Meet the People

Our Staff

Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director

Headshot Small Elenie

Reverend Elenie Poulos is a Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. She was appointed National Director in 2002. She attends Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney.

Elenie represented the Uniting Church at the World Council of Churches General Assembly in Port Alegre, Brazil in 2006 and is a member of the World Council of Churches' Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA). Elenie is also actively engaged with the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) as a member and past Chair of the Commission responsible for Act for Peace, the NCCA's international aid and development agency, and a member of the Social Justice Network. She is also a member of the Board of ANDI, the project to develop a wellbeing index for Australia.

Prior to her current position with the National Assembly, Elenie was School Chaplain at MLC School Burwood, NSW, for six years. She has a professional background in book publishing and an academic background in linguistics (BA Hons), language in education (MA), and theology (BTh). She is a doctoral student at Macquarie University studying public theology and human rights. 

Aletia Dundas, Policy OfficerAletia

Aletia joined UnitingJustice Australia in September 2014, bringing a passion for nonviolence, social justice and the environment. Aletia’s work experience includes Pacific Project Officer at Union Abroad Aid - APHEDA, Aboriginal concerns and community education officer at Quaker Service Australia and Peace and Disarmament program assistant at the Quaker United Nations Office in Geneva.

Aletia has also worked for the NCCA, served on the AFTINET Management Committee and has had experience on a number of Quaker social justice committees. She has an MA in Peace and Conflict Studies.


Our Reference Committee

The UnitingJustice Australia Reference Committee is appointed every three years by the Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) at its first meeting after the Triennial Assembly. Nominations are submitted to the ASC by the National Director after a public call for expressions of interest which are assessed by a team which usually includes the Chair of Reference Committee for the coming triennium, the National Director, the Uniting Faith and Discipleship Team Leader, and a representative of the national justice staff network.

The Chairperson of the Reference Committee is elected by the Triennial Assembly on submission of a nomination from UnitingJustice Australia.

The Reference Committee consists of a Chairperson, the National Director, a representative of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, a representative of the Synod justice staff, and eight members and can co-opt up to two additional members. The Assembly General Secretary is an ex officio member.


Duties of Reference Commitee members include:

  • providing support and advice to the National Director and staff on such matters as strategic planning, priority setting, and the development of policy positions;
  • receiving and considering matters referred by the National Director;
  • together with the National Director, assisting and advising the President and General Secretary on urgent political and social issues; and
  • communicating and promoting the work of UnitingJustice Australia in their local contexts and spheres of influence.

Deidre Palmer (Chairperson)

151020 Deidre Palmer

Dr Deidre Palmer is the President-elect of the Uniting Church in Australia and South Australia Moderator.

Deidre is a social worker. Prior to becoming Moderator, she worked part-time for four and a half years as a counsellor with UnitingCommunities in the Childhood Sexual Abuse Counselling team.She is a senior lecturer in Christian Education for the School of Theology of Flinders University and Adelaide College of Divinity, and an adjunct faculty member for Uniting College.

Deidre’s particular interests include justice for First Peoples, domestic violence and age and gender discrimination.

Deidre currently serves as a member of the Assembly Standing Committee, the Formation, Education and Discipleship Working Group and the National Task Group responding to the Royal Commission.

She is a member of Rosefield Uniting Church.

Bek Christensen

Dr Bek Christensen has a PhD in ecology, has worked in governments and NGOs, and now works in research coordination and science engagement across Australia’s environmental research sector.

Bek is passionate about the environment, people, and justice, and has previously undertaken volunteer work with UCA partner churches in SE Asia and Africa. Bek has previously been involved with a range of young adult leadership and social justice initiatives at the church and Synod level in South Australia. She is an active member of Pace e Bene Australia – a network for promoting the spirituality and practice of nonviolence, and is also part of the NCCA volunteer coordination team.

Bek is a Uniting Church member living in Brisbane.

Simon Hansford151020 Simon Hansford

Reverend Simon Hansford has been in rural and regional ministry since his ordination in 1990, with placements in Dubbo and Queanbeyan congregations, as Presbytery Minister in New England North West Presbytery and now in the Tamworth Southside Congregation.

Simon is engaged with issues of justice in rural communities, most particularly reconciliation, mining and related social and environmental issues (CSG, FIFO workers and the environment, water use in the Murray-Darling Basin), rural refugee resettlement, and the imbalance of resources between metropolitan and rural communities, which is mirrored in the metropolitan and rural church.

He is convinced that the Uniting Church has a vital voice with which to speak on Gospel issues, which are always related to biblical justice – forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation. 

Michael Hewson151020 Michael Hewson

Dr Michael Hewson is a research and teaching geographer in The University of Queensland’s Climate Research Group and has previously held leadership roles in Defence, the Queensland Public Service, UnitingCare’s Bluecare and a mining company. This employment included a role in the headquarters element of the Australian contingent to the United Nations peacekeeping mission to Cambodia.

Such a breadth of experience balances Michael’s perspective on social impact issues in this the Anthropocene Era. Michael has written management, policy and research papers in a range on contexts including a short stint as a state branch policy convenor for a political party.

