About JBM

The John Byrne Memorial (JBM) is an incorporated association governed by an executive committee of John’s family members, friends and colleagues from organisations and communities he supported and worked with.

The JBM executive committee currently comprises of the following members:

Dr Naomi Ngo


Carmel Guerra

Deputy Chairperson

Denis Grant


Mark Walsh


George Kastanas

JBM Excutive Committee


Naomi is a full-time volunteer foster carer with Baptcare Family Services Victoria.  She also works part time as Foundation Director for Equity Impact (a foundation of Equity Partners Property Group), established by Naomi for the purpose of providing support and opportunities for disadvantaged groups in the areas of vocational training and employment.

From the time Naomi commenced her career in social work, John was a friend, mentor, colleague and student fellow to Naomi up until his unexpected death in 2005. John was particularly supportive of Naomi and her work when she was the Co-ordinator of the Vietnamese Community in Australia – Victoria Chapter  (VCA-Vic).  This was due to John’s passion and commitment to supporting Vietnamese-Australians and the Vietnamese-Australian community, which formed the focus of his community work.


Carmel is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY). CMY was the first organisation in Australia to work exclusively with migrant and refugee young people, by providing services and advocating for the needs of these young people.

Carmel and John first met in 1990 through their shared passion for supporting newly arrived refugee young people. John then joined the Ethnic Youth Issues Network (EYIN) management committee – the predecessor to CMY.  He was a vibrant contributor to the committee and the development of the organisation, including Chairperson for over 5 years.  They subsequently became good friends and worked together for many years.


Denis is a Taxation Accountant for Hughes O’Dea Corredig. Denis and John met on their first day of primary school at Corpus Christi Kingsville in February 1955 and were still close friends at the time of John’s untimely death in 2005. They grew up together, went to the football together, socialised together and John was a groomsman at Denis’s wedding. In fact it was John who introduced Denis to his future wife, Nola.


Annette Byrne-Phillips is the youngest sister of John Byrne. John was not only a brother to Annette, but was also her confidant and mentor. Through Annette’s eyes, John was always a humble and compassionate family member who worked aimlessly for the needy.

Annette has worked as a Special Needs Program Officer in primary schools based in the Western region of Melbourne, supporting new arrivals and other children to improve their skills by assisting classroom teachers to meet the children’s individual learning plans. Annette recently retired to the seaside with her husband and is enjoying being a grandma. Since John’s sudden death, Annette has devoted and volunteered her time supporting the John Byrne Memorial. She is also a member of Nazareth Social Justice Group.


Judy met John in 2002 when she oversaw his research partnership with Mary of the Cross Centre, a service of CatholicCare Melbourne to undertake his PhD. John’s expertise in working with families from multicultural communities influenced her work in the drug and alcohol field and later as Co-ordinator of ParentsLink, the Regional Parenting Service for the Western Metropolitan Region based at MacKillop Family Services until 2012.


Peter Phillips is married to Annette, a sister of John Byrne. Peter knew John for over 27 years before his untimely death. Peter always found John to be a kind and considerate brother-in-law, always willing to listen. He was a favourite uncle to Peter’s two sons, Nathan and Shaun, and had time for them. John was notorious for being late to functions and family events and this was referred to as “John Byrne Time”.


Mark is John’s nephew and has followed in his footsteps as an educator. He worked in primary and secondary education in Melbourne’s western suburbs and Ballarat before working with Edmund Rice Education Australia. Also influenced by his uncle, he has been involved in work for justice and peace and intercultural/interfaith dialogue and was on the Executive of Social Policy Connections and the Council of Christians and Jews Victoria.

Mark is currently living and studying in Jerusalem, where he continues to be involved in interfaith dialogue and supporting the work of the John Byrne memorial from a distance.


George Kastanas was born and bred in Footscray, residing there for 23 years. He and his brother went to Maribyrnong College (Maribyrnong High) in the 1980s and 1990s. They were both taught by John in ceramics class and deeply admired him. In 2013 George met his now wife Jessica (John’s niece) and soon after they learned about the connection. George joined theJBM Executive Committee in 2015 and currently works as a Team Leader, Compliance Audit, at the Victorian Building Authority.

Who was John Byrne?

John Byrne grew up in the west of Melbourne in a large and loving family attending Corpus Christi Primary School in Kingsville and then secondary school with the Christian Brothers up the road in Yarraville.

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