Meet the team

Photo of the youth services team 

Yarra Youth Services is a generalist service for young people aged 12 to 25 years who live, work, study or have a connection to Yarra.

Our team is based at the Yarra Youth Centre (156 Napier Street, Fitzroy) and provides a range of services to young people, the community and schools across the City of Yarra, including:

  • Weekly after-school and holiday programs;
  • Individual support;
  • School-based programs;
  • Youth events and festivals; and
  • Facilitating youth networks and committees.

 

About Us

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Rupert North (aka Rupe) Coordinator, Youth and Middle Years

Rupe oversees the Youth Services team, and is responsible for the Youth Plan and Yarra Youth Centre. He also works closely with stakeholders (within Council and externally, including the Yarra Youth Advisory Committee) to plan and deliver programs and services for young people in the community.

 

He was born and raised in London, his favourite soccer team is Chelsea, and he and his family are massive Star Wars nerds!

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Bella Laidlaw Program Leader, Communities That Care

Bella manages our Communities That Care program in Yarra. CTC is a community-wide, evidence-based initiative focusing on reducing underage alcohol and other drug use; building young peoples’ personal resilience; and strengthening family relationships.

 

She was born and raised and still lives in Yarra, and loves the outdoors, hanging out with her family and friends, and reading a good book.

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Chris Cogger Team Leader, Programs and Engagement

Chris oversees the team that runs all our sport and recreation; arts and music; and leadership and skills programs. He also co-facilitates the Yarra Youth Providers Network, supporting local youth organisations in Yarra.

 

He loves music, going to live gigs and his all-time favourite band is Nine Inch Nails. Oh, and he LOVES the Demons!

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Elinor Porat Team leader, Support and Pathways

Elinor oversees the team that runs our Individual Support, L2P Learner Driver Mentor, and education and employment programs. She also manages our Youth Peer Leader program, and co-facilitates the Yarra Youth Providers Network, supporting local youth organisations in Yarra.

 

She has lived in London and Mexico and loves travelling to new places, she also loves crocheting, indie music and a good audio book or podcast. 

 

Programs and Engagement team

 

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Toyin Abbas (aka Big T) Youth Development Officer, Participation and Engagement

Big T runs our soccer, Living it Up and swimming programs. Toyin also works closely with other local organisations and sporting clubs to support young people getting into sports and developing career pathways.

He came to Australia to play professional soccer in 1999 with the Melbourne Knights, and later ventured into the community sector on completion of his Master Degree in 2008.

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Matthew Earl Youth Development Officer, Music

Matt  runs our very own Rising High music studio, supporting young people to develop their music writing and production skills, and record songs.

He loves fresh coffee, sport and music, and plays in his own band across town.

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Gabrielle Nolan (aka Gabe) Youth Development Officer, FReeZA, Youth Ambassadors & Euphoria Youth Programs

Gabrielle runs FReeZA, Youth Ambassadors and Euphoria Youth Programs, supporting young people develop their leadership skills and deliver their own projects in the community.

 

She is passionate about music, is a house and techno DJ and loves the dance music community in Melbourne.

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Jade Blair Youth Development Officer, School Holiday Program

Jade coordinates our epic School Holiday Program, which provide a range of activities for young people aged 12 – 18 from movie marathons to ice skating and horse riding every school holiday.

 

She is a yoga lover, performer, dancer and choreographer.

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Chris Parkinson Youth Arts Development Officer

Chris supports the Artist in Residence program, mentors young emerging artists, and works with local artists to deliver creative outreach workshops in secondary schools and community organisations focusing on street art, photography, printmaking and other artistic mediums.

 

He is the founder and producer of ANIMATISM and has published a book called ‘Peace of Wall: Street Art From East Timor’.

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Angela Barnett Youth Development Officer, Arts

Ange oversees our Fashion & Textiles Design and Micro Press programs, as well as mentoring young emerging artists and supporting the Artist in Residence program. Ange also organises the Yarra Youth Arts Network meetings for artists and art educators working with young people.

 

She has completed multiple IRONMAN events around the world, and currently sits on the Gertrude Street Projection Festival Committee.

 

Support and Pathways team

 

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Rebecca Creighton (aka Bec) Individual Support Worker

Bec is one of our Individual Support Workers. The Individual Support Program provides young people in Yarra with confidential one-on-one support with personal, family or school issues as well as employment support and help with things like Centrelink. She also co-facilitates health and wellbeing workshops in schools.

She loves cycling, markets and writing non-fiction shorts. She’s also into organic gardening, loves cooking, and has her own veggie garden at home.

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Annabel Darbyshire Individual Support Worker

Annabel is one of our Individual Support Workers. The Individual Support Program provides young people in Yarra with confidential one-on-one support with personal, family or school issues as well as employment support and help with things like Centrelink. Annabel also works on our Living It Up program, supports a local homework club for secondary students, and co-facilitates health and wellbeing workshops in schools.

 

She is definitely an explorer and loves the outdoors, which is why she has travelled all over the world.

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Samuel Sakama Youth Development Officer, L2P

Sam is our Youth Development Officer, L2P. The L2P Learner Mentor Driver Program supports young people get their driver’s license by matching them up with local mentor drivers. Sam also supports the soccer and Living It Up programs, and works on Council’s Out of School Hours Care program.

He has worked in a range of roles in the community sector in Melbourne and West Africa, supporting refugees to resettle and ex-child soldiers to integrate into mainstream society.

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Georgia McCrae Youth Development Officer, Education, Employment and Training Pathways

Georgia provides individual support to young people looking for work, runs our training programs at the Youth Centre, and supports the Youth Peer Leader program. She also works with community organisations and local employers to support young people finding work in Yarra.

 

She can speak fluent Papua New Guinea Pidgin, loves illustration and used to play bass guitar (badly) in an all-girl punk rock band!

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Kate Rizzo Youth Development Officer, Education, Employment and Training Pathways

Kate is or Youth Development Officer, Education, Training and Employment. Kate runs the Young Entrepreneurs Program (with Moreland Council), supporting young people become their own boss. She also works with community organisations and local employers to support young people finding work in Yarra.

 

She runs her own social enterprise called The Kindness Effect which aims to bring about social change, something she is very passionate about.


 

We also have an amazing team of casual Youth Workers and facilitators who work on many of our programs and events.

 

If you want to get in touch with any of us, call 9426 1455, email us at info@yarracity.vic.gov.au, or drop in to the Youth Centre at 156 Napier Street, Fitzroy. See you soon!