Community impact through integrated, strengths-based, best practice frameworks that equip partners with effective tools to provide support, create belonging and empower people in their local communities.
COACH Network provides community-strengthening initiatives that empower individuals and families, ending generational cycles of poverty and family breakdown.
We are a movement of churches and organisations that are Creating Opportunities And Casting Hope in our local communities.
Our partner organisations are provided with tailored and professional support so they can implement COACH Mentoring programs, Financial COACH and Empowered Faith Communities effectively in their community context.
“Working with the disadvantaged is not always easy. The training & encouragement given by COACH Network is invaluable & has made a difficult job so much easier.” - COACH Network partner
COACH stands for Creating Opportunities And Casting Hope.
Vision + Mission + Values
Our vision is to see people in tough places flourish through one-to-one mentoring, financial wellbeing and empowering communities.
To equip and inspire a movement of churches and organisations by providing best practice initiatives that integrate relational, strengths-based community development with Jesus’ call to be disciples who make disciples.
We are faith-based but not faith-biased and seek to support people no matter what their religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation. Our model of impact works in partnership with local organisations for the benefit of the community.
We accept everyone without judgment, treating others as we wish to be treated.
We collaborate with organisations & individuals to grow capacity & impact.
Work with a Holistic Focus
We seek to care for the whole person in our mentoring relationships & community development practice.
Create Authentic Strength-Based Relationships
We focus on fostering genuine friendships that affirm & celebrate every person’s unique strengths & skills.
COACH Network is operated by Crossway LifeCare (80%), in partnership with Mission Australia (20%). In the UK, COACH partners with ROC (Redeeming Our Communities) to deliver the program. Currently, there over 225 organisations licensed to offer the COACH Programs.
COACH Mentoring has been evaluated twice by Monash University (Australia) who published their research report in peer reviewed journals.
We partner with 225+ partners in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to run COACH Mentoring & Empowered Faith Communities initiatives.
COACH Mentoring is a flexible model that works with families and individuals for long-term, sustainable transformation of communities through high-quality mentoring.
COACH Mentoring is goal focused, with at least 70% reaching significant goals. The program has proven outcomes and is subject to ongoing evaluation. COACH has been externally evaluated on two occasions by Monash University.
Quality and safety are central, underpinned by COACH’s simple but robust policy and procedural framework that includes best practice methodology and risk management strategies, a thorough screening, selection and matching process, and fourteen hours of high-quality mentor training, as well as ongoing training, accountability and troubleshooting. COACH is low cost and sustainable due to the volunteer-based nature of the program.
"Without COACH I would have been in jail I reckon. With COACH we were taught that we needed to work together."
"Not only have I become great friends with my mentor, I’ve also grown confidence in parenting & decision making, as well as achieving my goal of getting a job I really enjoy."
COACH Mentoring programs have been evaluated twice by Monash University. These evaluations have found that the program improves the health and wellbeing of families, with ongoing evaluation and monitoring embedded into our program methodology.
COACH Network Team
Sam Hearn – National Director
Sam has been back on board at COACH after taking a sabbatical year to be the Mayor of the Mornington Peninsula Shire, and recently finished five years serving as National Director of SURRENDER Australia – an organisation that creates partnerships and hosts events across Australia to engage Christians in local and global mission and justice activity. Prior to this he served for four years as a Mission and Ministry Coordinator with New Peninsula Baptist Church. He has also worked as a lecturer and consultant around organisational vision and strategy development.
He is one of the leaders of Jigsaw, a missional community shaped church that is based in his neighbourhood of Tanti Park. He is also the Chair of Tanti Park Social Enterprises, an organisation he co-founded to operate the HomeGround café and provide vocational training and placemaking alongside disadvantaged youth. He holds a Bachelor of Psychology, a Master of Arts in Leadership, and is a graduate of the Arrow Leadership Program.
Mark Matthews – Empowered Faith Communities Founder & National Manager
COACH Program Co-Author
Mark has worked in the social welfare sector of Melbourne for 30 years. He holds Diplomas in Social Science and Business and is trained in providing professional supervision and counselling and is experienced in community development.
Mark’s work has involved providing direct casework to clients, leading teams of Social Work and Health professionals in service provision, and being instrumental in designing, developing, and managing major crisis accommodation centres and housing programs across Melbourne.
Since 2007, Mark has been responsible for the ongoing development of the COACH Community Mentoring program, most recently the Indigenous COACH Program that was developed in partnership with The Salvation Army Townsville. Mark has developed the frameworks of Empowered Faith Communities (EFC), he founded and continues to lead the original EFC in Rosebud (Victoria) that is offered to people who don’t feel they could easily fit within a mainstream church, empowering them to become agents of influence and change in their own social space.
Charmaine Vis – Regional Training & Network Manager
Charmaine joined the COACH Network as the COACH Manager for Greater Dandenong and the City of Casey, which included working with The Salvation Army Dandenong on Project Hope. Charmaine recently finished serving as an Associate Pastor at Berwick Church of Christ.
Before starting at COACH Charmaine was on staff at Berwick Church of Christ as the Associate Pastor, during those 19 years at the church she served in numerous positions including part of the Executive Team, Community Outreach Pastor, Connect Ministries Pastors and she was the COACH Community Coordinator for two years.
