Our facilitators


Feedback from a participant at training for health professionals:

“It was like a breath of fresh air into my somewhat stale Support Worker lungs – it inspired and invigorated.”


Damian le Goullon

Damian, the teacher of the Reading and Writing Group, graduated from QUT in 1991. Since then, he has used his gifts in the arts in community education programs. He worked with homeless youth for about a decade empowering young artists to educate their community on health, disadvantage and personal expression. Damian has been an advocate for social justice as a community visitor (Commission for Children, Young People and Child Guardian), a community activist (Brisbane East Timor Action Coalition) and as a graphic designer for community projects.

In the last few years, Damian has worked as a teacher (visual arts and multimedia) at Kenmore State High School. He spends his spare time writing and illustrating a children’s story, singing and cycling. Damian is passionate about using the arts to give voice, vision and form to personal and social change.

Deborah Lugsden

DeborahDeborah Lugsden likes to share her story about how life has gone for her the last few years. Living in institutions for many years and being at risk of homelessness has shaped Deborah significantly.

Now she has her own unit, a bank account, a job, friends and local networks. Her story has been a powerful learning tool in workshops throughout Brisbane and Queensland.

Penny Barringham

Penny Barringham has helped to shape the work of A Place to Belong from its inception. Her thinking, frameworks and priorities are greatly influenced by the lessons she has learned from being committed to others in her home and neighbourhood. These guide Penny in her role in A Place to Belong.

Penny is passionate about people who are vulnerable being treated respectfully and keeps a close eye on the values framework to which A Place to Belong is committed. Penny’s training roles have included seminars on empowerment, values and inclusion. Penny has post graduate qualifications in social work.

Neil Barringham

Neil first started learning about community inclusion in the disability realm when he and his wife became more involved in their community and shared their home with a few people who were working through the recovery process.

From this, Neil saw the power of ordinary, simple friendship connections. He is passionate about sharing this insight across the sector and seeking to inspire people to keep a community vision alive.

Neil has been running training in mental health for over ten years. He is the manager of A Place to Belong and a trainer and consultant with the Community Praxis Cooperative. Neil has postgraduate qualifications in community development, management and social work.

Christine Wall

Christine Wall

Christine has been part of the Reading and Writing Group at Thomas Street for many years. Initially she came to the group to build self-confidence in her ability to read and write. Now, some years later, Christine is also proficient using a computer. Part of Christine’s role as Adult Learner Consultant is to supervise the Volunteer Tutors.




Amanda Toivanen

Amanda Toivanen

Amanda describes the work of A Place to Belong as gentle, respectful, inclusive and optimistic. She hopes this reflects her approach to practice, as well as her personal aspirations towards leading a kinder and more compassionate life, developing respectful relationships with others and advocating for social justice.

Being involved in the Reading and Writing Group, community inclusion and recovery support teams, Amanda values connecting with people, listening deeply to them and honouring and learning from their wisdom, experience and stories.

Amanda has a background in the social and behavioural sciences, has worked in population health research and community settings. She is also studying post-graduate social work.