About Us

Pathways Foundation is a national harm prevention charity that is dedicated to assisting young people make a healthy, safe and timely transition from boy to young man and from girl to young woman. Its principal purpose is to promote and assist with the prevention of suicide, self harm, substance abuse, particularly depression and under-achievement, through the provision of community based rites of passage programmes for boys and girls, designed to bolster their self esteem and improve life outcomes for them and regardless of their financial situation.

The Pathways Foundation has been delivering innovative and life changing programmes into communities for over two decades, for children between 6 -15 years. Research shows that the major impact on a child’s self esteem is the relationship they have with their parents and community. Additionally, a high percentage of young children in Australia are experiencing early sexualisation, negative body image and partaking in self harm through drugs and alcohol.

Pathways is a values based organisation that are the framework for all our work are Respect, Responsibility and Awareness for self, others and the environment. Pathways programmes assist with the prevention of risk taking behaviours, self harm, anxiety, substance abuse, under achievement, bullying, body image and disconnection with themselves, families, peers and their community by building stronger and more supportive relationships through a shared positive community building process. Our programmes increase self confidence by giving opportunities to take up challenges and succeeding then celebrating the joy of that.

The teenage rites of passage programmes are five days in bush locations. It is a camping experience for the boys who attend with their father or close mentor. The girls attend with their mother or close mentor in a bush retreat with accommodation. In both settings a strong diverse community of men or women is woven to support the girls or boys in this most important transition.

The YoungStars programme is a weekend adventure bush camp for boys 6-10 and their father or significant male adult.

The programmes provide a safe environment in which young people and their parent can learn through a combination of their own experience and the shared stories of the parents and community attending the programmes. This strengthens and supports building healthy relationships with themselves their peers their families and their community. All of which are the vital ingredients for increased self esteem and overall well-being and being a positive contributing member of their communities. They are able to understand more deeply about what it means to be a healthy young man or woman and understand their own gifts and unique talents they offer the world. Growing their emotional intelligence is a vital to this transition.

In traditional societies where the village did help bring up the children they invested more time and energy into the Rite of Passage marking the transition from child to young adult than any of the other events that made up the rich fabric of village life. The village knew that their very survival depended upon having healthy men and women as community members rather than overgrown boys and girls.

An event to help leave the child behind and to celebrate the first steps of the young adult is Every Child’s Rite. Michael Meade wrote, “If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.”

We know this work makes a difference. Independent market research has confirmed the following significant benefits: increased confidence, stronger more respectful and supportive family relationships, increased respect for women as well as motivation to set goals, finish school and to participate and give back to their community.

To achieve this it is vital they grow up emotionally. A Rite of Passage is one of the greatest gifts you can give your son or daughter.


Paul Henley

Paul Henley is a master facilitator who has developed a range of leadership development models spanning over thirty years. Paul began his career in England in the community development sector before moving to Australia. Paul co-founded the highly regarded Pathways Foundation, harm prevention charity. He is also a co-founder, senior facilitator and trainer of the following award winning programmes; ‘Pathways to Manhood’, ‘Pathways Leadership Development’, ‘Young Stars’ and ‘Parenting Teenagers’. Paul has a special interest in mentoring young leaders with the belief this is part of creating a healthy and sustainable future for our society.

Paul brings a diverse range of experience and expertise having worked as a restorative justice convener for NSW Juvenile Justice, a facilitator of men’s groups relating to separation, violence, health & wellbeing and former chair of NSW Men’s Health & Wellbeing Association.

Paul has trained executive leaders across corporate, government and non-government organisations using unique cutting edge programmes. He raises awareness and understanding about emotional intelligence and how this is an essential component in maximising effective relationships, communication, leadership, productivity and insight. “My goal is to equip organisations with the ability to execute positive change through enhanced emotional intelligence so individuals can function at an optimal level”.

Paul has facilitated leadership programmes in the UK, New Zealand and Australia and brings a wealth of expertise by offering a series of interactive programmes and workshops that can be tailored to suit diverse client needs. Programmes are aimed at intermediate to advanced levels, offering diverse content and delivery.

Paul is currently on the Pathways Foundation board and is serving as Chair.

Facilitation & Leadership Development Specialist, paul@seechangepsychology.com.au


Leonie Deuis

Leonie brings 30 years of programme design and delivery for youth, youth at risk, parenting skills development, personal development programmes for men and women, community development, alternative dispute resolution, restorative justice conferencing, child protection, risk management, organizational change, leadership training and development and team building in the private, NFP and NGO sectors.

