Our Staff

The Rural Alive and Well Inc team are made up of the following people.

Barb Walters

Chief Executive Officer

(03) 6254 1092

Barb has recently been appointed as Chief Executive Officer and brings to the position an expansive knowledge base of the community service sector, with a strong focus on successful service program delivery for at-risk children throughout Tasmania.

Barb is passionate about sound business development and strong relationship building. Barb is President of the South Launceston Junior Football Club and was a State Finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards in 2017 and 2014 for Social Enterprise, Northern Young Professional of the Year in 2013.

Growing up in a farming community at Avoca, Barb has a strong affinity with rural Tasmania. Barb is looking forward to continuing to lead RAW on its mission to support vulnerable individuals and families in rural Tasmania communities.

Nevanka Alempijevic

Community Resilience Facilitator

Nevenka joined the RAW team in August 2019 as a Community Resilience Facilitator and accepted the role of the Internal Practice Consultant in January 2020.  Her role involves working with staff to maximise the knowledge and skills that currently exist within the team, and to implement current research and best-practice guidelines to help build a strong RAW brand. 

Nevenka has extensive experience in the mental health sector with a particular passion for suicide prevention.  She has worked in Tasmania for the past 11 years and has experience working with individuals, couples and families.  She also has a strong background in industry training and capacity building. 

She holds a Diploma of Counselling, Diploma in Advanced Bio-Energy Healing Technique, Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Anthropology), Post-graduate Diploma in Industrial/Organisational Psychology, Graduate Diploma in Management, and Master’s degree in Suicidology (Suicide Research and Prevention).  She is also a Rapid Transformational Therapy Practitioner, Emotional Freedom Technique Practitioner and is a Mental Health Integrative Medicine Certified Provider (MHIMCP).

On a personal note, Nevenka is obsessed with food, online summits and sharing quality time with her family and friends.  


Channi Jones

Program Development Leader

0409 257 831

Channi joined the RAW team in November 2019 as Program Development Leader and Reachout Worker. Channi brings to RAW a wealth of experience in the youth sector as a qualified Youth worker with a Diploma in Leadership & Management and is currently studying her degree in Counselling. Channi has launched the Next-Gen Pilot Program for RAW. This important program offers outreach support for youth in rural areas, as well as this Channi, is managing the Mates of RAW Volunteer Program. Channi has previously worked in the youth sector for the past 6 years as a team leader with Whitelion in youth-at-risk support services and has extensive volunteer experience.

Channi comes from Northern Tasmania, Channi loves to write & draw and on weekends spends time with her large family at sporting commitments and local community activities. 


Darren Thurlow

Reach Out Team Leader South

0428 333 517

Darren has been working as an Outreach Worker for RAW since 2013, as well as working on the road, he is manager of the southern Outreach team. Darren is passionate about his job and finds helping those in need extremely rewarding.

Darren grew up in Howrah, and attended St. Virgil’s College. Prior to working for RAW, Darren drove trucks for twelve years around Tasmania and Australia and was also involved in the Forest Industry. 

Darren decided to have a career change after he thought the Forest Industry would fold, and applied as a youth worker with the Salvation Army in the therapeutic care units. From the Salvation Army, Darren became a case manager in a Drug and Alcohol Rehab centre in Ellendale.  After about six months working in this role, Darren applied for the position with RAW and was appointed as an Outreach Worker.  Darren has been in this role since early in 2013 and he has enjoyed every day at work.

Darren helps those doing it tough in the Southern Midlands area.


Julie Ellis

Reach Out Team Leader North

0427 370 726

Julie came to Tasmania in 2003.  At the time she was in a position to have a go at living her dream.  The dream was to own and operate her own farm. To this end, Julie purchased a small run-down property in the North of the State and began a journey.

In 2009, Julie’s journey took a turn thanks in part to the drought that affected so many and in fact saw the start of RAW.  That turn led Julie back into the world of education and study, a world she never dreamed she would ever return to.  Is she glad she did?  You bet!  Why?  It led her into the world of Community Services where she has worked solidly for the last ten years. Her focus has been Mental Health and support for those living with significant and persistent mental ill health issues. 

Julie is very passionate about rural and remote communities.  She actively promotes and advocates for effective service provision to people living in these regions. RAW’s capacity to provide an Outreach Service that has a ‘cold call’ component allows her to the opportunity to ‘get out there’ to offer support to people living in these communities. Communities where ‘doing it tough’ is just part of the job.  Asking for a hand?  Maybe not.  However, if a hand is offered… well, that hand may well be all that is needed.  


