Tenants' Union Board and Staff



Melissa Brooks • Chairperson

Melissa has a background in social policy, with experience in the community housing, homelessness and domestic violence sectors. She has governance and government relations experience in state government, and served as a Councillor on Marrickville Council from 2012-2016. Melissa believes everyone has the right to a safe, affordable home. She is a private tenant.


Hayley Winchcombe • Treasurer

Hayley joined the Tenants' Union Board in 2021. Her professional career is in strategy, economics and policy consulting and her academic background is in the social sciences. She has a keen passion for social justice, inclusive and fair policy and is excited to support the Tenants' Union's work to promote safe and affordable housing for all.


Charles Dalgleish • Deputy Chairperson

Charles did an apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering Draftsman and on completion continued working in that field as a Chief Draftsman. He later ran his own businesses, the most recent one being on a part time basis as a consultant in management. Charles has been involved with the Tenants’ Union Residential Land Lease Communities Forum since 2017 and joined the Tenants' Union Board in 2023. Charles is the Chair of the Residents’ Committee at Teraglin Lakeshore Village where he and his wife Heather have lived for the past eleven years. He believes that all tenants should have a safe, secure, and affordable residence and be fairly treated by the owner/operator.  He is passionate to help owners recognise their rights and to understand the obligations of the Residential (Land Lease) Communities Act 2013.


Lauren Stubbs • Secretary

Lauren is a solicitor in the Pro Bono Practice at Mills Oakley and at Everyday Justice (Mills Oakley’s in house Community Legal Service). Prior to this she worked as a solicitor at Legal Aid NSW in their civil law team. Her main areas of practice are tenancy/housing, discrimination, sexual harassment, employment law and victim/survivor of abuse matters. Lauren is an experienced public interest litigator and has represented vulnerable clients in a range of Tribunals and Courts across Australia. In 2022, Lauren was listed as a finalist in the Lawyers Weekly 30 under 30 awards in the pro bono/community lawyer of the year category.


Giancarlo de Vera

Giancarlo de Vera (they/them) is a disability, racial justice, and LGBTIQ+ advocate. They currently head up policy and advocacy at People with Disability Australia, the national peak body that represents all people with disability. Additionally, they serve as Treasurer and inaugural Secretary of the Australian Centre for Disability Law and the Disabled Australian Lawyers Association respectively. They are also the Immediate Past President of the Australian GLBTI Multicultural Council, the national peak body that represents LGBTIQ+ people from multicultural and multi-faith backgrounds. Giancarlo was recently listed as one of Pro Bono Australia's #Impact25 for 2022, a publicly voted list that honours the social sector's most influential people for their significant and positive impact in Australia and around the world, and was also named as one of the 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians for 2021. Giancarlo looks forward to providing a disability focus to the Board of Tenants' Union of NSW!


Olli Wynyard Gonfond

Olli joined the Tenants' Union Board in 2022. Olli is an Aboriginal man of Dhurug descent, born and raised on Biripi Country in NSW. Olli works as a designer for an Indigenous-led consulting firm, where he works with communities, governments, and organisations to design sustainable and equitable solutions. He is passionate about social justice and the important role that safe, affordable, and inclusive access to housing plays in the lives of all Australians.


Brendon McKeon

Brendon joined the Board in 2019. Brendon currently works in Human Resources in the Media industry and has a Masters of HR Management & Industrial Relations and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney. Brendon is a firm believer in promoting fairness and equality for renters and tenants as well as supporting those at risk in all aspects of society, having volunteered with Lifeline and UnLtd in various capacities.


Maree O'Halloran

Maree joined the Board in 2017. She has a background in education, industrial relations and social security law and is currently a solicitor in private practice. Maree has qualifications in governance as well as education and law. Maree believes in systemic advocacy and wants to help change the legal system to improve rights for renters.


Linda Przhedetsky

Linda has worked across government, academia, civil society, and non-profit organisations. She is undertaking a PhD in the ethical development, regulation and use of artificial intelligence. Her research focuses on the role of automated decision-making in competitive essential services markets and the development of effective regulatory solutions to prevent consumer harm. As a renter herself, Linda has experienced the process of applying for a property, only to receive a mysterious score that rates apparent suitability for the rental. She passionate about improving consumer protections to make renting fair, and ensuring that opaque technologies don't cause harm.



Leo Patterson Ross • Chief Executive Officer

Leo has worked in housing justice and community development for over 15 years. He has spent more than a decade assisting renters, their advocates and the broader public understand and navigate the housing system. He has a strong media profile speaking to the experience of renters in NSW.



Keisha Galbraith • Administration Coordinator

Keisha joined the Tenants' Union in 2022. She has previously worked in state government, book publishing and medical administration, after studying at the University of Sydney. Keisha has been a renter in Sydney since she was 17. As a disabled woman, she is passionate about accessible and safe housing.


Isobel Stockler • Administration Officer

Isobel has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the University of Sydney and worked in a variety of administrative roles before joining the Tenants’ Union in 2022. She has been a renter in Sydney for nearly a decade and is currently living on unceded Wangal land.



