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National Sector Advisory Group

The 1800RESPECT National Sector Advisory Group (NSAG) provides strategic direction and recommendations to support the review, development and implementation of all areas of the 1800RESPECT service. NSAG brings together relevant experts with knowledge and experience in family law matters, issues involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, same sex relationships, people in rural and remote areas and people with disability.

Nicole McMahon - Chair

General Manager, 1800RESPECT

Nicole trained in molecular biology/ biochemistry and medical research, focusing on prevention of cancer and immunosuppressive viruses, such as HIV.

She moved to medical print and television journalism and production, and then went on to develop significant business experience in the ICT sector. Over the past twenty+ years she has spent an interesting career in senior executive roles in the Health, ICT and government industries across several disciplines, including sales, marketing, leading large pursuits, chief-of-staff and strategy roles, and working closely with governments.

Nicole has significant experience on large complex projects, driving company wide leadership teams, executive plans and turn-around strategic growth projects. Nicole has always worked with a strong commitment to customer focus and ensuring outcomes benefit the customer.

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Maha Abdo

CEO, Muslim Women's Association

Maha Abdo has spent over three decades working together with the Muslim Women's Association to help give Muslim women safety and assurance in difficult and trying circumstances. She works at the local, national and international levels advising government on policy, services and strategies to create a harmonious community for future generations of Muslim and non-Muslim women. Maha has served as the NSW Seniors Week Ambassador, BreastScreen NSW Ambassador and the NSW Human Rights Ambassador. In 2008, she received the Order of Australia, and in 2015 Maha was a finalist for the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights Medal. Maha holds a Master of Social Science focused in Youth Services/Administration from Western Sydney University.

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Karen Bentley

National Director, Safety Net Australia Project

A tech enthusiast and strong women’s advocate, Karen combines both passion to lead and manage WESNET’s work on the intersection between technology and violence against women. Karen has been working in the Violence against Women sector since 1998 in senior positions in the Australian Public Service, in frontline services and the national peak body. Karen helped establish SafetyNet Australia program for WESNET in Australia in 2011, which examines the intersection between domestic violence and technology. Karen oversees the WESNET-Telstra SafeConnections program, which provides smartphones to women impacted by domestic and family violence, and is an expert on technology-facilitated abuse and digital coercive control.

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Marie-Claire Cheron-Sauer

1800RESPECT Consultant

With extensive experience in clinical, policy, research, academic and senior management roles within health and social assistance, Marie-Claire now provides consultancy services to health, social and community organisations in program reviews and development and sits on a number of boards and advisory committees. She has worked in direct practice and in management roles in various fields including child and adult mental health, disability, domestic, family and sexual violence and psychosocial cancer care. Marie-Claire’s key areas of interest include professional preparation for contemporary health and social care practice, integrated models of health and social care and the translation of policy and research into practice. Marie-Claire is a 2012 Churchill Fellow, past National Vice-President of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), past Chair of the 2012 Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS) and past Chair of the AASW National Social Policy Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work, a Master of Social Policy and Research, a Master of Management and is Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Carolyn Frohmader

Executive Director, Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA)

Carolyn Frohmader is the Executive Director of Women with Disabilities Australia (WWDA) and has held this position for more than 20 years, working at the national and international levels to promote and protect the human rights of women and girls with disabilities. Under Carolyn’s leadership, WWDA has received a number of prestigious awards for its ground-breaking work including the National Human Rights Award and a number of national and state violence prevention awards. Carolyn also has an extensive background in women’s health, health policy, primary health care and community development. Carolyn has a Masters Degree from Flinders University where she won the inaugural Michael Crotty Award for an outstanding contribution in Primary Health Care. In 2001, Carolyn received the ACT Woman of the Year Award in recognition of her contribution to the promotion of women’s rights in the ACT. In 2009, in recognition of her human rights work, she was inducted into the Tasmanian Women’s Honour Roll, joining her late mother Wendy, who was posthumously inducted into the Roll in 2008 for services to education. In late 2009, Carolyn was selected as a Tasmanian finalist for the Australian of the Year Awards (Tasmania). On International Human Rights Day, in December 2013, Carolyn was announced as the winner of the National Human Rights Award [Individual] for her work for and with women and girls with disabilities at the national and international levels. In 2015, Carolyn was named as a one of Australia's top 100 Women of Influence. Carolyn is based in Hobart, Tasmania.

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Jodie Griffiths-Cook

Public Advocate and Children & Young People Commissioner, ACT Government

Jodie is a Psychologist and began her career with eight years in front-line service delivery before gaining extensive experience in policy development, project management, program design and practice improvement across various government and non-government leadership roles. With over 25 years’ experience in human services, a strong interest in social justice, and a commitment to upholding and advancing human rights, Jodie is committed to using her strategic leadership skills and collaborative approach to facilitate effective outcomes that contribute to a sustainable and cohesive human services sector. Previously, Jodie held a statutory appointment as Public Advocate for Queensland and is now the Children & Young People Commissioner for the ACT Human Rights Commission.

