COACH is a community-strengthening program that aims to empower 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 marginalized in society and our mission is to join in with Him to help people flourish emotionally, socially, economically and spiritually.
We are faith-based but not faith-biased and seek to benefit people no matter what their religion, race, disability or sexual orientation. We try to model Christ-centeredness, grace, care, trust and interdependence within our team and with others. We often partner with other organisations for the benefit of the community.
“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 Redeeming Our Communities to deliver the program. Currently, there are 121 church organisations licensed to offer COACH and over 60 churches providing mentors.
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."
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.
“Let God surprise you in it… let him change somebody else’s life through you.”
COACH Network Team
Rev Toby Baxter – Director & Co-Founder
Toby established his first mentoring programme 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 twenty-five years’ 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.
Mark Matthews – National Manager, Empowered Faith Communities
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. Mark has developed the frameworks of Empowered Faith Communities (EFC). He team leads an 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.
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.
Sam Hearn – National Training & Technical Manager
Sam is back on board at COACH after taking a sabbatical last 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.
Karen – COACH Dandenong Hub Manager
Leading COACH in the City of Greater Dandenong in partnership with the Salvation Army.
Karen has worked extensively within the Dandenong and Doveton communities for more than 20 years serving with The Salvation Army.
Karen has held various positions over that time and worked with many community members (clients) from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as well as those who are marginalised within our society.
Karen has a diploma in Community Services and many years of experience walking along side of people in need providing guidance and support.
Annette Brown – Marketing & Communications Specialist, COACH Central
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.
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 and studying for a Doctor of Ministry. He is married to Mary Choi and they have one lovely daughter.
Lynnette Ng – Operations Coordinator, COACH Central
Lynnette brings more than 15 years of experience in managing events, customer service, operations and television programming, across a variety of industries.
In recent years, Lynnette has taken a break from corporate work to support her school-aged daughters, but has remained engaged as a Zumba Fitness® instructor & Bible Study Fellowship Substitute Teaching Leader.
May Chang – Administrative Assistant, COACH Central
May has worked in the IT industry for 30 years. She holds Bachelor in Science, majoring in Computer Science. Her career experience includes database administration, capacity planning and automation.
Since 2017, May has been responsible for the administration of the COACH Program, May’s role has assisted in the smooth running of COACH Programs nationally in Australia and internationally in the UK.
May and her husband currently lead a lifegroup in Crossway, facilitating Crossway’s mission of Loving God, Loving People and Disciples that Multiply.
Olive Chow – Administrative Support, COACH Central
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.