Grant Arbuthnot • Principal Solicitor

Grant worked for the Tenants' Union for two years in the 1990s and rejoined in 2002. Grant has a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University and a Diploma of Law from the Legal Practitioners Admissions Board of NSW. Previously, Grant has worked as a marine engineer, laboratory technician, registry clerk, tenants advocate and Tribunal legal officer.


Paula-Rose Bassett • Aboriginal Paralegal 

Paula is a proud Wiradjuri and Wakka Wakka woman and a strong advocate for Aboriginal rights in the community sector. With both an honours in Social Work and in her final year of Law, at the University of New South Wales, she brings a wealth of knowledge and empathy to her work at the Tenants' Union. She has experience as a paralegal at two commercial law firms, an in-house legal team, and volunteers at a community legal centre. Paula has also successfully completed her two Social Work placements at the Australian Council of Social Service and the Royal North Shore acute trauma hospital. Paula-Rose's commitment to justice ensures that Aboriginal voices are heard and respected in the realm of tenancy rights.


Lehana De Silva • Solicitor – Aboriginal Support

Lehana has a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) from the University of Sydney and a Juris Doctor of Law from the University of Technology, Sydney. Before joining the Tenants' Union, Lehana worked as a solicitor for a Supply Nation certified legal and consulting firm and as a paralegal for a national not-for-profit organisation.


Olivia Nielsen-Gurung • Advocacy Officer

Olivia has worked in social justice and human rights-based organisations both in Australia and Southern Asia for over 15 years. For the past seven years Olivia has worked in the community legal sector as an advocate for renters in NSW, with a focus on the prevention of homelessness and removing barriers to accessing and maintaining safe housing. She has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts (major politics) and a Master of International Social Development.


Eloise Parrab • Land Lease Communities Officer

Eloise Parrab joined the Tenants' Union in 2020. Eloise has been working in the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Program in NSW since 2003. The majority of this time was at the Inner West Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service as a Tenant Advocate and then Coordinator of the Service. She has a Bachelor of Arts from University of Sydney and a Bachelor of Social Work from UNSW.


Paul Smyth • Land Lease Communities Solicitor

Paul Smyth joined the Tenants' Union in 2010. Paul previously worked in private legal practice for over ten years in both the Republic of Ireland and in NSW. Paul has a Master of Laws from Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland and Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the National University of Ireland, Galway.


Cass Wong • Solicitor – Strategic Litigation

Cass started at the Tenants' Union in 2013. She was previously a member of the Tenants' Union Board. She has a Master of Laws and a Bachelor of Law/Commerce from the University of NSW.



Jemima Mowbray • Policy and Advocacy Manager

Jemima joined the Tenants' Union in 2014. Working initially in the Residential Parks team, she moved to the Tenants' Union policy team in 2016. She has extensive research experience in the university sector working on projects around politics of multiculturalism, community and identity. Jemima has a Bachelor of Arts and PhD from the University of Sydney. She's passionate about housing justice, is a long-term renter and imagines she'll be renting for life.


Zuzia Buszewicz • Policy and Campaigns Officer

Zuzia started with the Tenants' Union in 2022. She has previously worked at Justice Connect, the Environmental Defenders Office, and in the film and television industry. She is a passionate advocate for social and housing justice. (Photo by Anna Carlile designbynature.au.)


Jack Moon • Data and Research Officer

Jack has worked in mathematics research, education and data science for over eight years and has a strong background in communicating maths and data to a variety of audiences. He has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in mathematics from the University of Sydney and is keen to tell renters’ stories through data.

Education and resources


Patrycja Arvidssen • Learning and Development Coordinator

Patrycja has worked in a number of roles at the Tenants' Union since 2007. Patrycja is a deeply committed member of the Tenants' Union team who is passionate about adult education. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters in Slavic Philology as well as 40110 Cert IV in Training and Assessment, and a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from Charles Sturt University.


Justin Dowswell • Technology Coordinator

Justin joined the Tenants' Union in 2022, gaining most of his professional experience working in the IT team at a not-for-profit medical research institute. Previously, Justin has also worked as a telecommunications linesman, bicycle messenger, and support worker.

Riley Michelmore

Riley Michelmore • Media and Communications Officer

Riley has a Bachelor of Film and Media and has extensive experience in using impactful stories to drive meaningful change. Previously Riley has worked and volunteered in animal rescue, conservation, bush regeneration and is the founder of a non-profit focused on tackling the plastic and climate crisis. Not only interested in issues affecting our climate and environment, Riley is passionate about social and housing justice, too. Having grown up in public housing, she is especially interested in helping disadvantaged tenants access advocacy for their rights.


Charlie Wilde • Community Education Coordinator

Charlie has a background in law, teaching and disability advocacy. She passionately believes in the power of community legal education to improve tenants’ access to legal rights and help them fight back against injustices. Charlie holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Master of Teaching.