Australian Community Workers Association Australian Community Workers Association

Board of Directors

The ACWA board governs ethically with the highest level of integrity, transparency and independence recognising its stewardship role in promoting and protecting the profession of community work.

Whilst ACWA’s day to day operations are managed by a team of paid staff based in Melbourne it is the board that is responsible for the overall governance and direction of the association.

The board, working within a Policy-Governance model, has set policies to ensure that members benefit from belonging to a profession that is widely recognised and valued in the community.


Nick Toonen OAM - President

Qualifications: B Sc (Information Science); Advanced Diploma of Community Services Management.

Practitioner interests: Community development; social justice; LGBTI Rights; Aboriginal rights; Family violence.

Nick is an experienced non-profit leader and executive, passionate about the development of thriving organisations, people and communities.

Nick has worked across diverse sectors – primarily focused on community development and human rights – spanning family violence, early childhood education, community legal services, disability, HIV/AIDS, family planning, and end of life care. His current role is with Djirra, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, as Manager Governance, Risk and Compliance.

Nick has also led campaigns that transformed the way communities think about and engage with issues, resulting in changes to national and state laws, and stronger global human rights protections, in particular through gay rights campaigns.


Anne Jennings - Vice President

Qualifications: PhD, Master of Arts degree, Bachelor of Social Science, Diploma of Community Development, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Practitioner interests: Community development; research; professional development and education; ethics.

Anne has been involved in community development as a hands-on practitioner, a researcher, and a trainer in regional Western Australia for 30 years.

Her roles have included working in NGOs and with local, state and commonwealth governments. She has also been a university lecturer, VET course coordinator and a community development consultant.

Anne recently gained a PhD, is Editor of ACWA’s Australian Journal of Community Work, and a Research Fellow with the Nulungu Research Institute at The University of Notre Dame Australia, Broome Campus.

Les Stewart - Director

Qualifications: Diploma of Social Welfare; Diploma of Social Justice

Practitioner interests: Social justice; mental health.

Les was an engineer before pursuing his interests in social justice and mental health.

With a long career in the community sector Les has been active in ACWA since 2005. He is involved in several organisations that focus on care for the disadvantaged. Les is is a supervisor of students and a family therapist; he also enjoys broadening his horizons through overseas travel.

Conrad Townson - Director

Qualifications: 1st class BA (Hons) in Youth & Community Studies and a professional diploma of Leadership in Health & Social Care for Children & Young People.

Practitioner interests: Welfare of children and young people; child protection; child sexual exploitation.

Conrad started out his career working with young people in community and outdoor education-based settings in the UK and Eastern Europe.

He has a strong background in child protection working as a practitioner and manager with children and young people across a number of settings including – harmful sexual behaviour intervention, missing children, child sexual exploitation, therapeutic residential child care, family intervention and domestic violence.

Conrad is currently Principal Advisor on Child Sexual Exploitation at IFYS Ltd as well as a consultant and trainer on child protection related issues.

Pamela Mitchell - Director

Qualifications: B. Bus (Business Management); Graduate Certificate in Adult Education; Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management; Diploma in Community Services; Cert IV in Training and Assessment; Cert IV in Disability; Cert III in Individual Support.

Practitioner interests: Social justice, social inclusion (particularly for PWD), education and lifelong learning.

Pamela is a community services trainer passionate about quality in the community services sector.

She has worked at many levels in both New South Wales and Queensland including in management, operative, case management and more recently, NDIS support coordination.

Pamela returned to training from management positions because she wanted to be directly involved in the development of reliable, ethical, well-trained and trustworthy workers who deliver person-centred care from a strengths-based perspective.

Jesu Jacob - CEO and Director (Non-voting)

Qualifications: Master of Social Work; Bachelor of Commerce; Diploma of Community Welfare Work; Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

Practitioner interests: Strategic management, social inclusion, community and human services education, multicultural work.

Jesu has over 15 years of experience in the community services sector, including more than a decade with ACWA in various leadership and senior management positions.

He has represented and advocated for the interests of members on a variety of community services industry advisory committees and continues to do so. Jesu is passionate about working with stakeholders including state and federal government departments, universities, TAFEs, industry bodies and community services providers.

Now ACWA’s Chief Executive Officer, Jesu remains passionate about strengthening relationships with education and service providers to support the development of initiatives that equip community workers with the skills they need for best practice.