Fernlea House



Committed to supporting Fernlea

Fernlea is an independent, community-based organisation governed by a voluntary Board. The Board plays a key role in setting the strategic direction and organisational business structure to reduce risk and enhance the growth of Fernlea's services. The Board meets monthly and welcomes new members who wish to share their skills and to be involved in their local community.


barry thomson - president

Barry commenced employment with the Department of Defence in 1966. In 1984 he was appointed to relocate the Queen Victoria Medical Centre and Prince Henry’s Hospital to the newly built Monash Medical Centre, the largest change-management project undertaken by the Victorian Government at that time. Barry served as Director Human Resources until his appointment in 1994 as General Manager of Independence Australia - Health Solutions (formerly The Paraplegic & Quadriplegic Association), before retiring in 2012.  He has a Graduate Diploma in Industrial & Human Resource Management and in Business, as well as an Associate Diploma in Industrial Relations.

Barry has been a member of a number of boards and is currently President of the Continence Foundation of Australia Victorian Branch, having been a Board member there since 2009. He joined the Fernlea Board in 2013, bringing both his community and commercial experience. He was elected Vice President in 2014 and President in November 2015.


rob wall - vice president

Rob’s background is in human resource management and workplace relations, with a Degree in Business Administration. He has worked for state government, local government and the private sector, with a role since 2009 as Workplace Relations Advisor (now part time) at a Melbourne law firm.

Rob’s interests include socialising with family and friends, looking after three rescue dogs, caravanning and following motor racing. He has also been interested in home renovations for many years, including restoration of a cottage that was built in 1879.

Rob joined the Fernlea Board in November 2015, and although he doesn’t live in the hills, was attracted to Fernlea because of its unique character in supporting the community, and it presented an opportunity for him to contribute his time and expertise to a worthwhile organisation. As well as being a Director, since joining the Fernlea Board, Rob has held various roles including Vice President since July 2017 and a member of the Remuneration Committee.


roger lord - Treasurer

Roger is a chartered accountant, working for many years in a large multi-national company as Financial and Management Accountant. Consequently, he has a wide range of management experience, not only in the financial area but also across operational business issues such as human resources, risk management, investments, taxation and legal compliance.

Roger retired in 2004 and since then has been actively involved as Treasurer for several not-for-profit organisations. He has served on the Fernlea Board since the end of 2016, as Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee. He also volunteers at the Fernlea ‘Shop of Opportunities’, helping to look after the gardens. Roger believes that his experience will help to ensure that the Fernlea Board has suitable financial information to assist with its governance responsibilities and decision-making.


kellie alford - director

Kellie has a degree in Business Management, and is an accomplished senior human resources manager, which includes having lead teams through change and business transformation projects. She has significant experience across both strategic and operational areas, including workforce planning and recruitment, OHS, corporate governance, training, project management and change management.  Kellie’s passion and strengths are in shaping human resources to drive business change and growth.

Kellie joined the Fernlea Board in 2015, because she is passionate about community services, especially in her local hills area. She believes her passion for and experience in human resources can help support Fernlea to become more operationally and financially robust. Kellie held the position of Secretary from 2016-2017, and also supports Fernlea's Fundraising Committee.

Erin board member.jpg

Erin O'Loughlin - director

Erin has an extensive background in Disability Services, working in direct care followed by management roles in the government sector for 14 years, before heading to her current role at a non-profit organisation. She holds disability qualifications and is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Social Science (Behavioural Studies). Currently she is enjoying the opportunity to learn about the changing NDIS landscape and its major impact on the lives of people living with a disability, their families and carers.
In her spare time, Erin has volunteered in carer peer support programs and advocacy for carers of people who are living with disabilities.

Erin joined the Fernlea board in 2018 wanting to contribute to a like-minded vision, having had lived experience of supporting her mother through her 25 year journey with disability and palliative care.


catherine maguire  - director

Catherine has a Bachelor of Education as well as a Master’s Degree in Marketing, and is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science (Chinese Acupuncture). She brings to the Fernlea Board more than 20 years’ experience in the corporate sector in marketing and ten years’ experience in education and training at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. She has worked across multiple industries and sectors, including in government, regulatory and political bodies.

Catherine joined the Fernlea Board in 2017 because she feels passionate about the rights of people who are chronically ill or approaching the end stages of their lives. Managing life with a chronic health condition, and being disabled herself, Catherine wants to assist Fernlea in its endeavours to support clients and families through those challenging times.


bethany newman  - director

Bethany holds a Bachelor of Behavioural Studies and has expertise in the development and delivery of high quality community programs.  She has more than 15 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector, delivering government-funded, philanthropic and donor-funded programs and services. Her experience includes management roles with charitable organisations Mission Australia and Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). 

Bringing expertise in people management including paid and volunteer teams, Bethany joined the Fernlea Board in 2017 to contribute her expertise in people and program management. On a personal level, after caring for her father following his diagnosis of metastatic prostate cancer, Bethany has been committed to contributing her skills in some way to improving the support available within the community for people with a life-limiting illness. 


graeme legge - director

Graeme’s professional background is in education, having been a teacher for more than 40 years,  29 years of those in the local district, including 10 years as Principal at Gembrook. He also graduated with a Master’s Degree in 2017.

Graeme is a long-time, active resident of Emerald, and he continues to be a generous community supporter. His local involvement includes emergency services (fire and ambulance), youth work (scout leader, Sunday School teacher), utility provider (reticulated water and sewerage schemes), palliative care, local government representative, church lay-leader, local historian and Justice of the Peace. In recognition of his contribution to the community, Graeme was awarded Cardinia Shire Council’s ‘Senior Citizen of The Year’ in 2015.

Graeme previously volunteered with Palliative Care South East before joining the Fernlea Board in 2017.  He sees his role on the Board as significant in supporting such a worthy cause. Graeme is also a member of the Board’s Risk Committee.


lara Bandarian  - director

Lara has held senior leadership positions in state government and the private sector, and has served on a number of not-for-profit boards with community support organisations. She brings experience in strategic planning, policy, human resources and project management and has a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and HR Management). 

Lara is resident of Emerald, and with her partner Vince, moved to Victoria from Western Australia in 2016, establishing a boutique accommodation business in the area. Still being a fairly new Victorian, Lara enjoys heading out sight seeing with Vince, going for long walks and exploring the many activities and experiences the local area and broader regions offer. 

Such close proximity to Fernlea House inspired Lara to find out more about what we do, and in late 2016 her relationship with Fernlea began.

Lara joined the Fernlea Board in 2018. 



Riley is a medical doctor practising at a major teaching hospital in inner Melbourne, having completed his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery with Honours at Monash University. He has experience working clinically in palliative care, aged care, and internal medicine, as well as in clinical research.

Having worked previously at public hospitals in Melbourne’s South-East, Riley joined the Fernlea Board as a Director in 2018 with an interest in supporting those with life-limiting illnesses following discharge from hospital or rehabilitation. He is passionate about improving the quality of end of life care provided in the community and advocating for organisations that achieve this.


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