Rob Cummings – National Financial COACH Coordinator
Rob has 30 years’ experience in business and personal finance within corporate management roles and as a business owner, Rob found his niche in community service ministries in 2014 where he developed a community based financial coaching program built on an empowering and strength-based approach.
Rob’s current role allows him the unique opportunity to follow his passion and calling; to relieve financial stress and to break generational poverty. His goal is to ensure that every person in serious financial need throughout Australia has access to a local Financial COACH Mentor.
As well as being a Recruitment and Training Specialist, Rob is a trained Mentor with 20 years’ experience mentoring individuals and teams.
Rev Alex Ho – National Training Manager – Chinese COACH
Alex has been a Chinese Pastor at Crossway since April 2008. Alex is passionate about investing in missional leaders to facilitate discipleship and mission. He is an authentic leader who practices what he preaches. Alex was previously a drug rehabilitation social worker (1998-2003). Recently, Alex joined the COACH team to strengthen the mentoring program serving new immigrants and vulnerable people.
Alex has a Social Work degree as well as a Masters of Divinity.
He is married to Mary Choi and they have one lovely daughter.
Tim Johnson (TJ) – National Mentoring Program Manager
Prior to joining us at COACH Network, TJ helped lead Tearfund’s (previously TEAR) work with Australian Christians including heading up their national church partnerships team – supporting volunteers and Churches from around the country to take action in response to issues of poverty and injustice. He has spent time consulting and supporting grassroots organisations to become more effective, deepen their impact and sustain their work. He’s also spent significant seasons serving in pastoral leadership roles at New Peninsula Baptist Church and Beaumaris Baptist Church.
TJ is passionate about people and social change and believes firmly in the transformative power of relationships and the inherent strengths that God has placed within local communities. TJ holds degrees in theology and international development and alongside his paid roles has spent the last decade living and working in some of Victoria’s most vulnerable neighbourhoods.
Megan Micalizzi – EFC Relationships Manager
Megan has worked in a vast array of community sectors over the last 35 years. Megan’s love of people from all walks of life is evident in all she does. Megan has the ability to be ‘all things to all people’ and can relate to professionals through to people facing immense hardship. Her heart is to empower people in their environment and to see them thrive. Megan previously worked as a Local COACH Coordinator and then as the South East Queensland Manager for the COACH network.
During the last 12 years, Megan has worked as an accredited Pastor for the Nexus Church group in Brisbane. At Nexus, Megan worked as the Head of Pastoral Care for all three campuses and led a flourishing group as the Seniors Pastor. Megan’s love of people is contagious and she excels in casting vision and galvanising teams and leaders to identify and empower the community to live with purpose, confidence and meaning.
Sebastian Ning – National Training Coordinator – Chinese COACH
Sebastian joins COACH Network with the enthusiasm to generate a better community. He founded (and currently leads) a non-profit organisation that connects thousands of Chinese migrant communities with essential community services and support.
Sebastian brings to COACH Network his skills in leadership, training, strategic planning and execution, building partnerships and support, community development and capacity building, health promotion practices, as well as managing networks and stakeholders through his collaborative experiences.
Annette Brown – Marketing & Communications Specialist
Annette joined the COACH Network Team in early 2019 after a career as a Marketing & Communications Specialist in the IT industry.
In her role Annette manages all aspects of COACH Marketing & Communications including email communications, social media channels, the website, developing new collateral, the COACH App and other projects.
Annettes qualifications include a Bachelor of Business (Marketing & Management) along with post-graduate studies in Multimedia and Digital Marketing. –
Olive Chow – Administrative Support
Olive joined COACH Network since retiring three years ago and is responsible for the creation of Policies & Procedures along with managing the Resource section of the website. Prior to this, Olive worked at senior and executive levels with the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance for 30 years in Financial and Performance Management Systems and Policies. She is a retired Fellow of Certified Practicing Accountants.
Olive currently serves on the Crossway Baptist Church Board and chairs its Finance and Risk Committee.
Celyn Yan – Operations Coordinator
Celyn has over 20 years’ international experience in business development, asset management, investments & event management within corporate real estate & not-for-profit organizations. Celyn joined COACH Network in June 2023 & is responsible for the Admin & Operations function within COACH Network.
Celyn holds a Bachelor of Science (Real Estate) with Honours from the National University of Singapore, along with post-graduate studies in Finance.
Anna Wong – Administrative Support
Anna has over 15 years’ international experience in the property management field specialising in the Administrative & Secretariat Support space. Anna returned to Melbourne in late 2022 with her family after being away for close to 20 years & recently joined COACH Network in October as an integral part of the Admin & Operations team.
Anna holds a Bachelor degree in Arts/Commerce from University of Melbourne.
Rev Toby Baxter –(former Director) COACH Co-Founder
COACH & EFC Ambassador
Toby established his first mentoring program in 1998 and has specialised in developing mentoring programs for vulnerable groups since then. He has trained over 900 mentors and coaches in the UK and Australia, co-founding COACH and a similar program in the UK.
Toby has over 25 years of experience in community ministry and social work, with a focus on the juvenile justice and drug and alcohol sectors. He has management experience with the Department of Human Services and Southern Health’s Alcohol and Drug Services. He is a qualified and registered Social Worker in Australia and has completed a Masters of Practical Theology at ACOM / Sydney College of Divinity. Toby enjoys going on wild adventures with his family and running marathons.
Toby is the Senior Pastor at Bayview Church of Christ and continues to be an advocate for COACH and Empowered Faith Communities.