John Clark

Training Team Leader

0429 157 738

John grew up on a family sheep and cattle farm in Victoria. He moved to Melbourne to complete a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, which led him to work in the Pulp and Paper Industry, and in turn brought about a move to Tasmania. After the demise of the industry in the North West, John switched to the community services sector for eight years.  In this role, John experienced a serious burnout and after some time in recovery, commenced work with Anglicare as a Family Mental Health Outreach Worker supporting families who were affected by mental illness.

John is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Trainer, a volunteer speaker for Beyond Blue and Suicide Prevention Australia and is passionate about reducing stigma around mental illness, suicide and encouraging others to get help either for themselves, their families or their mates. John is equally passionate about his three children and wife of 25 years.

If John isn’t out and about talking to mates, you can find him bushwalking Tasmania’s mountains; fly fishing the pristine lakes; hunting and woodworking, cycling or volunteering for the SES Search and Rescue team. Whenever he can, John gets back to Victoria on the family farm because there’s never an end to the work to be done.


Amity Deans

Reach Out Coordinator

0427 418 345

Amity has worked in rural and remote communities with families and young people for the past 10 years. Amity has a Diploma in Community Services and also a Diploma in Children’s Services.

Prior to RAW Amity was employed at the Dunalley Tasman Neighbourhood House as the Family Support Worker.  Amity played an integral role in supporting isolated families and individuals with complex needs and also facilitating programs and activities to enhance community engagement and connectedness. 

Post the Dunalley Bushfires in 2013 Amity worked alongside the Dunalley Primary School, Beyond Blue, Anglicare, local council and many other service providers and organisations to promote and assist with the recovery of the community. 

Amity believes that often people and communities carry within themselves their own solutions, they just need the encouragement and support to find it.

Amity enjoys a busy, fun and active lifestyle with her three children. 


Ebony De Jesus

Reach Out Coordinator

0429 473 183

Ebony joined Rural Alive and Well in the role of Healthy and Resilient communities Facilitator for the North. This role has changed over time and Ebony is now providing outreach support to those in her area. Ebony enjoys engaging and networking in rural and remote communities, to establish community groups with a focus on mental health, wellbeing and suicide prevention as well as helping out our Mates in tough times. 

Ebony graduated from the University of Tasmania in 2017 with a Bachelor of Social Work Degree, which gave her a variety of opportunities to work within different organisations. Such organisations included the Deloraine Neighborhood House in which she collaboratively worked with the community on a project ‘Life Portraits' which highlighted the diversity and lived experiences in the ageing community. Other organisations Ebony has had the opportunity to work within is the Deloraine Hospital and Deloraine High School, in which she was involved in a variety of collaborative projects and individual supporting roles.

Andrew Baker

Reach Out Coordinator

0400 131 256

Andrew grew up in the Huon, and is a fourth generation member of one of the largest families in the area. He currently lives in rural Sandford but recently lived in the Oatlands area on a part time basis for three years, and before that on the Eastern Shore.

Growing up in rural areas, Andrew has seen his family adapt over time as economic change has seen the demise of the Logging, Apple and Fishing Industries.

As a third generation Firefighter for a number of years, Andrew learnt the skills and understanding to deal with many real life emergency situations as a first responder.

He has managed a large number of people in a number of organisations across urban and rural Tasmania, he understands rural and remote communities and is passionate about their health and well-being.


Rhonda Gee-Mackrill

Reach Out Coordinator

0418 473 293

Rhonda joined the RAW team in August 2015, assigned to her local area in the north-east of Tasmania, she enjoys supporting and talking to rural, remote and isolated families.

Rhonda’s has over 12 years of experience in clinical and non-clinical mental health services, where she has gained the skills and knowledge to help those in need today. She has experience working with a large range of issues, including mental Illness; family violence; sexual assault; drug and alcohol abuse; suicide prevention; Optimal Health; and grief and bereavement in families of those affected by suicided. Rhonda has supported people with mental illness, their carers, family and friends.  She is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist and alternative therapy practitioner. Rhonda is a steering committee member of the mental health professionals networking committee providing education, information and presentations to other health professionals and community members. Her passion is recovery from mental health and well-being issues, suicide prevention and supporting those in rural, remote and isolated communities to connect and access supports in their local and surrounding areas.

Rhonda’s inclusive practice ethics work to ensure RAW’s services are culturally sensitive, meeting the diverse needs within communities.  Recognising that peoples cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, gender and sexual identity can have an important role to play in their mental health and well-being. “Acceptance, Equity, Flexibility, Committment and Participation”

Rhonda is married and enjoys spending time with her two adult daughters, travelling and socialising with friends.


