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Sawtell Catholic Care is a ministry of the Mary Help of Christians Parish.

Our team is comprised of dedicated, passionate people, who are committed to providing inspirational quality care to Residents and clients that exceed their expectations. These people fill all manner of roles in SCC from Hotel Services, Maintenance, Catering and Grounds Staff to Administration, Lifestyle and Leisure, Personal Care and Registered Nurses as well as our volunteers.

Although they fill different roles our team have common values and work together to ensure that SCC vision and mission, our code of conduct and especially our motto “We Care” are more than just words. They work to ensure that these standards become a living, breathing, lifestyle which ensures we meet the needs of our Residents and clients in a responsive, professional and ethical way.


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Fr Michael Alcock, Parish Priest

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David Robson, Chair

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Trish Plunkett

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Cate Clark

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Pat Magann


Paul Crane


Rob DeGroot



Michael Darragh



Michael’s career spans over 30 years in Health and aged care, with diverse senior level experience including the hospital sector with NSW Health, and aged care with residential and community care, rehabilitation, dementia care, retirement living and day centres.

Michael has provided leadership to several leading aged care and retirement living organisations, and holds qualifications in general and geriatric nursing, has a Bachelor of Health Science (Management), a Master of Business Leadership, and is currently undertaking PhD studies part-time on aspects of leadership for the aged care sector.

Michael has represented the aged care sector on several aged care advisory committees and has several years’ experience in China developing international standard aged care and academic linkages around the globe, and has presented at national and international conferences, lectured on aged care and dementia at colleges and university, and written numerous guides and training materials.


Matt Digges

Director of Mission

I have been working with SCC since June 2018.
My working life has been spent in ministry, chaplaincy, social justice outreach, and community development, mainly in remote communities of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. This has involved pastoral and spiritual care; developing vision and leadership; managing change; forming, developing and working with boards and committees; and liaison across government agencies and NGOs.
I identify with our motto ‘we care’ through the gentleness and patience which I see in both staff and residents when interacting, in our friendly acknowledgement of each other as we move around the campus, and the caring contact of eye and smile that characterises SCC.


Melanie Lucock

Human Resources Manager

I began my career in Sydney as a payroll clerk and moved through my career into payroll consulting and then on to processing payroll for about 11 countries in Asia Pacific and provided HR support to employees across the region before moving into HR management roles. I was lucky enough to spend time in some of these countries and certainly learnt a lot about employment law and the cultural differences across the region.


After deciding on a sea change and relocating to Coffs with my family, I was pleased to be able to move into another new sector.  

We care that you care… the Human Resources team are here to care about all staff in the workplace. We are passionate about supporting staff, developing and encouraging all staff to provide the highest level of care to our residents.



Evans Kurinyepa

Chief Financial Officer

Evans Kurinyepa ASA, MBus (Finance), BAcc, B. Com (Finance)

Evans is a devout Christian, family man and lifetime learner. Evans started his career as a trainee investments analyst with Fidelity Life Assurance (Zim) in 2000 and has led various portfolios in accounting and finance with various Investment Banks and Pension Funds. At SCC he currently leads the accounting function, budget planning and supports the management team with financial insights. 

Steve Laidley

Assets and Property Manager


My name is Steve Laidley. I have been working at SCC since 2017. I am the Assets Manager and orchestrate operations for all SCC building projects. Previously I was the Manager of Administration for the Coffs Harbour Education Campus, and have vast experience as an Operations Project Manager.

Karen Martin

Village Manager


My name is Karen Martin and I am honoured to perform the role of Village Manager with SCC.  My career spans over a number of  diverse Management roles, including several years as Village Manager with over 55’s lifestyle communities.  I enjoy working ‘hands on’ with every aspect of my role as Village Manager , from assisting residents functions, promoting community inclusiveness through events and fostering  caring, respectful individual relationships with residents.

My passion is working with the senior community, with respect being one of my priorities; to recognize all individuals deserve respect, understanding and everyone’s opinion, beliefs and culture is acknowledged & valued.

The values of SCC are something I can identify with and appreciate.  SCC motto – ‘we care’ is more than a motto, it is a living culture of genuinely caring for each other, treating each other with kindness, compassion & understanding. I appreciate being part of SCC family who value, encourage and respect all individuals and focus on inclusiveness, positivity and community.


Mercy Kurinyepa

Director of Nursing 

My name is Mercy Kurinyepa. I have been here at Mater Christi for 3 years now starting as a Senior Registered Nurse, then Nurse Educator and currently Director of Nursing.

I am here with my lovely husband and our three beautiful kids.I have been nursing for over 20 years, working in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and now here in Australia. My diverse background covered operating theatre nursing, acute care nursing, general nursing before I fell in love with aged care nursing. So why Nursing? For me it is simply a calling. I am so fortunate to work alongside a supportive management, a very capable Mater Christi team and our lovely residents and their families and friends.


