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.


Shaye Austin

Youth and Family Support Worker & Community Engagement Coordinator

Shaye (pronouns: she/her), 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 three years ago and her role has since evolved into Community Engagement Coordinator 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 Shaye on:  0409 050 186 or


Mikarla Teague

Creative Arts Therapist and Group Facilitator

Mikarla is an Artist, Activist and Creative 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 Creative Arts Therapist, most notably co-facilitating the Jelly Beans and the PRIDE Art Therapy Group Programs.

In 2017 Mikarla developed the PRIDE Art Therapy Program funded by the Queensland Mental Health Commission that is now delivered to over 70+ LGBTI+ young people per week in partnership with six other services; Brisbane Youth Service, Brisbane City Council’s Visible Inc, Headspace, Police-Citizens Youth Clubs and Jabiru Community Youth & Children’s Service.

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 creative bundle of positive energy, always laughing, loves animals, adventure, travel, and is passionate about creating a world of equality and freedom.

Contact Mikarla at


Nikki Whitmore

National Suicide Prevention Project Officer

Nikki is a queer femme (pronouns she/her/they) who is a Social Worker by education and has over 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 Nikki at


Lianne Sanderson

Youth Support Worker – Suicide Intervention Program 

Lianne is a Youth and Family Support Worker and a proud member of the LGBTIQAP+ community. Working in partnership with an on-site psychologist, Lianne works to help support young people navigate the complexities of mental health, specifically those experiencing suicidal thoughts.

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, all whilst being completely true to their sexuality and/ or gender identity.

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 Lianne at 0436 005 152 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 Rocky at 0498 045 384 or


Evie Ryder

Support Worker – Alcohol and Drug Program

Evie is a transgender pansexual (Pronouns she/her) who is a social worker by education and has 17 years experience working with LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people and communities.  Evie has a history of working in AOD, mental health, sexual health, group work and training.  Evie is passionate about visibility and empowerment of all parts of the community.

Evie is our Alcohol and Other Drugs Support Worker who will have focus on supporting young people with their health and wellbeing, building resilience and belonging.

In her own time, Evie’s biggest loves include skateboarding, film making, Pokemon, Zelda and fan fiction.

Contact Evie at: 0438 614 793 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 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, 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.

Paula (2)

Hemal Senarath Rathnayake

Youth & Family Support Worker – Jellybeans Program

Hemal is a Social Worker by education and is one of the Youth and Family Support Workers and Facilitators for the JellyBeans program at Open Doors Youth Service.  He is originally from Sri Lanka and has been enjoying his stay in sunny Brisbane.  His gender identity is male with a transgender experience and Hemal uses the pronouns he/him/his.  Open Doors was one of the first organisations Hemal reached out to as a young person when he first arrived in Australia and was a peer mentor a few years after that. He feels very happy to be part of the Open Doors team and to be working with LGBTIQAP+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people to bring positive outcomes to their lives.  Hemal brings knowledge of lived experience and working in the community, both paid and in a volunteer capacity, to provide peer counselling, case work/management and support work. Hemal has a passion for social justice and critical social work practice.  In his spare time, he enjoys the outdoors and connecting with nature, playing sports and loves the company of friends and family.

Contact Hemal at: