The Hunter Community Alliance Council

The Hunter Community Alliance (HCA) operates autonomously on issues,  engagement of decision makers, campaigns, and tactics.

Every member of the HCA has the right to send 2 delegates Hunter Community Alliance Council which meets quarterly and makes decisions on these matters. The HCA Council commissions teams that meet more regularly but report back to the HCA Council. A steering committee, that includes the co-chairs of the Council, reps from the Board and a mix of leaders from each sector meet monthly with the organising team.

The NSW Community Alliance Ltd

Both the Hunter Community Alliance and the Sydney Alliance have delegated authority from the NSW Community Alliance Ltd. The NSW Community Alliance Ltd and its board provide the legal, financial, HR and risk oversight for both the HCA and Sydney Alliance. When an organisation decides to become a member of the HCA, the legal entity is the NSW Community Alliance Ltd.

The NSW Community Alliance Ltd is registered as a non-profit company limited by guarantee.

The NSW Community Alliance Ltd Board

The NSW Community Alliance has a board that is elected once a year at the Annual General Meeting. The NSW Alliance Board will consist of 2 reps from the union, faith, community caucuses and two at large. At least two of the eight directors must be from outside the Sydney metropolitan. 

Every organisation that is a member of the HCA (and Sydney Alliance too) has voting rights at the Annual General Meeting.

Where did the NSW Community Alliance Ltd Come from?


On April 3rd, 2023 the Sydney Alliance and Hunter Community Alliance founded the NSW Community Alliance.
This was done by amending the existing Sydney Alliance for Community Building Ltd constitution. 

Other organisational relationships:

Our Network (IAFNW)

 The Alliance pays affiliation fees to the Industrial Areas Foundation NorthWest. This network provide supervision & training support. The Alliance has IAF sister organisations; the Queensland Community Alliance, Te Ohu (Aukland) and NZ Living Wage (Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington), each of these organisations is simialr to the HCA but in their own region/city. The network includes alliances in the Pacific Northwest of Canada and the US.

Pacific Regional Development Foundation (PRDF)

The NSW Community Alliance and the Queensland Community Alliance are the two organisational members of the PRDF. The PRDF is a charity works closely with the Hunter Community Alliance on identifying opportunities for projects focused on the alleviation of poverty. If you are interested in making a DGR donation to the HCA, the PRDF can identify specific activities within the HCA that are DGR eligible.
Contact for more information. 




Steph Cunio

Our Co-chair Steph Cunio is employed by the United Worker’s Union as a Strategist in the new Organising & Pipeline area. Steph comes to this work after senior roles in Climate Action Network Australia, the Public Service Association and the ACTU. During her time in each of these organisations over the last decade, Steph has used the tools and skills developed through the NSW Community Alliance to strengthen the internal and external capacity of these organisations.  Steph also holds position of Director for the Union sector.

Steph was involved in the Sydney Alliance Founding Assembly in 2011, leading turnout coordination across the union, faith and community sectors. Through the Alliance, Steph had the opportunity to form deep and enduring relationships with a range of leaders across these sectors. Of significance has been how the Alliance and relational organising created an opening for Steph to be a part of her own community, the Sydney Jewish Community, through the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. Steph comes to her role on the Board with a depth and breadth of relational organising experience, developed both on the ground and with positional leaders.

Nishadh Rego

Our Co-chair Nishadh Rego is Advocacy and Policy Manager at UNICEF Australia, working on the intersection between climate change and the wellbeing and rights of children and young people, and is also the co-founder of Desis for Yes, a grassroots movement aimed at building connection and engagement between South Asian communities and First Nations justice in the context of the the 2023 First Nations Voice referendum. Nishadh was previously the Head of Policy and Advocacy at the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia, and has ten years experience working in a variety of advocacy, stakeholder engagement, and service delivery roles - in homelessness, migration, and international issues - for JRS, Australian Red Cross and Baptistcare. 

Having grown up in South-East Asia to Indian-Catholic parents, Nishadh arrived in Australia to study in 2006, and has since been fortunate enough to live, work, and settle in Australia. Motivated by his own personal experience of migration, and his professional experience working closely with refugees and people seeking asylum, Nishadh is passionate about understanding and addressing systemic injustices that newcomers to Australia encounter. Nishadh has published commentary, book reviews, a book chapter, and a journal article on a range of themes including global and Australian migration policy, international politics, and sport. Nishadh has a Bachelors of Economics/Arts (Hons) from the ANU and a Masters of International Relations (Dean's Hons List) from the University of Melbourne

Peter Coughlan

Peter is a recently retired Chartered Accountant and business consultant.  He holds the position of Treasurer and Director for the Community sector on the NSW Community Alliance Board. 

