Executive Committee

President – Brooke Vitnell

Born and bred in Port Stephens, Brooke has worked in the highest Ministerial offices within the Federal Government for over 7 years as a Senior Media Adviser and Senior Political Tactician. Brooke is passionate about youth mental health, youth unemployment in the Hunter, the plight of people with a disability and their families and also support networks and adequate funding for families impacted by the scourge of domestic violence. Brooke moved home to Port Stephens in 2019 to work in the family law firm working in the family law, property law and wills and contested estates fields.


Vice President - Geoff Basser

In his later business years, Geoff was a Management Consultant. He was an Apexian for 23 years and has been a Rotarian for the last 38 years. When a Rotarian at Lindfield was involved in the establishment of the Kurring-gai Youth Mental Wellbeing and Development Service (KYDS) which now sees more than 2000 youth through its doors every week.

Secretary - Meryl Miller

arrived in Port Stephens in 2015. She was a versatile, high achieving human resource system expert who held a senior global role with one of the world’s largest consumer goods organisations. Meryl is also the Publicity Director for the Port Stephens Community Arts Centre and on the Port Stephens Council’s Strategic Arts Committee. She held the roles of Treasurer, Secretary, and Correspondence Secretary at the Probus Club of Port Stephens for four years December 2014 – March 2019.

Treasurer - Peter Buckley

Peter Buckley is a retired Chartered Accountant and has been living and working in Nelson Bay for over 30 years. During that period he ran his own accounting/tax practice and prior to that worked in the manufacturing sector in Sydney after a number of years working with an International firm of Chartered Accountants. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of Nelson Bay and still actively involved in local community/not for profit charities.

David Gray

moved to Nelson Bay in 1984 to develop the Salamander Project, comprising the shopping centre, tennis ranch, golf course and the surrounding 500 lot subdivision for the Port Stephens Council.  He has been a property developer for 50 years and has run his own property development company since 1988. He was the founding president of Nelson Bay Toastmasters; a director and chairman of the Tourist Organisation of Port Stephens and a member of the Nelson Bay Chamber of Commerce.  He has been a councillor on the Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW (UDIA) and has recently been elected a Life Member of the UDIA.

John de Ridder

is a telecommunications economist who has been consulting/retired (“almost the same thing”) since 2002 when he moved to Corlette from Melbourne. He has been President of the Port Stephens Bridge Club and of the Victorian Economic Society and is a Rotarian.

Clinical Psychologist - Melissa Cox

Melissa has been working in the field of child and family psychology for approximately 15 years. She has held positions in child protection, non-government agencies and more recently as the Director and Principal Psychologist in her own private practice. Melissa has a special interest in developmental psychology, and is passionate about providing quality comprehensive care to young people in need.

As well as this, COPSY established a Steering Committee of clinical and community professionals, along with representative stakeholder groups.


  • Supported by the community, individuals and government agencies at all levels including local MP’s.
  • The community owns it; all the committee of COPSY are volunteers who have been working on this project for four years.
  • Most of the current committee are current Rotarians.

We Care for Our Port Stephens Youth – there are few services, and certainly none that are free.