Meet our staff

Salli HickfordExecutive Officer

Salli joined Hope Bereavement Care in June 2019. She has been working in the community services sector in service design and management for over 20 years, mainly in the areas of Youth, Drug and Alcohol, Primary Care and Mental Health. Salli grew up in Anglesea, and after studying and working in Melbourne, she has returned to work in the Geelong community where her passion lies.

“Grief and loss has been at the centre of all the work I have done in the past,” Salli says. “Hope’s commitment to the Geelong community and ensuring that no-one is alone in their grief is the reason that I am so passionate about my role. I am privileged to be able to work with such a dedicated and giving group of people, from the Board and staff to the volunteers and partner agencies. The Geelong community’s generosity in keeping Hope operating for more than 35 years is inspirational.”


Christine RawsonBereavement Counsellor

Christine has been with Hope Bereavement Care since September 2011. Her previous work experience in the community services sector – and specifically in the field of loss and grief – has spanned 21 years, from the foundation of learning as a volunteer with telephone helplines and in camps with young people to roles with a Western Australian suicide prevention service as a Youth Liaison Officer and with Frankston City Council as a Family Support Worker assisting families in crisis situations.

After studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Loss and Grief Counselling, Christine decided to bring her experience to bereavement counsellor/educator roles with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria, Hope and Hope’s Support After Suicide program.

“The environment at Hope offers a unique, easily accessible support to those in the region who need to understand and tread the complex and often challenging grief path,” Christine says. “As a bereavement counsellor here, I have an amazing team who all bring an extraordinarily wide range of knowledge, experience and dedication to their roles. Equally, I admire the courage our clients have whilst navigating an enormously shattering period in their lives. A commitment to upholding the reputation that Hope has within the Geelong community is a constant in my privileged role.”


Catharina DumaresqBereavement Counsellor

Cat joined Hope Bereavement Care in November 2020 and is involved with clients across all programs. She was raised in the Geelong area and has spent the majority of her adult life here, apart from several sojourns for travel or study purposes. Cat has a background in nursing, having commenced in general nursing 40 years ago and completing postgraduate studies in Midwifery and Mental Health. She is currently a proudly Credentialed Mental Health Nurse with ongoing studies in the fields of Mindfulness Integrated CBT, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy and Buddhism and Psychotherapy. “I believe ongoing study is integral to my brain health and personal wellbeing, as well as being beneficial for my clients,” Cat says.

Cat has spent the past 18 years employed in Perinatal Mental Health, working with new families that may be struggling in their transition to parenthood. This also included working with parents who had received adverse outcomes from pregnancy testing and/or experienced pregnancy or early parenthood loss of their babies.

Cat attended Hope as a client in 2016 after the death of her husband and had been a lived-experience volunteer for the Support After Suicide program until her current role at Hope. “I feel very privileged to be able to give back, at any level, to the team that supported myself and my children after the traumatic loss of my husband and their father,” she says. “I have realised also how important it is to consider the body, brain and spirit in recovery from trauma – and, hopefully provide an example of how growth is possible after inconceivable loss.”


Caroline GubbBereavement Counsellor

Caroline first began her association with Hope Bereavement Care when completing a placement as part of her studies in a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy. During that time, she was privileged to work with and companion families who had lost a child suddenly and unexpectedly, including due to pregnancy loss, stillbirth or a loss in the first six years of life. As a result of this experience, grief, bereavement and trauma has been the focus of her work ever since.

Caroline has gone on to work with Hope since July 2021 as a bereavement counsellor, while also facilitating Creative Bereavement groups and Children’s Memory Mornings in the school holidays. Previously, she volunteered in the community services sector for several years, in therapeutic kindergartens and supporting young mums and their children. Caroline has also mentored girls and young women as a Unit Leader in the Girl Guides program.

To complement her experience and past studies, Caroline continues to study grief and bereavement through the Centre of Existential Practice and has pursued further qualifications in Initiatic Art Therapy and Mindfulness and Meditation teaching, with the intention of supporting the grieving and bereaved holistically. Her intention is to companion clients as they move through those early days of grief and beyond, to hold space and offer breathing room. Caroline also works privately with women who wish to re-establish their identity and rebuild their sense of self after experiencing trauma or loss of any description. Her approach is largely existential, mindful and creative, with the intention of supporting each individual through their own process of healing.


Melinda HopperCommunity Access and Development Coordinator

Melinda began working for Hope Bereavement Care in 2017, at the inception of the Support After Suicide service. After a short time away, she returned to Hope in 2021 as Community Access and Development Coordinator across all programs. Melinda has worked for over 20 years in Geelong’s mental health sector, primarily in the areas of drug and alcohol and youth. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and postgraduate qualifications in drug and alcohol and mental health. After the sudden and unexpected death of her sister in 2008, Melinda first learnt of the wonderful work of Hope and was inspired by the reach of this small but incredibly impactful organisation.

Melinda feels strongly about the support Hope provides to Geelong families in what is often the most devastating time of their lives. She is passionate about creating greater awareness of the experience of grief and loss and building the capacity of our community to better care for themselves and others after a sudden and unexpected death. Melinda places great value on the expertise and advice of those with lived experience, alongside clinical expertise and research evidence, in guiding how Hope works to provide accessible and responsive support – ultimately ensuring “no one is alone in grief”.

Melinda loves her role with Hope and says: “It is an incredible privilege to work alongside the most skilled, passionate and insightful board, staff team and lived experience advisors, of whom I’m constantly in awe.”