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Maria Hagias

CEO, Women’s Safety Services SA, 1800RESPECT Panel Provider

Maria is the CEO of Women's Safety Services SA (WSSSA) and has extensive experience in domestic violence and associated issues. Through her work and her committee appointments to date, she has raised the awareness of domestic violence and women’s issues. She has served as South Australia’s representative on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Domestic Violence Advisory Panel, and is Deputy Chair on the Premier’s Council for Women (South Australia). Maria holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of South Australia.

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Professor Cathy Humphreys

Professor of Social Work, Co-Director of the Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence, University of Melbourne

Cathy worked as a social work practitioner in the mental health, domestic violence, and children, youth and families sector for 16 years before becoming a social work academic. In addition to her current roles of Professor of Social Work and Co-Director of the Safer Families Centre of Research Excellence at the University of Melbourne, Cathy is also Co-Chair for the Melbourne Alliance to End Violence against Women and Their Children (MAEVe). For five years Cathy held the Alfred Felton Chair of Child and Family Welfare, a professorship established in collaboration with the Alfred Felton Trust, the Department of Social Work at University of Melbourne and The Centre for Excellence for Child and Family Welfare in Victoria, the peak body for vulnerable children, youth and family organisations in Victoria.

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Libby Lloyd

Independent Sector Advisor and Councillor, Australian Institute for International Affairs

Libby has worked on an international level with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Indonesia and Iraq. In Australia she has with the Commonwealth Public Service mostly in the area of refugees, and she has also worked with a range of NGOs. Libby was a co-founder and board member of the White Ribbon Foundation in Australia, and has been a key adviser on domestic and family violence policy to many successive Australian governments. Libby was Chair of the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children which delivered Time for Action – the National Council’s Plan to Reduce violence against Women and their Children. Currently Libby is Councillor for the Australian Institute for International Affairs and Patron of multiple foundations and institutes that assist to research, plan and implement solutions around DVSA.

Kai Noonan

Associate Director, LGBTI Health Programming and Development, ACON

Since completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and Social Sciences, Kai has worked within the community sector for various NGO’s focusing on working with a range of vulnerable people. Her current role at ACON as the Coordinator for their Domestic and Family Violence Project, is a senior role which manages the development and implementation of ACON’s domestic and family violence work for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer communities. Kai’s other work experience includes working in family violence services protecting women and children in crisis situations, working as a therapeutic and educational group facilitator in a long-term drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for women, working in a team leader role as the High-Risk Complex Case Manager for Asylum Seekers in a regional processing centre outside of Australia and working as a sexual health and harm reduction educator in women's services.

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Rebecca O'Connor

CEO, DVConnect

Rebecca has recently joined DVConnect as CEO. Rebecca’s career spans over 20 years in senior executive roles in complex child and family centred health and community service environments, and she has an unwavering commitment to helping people live their best lives. Rebecca was previously the Director of Operations for Child & Family Services at the Benevolent Society for NSW with a very broad portfolio which includes specialised domestic and family violence support and advocacy (including crisis and sexual assault); mental health; LGBTIQ health and well being; intensive family support; and, childhood protection services, among many others. Rebecca has a reputation in building successful partnerships with a range of stakeholders and a pursuit for social justice outcomes with consumer-led consultation, sector engagement and collaboration, program design and research to ensure services are targeted, responsive and accessible, and she has an extensive network of community connections.

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Joanne Sheehan-Paterson

Chair, National Association of Services against Sexual Violence (NASASV) & CEO, Mallee Centre Against Sexual Assault

Joanne has worked in the sector of sexual assault and family violence for over two decades. She oversees the work at the Mallee Centre against Sexual Assault to provide direct services to those impacted by family violence, including crisis care response, counselling and advocacy services and referrals for appropriate support. As Chair of the National Association of Services against Sexual Violence (NASASV), she works to challenge and change patriarchal attitudes, systems and structures that lead to sexual violence. She was a lecturer with La Trobe University (Victoria) in the Sociology program. Joanne was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Victorian Multidisciplinary Centres Model in Victoria.

Chrystina Stanford

CEO, Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC)

Chrystina has worked in the sexual assault centre for 20 years, and has been with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre since 2009. As part of her role, she work collaboratively with service provision systems in the ACT to ensure that those impacted by sexual assault receive appropriate services. She is a highly visible and active advocate, and co-author of ‘Sexual assault does happen: a booklet for people who have experienced sexual assault and their supporters’. Chrystina is a Board Member and Treasurer of the National Association of Services against Sexual Violence (NASASV).

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Mirjana Wilson

Chief Executive Officer, Domestic Violence Crisis Services (DVCS)

Mirjana has worked in the both the government and community sectors for over 25 years having understanding around complex issues associated with domestic violence and its impact on those who experience it. She comes from a proud Croatian heritage with her parents migrating to Australia in the 1960s. She is bilingual and is active member within the Croatian community volunteering within the aged care facility and various women’s groups. Mirjana was the ACT’s Violence Prevention Woman of the Year in 2016, awarded for rising to the challenge of the increased public profile of Domestic Violence Crisis Services (DVCS), and supporting staff to cope with the increased workload and pressures.

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