Our People

Our People

Our Board

Ross Barns with short hair and a beard wearing a smart shirt with arms folded.

Ross Barns
Founding Director

Brisbane native, Ross founded the HYPAR Group in 2008 following years of experience as a Youth Worker for Youth Justice Queensland and in youth crisis housing.

After identifying what additional supports could be offered to young people within the Youth Justice system to help them achieve their goals, Ross started a Mentoring program, and after some early momentum, HYPAR was born.

Following years of building a reputation for positive outcomes, HYPAR was then invited to become a Child Safety licensed care organisation by the Department to help find a long-term housing solution for a Young Person they were mentoring. As a result, HYPAR Residential Care was established in 2015 and has since grown to support 17 at-risk young males across the SE QLD region. 

After seeing young people thrive in outdoor environments, Ross founded HYPAR WILD in 2017—a service specialising in adventure therapy and outdoor education that encourages everyone to experience the benefits of the outdoors.

Ross is passionate about helping at-risk young people and vulnerable adults reach their potential and continues to strive for positive change.

Neil King with short hair wearing a shirt and tie.

Professor Neil King
Chair

Now a Caloundra resident and Professor at the School of Exercise Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology, Neil began his education in the UK, gaining a Ph.D. from the University of Leeds in 1994 before emigrating to Australia in 2007 to take up a lecturing and research position at QUT. 

In addition to a respected and reputable career, Neil has many community commitments that he is proud of and continues to value. These roles include volunteering for the Pyjama Foundation, caretaker for homeless shelter Sleep Bus, and working as a mentor for suicide prevention and men’s mental health initiative Marcus Mission.

Neil is committed to working with the HYPAR Group and its Board of Directors to maintain HYPAR’s strong culture and values and high-quality ethical services to its participants.

John Saines with brown hair in a side parting wearing a smart white shirt.

John Saines
Non-Executive Director

John is a Chartered Accountant (CA) who has worked in Finance, Management Consultancy and Accounting sectors across the Asia Pacific region for over 10 years. Holding a Master of Business Administration (MBA), he has worked in senior roles within global consulting firms and organisations of all sizes, ranging from not-for-profit to government and ASX listed entities.  

Throughout this time, John has developed a passion for the Youth sector, holding several board positions dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk and disadvantaged youth.

 

Our Leadership Team

Jason Paag

Jason Paag
Chief Executive Officer

Possessing over twenty years of management experience, and the personal journey associated with having three sons on the autism spectrum, Jason is driven to improve the lives of young people.

Jason joined the HYPAR Group in 2014 working directly with our young people, before taking the role of General Manager in 2015, and CEO in 2019. He holds a Bachelor of Psychology, a Bachelor of Science, and a Graduate Certificate in Business/Entrepreneurship.

Shaun O'Dea

Shaun O’Dea
Senior Manager, Operations & Planning

Since joining HYPAR Residential Care as a Mentor in 2017, Shaun progressed to Operations Manager before transitioning to HYPAR WILD Program Manager in 2019. With this holistic oversight, Shaun now holds the role of Senior Manager, Operations & Planning across the HYPAR Group and its services. 

Shaun’s qualifications include a Diploma in Community Services and Case Management.

Emily Gehrke

Emily Gehrke
People & Culture Manager

Emily brings an abundance of Human Resources industry experience to the HYPAR Group and holds a Diploma of Management, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

Emily is passionate about employee engagement and establishing a positive workplace culture — and as a mother of two, she is excited to be part of an organisation that helps youth in the community.

Renee Weeks with blonde shoulder length hair and smart business shirt and cardigan.

Renee Weeks
Compliance Manager

Renee joined the HYPAR Group in March 2021, bringing experience from high-risk industries to the organisation, including the Royal Australian Airforce and Traffic Management & Road Safety.

Renee now brings her wealth of experience and steely determination to the Social and Youth Care Services Industry, coupled with her qualifications in Compliance, Lead Auditing, Quality and Systems.

Being the mum of an amazing young son, Renee feels she has the opportunity to “pay it forward” by being part of an organisation that has a positive impact on the lives of young people and contributes to the betterment of their futures.

Nicola Phillips
Finance Manager

Nicola brings 20 years of finance experience to the HYPAR Group, having worked across health care, construction, and logistics industries, and holds a BA Honours Degree in Business and Graduate Diploma in Business with a specialisation in accounting.

A mum of three teenagers and a passion for helping people brought Nicola to the community sector. As a finance professional, it’s not always been easy for Nicola to find an organisation that values its people, purpose, and vision more than its financial performance. However, HYPAR puts its young people, values, and vision first.

Chris Szymanski with short black and white hair wearing a smart blue shirt and big smile.

Chris Szymanski 
Program Coordinator – HYPAR & HYPAR WILD

Chris holds a degree in Psychology and has been with the HYPAR Group for over six years, having worked across all arms of the organisation with HYPAR, HYPAR Residential Care, and HYPAR WILD. 

Following a successful run as Coordinator for HYPAR WILD and industry recognition as a finalist for The Queensland Government Individual Award at the 2022 Outdoors Queensland Awards, Chris is now Program Coordinator for both HYPAR and HYPAR WILD. 

Join the Team

If you’re enthusiastic, have relevant industry experience, meet the minimum qualifications, and want to make a difference to young people’s lives, we’d love to hear from you!

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