Makuta has an advisory panel!  Makuta was started because we wanted to do something, but didn’t know what to do.  When it comes to suicide prevention and community well-being, as both individuals and a community, we needed some experts to ensure the money you helped raise was invested properly.

We are excited to introduce you to our panel who will ensure we support established, professional, proven and measurable programs.

Maggie Dent – We are very grateful for the support and endorsement of renowned author and public speaker, Maggie Dent (, one of Australia’s leading authorities on Youth Wellbeing and Education. 

Commonly known as the “queen of common sense”, Maggie Dent has become one of Australia’s favourite parenting authors and educators, with a particular interest in the early years, adolescence and resilience.

Maggie’s experience includes teaching, counselling, and working in palliative care/funeral services and suicide prevention. Maggie is an advocate for the healthy, common-sense raising of children in order to strengthen families and communities. She is a passionate, positive voice for children of all ages.

Now an in-demand writer and speaker, Maggie is a regular contributor to Fairfax’s Essential Kids website and she can often be heard on commercial and ABC radio around the country including Nova 937. She also appears on national TV programs. Maggie is the host of the ABC’s Parental As Anything podcast.

She is the author of six major books, including her bestselling 2018 release Mothering Our Boys. Maggie has also authored several smaller books and e-books, and is a prolific creator of resources for parents, adolescents, teachers, educators and others who are interested in quietly improving their lives.

Maggie is the proud mother of four wonderful sons, and an enthusiastic and grateful grandmother. She lives in the South Coast region of NSW with her good bloke Steve Mountain and their dear little dog, Mr Hugo Walter Dent.

Sally Gallagher – a local parent who grew up in Kiama, she has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the world of Government Education. Sally is able to give Makuta a real insight into challenges many kids face every day. The impact of government funding being pulled on mental health programs is enormous, so she helps guide Makuta on how we can fill some of the gaps, to ensure sustainability for programs to be sustained longer-term.

Nace Ward – a member of the Gerringong Community with an extensive background working in the Youth Sector. In his role as a Senior Constable, Nace has been responsible for piloting many successful youth programs through the PCYC and building a stronger connection with local young people. He is a role model for young and old alike, leading by his actions.

For his efforts and contributions Nace has recently received further recognition with the award of the National Police Service Medal, The National Medal, The 1st Clasp for 15 years of service and the Commissioners’ Emergency Commendation.

Nace brings experience and insight that helps ensure Makuta supports programs with real effectiveness.

Wendi Hobbs – Wendi has worked for the past 30 years in Social Science (Community services), and in the last 25 years working with vulnerable young people. She has passion for building community resilience and assisting people to empower themselves to have more control over their lives and community. 

She firmly believes young people are our greatest and most valuable resource and the foundation for our future. To that end, Wendi works as a part of the community in promoting the importance of healthy and resilient young people through community education programs, special events and activities, and promotions. 

Having a strong commitment to and understanding of the issues impacting young people, Wendi has over twenty five years’ experience working with the community on projects targeting issues surrounding the health of young homeless people, drug-and alcohol and suicide prevention.

Wendi has extensive experience in creating community awareness by developing working relationships between community services, government and the community sector. She has also been involved with major community campaigns including ride for mental illness awareness, healthy minds in school program, pop up youth health events, Shoalhaven Women’s wellness festivals and others. 

Wendi has been involved in Suicide prevention since the 90’s and is a founding member and on the executive of Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network (SSPAN) since 2007. She has been involved with a number of successful strategies to assist in reducing the rate of suicides. More information on this can be found on SSPAN’s website

Wendi has a Graduate Diploma, Social Science (Community Services) and a Bachelors Degree (Youth Work).

Lara Farrell

Lara is an outstanding young leader and role model in the Kiama LGA, and despite all the challenges with Covid restrictions over the last 12 months, has managed to achieve a remarkable amount of community work, volunteering, leadership, extra curricula activities, and still manage to breeze through her school exams.

An extremely active and engaged Year 10 student at Kiama High School, she has been a member of the SRC (Senior Representative Council) for 3 years which involves brainstorming ideas for bettering the school, planning how they can accomplish them and finally implementing them. She was also involved in a Peer Support program at Kiama High, where Year 10 students run a camp and various other activities for the year 7 students.

She has helped organise and run many school events, including the World’s Greatest Shave, International Women’s Day, KHS Festival, cake stalls, Jeans for Genes Day, and many other activities.

She is a member of the High School band playing the flute, which she has been playing for 9 years. She also plays basketball outside school. And in her spare time, she enjoys going out with friends, swimming at the beach and going on long walks, as well as catching the train to new places (when Covid isn’t restricting her). 

Lara has chaired the Youth Engagement meetings (through the school’s SRC) with Kiama Council and Kiama Youth Services, where they provide input on various local matters, including traffic, roads, safety, youth facilities etc.

Lara’s volunteering passion began at Kidzwish in 2019 (when she was in Year 8), an event run annually at the WIN Entertainment Centre for disadvantaged kids from all over the Illawarra, Lara helped by serving food to the kids, as well as going around in a reindeer costume spreading joy and at the end participated in giving the children showbags and Christmas gifts. Earlier in 2021, Lara volunteered at the World of Learning, to support the young children of our local area. And more recently, she has volunteered at the Kiama Youth Centre – helping to plan the Kiama Youthfest events.

At the National Young Leaders Day Conference held in Sydney in March 2021, Lara joined a group of young leaders from all over NSW where they collectively worked together to develop their leadership skills and hear inspirational words from successful leaders. She also attended a GRIP leadership conference, run annually at Wollongong University where young leaders come together and undertake different leadership workshops.

A rising star in the world of Social Media Technology, she has been helping to make improvements to the Kiama High School Instagram page by creating a youth perspective on how to engage with the youth, as well as formatting posts and stories. Through a wonderful local program in Kiama called NEXTGEN, Lara has had the opportunity to now run the Kiama Bugle’s Instagram account. Not only is she learning valuable skills as she goes, through NEXTGEN, but she is also imparting her knowledge onto the Bugle’s Editor.

Not surprisingly, Lara won an International Women’s Day Award at Kiama High School for being a successful woman that succeeds academically and through extra curricular activities.

When Makuta put the call out to the SRC at Kiama High for a volunteer to join the team as a Advisory Board Member, it comes as no surprise that she was the first to put her hand up. She has been able to provide some great perspective to Makuta on how they can reach out and listen to what the young people in our community are trying to tell us. She understands young people’s challenges and champions their cause. We are delighted to have her on board our team. Not many 15-year-olds would be able to say they are on the Advisory Board of a registered charity.