At Valley Youth, young people are the centre of our work and active decision makers in their own lives and communities. We are passionate about making sure young people are heard, engaged and empowered to live healthy and fulfilling lives. If you're a young person who spends time in Moonee Valley, we’d love to hear how we can support you and help you get involved.
Check out our staff profiles for some more info about us and the work we do!
Name: Francesca Pagani
Role: Coordinator Youth Development
- What I do is coordinate the Valley Youth team. I support our team members to be amazing leaders, so they can then support and empower young people to participate, create change and thrive in Moonee Valley.
- I’m into yoga, dancing, singing (in my car or the shower), hanging out with my awesome friends and family, hiking, spending time in nature, travelling, reading and having deep and meaningful conversations.
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is Queens Park, because there’s nothing like taking your shoes off and walking bare feet on grass at the end of a long day.
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me at the gym, at yoga, at the market, brunching with friends or dancing like no one is watching at a bush doof.
- I love working with young people because they have limitless potential and I love helping them to step into their power, try new ideas and revolutionise our community and the world!
- My secret talent is talking to trees and plants and understanding them when they talk back! #forreals
Francesca has a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws from Monash University where she majored in social sciences and human rights law, as well as post graduate qualifications in project management and community development. Francesca has over 14 years’ experience working collaboratively with all levels of government, community service organisations and educational institutions to respond to the challenges facing diverse and marginalised groups. She has extensive skills in social planning, policy and program development, implementation and evaluation, and service delivery coordination. Francesca has driven a variety of stakeholder engagement initiatives and managed the delivery of leadership development and capacity building initiatives across a range of sectors within Australia and in Asia, Africa and Europe. Born in South America, Francesca is a native Spanish speaker and is passionate about empowering young people to embody the change they wish to see in the world. After all, young people are the future!
Name: Anoushka Wootton
Role: Team Leader, Youth Counselling and Case Management
Pronouns: She/Her and They/Them
- What I do is support an awesome team who work with young people and their communities towards feeling happy and healthy in their worlds. Sometimes this is going to schools talking about mental health, and sometimes young people sit down with our counsellor and case manager, have chats, and work out ideas and strategies for making changes that feel good.
- I’m into seeing bands, playing in bands, having lols with friends, getting some nature, swims.
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is at a coffee shop somewhere during the day… I’m new to Moonee Valley, so I’m into exploring everywhere!
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me watching a gig somewhere, or, making ceramics at home with a podcast on a nice quiet self-time day :)
- I love working with young people because it’s important for us to create spaces that nurture, and provide platforms for young people’s voices to lead the way for positive change in their community. In my experience, young people are our innovators and creators of new idea and change. I love this.
- My secret talent is I play guitar and bass in a couple of local Melbourne bands.
Anoushka has a Bachelor of Applied Social Science and a Post Graduate Certificate in Adolescent Counselling, as well as eight years experience working with young people, their families and communities. She has extensive experience providing counselling and wellbeing support to young people across varying issues including mental health, housing and homelessness, youth justice, education and learning, with specialised knowledge in sexuality and gender identity. Anoushka also has vast experience in co-designing and co-producing projects and community interventions with young people at the lead, and has a firm belief that nothing about young people should happen without young people.
Name: Tessa Portelli
Role: Youth Support Officer
- What I do is provide one-on-one support for young people who need some help in reaching their goals! I help young people become more independent and resilient, while they work towards things like gaining employment, education, Centrelink support, life skills, finances and housing.
- I’m into shopping - for basically anything, mainly clothes! - travelling and planning overseas trips!
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is all the cute little cafes for brunch or coffee.
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me brunching around the western suburbs with friends, or at Highpoint spending all my money.
- I love working with young people because I love building relationships and working alongside them, so they reach their full potential and get what they want out of life!
- My secret talent is working out percentages in my head… to work out my shopping discounts obviously!
Tessa has a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) from RMIT University. She has worked with out-of-home care young people, to re-engage them back into education and training and encourage youth participation. She’s also delivered workshops to increase young people’s employability, independent living and life skills. Tessa has worked in the disability sector, providing respite care, advocacy and community engagement for young people, adults and their families. She’s also worked to assist families experiencing family violence and homelessness, provide crisis case management and emergency accommodation. Tessa is passionate about ensuring young people are given the opportunities they all deserve to participate within the community and to reach their full potential.
