About Us


Initiate Australia is an international organisation and registered charity with a vision to see all people free from poverty through advocacy, education and investing in local people and initiatives.

We are committed to sustainable development in communities and places where poverty exists. We recognise that a comprehensive approach is needed which is why we partner with like minded people and organisations, utilise effective research and strategies, and measure all of our impact.


Poverty in all its forms continues to oppress and deprive people in Australia and around the world of opportunity, dignity and basic living needs. It is estimated that 736 million people are living in extreme poverty around the world. This figure does not account for other forms of poverty. In Australia for example, we know that 1 in 10 children live in relative poverty. The impact of poverty is evident and cycles can continue for generations.

We recognise that poverty can affect people and communities differently. Poverty in an Australian community can look vastly different to poverty in sub Saharan Africa. Identifying and defining poverty is the first step in addressing the root causes and ensuring people have the opportunity to develop and flourish in life regardless of where they are located.


Initiate Australia’s work was established in 2011. After travelling throughout Australia, East Africa and South East Asia founders Josh and Felicity were inspired by local people changing their communities. Frustrated at the many failed projects and cycles of dependence, they decided to act. They become passionate about addressing the root causes of poverty both in Australia and overseas. Initially registered as Sonlife Africa, together with some like-minded friends and local partners they began investing in projects started solely by local people in their communities.

The same year whilst teaching in a private high school in Perth, Western Australia Josh came to realise that volunteering was often expensive, more often than not disempowered local people and resulted in little to no long-term impact. However, he was aware that increasingly students were both interested in global issues and had a passion to do something about it. That same year Josh started what is now known as the Global Education Program, a leadership pathway for students identified as future leaders to engage with issues of injustice.

Nine years on, the organisation has invested in various initiatives across eight countries (including Australia) and has seen the Global Education Program expand to include students from across 14 schools in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. There is a growing legacy of alumni from Global Education Program impacting their communities through new and existing initiatives.

The organisation remains committed to the initial vision of seeing people free from poverty through investing in local, empowering and sustainable projects. 

Our Team

Josh Bond




Josh taught as a Health, Physical Education and Humanities teacher in high school after completing studies in Education and Social Science. It was during this time he was inspired by local people in impoverished communities around the world. This combined with a passion to provide leadership opportunities for students led to the start of Initiate Australia. He has a Master of Arts in International Development from Eastern University in Pennsylvania and is an adjunct lecturer in Global Studies at Stirling Theological College – University of Divinity. Josh is married to Felicity and they have two children, Isabella Grace (3) and Thomas Jack (1).

Shaeron Yapp

Board Member



Shaeron currently works as the Human Rights Principal at South32. Recent experience also includes working at an international philanthropic foundation, which included advocating for the Australian Modern Slavery Act and advising global businesses on the issue of modern slavery and human rights.  Prior to that she worked as a lawyer in the UK and Australia.

Simon Oeij

Board Member



Simon has various experience in leadership and business management practises, contributing to various positions of corporate governance while running a successful business since 2007. Sharing a passion for the disadvantaged and wanting to make a positive change to the local and global community Simon keeps busy where possible through many leadership positions in WA. With a supportive wife and three children, Simon continues to thrive and pursue making an encouraging difference wherever possible.

Hannah Nancarrow

Board Member



Hannah Nancarrow is an experienced Principal Policy Consultant in Aboriginal health and social justice issues, with a demonstrated history of working in government and non-government organisations. Skilled in public speaking and facilitation, community development and policy writing, Hannah aims to use her skills to further support the empowerment of Aboriginal and other disempowered people groups. Hannah and her husband, Daniel, are also committed to this principle in their personal lives through being foster carers with over 10 years experience.

Andrew Menzies

Board Member



Andrew has worked in large, small, rural, urban and multi-cultural settings. He has also contributed in various leadership and governance roles including as chairperson with Urban Neighbours of Hope (UNOH), Schools Ministry Group (SA) and Eastern College Australia. He is Deputy-Chancellor of the University of Divinity and a proud Board member of Initiate Australia. He holds degrees from Victoria University, Australian College of Theology, Charles Sturt University and a doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary.  He has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors program and regularly publishes and has just completed a book on emerging forms of integral mission in Australia.

Catherine Greenhalgh




Catherine Greenhalgh has worked in the international development and advocacy sector for almost 10 years, working most notably on-the-ground for World Vision in Australia, the UK, and Papua New Guinea. Currently working as an international development consultant, Catherine has diverse experience working in grants, programming, strategy and communications in the non-profit sector and has completed various assignments in the Pacific and Southern and Eastern Africa. She has an academic background in international affairs and diplomacy, and is currently undergoing graduate studies in psychology. She is also the co-founder of Lumi, a start-up based in Melbourne that is run for and by women, working to create safe spaces and real content for women online and face-to-face. She is passionate about justice and equality, and she seeks to be inspired each day to do more for people in need. She is a Christian, and does her best to live life following the footsteps of Jesus, the most just of them all. Catherine comes from Perth, WA, but is based in Melbourne with her Husband Jack, daughter Lucy, and soon to be second child. She loves partnering with Initiate and is excited to see how the organisation will develop in the years to come.

Greg Wood




Greg is a qualified Sports Scientist and Physical Educator, with over 12 years of experience across the Education and Sports sectors. Greg has worked successfully across schools and in Federal Government promoting and implementing policy and programs in improving population health and participation outcomes in sport and physical activity. With a desire and passion to see people released from poverty, he is a strong advocate for the empowerment of the communities and individuals most affected by lack of resource and support.  He is compelled by and strongly supports Initiate Australia’s philosophy and programs to achieve successful and sustainable outcomes in areas of poverty.

Mark Lauria




Dr. Mark W. Lauria has been the Executive Director for the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) since 2009.  Prior to his work with NYSAIS, he served for 13 years as Head of School at a Southern California independent school. In addition to his work as a Head of School, he was the President of the Board of Trustees for the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS).  Before beginning his independent school service, Dr. Lauria worked in the Ontario-Montclair School District where he was an assistant superintendent, director of certificated personnel, principal, assistant principal, and teacher. He is actively involved on several non-profit boards currently serving as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Educational Records Bureau (ERB), the Treasurer of The Parents League of New York, the Treasurer of the International Council Advancing Independent School Accreditation (ICAISA), the Executive Committee of the Independent Schools Association Network (ISAnet), and the Cloud Forest School Foundation in Costa Rica.  Dr. Lauria earned his B.A. in literature and psychology from Claremont McKenna College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in educational administration from Claremont Graduate University. He and his wife enjoy spending time with their grandchildren and traveling and recently completed walking the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in Spain.

Jo Weir









Purpose Studio

Level 3/256 Adelaide Terrace

Perth WA 6000