Currently Michael is the secretary of the Brisbane chapter of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

Michael has been a member of Uniting church congregations in Victoria, NSW and Queensland and currently represents Kenmore Uniting Church in the Bremer-Brisbane Presbytery and in recent years has been the facilitation convenor for Queensland Synod plenaries. 

John LangmoreJohn

Professor John Langmore is a Professorial Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne and Assistant Director Research (Security and Political Engagement) in the Melbourne School of Government. Between 1984 and 1996 he was MP for the ACT seat of Fraser in the Australian House of Representatives, where he chaired several House and Labor Party committees on economic policy, the environment and the Australian Capital Territory.

John was Director of the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development from 1997 to 2001 and then Representative of the International Labor Organization to the United Nations for two years. He was a member of the World Council of Churches Commission on International Affairs from 1998 to 2005. He was national president of the United Nations Association of Australia from 2005 to 2009. He is the author of several books—most recently To Firmer Ground: Restoring Hope in Australia—and many articles and chapters on Australian public policy. 

John is a member of Mark the Evangelist Uniting Church, North Melbourne.

Margaret Mayman (Coopted Member)151020 Margaret Mayman

Rev Dr Margaret Mayman is minister at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney (since December 2013). She was born in Aotearoa New Zealand and was ordained as a Presbyterian Minister in 1983. She holds a PhD in Christian Social Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York where she lived, studied and taught for 12 years.

In her previous parish in Wellington, New Zealand, Margaret led a congregation that practiced a ministry of inclusive hospitality and sought to participate in the public square of New Zealand’s capital city. Margaret developed programs that brought religious and ethical perspectives into dialogue with the issues of the secular city. She has been involved in a number of social justice campaigns presenting a progressive religious voice on issues such as Marriage Equality and the Living Wage.

In 2010 she was awarded an international fellowship to the Kettering Foundation in Ohio where she researched faith communities' engagement in community politics.

Margaret’s interests include refugee issues, economic, gender and sexual justice.

Adrian Nippress151020 Adrian Nippress

Adrian is the Transforming Justice Coordinator with the SA Synod and a consultant with Strategic Planning, Industrial Relations and Project Management. He has experience in political lobbying to achieve policy outcomes and funding.

Adrian’s previous position as International Mission Officer with UCA SA (Synod) involved developing a strategic approach to UCA congregational and schools involvement to achieve sustainable International Mission. In 2014 he was Deputy Director, Shelter SA, raising the profile of Shelter SA, identifying housing and homelessness priorities. Adrian is a passionate advocate for community development.

Adrian is a member of Westbourne Park Uniting Church.

Susan Pickering151020 Sue Pickering

Reverend Susan Pickering emigrated to Australia in 1999 from the UK and was ordained as a Minister in 2009. She is currently in her second placement at West End Uniting Church, Brisbane. Prior to formation and ordination Sue worked in the areas of domestic violence, mental health and disability for both NGOs and government. She has spent some time working with the Church of South India in Chennai and was a group leader of a UCA tour on two occasions.

Sue is a member of the Queensland Synod Inter-faith Relationships Committee, the Chairperson of the Queensland Churches Together Joint Churches Domestic Violence Prevention Project, a member of the Australian Progressive Christian Voice Committee, the Queensland Synod Social Justice Reference Group and Secretary for the West End Community Association.

Sue is committed to issues of social justice both locally and globally, working towards the gospel imperatives of justice, inclusion, care and compassion for both people, particularly the vulnerable, and planet.

Tim Senior151020 Tim Senior

Dr Tim Senior works as a General Practitioner at the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in South West Sydney and is active nationally in education and policy development in primary health care. He is also a member of the Management Committee of Doctors for the Environment Australia. He has worked in Central Australia and the Torres Strait.

Tim writes on social and environmental causes of ill health, with his articles appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald and Crikey. He won the Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay Prize for an article on climate change and equity and has published an e-book of his crowdfunded columns for the Croakey Health Blog. He was recently named as one of the top 10 health users of Twitter in Australia.

Tim Senior is a member of Picton Uniting Church, and is on the Church Council and regularly preaches and provides music there. 

Frances Voon151020 Frances Voon

Frances Voon is the Executive Manager at the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Prior to taking up her current role, Frances worked in the Policy Development and Evaluation Service of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. She previously worked in refugee operations in Jordan, with Jesuit Refugee Service, and in Bangladesh with the United Nations World Food Programme. She undertook a Masters of Philosophy in Development Studies from Oxford University, as a John Monash Scholar. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and Law from UNSW. 

Frances is a member of the Hope Uniting community at Maroubra, Sydney. 

Jemma Whittaker151020 Jemma Whittaker

Jemma Whittaker works part-time for the Northern Synod in a youth and young adult resourcing role, and spends the rest of her days alternating between relief teaching, engaging with her local community and attending church meetings. Previously she worked in Special Education, delivered intensive literacy programs as an employee of the Exodus Foundation and supported Indigenous students completing their studies in Darwin.  

Jemma can’t remember a time when the Uniting Church wasn’t informing her life and priorities. Unsurprisingly, social justice issues have always been close to her heart. She is a member of Darwin’s Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network, has strong links with the UAICC, and plays an active role in the Uniting Church’s national young adult networks, which brings her into relationship with young people passionate about transforming their world and seeking justice in myriad ways.

Jemma attends Nightcliff Uniting Church.