Meet our Staff


David Belcher

Executive director

David has a commitment to disability activism and building a collective voice for people with disability in the Hunter. He has also had extensive experience in politics working on several campaigns at local, state and federal levels and is currently a councilor at Lake Macquarie City Council. David holds a degree in Political Science from the University of New England. David was born with Lumbosacaral Agenisis and uses a wheelchair for mobility.


Jess Watkins

Project Coordinator

Committed to the ethos 'WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER',  Jess’ work is in places where this is in action. Jess has been the co-executive officer at NSW Council for Intellectual Disability, Director of Family Advocacy and other roles that allowed her to be supporter and ally in the community. Jess brings facilitation training, change management, project design and implementation to CDAH, always looking to increased choice and control for people with disability, and supporting active citizenship for all.


Deb Hamilton

Team Leader

Debbie has worked as a mental health peer advocate in the Hunter for more than 20 years. She has been an active participant in various Mental Health NDIS projects designed to improve the experience of people on the NDIS psycho-social pathway. Previously Deb worked as a registered nurse then as a doctor and completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Bioethics. She is currently a member of the 'National Register of (mental health) Consumers and Carers' and is enrolled in a Masters’ by research at Sydney University on the ‘The Experiences of people with a psycho-social disability on the NDIS’.

At CDAH Deb is currently co-leading a project with Jess Watkins called the ‘Potential and Possibility’ project. It aims to improve the voice, choice and control of people with a mental illness and/or psycho-social disability. She was previously the President of the CDAH Board and is an advisor to the peer mentoring project.


Catherine Mahony

Peer Worker

Catherine is a well known and highly regarded community leader. Born blind Catherine is committed to sharing her experiences as a person with disability in the hope that we focus on what is common to all people rather than our differences.
Catherine has extensive experience in written and spoken communications and is committed to people with disability participating in the community in all the ways they choose to, enjoying the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers. She has a Bachelor of Communications (University of Newcastle 1995) and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (2012) and is a regular speaker and peer facilitator at conferences and workshops.


Kate Davies

Project Worker

Kate is a Community Development Worker and social researcher, who is passionate about social justice and the power of peer movements. Kate works with the CDAH team in areas such as financial management, project development, evaluation, reporting and administration.


Jen Cush

Project Worker

For twenty years, Jen has worked across the non-government and government sectors in pursuit of social justice. Her background is community development and advocacy with people with disability, primarily with Aboriginal organisations in Central Australia. Jen has managed aged, disability and advocacy services and combines grassroots experience with policy and project expertise.

At CDAH, Jen is working on a project with the Large Residential Centre’s in the Hunter, supporting peers to connect with each other and with their community.


Michael Katerla

Community Organiser

Michael has a background in communications and has worked for community radios, grassroots media organisations and several NGOs in Australia, Germany and India. Originally hailing from Germany, Michael has always been fascinated by the power of community media and wrote his dissertation about Community Radios in Australia and its meaning for Indigenous Australians. He holds a Master in Communications from the Freie Universitaet Berlin and works for CDAH in areas such as social media, filming, web design and project organisation.

Raelene Bock

Peer Mentoring Coordinator

Raelene has 10 years experience working in the Public Service in the areas of customer service, law enforcement, data entry, training and project work. Raelene has lived experience of complex disability and is a keen advocate for those who live with hidden disability. Living further up the Hunter, Raelene’s passion is to see her rural and/or isolated peers achieve the same level of access, opportunities and connectivity as her city peers.
As our Peer Mentor Coordinator, Raelene works collaboratively with our Peer Mentor Working Group to connect peers with lived experience of disability to work together to achieve REAL life-change and build connectedness within the community.


Leigh Creighton

Project Coordinator

Leigh has been working in the disability sector for many years as peer and support worker for organisations like House With No Steps, National Disability Services and Able Futures. He also is a motivational speaker for conferences and seminars and an ambassador for Down Syndrome NSW.

At CDAH Leigh is the coordinator for Speak Up Hunter, a peer group run for, and by, people with intellectual disability. At Speak Up he organises the monthly meetings, teaches about self advocacy and how to live an independent life. Leigh strongly believes that everyone should speak up for their own rights. “We are the experts in our own lives!”

Tania Lewis - Coming soon