Leonie is cofounder, master facilitator and trainer for the ‘Pathways into Womanhood’ rites of passage programme for 12-15 year old girls, senior facilitator and trainer for the mothers programme for ‘Pathways to Manhood’ rites of passage programme and the Pathways ‘Women’s Leadership Development Training’ programme.

She is passionate about supporting young people and developing strong leaders for our future who walk with a sense of purpose, integrity and compassion. Leonie also brings extensive governance and organisational management knowledge.

Pathways Foundation mission to provide rites of passage for boys and girls she brings to that mission her vast skills, knowledge, integrity and passion for rites of passage work to facilitate and assist with cultural/social change since 1993. Leonie has been a valued contributor to Pathways from the beginning and has served as Director since 2011.

David Newell

David has been involved with the Pathways Foundation since 2005, and during that time has taken the roles of programme leader, regional coordinator and board director. He has been actively involved in supporting the work of the Foundation at a regional and national level.

David is a career facilitator and has supported many groups to achieve effective action, deal with conflict and create positive change. He has worked for the last 20 years in rural and regional community development, with a focus in natural resource management, environmental education, and leadership development.

David has worked with community groups, school groups, local government and state government agencies. His experience includes facilitating group planning and problem solving, delivering educational programmes for children and adults, and coaching individuals in leadership development.

David is actively involved with supporting the growth of men and boy’s through facilitating workshops and coordinating local networks. He is also President of The Crossing Land Education Trust, a not-for-profit sustainability education camp for young people.

David is a father of two and lives on the Far South Coast of NSW.

Martina Sandles

Martina has run her own business for 10 years and brings this experience along with ten years of leadership with the Pathways to Manhood and Pathways into Womanhood programmes.

Martina has extensive expertise in allied health for women and young people and group facilitation.
Martina has been a strong and passionate supporter of the Pathways Foundation and has also supported fundraising efforts with Pathways and for other organisations. She is passionate about the work Pathways does with young people and their families and wants to give back.

Martina also brings with her an ability for attention to details, her business experience as well as long standing knowledge of the programmes Pathways runs and has been a constant support and volunteer for Pathways for over 10 years.

Martina is currently on the Pathways Foundation board and is serving as Secretary.

Jenny Briscoe-Hough

A Vincent Fairfax Fellow (ethics and leadership) and has worked for many years in the community sector.

Currently the General Manager of a community development organisation. Previously managed Ronald McDonald House and a Regional Manager for CanTeen Australia.

The focus of her work is around working with and within communities to develop a culture of belonging and shared responsibility. She is also a board member of Illawarra Legal Centre and a founding member of the Southern Suburbs Task Force and the Southside Festival.

Jenny is also a leader on the Pathways into Womanhood programme since 2008.

Jenny has served as a past board member and is currently serving as Vice Chair.

Mark O’Donnell

Mark has worked with passion as an educator with younger children in schools and young men and women finalizing their tertiary education, in urban, rural and remote communities of this wide country. It became obvious to him that many of the boys were failing to engage with their learning and indeed the challenges of life.

Mark’s life experience and study has left him with the conviction that young people, particularly boys, seek the transformation of a rite of passage whether planned or not. Ancient peoples did not leave this to chance and nor should we.

Furthermore the narrative our young men receive about their role has become unhelpful. They need direction and good men as role models. Supporting Pathways Foundation provides an opportunity to further contribute to the health and well being of young people.

He has also worked and conducted research as a geologist and environmental scientist but is now currently getting his hands dirty as a farmer on the southern highlands of NSW.

John Welford

John brings a wealth of experience as a teacher at Geelong Grammar School for 20 years with most of those years at the school’s wilderness campus, Timbertop, in the Victorian High Country.

John was part of the Red Cross pilot Teen Mentor program at Mt. Clear College in Ballarat.  He was able to continue with his mentorship at Mt. Clear and won the Catherine King Award for Community Service at Mt. Clear College, in 2010.

Concurrently, in 2008 he attended a Pathways Leadership training.  He has attended programs in Victoria and NSW as a leader and volunteers as much as he can.

Born in Kenya he knew that Kenyan African tribes used Rites of Passage to mark their boys’ and girls’ transition to adulthood by teaching them how to be good men and women in their societies.

He supports Pathways mission to make ROP available for boys and girls to support a healthy transition into adulthood.

John also brings experience as previous small business owner and lives with his wife Gaye in regional Victoria.  John is passionate and supports programs that promote a healthy masculinity.