Our Team

Our Team

Benwerren is predominantly run by volunteers. Our team is committed to the values of Benwerren and have a heart to see women and children whole and fulfilled. Some of our volunteers have been helped by Benwerren in the past and are now in a position to give back.

Our staff are trained in a variety of areas, each with unique life experiences. All have a commitment to the teachings of Jesus and are dedicated in demonstrating His love to others at Benwerren.

Our Board

Susan Diggles – President

Dawn Develyn – Vice President

Anita Mahoney – Director

Trevor Ingamells – Director

Meet Benwerren CEO

Nichole worked at Benwerren for 10 years prior to stepping into the role of Chief Executive Officer in June 2023.

Nichole has a Bachelor of Theology with majors in Pastoral Care and Counselling, has been a volunteer Youth Worker, and a retail Manager at the Bible Society of Victoria. She says “My most valuable and challenging work experience has been as a mum to 4 children which stretches and grows me every day. I try to be a constant source of love for my children, to cheer them on and be available. Some days I do good, and other days not so good. It’s not always easy to be a parent.”

Nichole has a heart for women to provide encouragement and support. She tells of her own story, “I have experienced my own heartache and the challenges of being a single parent. I consider it a privilege to walk alongside others and hear their stories – I am always amazed by the strength of women to endure, to keep going and turn up. Benwerren provides a shelter from life’s storms, a place to land, recover and gain strength and hope for the future.”

Nichole comes from a family where caring and looking out for others was ‘the main thing’. “My dad was a Pastor for most of my childhood, so our home was always open to others. My mum and dad demonstrated generosity, genuine care and love for others – and still do today.” Nichole is the granddaughter of Olive and Howard McDonald who started Benwerren and the niece of Dawn Develyn who has been Benwerren’s CEO 30 years prior to Nichole taking on the role.

Nichole shares “Working at Benwerren is incredibly special, not just because of the family connection. It is a unique place where each person is valued and can find belonging. It provides opportunity for connection, healing and growth – for many this is life-changing.”

Nichole is committed to the mission of Benwerren to serve and strengthen families by supporting women and children in need. She does so with a dedicated team alongside her – “the job is too big just for one, it takes an incredible team each with their own unique life experiences, gifts and abilities to share.”

Benwerren CEO Nichole Kelly

Susan Diggles – President

Sue has been involved with Benwerren for many years, having heard of it for some time previously, and then finally staying for a ladies weekend. “Like so many others I then wanted to be a part of this special place, and so my Benwerren journey began. It has included being a Committee / Board member and staff worker, participating in both joys and challenges. It has been a means of personal growth, in God and in community, while also providing amazing opportunities to learn, share in, and see the strengthening of individuals and families. I love Benwerren’s history, vision and the legacy it has implanted into so many lives.”

In her spare time, Sue enjoys card-making, gardening, and her beautiful furry felines.

Dawn Develyn Benwerren is a Women & Children’s Retreat in Yarra Junction, Victoria

Dawn Develyn – Vice President

Dawn grew up at Benwerren, a Christian guest house run by her family. She says “I was privileged to live my childhood in this beautiful setting.”

Dawn was involved in teaching Sunday School from the age of 13. She believes there is great value in children contributing to their community at a young age. During her teen years, before and whilst training as a teacher, she organised local clubs alongside her brothers with mum cheering on the sides. She is a mother of 3 adult children and grandmother of 3. Dawn has taught for 20+ years in the Shire and still enjoys a morning with students at her grand-daughters school.

“For many years I watched, as together, my parents supported struggling families and individuals from the community. Mum would meet a person on the bus, within a short time tell them about Jesus and discover their struggles. She would then go home and share these with dad or the family and together they would work out how they could help in practical ways. My parents modelled hospitality, mercy and prayer and these have become an integral part of Benwerren.”

Whilst her mother had a life-long passion for supporting women, Dawn’s heart for children in particular, supported the development of the children’s program at Benwerren. “It is our heart that every mother have time and space to rest, reflect and connect with her children and that every child be given support required for them to develop to the best of their potential. (Maslows hierarchy of needs).

Over the years, Benwerren has evolved with the help of many, many volunteers and friends. Dawn has led the team at Benwerren for over 30 years carrying forward the vision from her mother.

Anita Mahoney – Director

Anita has been coming to Benwerren for over 12 years, initially as a guest due to family violence and then continued to come for respite and the holiday program. She ran Benwerren’s Youth Resilience program for two years helping link families into activities through sponsorship. In 2019 she started on the board and committee and also volunteers one day a week at the guest house. Anita is passionate about helping women in need that have family violence and mental health challenges and always has a listening ear to our guests.

Trevor Ingamells – Director

Trevor is a plumber with a passion for places for people to live and grow.

“In between running my own plumbing business I have had many opportunities to journey with people.  I first came to Benwerren in 2003 with Mobile Mission Maintenance.  I came several times after that with teams to help with practical jobs around the place.  I saw how it was making a difference in people’s lives.”

Trevor was the Property manager at the Bible College of Victoria for two years, a founding member of the board of Elishacare for 5 years and also founding Chairperson of Stable One for 3 years.  Currently he is on the Jim Fuller Community Housing management committee.

“These experiences have given me an awareness of how life can have its difficult times. But it helps when you have some other people come alongside you and encourage you.”