Who We Are
The Armidale Women’s Shelter values it’s staff and volunteers who show compassion, empathy and enormous skill.
Our team of experienced and professional staff
Team LeaderOur Team leader supports our staff and enables them to do their work as effectively and efficiently as possible, overseeing operations and providing guidance to our team to ensure case management is ethical, effective and efficient. Promoting a culture of quality assurance and continuous improvement in service delivery, supporting the Manager and organisation to achieve and maintain quality outcomes for our community.
Support workersWSA Support staff contribute to the provision of a comprehensive range of support services to women in the New England community. They continuously assess the support needs of women who have experienced, or who are at risk of experiencing, domestic or family violence and/or homelessness. In doing so, they provide collaborative case management to assist clients to develop fulfilling, independent lives, free from relational abuse and with safe, affordable, accommodation.
Specialist children’s and young person’s workersExperienced and equipped professionals providing specialist services to the children and young people of the New England region who have experienced domestic violence and/or homelessness. Providing specialist support to assist with recovery from trauma and implementation of early interventions for our youth to flourish.
Cultural Integration workerOur cultural integration team member collaborates and works closely with clients and originations within our community to deliver culturally safe, authentic and appropriate case management. Womens Shelter Armidale prides ourselves on ensuring our services cater to and facilitate our diverse range of community members.
Our Governance Team
Penny LamaroChief Executive Officer
Sara McNeallEmbrace representative
Steven WiddersCommittee Member
Hazel ValeCommittee Member
Natasha GriffithCommittee Member
Chief Executive Officer
As human beings move through life, it is not uncommon for severe life stressors or trauma to cause those lives to unravel. Penny Lamaro’s great passion is to bring healing and connectivity to people and communities.
Penny is the Chief Executive Officer for the Women’s Shelter Armidale Inc, leading 14 staff to provide best practice service to women and families who experience Domestic & Family Violence and/or homelessness in a crisis environment. Prior to her appointment to this role in 2021, Penny worked in Youth homelessness for nearly 10 years, during which time she managed the Youth Refuge, wrote and developed therapeutic programs and received awards for ‘Youth Worker of the Year’, NSW ‘Outstanding work with Regional Young People’, NSW ‘Outstanding Use of Data’ and the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People’s ‘Inspiring Mentor’ awards. Penny is a people focused and output driven leader interested in developing team members to realise their ambitions for their own development and career.
Penny completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors ‘Foundations of Directorship’ course in 2020 and has Chaired the Youth Action Board (Peak body for Young People and Youth Services in NSW) since 2018. She is also a valued member of a number of regional committee’s including the Armidale Regional Council’s Community Wellbeing Committee. Penny has significant experience in organisational strategic planning and policy development and her core skills are in change management and organisational diversity.
Penny grew up in Sydney and studied Law while working for the NSW Police – Court & Legal Services. After graduating, Penny travelled overseas to indulge one of the great loves of her life – horse training. Having lived in the USA and UK for 2 years, Penny returned to Australia and lived in Central and North Queensland and the Northern Territory contract mustering. Having raised her daughter to school age on cattle stations in the remote North, Penny returned to “civilisation” and landed in Armidale where her varied life experience was put to use in youth work.
Penny is also the Founder and Director of ‘WAGS The Dog Program’ which is a highly successful dog therapy business providing therapeutic interventions to participants, training for dog handlers and therapy dog breeding and certification services. WAGS has provided leadership training to Executive teams in many settings including schools (Duval High School, Emmaville Central School, Armidale High & others), private business, government departments (including Department of Juvenile Justice) and community based charities.
Penny has lived in Armidale for 9 years now and feels fully embraced by the community.
Juliet holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psych/Soc), Bachelor of Laws, and Grad Dip in Legal Practice. She has worked as a Family support worker in Moree, a Counsellor at Community Health and later at TAFE, and a Lawyer for 15 years specialising in family law and child protection. She is a founding member of the WDVCAS board in Moree in 2006, panel solicitor acting for children in child protection and family law matters, and was vice-president of Community Housing in Moree from 2004 – 2007. Juliet has served the Women’s Shelter Management Committee for many years and has been an integral part of its sustainability.
Natasha was until recently the Services Manager for Moree Care and holds a Masters of Human Rights from Curtin University. Natasha has vast experience in Justice reform and strategic investment with the Department of Communities and Justice. Natasha has significant knowledge and experience in public policy, strategy, infrastructure projects, community engagement, procurement and people management with a view to building a holistic approach to operations and organisational development.
Sara McNeall is a practicing Primary School Music Teacher, and a member of EMBRACE, a voluntary group which organises donations of beds, furniture and kitchen items from their St Marks church community exclusively for the Women’s Shelter which they donate and deliver these items to clients moving into transitional housing.
Uncle Steve Widders is a descendant of the Kamillaroi and Anaiwan people of Northern NSW. He has lived and worked on the ancestral ground of his people most of his life and has great pride in his identity as an Aboriginal Australian. He has served as a member of the NSW Disability Council, National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC), and is currently a board Member of Multicultural NSW. Additionally, Steve is Chair of the Newara Aboriginal Corporation, the Anaiwan Language Revival Group, he is a board member of Armidale AM Rotary Club, a Paul Harris fellow, and is a cultural and heritage advisor to local organisations. On top of this, Steve has achieved many personal triumphs, including becoming one of the first blind men to walk the Kokoda Track. He has also completed several tandem bike rides to raise funds and awareness for Men’s Health concerns.
A proud Anaiwan, Gumbaynggirr woman, Hazel is a well respected member of the Armidale community. Hazel is leading the ‘Sisters in Strength’ program in Armidale that looks to build on women’s skills for strength and connection. Hazel’s business, Yaanyii Daari, works closely with local schools to develop and implement programs that help connect students with their culture and identity.
As a proud Anaiwan woman, living and working on Country all of her life, Tash works as a Student Learning Support Officer with Department of Education in Armidale. Tash has strong ties to Bangarra Dance Company, and is the go-to for students looking to engage in extra curricular activities. Tash has been a significant parental figure in the lives of many children and young people, having been a kinship carer to mob for many years