About Us

Helping people, changing lives

The East Gippsland Community Foundation is a philanthropic community foundation established for the purpose of providing funding to support the east Gippsland community in its long-term recovery from the 2019-2020 Victorian bushfires.

Established by the community, for the community, the Foundation was seeded by donations to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

Community foundations are uniquely placed to understand and respond to the immediate and long-term needs of their community. As the trustee of charitable funds, the East Gippsland Community Foundation works in partnership with donors, local organisations and communities to benefit the region.

The Foundation has received funding from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. This is a partnership between the Victorian Government and the charitable arm of Bendigo Bank, known as the Community Enterprise Foundation.

The Foundation’s role is to distribute this funding in ways that support the east Gippsland community in its long-term recovery from the 2019-2020 Victorian bushfires and to act as the trustee of a trust established to provide relief to victims of these fires.

In addition to this, the East Gippsland Community Foundation operates a Public Ancillary Fund. This provides the legal framework that allows the foundation to operate into perpetuity, to conduct its own fundraising activities and to support activities that are not related to bushfire recovery.

Proud Member of

East Gippsland Community Foundation Board and Staff at the Annual General Meeting at the Bruthen Mechanics Hall on 13 November 2023.

Board and staff

The East Gippsland Community Foundation is led by a diverse and highly skilled board of directors. Its directors offer a wealth of local knowledge and understanding of the complex issues that confront our region.

The board was appointed by the Independent Advisory Panel of the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. Appointments are for a period of up to three years, and board members may apply for a further term.

The directors and staff are focused on creating partnerships and collaborations to connect East Gippsland’s communities with the resources and skills needed to recover from the 2019-20 Black Summer and to tackle disadvantage.

Barry Henwood

Chair

Barry Henwood is a director of the Foundation. After a long and successful career in retail and community banking, Barry became Director of the Board for the Hurstbridge Bendigo Bank Community Bank, then its Chair, and later, its CEO/Chair. Today, Barry has stepped down from these roles, but he remains the CEO of Valley Community Financial Services Limited.

Barry’s comprehensive experience includes roles as Chair of the Hurstbridge Traders Association, and of the Community Bank Stadium in Diamond Creek’s fundraising committee (a $10.5 million project). After the 2009 bushfires, Barry worked with the Bendigo Bank, his local community bank, and the local community to rebuild communities severely impacted by the bushfires. Subsequently, he was invited to present at several public forums and, in 2010, became the Nillumbik Shire Council’s Citizen of the Year. In 2011, he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow award from the local Diamond Creek Rotary club.

David Impey

Treasurer

David Impey is a director of the Foundation. He is currently chief executive officer of the Community Enterprise Foundation which is the philanthropic arm of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

Helen Martin

Director

Helen Martin is a director of the Foundation. She is a long-time resident of East Gippsland and formerly ran a small consultancy company. Previously, Helen held senior positions in local government where her responsibilities included community recovery from disasters. She has also worked for State and Commonwealth agencies. She has been a member of several government advisory councils and boards, and chair of the Gippsland Coastal Board.

Helen’s specialist skills lie in strategic planning, community engagement and policy development for rural and regional areas. She is an active volunteer with the Country Fire Authority’s District 11 Headquarters Brigade and Red Cross Emergency Services and served with both during the 2019-20 bushfires. The fires’ aftermath, with her professional experience, has given her a clear view of the impacts of natural disasters on individuals, communities and the environment. Helen is a graduate of the Gippsland Community Leadership Program and is strongly committed to enhancing the Foundation’s role in assisting recovery and building resilience.

Lara Caplygin

Secretary

Lara is an environmental engineer with over seventeen years’ experience in the Victorian Water Industry. Starting as a graduate engineer with Earth Tech in Melbourne and going on to a number of roles at East Gippsland Water (EGW). Before completing my employment with East Gippsland Water in August 2022, she was the Executive Manager Strategy & Assets.

A recipient of the 2014 Laurie Gleeson Development Award (Institute of Water Administration) to explore innovation with Scottish Water and Scottish Water Horizons. In 2020 she graduated from the inaugural Executive Leadership Women in Water Program, sponsored by the Victorian Minister for Water. In 2021 I was appointed to the Executive Group of the Intelligent Water Networks (IWN).

Lara is currently working as a Senior Project Manager at Crossco, an East Gippsland based engineering and environmental consultancy.

Lara is a Graduated of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. A passionate member of the East Gippsland community and a Director of the Evans Ripple Lea Farming Trust with her husband, a multigenerational dairy farm in the township
of Wuk Wuk near Lindenow.

Eric Sjerp

Director

Eric Sjerp is an Environmental Scientist with a Bachelor of Science degree (Geology and Geography – UWA, 1986). He is currently Managing Director of Ethos NRM – Environmental Assessment and
Natural Resource Management Consultants.
Eric has extensive professional experience in the fields of environmental impact assessment, natural
resource and conservation management, strategic land use planning, urban & rural water industries, exploration geology and government liaison. Eric’s professional career spans over 30 years
throughout Australia and internationally in Malaysia and the UK.
Eric is a past Board Member / Non-Executive Director of Yarra Valley Water, East Gippsland Water
and of Southern Rural Water, past Deputy Chairman of Within Australia and the East Gippsland
Sustainability Advisory Board, past independent member of East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s Land Programs Advisory Committee, and past Executive Officer of the Gippsland Lakes Management Council. Eric is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD),
Environment Institute of Australia & New Zealand (EIANZ) and the Victorian Planning and
Environmental Law Association (VPELA).

