Greg Gaston

Managing Director

Greg was born at a very early age and really loves to have a laugh either at himself or with others. Greg commenced working in the Community Sector over 12 years ago. Before starting SCSS, as one of the founding members in July 2011, Greg had a number of different career opportunities, including: Fire Ant Inspector (yes even had a shiny metal badge); Water Rat Surveyor for Qld Parks & Wildlife (walking the mangroves of the Fraser Coast looking for this native rodent); Professional ATV rider (i.e. 12 months in Brisbane spreading baits for the DPI doesn’t quite sound as adventurous), just to mention a few.

Greg started in the community sector as a Support Worker, working mainly with young people with a disability, before trying his hand at a few management roles. This diverse range of experience has led to his current position with SCSS. Looking ahead the biggest challenge to the sector, SCSS and to Greg is the NDIS.  Greg and the management team are busily working on ensuring that systems and staff are  ready to cope with the tidal wave of positive change that is coming. Greg is also looking forward to getting back to the days of working directly with young people and people with a disability post NDIS implementation.

Karen Gaston

Managing Director

Karen has 30 years’ experience in the areas of administration, finance and business management.
Since becoming one of the founding members of Southern Cross Support Services (SCSS) in July 2011, Karen has worked alongside the SCSS Team to grow it into one of the most innovative and exciting organisations within Central Qld.   Before Southern Cross, Karen’s involvement has been in both private businesses and the Community Services sector in Administration, Training, Quality Assurance & Management.

Karen is Bundaberg born-and-bred coming from a local cane farming family. Even though she has spent several years away and abroad, the lure of regional Qld is too much of a temptation and her roots are now firmly set.

When not working at SCSS or looking after her husband and daughter Karen can be found sitting on the deck with her feet up enjoying a cup of green tea while chatting with family & friends, watching a movie, or looking at Facebook & Pinterest on her iPad.

Cheryl Barrett

Chief Executive Officer

Cheryl joined SCSS on 6th March 2017 as Operations Manager after working in the Aged Care sector looking after QLD’s Care Services for a National Provider. Cheryl has worked in private businesses and the Community Sector for more than 30 years in a number of management positions in health, human and social services, the housing industry and in Local and State Government.


Cheryl is passionate about ensuring that those less fortunate can access the services they require to live full, healthy and satisfying lives in their own community. Cheryl’s skills and experience in business, community and stakeholder engagement, economic and community development, project and program management, and managing large teams through industry reforms and organisation restructures will support SCSS and their clients through the transition to the NDIS and into the future.


Cheryl has qualifications in Social Science, Business Management, Population Health, Project Management and Training and Assessment.


When not working Cheryl is either enjoying her family or living her passion of travel, discovering new countries, their cultures, food and people.

Nathan Brown

Regional Manager - Service Delivery

Nathan has been with SCSS since August 2011. Nathan has experienced SCSS go from 1x SU in Bundaberg to 50+ SU’s stretching over 500klm’s from the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and Rockhampton. During this time many things have changed and for Nathan the one thing that has lead the way is our mission statement – Purpose, Belonging, Security.


“I believe that with our mission statement we can answer all the questions we may face in any aspect of the Service we provide to the Client, Staff and the Business. SCSS’s workforce is filled with diverse backgrounds and experiences with a common passion to help people. This passion to help along with individual talent of SW’s = The Purpose to provide point of difference service to deliver meaningful supports.

Nerissa Plumridge

Regional Manager - Service Delivery

Nerissa has been with SCSS since October 2013. Nerissa has over 17 years of experience in the Human Services industry with many of those years dedicated specifically to Child Protection.


Starting with SCSS as the Quality Manager who was responsible for developing Policies and Procedures and working toward Human Services Quality Framework Certification and Licensing of Care Services for Child Safety, Nerissa is now the Service Manager for the Fraser Coast and works across Disability, Mental Health and Child Protection programs.  

Nerissa says ‘I love my job.  I never know what each day is going to bring but it’s a guarantee that I learn something new every day.  The creativity, resilience and humour of our service users, young people and staff never cease to amaze me. I learn so much more from each of them than I can ever hope to teach’ 

Darlene Johannesen

Senior NDIS Specialist

Darlene is a Bundaberg girl, but has been living in various other places between Canberra and Townsville for the last 9 years and has just relocated back to her hometown in the last couple of months.

Darlene has worked in a number of different industries and positions during her career, including a large Recruitment Firm in Brisbane and doing Contracts Administration out at Moranbah North for a large Mackay based mining company.

Darlene is looking forward to the challenge of working at SCSS and meeting all her fellow workmates and clients.

Tony Bowes

Information Technology Manager

Tony has over 20 years of experience in the IT sector as a Programmer, Systems Administrator, IT Support and Manager. He has worked on diverse projects from estimating systems for plumbers to surgical audit tools, as well as work for community services and the education sector. Tony is also a qualified IT Teacher and enjoys helping others learn.  Commencing with SCSS in 2015, Tony brings a wealth of knowledge to the IT team and is committed in leveraging IT systems to provide better service delivery.

Tony loves computer games, and has previously been an international referee at the World Cyber Games. When away from the computer, he can also be seen down on the water kitesurfing

Rick Irvine

Human Resources Manager

Rick is a Bundaberg local and enjoys the lifestyle that Bundy offers.

Rick has over 10 years Human Resources experience across a number of industries, including Real Estate, Manufacturing, Human Services and Not for Profit. Rick has worked with small business right through to large organisations and is across all aspects of contemporary human resource practice.

Rick is a huge football (soccer) fan and has plenty of involvement with his local club. Rick is also a keen fisherman and when not working or at football can be found in many of the regions rivers and creeks.    

Kathy Ellem

General Manager - Corporate Services

Kathy joined the team at SCSS in March 2018.  Kathy has over 20 years’ experience in systems and compliance, quality assurance, auditing, risk management and continual improvement.  Kathy has worked in a variety of industries ranging from cabinet making, through to the horticulture sector and into food manufacturing.  Kathy has worked for small business, corporate and rapid growth business’ with varied sized teams and brings with her a range of experience and skills. Kathy enjoys training and progression planning to ensure that people are trained and supported in their roles to be the best that they can be, and to be able to promote the company from the inside out. 


Kathy is involved with many community organisations; Soccer, Rugby League, Volunteer Marine Rescue, Branyan Rural Fire Brigade and loves sport, fishing and camping.  Overall, Kathy is passionate about her family, her team and the company that she works for.