with, I love the play therapy concept, it’s growing on the Indigenous community as well, which is great.

What kind of play do you like the most?

I love the sand play! I had a go at it one day, and it was really fun. I also love outside play, ball games, handball, basketball, football.

Andrew Lamble
Andrew Lamble

Chief Executive Officer
BComm, ACA, GAICD

Tell us a bit about your experience

I have more than 30 years’ experience as a consultant, corporate strategist, senior executive and as a successful business co-founder.

Where are you from?

I was born and still live in Sydney, but was fortunate enough to spend time living and working in the United States.

What inspired you to work in Fundraising?

I just fell into fundraising, but I love the challenge and the thrill when you succeed.

What do you like most about your job?

Seeing the incredibly dedicated and caring team at Be Centre make such a difference to kids in difficulty is an enormous source of inspiration and joy for me. As CEO I am most excited about the opportunity to help build on this amazing work so that more kids right around Australia have the opportunity to benefit from best-practice play therapy.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

Golf is my passion but any outdoor sport or physical activity will do, and I love to work with wood (and should find time to do more of it).

Gailene Keen
Gailene Keen

Fundraising and Development Manager
ATCL, Trinity College London; FIA member

Tell us a bit about your experience

I have over 25 years’ experience in fundraising primarily with children’s charities.

Where are you from?

I was born in rural NSW but have called Sydney home for over 25 years

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

Having worked for charities such as Starlight Foundation where you witness the impact of trauma on children and their families on a daily basis – I was drawn to work for Be Centre and help be part of the healing process that gave children hope and the best chance the happy healthy life they deserve.

What do you like most about your job?

Being part of a team of people who are passionate about what they do.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

I love craft making and the dress ups!

Andrea Duncan
Andrea Duncan

Office Manager

Tell us a bit about your experience

where to begin? There are way way too many years to recount!

Where are you from?

Debatable…

What inspired you to work in Play Therapy?

Just lucky.

What do you like most about your job?

The children.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

The messy kind!

Joanne Roche
Joanne Roche

Fundraising and Development Coordinator

Tell us a bit about your experience

I’m something of a jack of all trades, and spent over 35 years of Administration, mostly in the corporate world for the likes of Telstra & IBM. I’ve done everything from business management to PR, sales and marketing and reception.

Where are you from?

Sydney born and bred. Have lived on the Northern Beaches for over 25 years and never looked back!

What inspired you to work in Fundraising?

I just fell into fundraising, but I love the challenge and the thrill when you succeed.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the variety of work, it’s rare that two days are the same. I also enjoy the events for the energy they bring – it gives me great satisfaction to see everything come together. I get to meet great people at events, and my work really keeps me thinking and active.

What kind of play do you enjoy the most?

I am a believer in team sports. For kids it is good for their social skills/confidence and helps them work together and support each other.

Deborah Killelea
Deborah Killelea

Chair

Deborah founded Be Centre in 2008. Deborah's passion has always been helping children. Her entire professional career has been devoted to working with aboriginal children, children with physical disabilities and behavioural problems. She is actively involved in the projects she funds and is a founding member of Green Cross Australia. Deborah along with her husband Steve, founded The Charitable Foundation in 2000 aiming to provide life-changing interventions reaching as many people as possible. Deborah has been Chair since 2008. 

Michael Laybutt
Michael Laybutt

Michael has more than 15 years’ experience in working within senior financial teams including 10 years as a Financial Controller in both private and public companies and General Manager position of an Australian company. Michael brings experience in relation to the practices, statutory requirements, and corporate governance required to run successful businesses. Michael has been a Board Member since 2013.

Phil Nunn
Phil Nunn

Phil is a psychologist, counsellor and educator with over 20 years’ experience working primarily with marginalised and 'at risk' young people. As a psychologist in private practice, Phil is highly respected by government and community service agencies. His interests include alternate therapeutic approaches, using music making and other forms of creative expression as therapeutic tools. He is the principal at P&P Training and Consultancy. Phil has a BA (Hons) Psychology (London University). Phil has been a Board Member since 2012.

Karen Oxenbury
Karen Oxenbury

Since migrating to Australia in 1994, Karen has applied her social worker skills and experience at Macquarie Psychiatric Hospital working with teenagers with chronic mental health problems. Her experience includes the Women’s & Babies Unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sydney predominately in the area of Foetal Medicine working with women experiencing grief and loss in pregnancy. Karen has an MA Social Work (Birmingham University). Karen has been a Board Member 2013.

Mark Lollback
Mark Lollback

A seasoned marketing professional with more than 20 years of global blue-chip marketing experience, Mark Lollback assumed the role of GroupM Australia & New Zealand CEO in April 2016. GroupM is Australia’s biggest media investment group with more than $3bn in billings. His career as a marketing leader spans four continents, a number of categories and a proven track record in delivering results.

Nici Andronicus
Nici Andronicus

Former Elite Athlete

"There are times when as a parent and partner, you face challenges that impact the whole family. I have personally found Be Centre, its staff and programs to be very valuable in helping our family cope with the ups and downs of dealing with a serious health condition that may be terminal. If Be Centre wasn't around to help my family, I wonder how we would cope – and I’m very proud to support the services they provide.”

Simon Reeve
Simon Reeve

Channel 7 Presenter and host

“There is something so fundamental about the nurture and development of a child. The very essence and foundations of a stable home; community and society find their roots in the environment in which our children are raised. Yet sadly, we all know far too many children are exposed to emotional and sometimes physical trauma, neglect and all manner of complicated forces and pressures that can severely impact their young lives. The damage, especially from long term exposure to such impediments, is incalculable.

"That's why I have such admiration for the work that goes on at Be Centre. Children have an absolute right to feel safe, to be able to play and engage with other children and adults in a way that most of us take for granted. This is why Be Centre is perhaps at the forefront of a change in our thinking. As we look at prevention rather than cure in the medical world, so too must we see gentle, professional and carefully constructed help for children as a starting point for addressing some of our biggest social issues. I'm a proud and enthusiastic supporter of the wonderful work that Be Centre is doing for the most important investment any parent can make: our children." 

Jimmy Wong
Jimmy Wong

Cook and Masterchef Australia Finalist

"I have had an amazing childhood, full of love, support and trust. These values have shaped the person I am in my adult years. This resilience was tested earlier this year when my sister and I shared an incredible experience on a cooking show where I found my family bond, trust and love helped me through the toughest of challenges.

"Everyone deserves a chance to be the best that they can be. For children that have been through mental or physical trauma, Be Centre provides the help to Begin the healing process, to Be children and to Believe in themselves. I have seen firsthand how profound this one-on-one Play Therapy has been to many of these children, through Be Centre team's dedication and healing. As a proud Ambassador for Be Centre I am committed to doing what I can to ensure that we support the team, to focus on the growth of the facilities and to start the healing process for more children."

Tom Carroll
Tom Carroll

former Australian world surfing champion

When I first researched Be Centre and saw the extraordinary outcomes from Play Therapy on traumatised children and the positive impact which simply hit my heart and peeled it wide open. It is crystal clear to me that making these remarkable programs available to those seeking help is an absolute high priority as the medium to long term ramifications of not addressing these issues for all involved both directly and indirectly maybe devastating. Every young person must be given the best chance possible.

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