Catherine Blake

Deputy Director of Nursing

My name is Catherine Blake and I am the Deputy Director of Nursing at SCC.

I have been working at SCC since September 2018.

My experience is as a Registered Nurse in general nursing, emergency nursing, surgical and palliative care nursing. I have 4 years experience as an assistant in nursing whilst studying my RNs. I have also been the after hours manager of a small rural hospital and am a specialist in wound care and appreciative enquiry techniques.

I enjoy working together with the fantastic team at SCC to ensure both families and their loved ones receive the highest quality of care possible.

I identify with our motto “we care” with the acknowledgement of each other when moving around the facility. There is always a friendly, cheerful face to greet you and nothing is ever a bother to anyone. I appreciate the never ending willingness of staff assisting each other to carry out tasks and pulling together when times get tough to support one another; not just staff but residents, visitors and their families.


Nicole Merchant

Group Leader

Assets and Maintenance

I commenced with Sawtell Catholic Care in August 2021 as Group Leader Assets & Maintenance, drawing on my management experience particularly in the construction and local government industries. Part of my role is leadership and coordination of the Grounds and Maintenance team to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for our Village and Mater Christi community. I also support Steve Laidley Asset Manager with various SCC building projects. It is rewarding to see the ongoing efforts of our team contributing to the enjoyment that residents, families and visitors receive from our beautiful grounds and facilities.


Robert Wilson

Home Care Services Manager

My name is Robert Wilson, and I am the Home Care Services Manager for SCC.

I have been working in Aged Care since 2015, and in that time have been lucky enough to work across multiple roles ranging from visiting people in their home to provide direct care, to managing client Home Care Packages and assisting to coordinate services for people.

I thoroughly enjoy my work, because it allows me the opportunity to get to know people, and to try to help them fulfill their wishes, whether it is to remain in their own home for as long as possible or to get back to doing some of the things they want to be doing.

“We Care” means that services aren’t about checking the boxes. Caring is about building a relationship with people individually, getting to know them and finding out who they are, what is meaningful and important to them, what their likes and dislikes are, their preferences, routines, habits, history and all the other little things that make each of us unique, and working together in a way that takes all these things into consideration. Everyone is different, and caring means accepting, supporting, and celebrating this fact.


Graham Oliver

The Link Operations Manager + Grounds and Maintenance Supervisor

Hello I’m Graham Oliver and I’ve been seconded to continue building on the successful operations at the Link.  Drawing on my experience as former General Manager of Aanuka Beach Resort, and my existing role as SCC Grounds and Maintenance Supervisor, I am focusing on raising community awareness of the wonderful event spaces available at the Link set among lush and tranquil gardens and lake.


Ali Freeman

Hotel Services Manager

Hi my name is Ali Freeman and I am the Hotel Services Manager at Mater Christi. I have been working at SCC since 2013 as the 2IC for the Hotel Services Coordinator and stepping into the role of coordinator frequently over the years, as well as working within the cleaning, laundry and catering departments.

I am a Fire safety Officer, a member of the WHS Committee, Infection Control Committee and Emergency Management Planning Task Group.

I have been assisting when new Residents come to our Facility, to make sure everything is ready in the room when they arrive for a respite or permanent position with us. This enables me time to get to know the residents and their family members.

Our aim at Mater Christi is to make all our residents feel welcome and enjoy their stay with us.


Sandy Devine

Chef Catering Manager

My name is Sandy Devine, and I am the Chef/Production Manager at SCC.
I have been working with SCC since 2002.
I have spent much of my working life in the food industry. After moving to Coffs Harbour area from Sydney I began working for SCC as a kitchen hand, and with further education and a lot of hard work, I worked my way up to the 2IC position and to my current position.
I enjoy working with the residents, talking with them, working with them to provide a service that makes them happy, and I enjoy working with all of my work colleagues.
I identify with our motto ‘we care’ through accepting that everyone is different and their life experiences are different, therefore the experience they will have as residents will be different. I think if you have that insight you can treat everyone as the true individual that they are and show care throughout the service. Being part of the catering team, it would be a lot easier to make everything very streamlined and generic but our staff are happy to work that little bit harder to make the service we provide to residents as individual as we can.


Bec Graham

Recreation Coordinator

My Name is Bec Graham, I am the Recreation Coordinator at Mater Christi. I moved to Coffs Harbour from Canberra in 2016 I was fortunate to obtain a position at SCC as a personal carer.

I started my career in aged care in 2007 and assisted in lifestyles throughout the years before taking on a lifestyle role full time in 2018. 

Aged care has always been my passion I recall being in my late teens always wanting to help the elderly, I have a passion to enrich people's lives, and give them a sense of purpose throughout their elderly years. 

“We care” is more than a motto to me, it’s in my heart the team at SCC show it every day. We are a family and “We Care” for each other as you would for anyone in your family.

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