He is an active volunteer with Hunter Renewal, a partner organisation of the Hunter Community Alliance. He completed the AICD Company Directors course in 2016. 

In recent years he has also been a board member of several Hunter based not-for-profit organisations including Newcastle Basketball Association, Connectability and Lifeline Hunter Central Coast.   He is a co-chair of the Climate Team and also on the Steering Committee of the Hunter Community Alliance, as well as serving as a director of Lock the Gate.

Mary Waterford AM

Mary holds the position of Director for the Community sector and is also a Board member of Sydney Community Forum. She has worked in the community sector in Sydney in management, policy and advocacy roles for over 40 years and knows well both the challenges of Sydney and the power of working together as a united voice for inclusion and social justice.

Mary was Executive Director of Western Sydney Community Forum from 2008 to 2015 and most recently worked as a volunteer in Timor-Leste at Rede Feto, the peak advocacy network for women’s organisations. She has been a member of Sydney Alliance since 2009. In 2014 she was recognised as one of Australia’s 25 most influential leaders in the NGO sector and in 2016 was awarded an Order of Australia Award (AM) for significant contribution to the community through social service and welfare organisations as an advocate for equity, human rights and dignity. Mary is a lifetime member of the Australian Services Union (ASU). She has a BA in Sociology and History.

Alex Claassens

Alex Claassens holds the position of Director for the Union sector alongside Steph Cunio.  He is currently the NSW State Secretary of the NSW Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU).

Alex has a passion for the transport industry, having started his career driving trains on the NSW rail network in 1978. He has long been an advocate for the rights of transport workers, joining the union as a delegate in 1992 and working through various positions until elected to the highest position in the NSW Branch in 2010. Alex is also an Executive Member of the National RTBU.

Alex holds several other Director positions; he is a Director of Australian Mutual Bank, State Super (SAS Trustee Corporation) and Transport Heritage NSW. Alex still drives passenger trains in NSW and also works heritage steam locomotives on a regular basis. The RTBU has a longstanding relationship with the NSW Community Alliance, having been a founding member since it's inception in 2009.

Brendon Mannyx

Brendon Mannyx holds the position of Director for the Faith sector.  He currently works for the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Pastoral Ministries team as Manager - Mission and Outreach. Before taking up his current role, he spent eight years serving a Catholic parish in a lay leadership role.

Brendon currently sits on the Diocesan Council for Ministry with Young People, the Diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Council, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry Council, and the Diocesan Social Justice Council.

Brendon has been with the Hunter Community Alliance for two years. He is passionate about working with local leaders to reimagine community spaces in today’s world. Brendon has a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Theatre)/Law (Hons) from the University of Wollongong and a Master of Arts (Theology and Christian Ministry) from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.

2nd Faith Rep
Position vacant Feb 2024

Stacey Miers

Stacey's professional career has seen her work across many sectors including local and State Governments, primarily focused on housing inequality. For Stacey land use planning can be a two-edged sword, it can provide opportunities to support the delivering of better, social, cultural, economic and environmental outcomes that can improve the lives of people experiencing disadvantage or it can entrench inequalities and unsustainable practices. She aims to dedicate her energy with the NSW Community Alliance as a Director-at-Large, working in collaboration with others to deliver better social, economic and environmental outcomes across NSW.

Values We Share

Values HCA members share:

HCA Code of Conduct

1. We behave openly and honestly, towards each other, making integrity in word and deed the foundation of our relationships.

2. We accept that diverse member organisations won’t always agree but we focus on the values that we share.

3. We work in good faith and consult, negotiate and compromise wherever possible to find and preserve common ground.

4. We try as far as possible to reach decisions by consensus.

5. We treat each other with mutual respect at all times.

6. We do not allow religious, political or other differences to cause divisiveness in the Alliance.

7. If we foresee that our statements or activities outside the Alliance are likely to be contentious for some Alliance members, we show respect by giving the relevant Alliance members fair notice.

8. We recognise that each Alliance partner will continue to promote its respective organisational objects and may from time to time communicate for that purpose with other Alliance partners. But we do not use Alliance distribution lists or forums for other than Alliance business. If we wish to communicate with Alliance members about matters that are not approved by Alliance procedures as Alliance business, we do so on a one-to-one basis outside of the Alliance.

9. We accept that the Hunter Community Alliance brand may be used only for activities that have been approved by the Hunter Community Alliance Council.

10. We recognise that one or more Alliance partners may from time to time cooperate in joint activities but we do not describe or refer to such activities as Alliance activities unless and until we have approval to do so from the Hunter Community Alliance Council.