Dennis Armfield

Dennis Armfield is a former player with the Carlton Football Club competing in the Australian Football League. Born in Canberra, Dennis was raised in Perth and drafted from Swan Districts in the 2007 AFL National Draft. He played his first senior game for Carlton in 2008 and reached the significant 100 game milestone in 2013. Odyssey House is one of Carlton Football Club’s ‘community partners’. Dennis first visited the Odyssey House residential facility in Melbourne in 2013 as part of the club’s community partnership program and immediately expressed a desire to have an ongoing role.

“My first visit to Odyssey House was amazing,” said Dennis. “Seeing everyone embrace the different stages of the program and be united as they strive to reach a common goal really showed that with the right help people are able to overcome anything. The fact that Odyssey House continues to help once residents have left the rehab facility shows great care…I have had personal experience with addiction through family and friends and it is disappointing to see many members of the public write the individuals off. Addiction is often the result of one simple misjudgment. More people should be aware of the causes and be prepared to help those affected to overcome their issues. Support can go a long way. I feel that I can play a role simply by being another person for the housemates to talk to, about anything — life, footy or the issue at hand. To have the opportunity to become an Odyssey House ambassador is an absolute privilege and I hope I can help even just one person because every individual is important.”

Dave Pate

After ten years of increasing drug and alcohol dependance, and surviving increasingly life threatening situations, I voluntarily entered Odyssey House Victoria’s Therapeutic Community (TC) in Lower Plenty in early 2007.   I graduated the program in mid 2009 after 2 and a half years as a resident.

Through the years of addiction and the associated behaviours, I had burned many bridges and relationships, but through Odyssey House, I rebuilt strong and supportive relationships with my family and friends, and learned to live a healthy, safe and productive life, contributing to the community.

Whilst a resident at Odyssey, I competed in the Young Achievement Australia Business Skills Program, and won the Australian Tertiary Mastercard Y.A.A Business Person of The Year Award in 2008, and appeared on Channel 10 at the televised Y.A.A national awards show in Sydney, and on Channel 9 News at the Odyssey House TC in Lower Plenty, helping to show the great opportunities for personal growth made possible through the program.

This amazing opportunity and experience at Odyssey House gave me the confidence and skills necessary to launch my own personal training business after graduating the program. I have now succesfully run this fitness business for almost 10 years.  I greatly enjoy helping my clients achieve their health and fitness goals in our dedicated fitness studio, Rock Solid Personal Training in Ringwood. 

Soon after graduating Odyssey, I won the ANB (Australasian Natural Bodybuilding) Under 90kg  Victorian Title in 2011, and continued to compete over several years whilst also building Rock Solid PT.   

Only my amazing growth experience at Odyssey House, and my success in the Y.A.A Program made the seemingly impossible, seem very possible to me.  I am now happily married to my partner of 7 years, Natalie, who is a qualified nutritionist and personal trainer. Natalie works at Malmsbury Youth Detention training and teaching. We live at home in Mitcham (with our 2 cats) and are planning on adding to the family soon.

I hope to give back to Odyssey House whenever and wherever possible, and hope that many more people in need can have access to the same opportunities for healing and personal growth that I was afforded.

Linda Dessau

Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC
Governor of Victoria

On 1 July 2015, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC was sworn in as Victoria’s 29th Governor, the first female in the role.

Governor Dessau was born in Melbourne in 1953, and was educated at St Catherine’s Girls’ School, matriculating in 1969, before attending the University of Melbourne, where she gained the degree of LLB (Hons). In 1975 she was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

In her early years as a lawyer, the Governor practised in commercial litigation and family law as a solicitor at Wisewoulds, later specialising in family law after signing the Roll of Counsel at the Victorian Bar in 1978.

In 1982 she married fellow Victorian barrister, Anthony Howard, and together they took up roles as Crown Counsel, and later Senior Crown Counsel in the Hong Kong Attorney-General’s chambers, where they prosecuted criminal trials.

Soon after returning to Australia in 1985, the Governor was appointed a part-time member of the Small Claims and Residential Tenancies Tribunals, taking her first judicial appointment as a Magistrate in 1986, at the age of thirty-three. In that role, she served in the Children’s Court, Coroners Court and Melbourne Magistrates’ Court where she ultimately headed the Civil division and later the Committal Court.

During her time as a Magistrate, the Governor coordinated a significant criminal case management project, culminating in the Pegasus Report, implemented across the three tiers of courts to help reduce cost and delay in the criminal justice system. In 1994 she was awarded the Percy Baxter Churchill Fellowship to further her study in criminal case management in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In June 1995, the Governor was appointed a Judge of the Family Court of Australia, where she served for 18 years until July 2013. During that time she chaired or participated in various national projects within and outside the Court in relation to child abuse, family violence, mediation, less adversarial trial procedures and case management, and represented the Family Court on the Commonwealth Family Law Pathways Advisory Group. She was a Board member of the US based Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, a Council member of the Legal Aid Consultative Committee, and a Board member of the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration.

The Governor was actively engaged in the area of judicial education, including as a Director of the National Judicial College of Australia, and as a long-standing faculty member and facilitator of the National Judicial Orientation Program. For many years she helped create and teach judgment writing courses on behalf of the National Judicial College of Australia, the Judicial College of Victoria, and for courts and tribunals throughout Australia.

Outside the law, the Governor was engaged in a broad range of community organisations, including as founding Chair of the Essendon Football Club Women’s Network, President of Middle Park Primary School Council, Vice-President of Wesley College Council, a Board member of Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre, a member of the Royal Children’s Hospital Ethics Committee and the La Trobe University Professional Consultative Council, and a Patron of the Epilepsy Foundation and One Umbrella (food recycling charity).

Immediately before her appointment as Governor, she was President of the Melbourne Festival, Chair of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Victorian Regional Committee and a national Board member of the Trust, a Commissioner of the Australian Football League, a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria, a Board member and former Chair of AFL Sportsready and Artsready, a Board member of the Unicorn Foundation, and a Patron of Sports Connect.

In 2010 the Governor was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to family law, and the community.

The Governor and her husband have two sons, both of whom have completed Bachelor of Laws and Arts at Monash University.

Laura Turner

Photo of Laura Turner

Laura Turner is a senior reporter for Channel Nine and returned in early 2017 from a two year stint as the US Correspondent. She has covered some of the biggest news stories in the world including the mass shooting deaths of fifty people in Orlando Florida, the election campaign of Donald Trump, and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flights MH370 and MH17. Laura is particularly interested in issues of social justice and it was the tragic death of her own sister from a heroin overdose which has propelled Laura to further her interest in the area of harm minimisation and drug law reform. Laura is a strong supporter of the campaign for a Medically Supervised Injecting Centre in North Richmond Victoria and often participates in marches and forums attempting to educate the public on issues surrounding addiction. Laura believes stigma plays a huge role in an addict’s ability to break free from addiction and she is working toward making every person who suffers from addiction feel valued and empowered.