Name: Theo Naidoo
Role: Youth Counsellor
Pronouns: He / Him
- What I do is support young people to deal with whatever challenges they might be experiencing so that they can live the lives that they want to live. I offer them a safe place to talk about and share their worries and help them draw on their strengths and values to learn more about themselves and develop new ways to cope.
- I’m into board games, dogs, movies, food (!) and cricket, but not all at the same time.
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is probably Queen’s Park because it’s a pretty beautiful place to relax, unwind and take a minute to yourself.
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me in the backyard, playing with my animals, taking macro photos of bugs and plants or trying to revive our neglected veggie patch.
- I love working with young people because they have so much to offer and their resilience knows no bounds. I really feel like it’s a privilege to be able to walk beside them on their journey through life, helping them find wellbeing, meaning and purpose as they make their mark on the world.
- My secret talent is whipping up great meals from whatever is in the fridge or pantry. You’d be surprised how creative you can be when you’re hungry but too lazy to go to the supermarket!
Theo is a registered psychologist with a Master of Clinical Psychology from Swinburne University of Technology. He has extensive clinical and research experience across the education, community services, forensic and private sector, and is also an active member of his local community. He is motivated by a genuine desire to help young people live the lives that they want to live and works collaboratively with them to understand their circumstances and concerns, and tailor support that is responsive to their needs and directed by their goals. Theo is passionate about equality, social justice and helping to foster a sense of belonging and connection for all members of our community.
Name: Peter Giannoukas
Role: Acting Team Leader, Youth Engagement & Partnerships
- What I do is create as many interesting opportunities for young people to engage with us, council and each other as possible. I do this by delivering programs, projects and events with young people and focussing on ways I can help you to build new skills, make new connections and run your own projects.
- I’m into music, big time! I play drums and love playing in bands (mostly alternative, rock or punk kinda bands). Also love movies. I studied and worked in film and TV before I was a youth worker. Besides arts, I’m into sports (mainly AFL and soccer) and videogames.
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is Union Road because it has a bunch of awesome cafés and restaurants and is walking distance from my house. I often meet friends there for catch ups.
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me either at band prac, a gig, catching up with friends, or saving the world from angry aliens on my PS, haha!
- I love working with young people because it’s super rewarding! I feel like I have a chance to help make positive change. Even a small opportunity can be a meaningful one and make a massive difference to someone’s life.
- My secret talent is life tetris! Actually it’s kinda like two secret talents. I have a talent of collecting way too much stuff and then have a talent of being able to stack and store everything. I also manage to fit a whole drum kit plus people in my car (which is not a big car).
Peter has over 12 years of experience across youth services and community development roles. Originally a film maker (Honours Degree of Screen – Film and Television), Peter began his professional journey using arts based skills to deliver creative events and programs for young people. After returning to study (Diploma of Youth Work), he continued to develop his support skills working directly with young people as an outreach officer and case manager. Peter works from a reflective, person centred approach and values integrity and collaboration. He aims to make positive impacts across communities and to contribute to growth and development of community organisations, workers and volunteers.
Name: Jessica Trevena
Role: Youth Development Officer
- What I do is get out in the community to engage with young people in their schools and local hangouts.
- I’m into music and going to concerts, especially pop punk shows. I’m a huge fan of board games and video games (especially The Legend of Zelda) and definitely enjoy eating dessert. Oh, and I love Mulan purely for that song – you know the one… “Let’s get down to business, to defeat…the Huns!”
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is Queens Park. I discovered it when I was a teenager and couldn’t get over how amazingly beautiful it is!
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me playing video/board games, hanging out with friends and eating food.
- I love working with young people because young people have so much to offer the world. They have their finger on the pulse with their insight and intuition, and their voices should be heard in a world full of adults. Plus they’re a lot of fun to be around – I learn so much from them.
- My secret talent is I’m a singer. I’m a bit rusty but I love music and singing.
