VCC Standing Committee

VCC President: Dr Graeme Blackman AO
The President chairs the Standing Committee.

Graeme has had an exemplary career in both business and voluntary sectors. In 2011 Graeme was appointed as the inaugural Chancellor of the University of Divinity. In 2017 he was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the pharmaceutical industry, to scientific research and development, to theological education and the Anglican Church of Australia, and to aged care. Graeme is an alumnus of the University of Divinity, having graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Theology (Research) which have enabled him to combine his considerable experience in financial management and governance with theological insight. More about Graeme here.

Ms Sieneke Martin (Religious Society of Friends)

Sieneke Martin is an experienced program manager in international development work, with emergency experience with Oxfam Australia and as East Timor Country Director for Caritas Australia.
She is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia and is serving as Clerk (leader of church) of the Victoria Regional Meeting. She served as Executive Officer of Quaker Service Australia 1988-1998 and was a Friend in Residence at Woodbrooke Quaker College in Birmingham, UK, in 1998-99. She was a member and chair of the Act for Peace Commission, National Council of Churches Australia, 2008–2016, and a member of the Quaker United Nations Office, New York, Committee 2009-2015.

Rev Denise Liersch

Denise is a Uniting Church Minister, and immediate past Moderator of the Vic/Tas Synod. In 2023, she begins a new ministry placement with Banyule Network of Uniting Churches.

Professor Nasir Butrous (Chaldean Catholic Church of Australia, New Zealand and Oceania)

Nasir is a Chaldean Catholic and a native of the city of Mosul (Biblical Nineveh) in Iraq. He is the Associate Professor of Management at the Australian Catholic University (Faculty of Law and Business) in Melbourne, and affiliated with the Peter Faber Business School – ACU. Nasir was previously a member of the Commission for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relationships in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.
Nasir was co-opted onto the Standing Committee.

Fr Shenouda Boutros

Fr Shenouda is Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics in the Orthodox tradition at St Athanasius College (SAC). He is also SAC’s chaplain who provides spiritual and general support to students and staff. Fr Shenouda serves at the parish of St Bishoy’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Bulleen, Melbourne.

Fr Dr Jacob Joseph (Malankara Syrian Orthodox)

Fr Dr Jacob Joseph is the Deputy President of the VCC (2022-23). He is an ordained priest of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Before joining his theological teaching, he served the church both in India and abroad in various capacities as a National Youth Director (the USA and Australia), Director of the Holy Cross College of Management and Technology, Editor of Vision Journal, and Mission Director. After completing his theological degrees, he joined St Athanasius College as a lecturer in 2020. Currently, he teaches Patristic Theology and Orthodox Mission Theology at Agora University and at Malankara Syrian Orthodox Theological Seminary, Ernakulam, India, in Ecumenical and Mission Theology. His doctoral thesis is titled The Christ Who Embraces: An Orthodox Theology of Margins in India.

Rev Rachel McDougall (Anglican Diocese of Melbourne)

Rachel was a music teacher in Tasmania following the completion of a music degree, before moving to Melbourne to study to become a priest. She was ordained Deacon in 1994 and priested in 1995 in Hobart. Rachel has ministered in a variety of parish settings. Most recently, she was Vicar at St John’s Bentleigh. Rachel enjoys playing viola and piano as well as singing. Rachel is married to the Reverend Dr Ross Fishburn who is the Academic Dean at Yarra Theological Union. Rachel is based at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Canterbury.

Mr Ashok Jacob (Treasurer) (Mar Thoma)

Ashok is a member of the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar. He has completed a Masters in Engineering (Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur), a Masters in Computing (Monash University), an M.B.A. (Deakin University), and B.D. (Melbourne College of Divinity). He has worked in the private sector in India, USA and Europe and in the Victorian State Public sector in different roles. He has served on the VCC Executive for more than 15 years including 2 years as the Deputy President and 2 years as the President and now as Treasurer. He has served as a board member of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim Association (JCMA) of Victoria. For the past 25 years, he has been teaching the senior students in his parish Sunday School and prepared the youth for taking their first communion.

Deacon Joseph Leach (Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne)

Joseph is a permanent Deacon in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. He studied science at university, gaining a PhD in planetary geology and worked in a variety of fields, including as a lecturer at the University of Melbourne for 21 years, finally retiring in 2015. He continued to study, gaining a MA(Theol) from the Australian Catholic University and was accepted into the diaconal formation program at the Melbourne College of Divinity, leading to a Bachelor of Theology degree. He was ordained in 2012 as a Deacon, and has served in two parishes. He has co-authored two books on the theology of the eastern church. Read more here.

Executive Officer: Rev Sandy Boyce