Chris Pickard

General Manager

I wanted to work with Open Doors as I had witnessed first-hand the empowering work the organisation does during my time as a volunteer.  From the first time I walked through the doors for my volunteer interview, I was overwhelmed with how welcoming and accepting the space is.  Growing up in rural north Queensland without access to such a service really reinforced how valuable it was to have in the community.  I identified and could acknowledge how much a space like Open Doors would have helped me during my adolescence and really wanted to be a part of something that could have such a positive impact on young people’s lives.

My lived experience as a member of the LGBTI community allows me to provide insight into many of the issues the young people that enter our space are experiencing or feeling.  In addition to my time spent at Open Doors as a Youth Worker, Team Leader and most recently, General Manager – I hold a Bachelor of Psychological Science and my professional history is in HR –  Training & Development.

Contact (07) 3256 7660 or


Shaye Austin

Youth and Family Support Worker, Community Engagement & Operations

Shaye, a Registered Nurse and proud member of the LGBTIQAP+ community, is passionate and committed to supporting young people experiencing significant life changes and challenges.  Shaye has a particular interest in Adolescent mental health, gender health and sexual health specifically.  With a long history as a volunteer for various organisations delivering engaging programs and initiatives to support young people, Shaye joined the Open Doors team as a part-time Youth and Family Support Worker and facilitator of the Reconnect Drop In group two years ago and her role has since evolved into managing community engagement and operational aspects of Open Doors as well as Volunteer Management.  Shaye states that she feels privileged to work with young members of the LGBTIQAP+ community and hopes to serve as a resource to help with any barriers they encounter, while creating a safe space where the young people are free to express themselves and be their true selves.  In her spare time, you will find Shaye outdoors, most likely in the ocean, hiking, learning to surf, taking photographs or exploring the world.

Contact (07) 3257 7660 or

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Jamie Blake

Youth and Family Support Worker & Jellybeans Facilitator 

Jamie is a Youth Worker who is a member of the LGBTIQ community. Jamie has a passion for working with young people and supporting them with the challenges that they may face in their lives, especially when issues related to gender diversity are concerned. Jamie understands the challenges faced by gender diverse young people. His knowledge and personal experiences allow him to not only support gender diverse young people but to also understand and have personal insight into difficult life experiences. Jamie’s role at Open Doors is as a Youth and Family Support Worker, he is also a facilitator of the Jelly Beans group. Jamie has a very positive outlook on life, his goal is to bring positive energy into the workplace as much as possible.

Contact (07) 3257 7660 or


Mikarla Teague

Facilitator and Art Therapist 

Mikarla is an Artist, Activist and Arts Therapist who exhibits and facilitates both nationally and internationally within human rights and equality showcases and organisations. Mikarla is a proud and longstanding member of the LGBTIQ+ Community, joining Open Doors as their resident Group Facilitator and Arts Therapist, most notably co-facilitating the Jelly Beans and Art Therapy Group Programs.

Mikarla additionally works in partnership with Open Doors Youth Services’ neighbour Brisbane City Councils’ Visible Ink Youth Space, developing and facilitating Arts Programs and Projects supporting and empowering creativity in young people aged 12 – 25.

Mikarla passionately believes in the powerful healing modality of the Arts and creative expression to encourage and empower young people to grow and transition into becoming the best and happiest versions of themselves within a supportive community of inclusivity and celebration. Mikarla is a bundle of positive energy, always laughing, an avid traveller, and is passionate about knowledge and new experiences.

Contact (07) 32577660 or


Nikki Whitmore

Youth Support Worker & Team Leader – Reconnect Program

Nikki is a cisgender queer femme (pronouns she/her) who is a social worker by education and has 10 years’ experience supporting LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people and communities. Nikki is passionate about creating communities where all young people can feel a sense of connection and belonging.  Nikki believes in the politics of kindness, education as liberation, interdependence, transformative justice, healing justice and last but not least, the power of hydration 😊.

When Nikki isn’t working her biggest loves include her dogs, astrology, tarot, the moon, winter, ice-cream, glitter, reading & podcasts (favourites: healing justice and how to survive the end of the world… honestly, the most amazing!).

Contact (07) 3257 7660 or

Lianne Sanderson

Youth Support Worker – Suicide Intervention Program 

Lianne is a Youth and Family Support Worker and a proud member of the LGBTIQAP+ community. Lianne began her work with Open Doors Youth Service on Student Placement for University and feels incredibly privileged to have been offered a position within the team.