Jess has a Diploma of Youth Work from Australian Catholic University and a rich background in music and the arts from prior study at RMIT University. Jess gained skills in a number of volunteer roles. She was part of Frontyard Youth Services’ Youth Advisory Group raising awareness about youth homelessness and was on the City of Melbourne’s Citizen’s Jury to represent young people in the Future Melbourne 2026 Plan. Jess is excited about organising and facilitating programs and events for all young people, and hopes to give young people in Moonee Valley a voice to raise awareness about broader issues. She is incredibly passionate about situations affecting young people, especially surrounding mental health and equality in every sense of the word (employment opportunities, marriage, education and more). Jess believes in creating a sense of community by having discussions with others, most importantly young people, and strives to do this in all areas of her work.
Name: Annalise De Mel
Role: Youth Development Officer
- What I do is create and run events and activities that are the enemy of boredom and loneliness! I help young people feel more connected to where they live and each other, plus give them more opportunities to do fun things, explore their passions and support each other.
- I’m into big bright necklaces, Earl Grey bubble tea, dreaming about food and overseas travel, aerial yoga and the Eurovision Song Contest.
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is Queens Park because it’s a dreamy little escape from the bustle of the city. Fun fact: My husband and I had our first kiss in Queens Park in London, and got married in Queens Park in Moonee Ponds!
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me riding my micro scooter around Moonee Ponds, playing in various playgrounds with my little boy, or stuffing my face – I love that we have Ethiopian, Korean, Italian, Greek, Japanese, American restaurants, vegan eats and food trucks so close together!
- I love working with young people because of their energy, optimism, enthusiasm and big ideas to change the world for the better. Plus the adults that had my back when I was younger changed the direction of my life for the better, so I want to support the next generation in the same way.
- My secret talent is playing the timbal, a big Brazilian hand drum that you strap to your body. I’ve played it in bands in Carnaval in Salvador, Brazil and Notting Hill Carnival in London. I am also a magician and can make chocolate disappear in 0.172 seconds.
Annalise holds a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) and a Master of International Development, both from RMIT University. Annalise has been involved with the education and youth sectors for a decade, through working in journalism, public relations, community and international development. She has extensive experience in communications and campaign management, education program development, project management and is an experienced facilitator and presenter. She’s worked and presented in Australia, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, South Africa and South Korea. Annalise is a passionate social justice advocate, believes the most impactful change happens when people are empowered think critically and creatively, and works to inspire young people to be caring and curious active citizens.
Name: Aiya Idris
Role: Youth Development Officer
- What I do is hang out with young people to engage and learn from each other’s experiences. I connect young people with council, stakeholders and other youth to advocate for their values and ideas. This is done through our programs and events at schools, community spaces and libraries.
- I’m into COFFEE, chocolate,music, inspirational podcasts and Netflix for sure!
- My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is Puckle Street because it’s filled with everything you need from cafes to shopping!!!
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me catching up with friends, going to the beach, spending time with family or just chillin' at home.
- I love working with young people because their experiences and insight on life and the world around them can never be taught in a book. I feel like they bring the best out of me and always challenge my views and assumptions for the best!
- My secret talent is writing poetry. I think there isn’t a better way to express yourself than through words.
Aiya has over 12 years’ experience in youth and community development through her work and volunteering at Local Government, community groups, The Huddle and FYA. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Youth Work at Victoria University. Aiya has established a number of youth groups that are still running, and completed leadership programs with Latrobe University, Famsy and State Government. She is passionate about leadership, advocacy and supporting young people and the wider community to not only have a voice, but amplify that voice wide and beyond. Aiya has supported a group of young people to be part of the VicHealth Voice Your Voice Program, hosted by The Huddle at North Melbourne Football Club. The result is the ‘Be Brave, Speak Up’ campaign, which was created by the young people to encourage their peers to call out racism where they see it. The ‘Be Brave, Speak Up’ video will also be promoted by the Australian Human Rights Commission as part of the ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ campaign.
Name: Olivia Giovinazzo
Role: Youth Development Officer
What I do is plan awesome projects and events for young people.
I’m into gardens, martial arts, second hand shopping, and people (it’s a good thing I study Social Science!)
My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is the Brotherhood of St Laurence next to Moonee Ponds station and the second-hand book store at Moonee Ponds junction.