 

Joe Rettino

Deputy Chair

Joe Rettino is a director and deputy Chair of the East Gippsland Community Foundation Ltd and is currently a Recovery Support Officer (RSO) for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Previously Joe was a partnership/engagement broker for TAFE Gippsland and also a former councillor of East Gippsland Shire Council. As a Councillor he served a two year term as mayor (2016-2018). Joe has held directorships in the following key Gippsland organisations, Lakes Entrance Fisherman Ltd, Omeo District Health and East Gippsland Water.

During his time in Local government, Joe successfully advocated for significant grants from the Federal and State governments, including advocacy as a member of the Gippsland Local Government Network (GLGN/One Gippsland). Joe’s experience had given him specialist skills in stakeholder and community engagement, leadership, communication, organisational skills, relationship management, commercial management, strategic procurement and governance.

 

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Meg Allan

Director

Meg Allan hails from Mallacoota, Far East Gippsland and possesses a deep-rooted passion for Gippsland and its communities. Meg currently works for Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship, having previously worked with East Gippsland Shire Council as the Place Manager for Mallacoota and Cann Valley. 

 

Meg is co-founder and chair of the Wilderness Collective Mallacoota, a social enterprise facilitating a self-determined and sustainable future for Far East Gippsland through the catalysts of enterprise, education, and co-working. She graduated the Gippsland Community Leadership Program in 2022. 

 

Meg’s experience has given her specialist skills in areas such as systems and strategic thinking, sustainable regional development, facilitation and leadership.

Meg Allan hails from Mallacoota, Far East Gippsland and possesses a deep-rooted passion for Gippsland and its communities. Meg currently works for Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship, having previously worked with East Gippsland Shire Council as the Place Manager for Mallacoota and Cann Valley.

Meg is co-founder and chair of the Wilderness Collective Mallacoota, a social enterprise facilitating a self-determined and sustainable future for Far East Gippsland through the catalysts of enterprise, education, and co-working. She graduated the Gippsland Community Leadership Program in 2022.

Meg’s experience has given her specialist skills in areas such as systems and strategic thinking, sustainable regional development, facilitation and leadership.

Trevor Hancock - Board member

Trevor Hancock

Director

Trevor’s family has strong connections to East Gippsland and he is the fifth generation to continue service to the region. Several sporting and community awards and streets are named after his forbears. His professional background is in fundraising, marketing, strategic planning, Government, corporate, crises, and public relations. Trevor started his fundraising with Red Cross organizing “Red Cross Calling” in Victoria. He has been responsible for fundraising, communications and marketing at the Austin Hospital, Deakin University, and the University of Adelaide. He established the Hackett Foundation at the University of Western Australia and advised The Howard Flory Institute on fundraising. Trevor has been a Councillor of the City of Malvern and Vice President of the Metropolitan Municipal Association. He was Chairman of Chittering Financial Services, a community owned company with the franchises for three Bendigo Bank Branches. With considerable expertise in Australia’s cultural heritage, he holds Federal Government advisory roles in the area. Trevor was an inaugural Fellow of the Williamson Community Leadership Program and is the current President of the Bairnsdale Chamber of Commerce.

Monika Oudendyk - Board member

Monika Oudendyk

Director

Monika Oudendyk is a director of the Foundation. Moved to East Gippsland 5 years ago from Melbourne. Monika was the Project Management Office Manager at Monash University and has held a number of Program and Project Management roles, specialising in Information Technology and Educational Program Development as well as Business Continuity Management.

Monika currently works for Peninsula Health remotely as an IT Project Manager.

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Paul Holton

Director

Paul is Principle at Lightwell Consulting, undertaking projects in the community and local government sectors. He was formerly, Director Development with East Gippsland Shire Council where his role encompassed strategic management of Statutory Land Use Planning, Economic Develpment, Capital Projects and Council Enterprises across East Gippsland Shire. He worked in Local Government for over 30 years in areas such as arts facilities administration, cultural development, leisure facilities and events management. Paul was part of the team that initiated the highly successful Wangaratta Festival of Jazz. He is a former member of the Australia Council’s Community Cultural Development Board.

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Louise Holden

Governance & Administration Officer

Louise Holden is the Foundation’s Governance Officer. With over 20 years’ experience
across various aspects of the Victorian Water Industry and Not-for-Profit sector she has
extensive knowledge in corporate governance and administrative roles.
Known for her attention to detail, maximising operational excellence and delivering
governance performance, Louise is focused on streamlining business operations and
ensuring clarity and accountability across the Foundation.
Louise holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and is a Graduate of the
Australian Institute of Company Directors. Louise is an active participant in the local
community.

Michelle Dowsett

Executive Officer

Michelle Dowsett is the Foundation’s Executive Officer. Michelle has a demonstrated history in the management consulting industry. Her skills include business planning, management, risk management, strategic planning, and business strategy.

An active participant in public and non-public sector boards and committees, Michelle is the current Chair of the Regional Development Australia Gippsland Committee and represents the Committee on the Gippsland Regional Partnership. She is also a Director of TAFE Gippsland and Bairnsdale Regional Health Service.

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cherie Draper

Community Liaison Officer

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