Lianne is passionate about supporting LGBTIQ+ young people through life’s many challenges and strives to provide a safe space where young people can make friends, access information and receive much needed support.

Lianne, a cis-gendered female, has lived experience within the gender diverse community and understands the importance of having supportive and accepting people who encourage you to become your true self.

Contact (07) 3257 7660 or


Rocky Byrne

Youth Worker – Alcohol and Drug Program 

Rochelle is a proud Gorri woman from Northern NSW but has lived and worked in Queensland for the last 23 years. Rochelle has worked in Community Controlled and Non-Government sector following her passion of empowering and supporting families, youth and children.

Rochelle is our Alcohol and Other Drugs Youth Worker who will have focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTIQ+ and supporting young people with their Health and Wellbeing, including cultural connections, building resilience and belonging.

In her spare time Rochelle loves spending time with her partner and their 7 children, yarning with mob, anything near the ocean and listening to music. Rochelle is currently studying at USQ completing her Bachelor of Human Services.

Contact (07) 3257 7660, 0498 045 384 or

Paula Nixon

Finance Officer

Paula has worked for several years as the finance/admin officer for Open Doors and being a part of the team that has brought about amazing change within the organisation over the past couple of years has found the role to be be both stimulating and challenging. She has worked in the not for profit sector, in such areas as sexual assault, homelessness, domestic violence, disability and currently with the LGBTIQ community. Paula has served on several boards, she was the President of Sunshine Welfare and Remedial Association for two years, was Treasurer on the board for Queensland Youth Housing Coalition and is currently the Treasurer for Children by Choice .Originally from the UK, she has lived and worked in several other countries and has been involved in various community groups: Malaysia, the Middle East and Europe . She is a passionate advocate for women’s rights, especially for older women who are often marginalised through gender, age or race. Paula holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Diploma in Accounting and a Diploma in TESOL

Contact (07) 3256 7660

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Management Committee

Open Doors Youth Service Inc. officially began operating as an independent organisation on July 1 2003.

Our current Management Committee members for 2018/2019 are:


Peter Solowy

Acting Treasurer & Chair Person

Peter is an industry recognised Management Consultant in the HR technology industry. He holds the degrees of Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Project Management.


Shay Johnston


Shay is a risk, compliance and governance specialist with a long background in the Financial Services industry. In her corporate life she has led large assurance and audit teams, managed regulatory and conduct risks and led risk profiling, controls assurance and compliance planning activities across diverse areas. She is excited to join the ODYS Board in 2018 to give back to her community and help ODYS to continue to grow into a risk-aware organisation with strong risk and compliance practices.


Cassie Davis

Vice Chairperson

Cassie is a Senior Psychologist with over 13 years’ experience working in the youth alcohol and other drug sector. Cassie chairs our alcohol and other drug subcommittee.

Bec Johnson

General Member



Niki Goodwin

General Member

Nikki is a qualified Social Worker and is a member of the LGBTI+ community. Through her varied work with young people in Brisbane and across Australia, Nikki has formed a strong passion for supporting youth in all descriptions and especially in supporting those in the LGBTI+ community. Nikki’s background is with a nationally recognised telephone crisis line for children, with kids in out of home care, youth in correctional facilities and women and children escaping domestic violence. Nikki doesn’t take herself too seriously and loves trying to become more flexible through reformer Pilates, she has a goal to travel south East Asia and to learn to play guitar. Nikki enjoys hanging out with friends and family, any dog that looks her way… and doting on her gorgeous nieces.


Matthew Clifford-Jones

Matthew is an accomplished Human Resources Manager with extensive experience partnering with executive leadership on delivering transformational business change. Matthew specialises in change management and is passionate about creating inclusive workplaces. He also has a background in training and development and is an experienced facilitator. Matthew is excited to join the ODYS Board to support and further enable the ODYS team to continue delivering life changing and empowering outcomes within the rainbow community.



Nick Baker

General Member

Nick is studying to become a clinical psychologist and is currently publishing his thesis in LGBTIQA+ relationships. Nick chairs our Youth Reference Committee and is our Youth Representative Board Member.


Rhys Paxton

General Member

Rhys is an experienced business development specialist with a track record building successful relationships and partnerships as well as developing and implementing organisational strategic plans. He has worked across government and the private sector in a variety of roles across social infrastructure, urban development, energy and resources.