Martin Dicker

Reach Out Coordinator

0438 087 368

Martin completed his social work placement with RAW in 2018. After the completion of the placement, Martin joined the RAW team as the Outreach Worker for the West Coast. It is Martin's first job in mental health and suicide prevention and is an exciting and challenging opportunity for him to establish himself as a worker. He comes to the field with a genuine love for people and the understanding of the importance of someone who listens and hears.

Prior to working at RAW, Martin studied a Bachelor of Social Science and Master of Social Work degree at the University of Tasmania in Launceston. During this time, he worked as a kitchen hand, a retail worker and a Peer Assisted Study Session Leader and Mentor at the university. 

In his spare time, Martin is a keen amateur photographer and mountain bike rider. Martin loves Tasmania’s stunning landscapes and is always looking for spots for both new photography and mountain biking opportunities. 


Kristy Mayne

Reach Out Coordinator

0428 145 319

Kristy has worked at RAW for the past 10 years, the last 4 years as a Rural Outreach Worker before Kristy worked in the RAW Business Services area.

Kristy enjoys helping those in the Central Highlands, Southern Midlands and the Derwent Valley as a Rural Outreach Worker.

Before working for RAW, Kristy was involved in the aged care and disability sector.

When she isn't on the road talking to the MATES of RAW, Kristy enjoys playing netball, camping and fishing with her family. Kristy and her husband live in the Central Highlands with their four sons.


Jayne Pike

Reach Out Coordinator

0439 689 430

Jayne Pike was born in St Helens and loves her local area for its beaches, forests and sense of community. Before joining the RAW team Jayne studied social work and worked at Medea Park Residential Care as a Personal Care Assistant, before that she was a Personal Carer for Family Based Care. She has also worked in hospitality, including working as a stewardess in the Merchant Navy.  Jayne’s skills don’t stop there, she has also done fish management and processing, worked as a deckhand on a cray and scallop boat, and bookkeeping and banking.  Jayne has a Certificate II and III in Aged Care, and a Bachelor of Arts and Social Work. But Jayne says her most challenging position has been raising a family; she is a proud mother of three.

Jayne loves working at RAW because of the autonomy of her position and her co-workers, but most of all because of the feeling that comes from making a positive difference in people’s lives.  Jayne’s faith in human rights and social justice led her to social work and thus led her to utilising those skills working for RAW.


Maddie Munday

Reach Out Coordinator

0477 003 779

Maddie was born in Scamander, moved to the West Coast as a child with her family, and spent most of her life in Kingston and Blackmans Bay in the South. Her school holidays were filled with trips across the State visiting family, camping, and driving thousands of miles to where the fish were biting. Now, years later, she has done a full circle and returned to Scamander where the slower pace of life, bushland and paddocks trump the rat-race and concrete walls.

After working in the finance and marketing industries for over 10 years, Maddie decided to turn her interest in people and passion for helping them into a real job and undertook a Psychology degree. Graduating with a Bachelor of Behavioural Studies (Psychology) with Honours she became a volunteer youth mentor and started working at St Helens Neighbourhood House alongside the National Suicide Prevention Trial Site. After completing suicide prevention training she realised she was extremely passionate about supporting people experiencing incredibly tough times, and being able to help them to turn that around holds immense meaning for her.

Maddie is now one of our Reach Out Coordinators supporting the Glamorgan/Spring Bay, Break O’Day and Northern Midlands municipalities where the impacts of drought have had a ripple effect through communities. She also intends to undertake training as a Provisional Psychologist so as to obtain full registration as a practising Psychologist in the future.


Spencer Cannell

Executive Officer

(03) 6254 1092

Spencer grew up in Tassie, having lived on the North West Coast and in Hobart.  School holidays were always spent on the grand parent’s farm in the Huon Valley.  

Spencer joined RAW to use his skills in finance, administration and customer service.

Spencer has a love for rural Tasmania and enjoys nothing more than going for a bushwalk or finding new places of interest.

Rural Tasmania is a great place to work, having previously worked in larger populated areas. Working in Local Government, aged and disability care and aviation.


Sophie Kelly

Communications and Events Officer

(03) 6254 1092

Sophie grew up on the North-West Coast but now calls Hobart home. Since graduating from University with a Tourism Degree (Marketing Major), Sophie has worked in sales & marketing roles for hotels in regional Tasmania and Hobart. More recently Sophie has been working for Port Arthur Historic Sites. 

Sophie joined Rural Alive and Well as Communications and Events Officer in May 2019. As a Venturer Scout Leader with a keen interest in helping out in the community, Sophie wanted to focus more on working in the community and rural Tasmania.

In her spare time, Sophie is a keen adventurer, enjoying road cycling, mountain biking and bushwalking. She enjoys meeting new people and hearing stories from the true characters in rural Tasmanian communities.