Our Staff


Sydney Story Factory is run by a hard-working team of committed creatives who love words and writing, but only half as much as they love the looks on the faces of kids  who have just discovered they can WRITE!

Above, we are: (front row) Richard, Craig, Carol, Helen, Jayne; (middle row) Nikola, Bilal, Tammy, Cath, John; (back row) Tony, Bheki, Amber, Matt.


Dr Catherine Keenan was formerly a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald, working as an arts writer and as literary editor. Prior to that, she completed her doctorate in English Literature at Oxford University.  She and Tim Dick co-founded the Sydney Story Factory in 2012 and Cath has been executive director ever since.  She is also the 2016 Australian of the Year  Local Hero.


Nikola Amanovic has experience and education in performing arts, community development and business. After realising that finance is not his thing, Nikola completed a Graduate Diploma in Dramatic Art (Directing) at Nida, and worked in theatre for a few years. In 2011, search for meaning took him to the war-torn Province of Kosovo, where he worked with a local development organisation.  He spent the last three years leading social change initiatives across Western Sydney. Nikola is really excited about joining the Sydney Story Factory team, as it enables him to combine his love for storytelling and work with diverse communities.

richard short - storyteller-in-chief, redfern

Prior to joining the Sydney Story Factory, Richard taught at secondary schools (English and English as a Second Language) in the western suburbs of Sydney. In 2014, Richard completed a Master of Creative Writing, and his first book of poetry, Bone Ink, was shortlisted  for the 2018 Kenneth Slessor Prize. He has lectured in numerous courses including: Creativity, Youth Culture and The Arts; Integrated Arts and Education.

bilal hafda - STORYTELLEr-in-chief, Parramatta

Bilal is a high school English teacher with a passion for spoken-word poetry. Alongside running poetry and creative writing workshops in schools, he was involved in the RESPECT program, a series of Creative Arts Domestic Violence workshops with upper-primary students in Western Sydney. He is a member of the Bankstown Poetry Slam and is constantly looking to facilitate and nurture the voice of the participants of the slams and audiences who attend them.


Matt has been with Sydney Story Factory since its earliest days, after working pro-bono with London's Ministry of Stories. Matt has degrees in education, arts, visual communications, and design. He programs and runs workshops, assists with fundraising campaigns, works on creative partnerships, and is the in-house designer.

helen coolican - storyteller

Helen Coolican has over 20 years’ experience as a teacher, and is passionate about putting creativity back at the heart of education. She is a veritable dynamo, has a wonderful warm manner with kids and grown ups, and is a fantastic organiser. Helen plays a key role in maintaining the Sydney Story Factory's connections with the local community and led the Home Project to success in 2014.


John is from the Nucoorilma Clan of the Gamilaroi Nation. He's been working in the performing arts and Aboriginal cultural education for many years, including as a guide with the Royal National Parks & Wildlife Service, as a presenter and cultural advisor with Sydney Operah House and as a guide for The Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour. He is a drama teacher and has lectured widely on Aboriginal culture.  His favourite rain is light sparkly rain when Grandfather Sun is out.

carol quast - storyteller

Carol has been an active volunteer at SSF for nearly four years. She is passionate about making creative writing fun and enjoyable. Carol is a trained teacher and has taught in primary and secondary schools. Currently she mentors trainee teachers for UTS as a tertiary supervisor. Before returning to her home in Redfern in 2011, Carol was a lecturer for post graduate trainee teachers at two London universities and was Chair of Governors at a large comprehensive boys school in London's South East.

Tammy burnstock - STORYTELLER

Tammy loves all kinds of stories. During more than 20 years in children's media (12 with the ABC), she has written animation, for puppets, Bananas in Pyjamas and Play School, and recently produced a scented cinema revival of Scent of Mystery (1960), a feature film written for smell. In addition to storytelling, Tammy works with My Choice Matters and volunteers for Foto Friendship, linking students in Australia and East Timor.


Rebecca Smith - STORYTELLER

Rebecca worked as a high school English and Drama teacher before joining the Sydney Story Factory in early 2018. From a young age she has always held a passion for reading, writing and the creative arts. She is currently completing a Master of Creative Writing at Macquarie University, which she hopes will lead her to publishing work for the first time. She is also a current member of her local musical society where she participates in performances and stage managing.

craig new - volunteer manager & Mission control

Craig New is the person who books volunteers and students into workshops, confirms classes, and looks after all communication to info@sydneystoryfactory.org.au. Basically he's responsible for every aspect of keeping the Martian Embassy ship-shape and fully operational at all times. He’s super-organised, super-friendly and your go-to person for any questions about your volunteering experience. Oh, and he also leads workshops. Which are fantastic.

jayne wasmuth - development manager

Jayne Wasmuth has had a lifelong passion for books, reading and writing and worked in the book industry for many years, both in New Zealand and Australia. After making a shift into the non-profit sector she helped develop the major donor giving program for The Fred Hollows Foundation. She is responsible for donor relations, partnerships and fundraising.

amber dalrymple - fundraising & development coordinator

Formerly an Intellectual Property lawyer, Amber left the law to follow her real love: community arts. After doing pro-bono legal advocacy work for the Arts Law Centre of Australia, she worked for a small publisher and became a Sydney Story Factory volunteer. She has assisted with volunteer and project management at the Sydney Story Factory and currently coordinates all things grants and fundraising-related, including monthly giving by the wonderful Sydney Story Factory Inkwells and corporate team volunteering.

bheki mkwananzi - administration officer

Bheki has worked as a Reporter, Animation Producer and Publicist and has taught a bunch of music workshops with young people across NSW.  He co-ordinates our Teacher Professional Development program, takes care of all things admin related and makes sure the ship always runs smoothly.