When I’m not at work you’ll find me crafting, sewing and making things.
I love working with young people because there are so many things that impact this stage in a person’s life and influence their outcomes later in life. Working with young people allows me to support them through this pivotal stage and have fun, learn and be creative at the same time.
My secret talent is knowing the names or lyrics to a lot of Disney songs, even though I am not a mad Disney fan.
Olivia is currently completing a Bachelor of Social Science (Honours) at RMIT, where she also completed Bachelor of Social Science (Youth Work) and Certificate IV in Youth Work. Olivia has experience working in primary schools with newly arrived young people and facilitating sustainable craft projects with students. She has also worked as a mentor for RMIT with university students to support them in developing small businesses. Olivia’s experience as a youth worker includes working with young people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds on advocacy campaigns, supporting them to plan and implement projects. She has also volunteered in youth rehabilitation and health services in Katherine and Alice Springs in the NT. Olivia is interested in applying her broad understanding of society and interest in social constructs to find ways to influence structures that impede on young people’s participation and development.
Name: Rachael Fry
Role: Youth Planner and Team Leader
- What I do is lead an amazing team and our work, while varied, is about empowering young people in decision making processes and through participation opportunities, so they can create the change they want to see in their lives and community!
- I’m into roller derby, documentaries, good books and brunch.
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me drinking coffee in the northern suburbs and walking my chocolate labradoodle Morrissey.
- I love working with young people because it makes me feel hopeful! It reminds me the potential we all have – to learn and grow and for things to change (even when it might seem impossible).
- My secret talent is accents!
Rachael holds a Bachelor degree with honours in Psychology from La Trobe University and a Masters of Politics and Policy from Deakin University. She has over 10 years’ experience working with diverse and marginalised populations across community service organisations and local government, including roles in youth homelessness, intensive youth outreach, youth justice, youth engagement and community development. Passionate about people and social justice, Rachael is committed to being an advocate for young people, their equal participation and supporting them to truly thrive. Rachael believes it is an absolute privilege to work alongside young people!
Name: Kristin Godby
Role: Youth Participation Officer
- What I do is coordinate the L2P learner driver mentor program to help people get their Ps. So if you are under 21 years of age and want to gain some driving experience, you can contact me!
- I’m into youth justice and am bit of a greenie. I love hanging out in in the forest and tending to my vegie patch.
- When I’m not at work you’ll find me walking my dogs down the Merri Creek near where I live and enjoying a good coffee!
- I love working with young people because they are so inspiring and teach me so much.
- My secret talent is looking after plants and animals.
Kristin is a qualified Social Worker with thirteen years’ experience in the community sector, managing programs and leading and supporting teams of both staff and volunteers. Kristin also has experience in therapeutic work with young people, families and children with complex needs as well as extensive experience in the field of family violence and the not for profit sector. Her work is built on a foundation of understanding the impacts of trauma and the structural causes of disadvantaged and commitment to community development principles of empowerment. As well as many years’ experience managing volunteer programs, Kristin herself volunteers with a rental housing cooperative that provides access to affordable housing, and with environment groups to protect wildlife and habitat in East Gippsland. Although she coordinates the L2P learner driving program, she rides a bike to work every day!
Name: Jessica Wotherspoon
Role: Youth Participation Officer
- What I do is work with young people to develop their leadership skills and make changes in their local community by getting involved with Council.
I’m into hanging out in the sun, listening to music from my parents’ generation and FOOD!
My go-to place to hang in Moonee Valley is Queens Park because it’s a beautiful escape from all the hustle and bustle - Being able to stand in the middle of the park and be surrounded by nature is pretty magical!
When I’m not at work you’ll find me building Duplo towers and chasing my kids on the trampoline!
I love working with young people because they often have a different way of looking at things and bring so much passion and energy.
- My secret talent is being a savvy shopper!
Jess has a Bachelor of Social Work and over 10 years’ experience, starting her career supporting women in prison, pre and post release, to get re-established in the community and linked in with their support networks. Jess has also worked in housing, delivering events and support to university students in Kalgoorlie, working with newly arrived refugees and now alongside young people at Moonee Valley. Jess is passionate about supporting young people to make positive changes in their life and learn new skills that will help them succeed.