About Us

COACH is a community-strengthening program that empowers individuals and families through one-to-one mentoring, breaking generational cycles of poverty and family breakdown.

Vision + Mission + Values


Our vision is to see people in tough places flourish through one-to-one mentoring and empowering communities. We believe God cares deeply for the marginalised in society and our mission is to join with Him to help people flourish emotionally, socially, economically, and spiritually.

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 is partnering with other organisations for the benefit of the community.

Embrace All:  We accept everyone without judgment, treating others as we wish to be treated.

Empower All: 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.

“A series of tragic events set my life on a different path. I felt a failure. COACH embraced my whole family. Now my life is so different. My heart is open to new possibilities. I feel focused and strong and a part of the community.”

COACH stands for Creating Opportunities And Casting Hope.

COACH partners with not-for-profits and churches to train volunteer mentors and match them with individuals in need. Over 12+ months, COACH participants meet with their mentors each week.

A COACH Mentor is a friend with purpose, offering practical help and mentoring towards life goals. These goals include education, employment, training, improved mental health, reduction in addictive habits, financial management, housing, family cohesion, decrease in social isolation, and improved physical and emotional wellbeing. Mentoring is a way to bring out the best in people and help them make use of their own resources. It also promotes individual responsibility and builds community cohesion.

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 140 church organisations licensed to offer the COACH Programs.

COACH has been evaluated twice by Monash University (Australia) who published their research report in peer reviewed journals.

COACH programs are run in 140+ locations in Australia and the UK.


COACH is a flexible model that works with families and individuals for long-term, sustainable transformation of communities through high-quality mentoring.

COACH 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."

Proven Outcomes

The COACH program has 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.

1 %
of participants graduated from the program
1 %
increase in resilience in participants
1 %
of participants engage with their local church

“Let God surprise you in it… let him change somebody else’s life through you.”

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.

Email Sam

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.

Email Mark

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. 

Email Charmaine


Rob Cummings – National Financial COACH Coordinator

Rob joins the COACH Central Team to lead the Financial COACH Program. He 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.

Email Rob

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.

Email Alex

Annette Brown – Marketing & Communications Specialist COACH Network & EFC

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.

 – Operations Coordinator, COACH Network


 – Administrative Assistant, COACH Network & Empowered Faith Communities


Olive Chow – Administrative Support, COACH Network

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.

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 now works at the BUV (Baptist Union of Victoria) as Head of Mission Catalyst and continues to be an advocate for COACH and Empowered Faith Communities.