Deputy Chair, Victim Survivor Advisory Council, Family Safety Victoria
Geraldine Bilston is a victim-survivor of family violence. In 2015 she escaped an abusive relationship. She had spent half a decade loving and living with a man who she should have felt safe, secure and happy with, but she left bruised and broken.
She would spend a further 2 years dealing with police, courts and ‘the system’.
Geraldine is determined to help make a difference to the way we approach family violence in Australia. She is currently studying for her Graduate Certificate in Family Violence, and was appointed as the Deputy Chair of the Victim Survivor’s Advisory Council in May 2020. She is committed to helping create better outcomes for victim survivors, including in areas like victim support, technology-based abuse, and sexual violence.
A familiar face to many after sharing her experience of family violence on ABC's ‘You Can’t Ask That’ in 2019, ‘Q&A’ in March 2020, and ‘The Drum’ in December 2020, and she has also published her own writing through the website ‘Mamamia’.
Geraldine has been both a client and an advocate at Safe Steps, Victoria’s 24/7 family violence support service and is an active advocate for the prevention of family violence through the media, at corporate, community and fundraising events.
Principal Trainer And Consultant, From Me To You Consulting
Peta is a Principal Master Instructor of Mental Health First Aid Australia courses and also works as a consultant with MHFA Australia. She has a national profile in mental health and suicide prevention and has contributed to the development of services and programs at national, state and local levels.
Peta is known for emphasising the importance of psychological social determinants in mental wellbeing and suicide prevention and considers domestic violence and safety to be a significant factor in an individual's ability to have healthy relationships, access health care and other life opportunities.
Consultant, Deborah Costello Consulting
Deborah is a Business Consultant and former CEO with 30-years of experience across the health, aged care, elder abuse, violence prevention, road safety, suicide prevention and Aboriginal health sectors.
As a Domestic Violence survivor, and social justice advocate Deborah has a passion for influencing practice, policy and research.
Acting CEO, Refugee Settlement (SETS) National Manager
Dr Amath is an expert community developer whose research focuses on multiculturalism, social inclusion, diversity, leadership and community development. She is a published author and her other publications have appeared in several edited volumes and journals. She is an adjunct Research Fellow at Griffith University and also works at the Islamic Women’s Association of Australia as the National Manager of Refugee Settlement and the CAMS Statewide Coordinator, a role focused on the prevention of DFV in CALD communities. She is also a co-founder of Sakina Refuge, a short-term accommodation for CALD women and children experiencing DFV.
Dr Amath has strong connections to the community across a number of areas, including youth, women’s and multi-faith groups, and is a member of the Minister’s Queensland Multicultural Advisory Council and the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Prevention Roundtable. In 2006, she was the Australian Muslim Woman of the Year. In 2017, she was a finalist for Australian of the Year. Most recently she has been appointed to the QLD Gov Taskforce looking at Women's Safety and Justice.
Manager, Education and Strategic Development, Rainbow Health Victoria, The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University
Matthew is the Manager, Education and Strategic Development at Rainbow Health Victoria within The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University and is a leading voice in Australia on LGBTIQ domestic and family violence.
At the helm of the ‘LGBTIQ Family Violence Capacity Building Project’, Matthew leads a team delivering an interconnected suite of LGBTIQ intimate partner and family violence and inclusive practice initiatives for the mainstream domestic violence service sector in Victoria.
Since 2014 Matthew has also driven LGBTIQ domestic violence public educational projects and media campaigns through producing & directing the innovative educational theatre piece “My Other Closet the Cabaret”.
Matthew also gave one of the plenary presentations at STOP DV 2019 entitled “Shining a Light on the Dark Side of the Rainbow” that was talked about by many delegates for much of the conference afterwards.
Head of Research & Impact, Relationships Australia NSW
Shannon Harvey is Head of Research & Impact at Relationships Australia NSW, where their team conducts research and evaluation to improve design and delivery of family and relationship services. Shannon has spent their career as a social researcher in the not-for-profit sector in the UK, US and Australia, primarily focused on gender-based violence, homelessness, substance use and mental health. They are passionate about participatory research methods and using research to shift power to the people we are designing services for. Shannon is also a PhD student at UNSW Sydney, researching non-binary people’s experiences of family violence services.
Director, National Womens Safety Alliance
Katherine Berney is the Director of the National Women’s Safety Alliance. Katherine is passionate about social, economic and safety equity for women and children. She has a strong not for profit background including working internationally with the Red Cross in the south pacific and on the DV-Alert program as part of the National Safety Plan. She has experience in strategic planning within the higher education and government consulting sectors. With a genuine passion to change the statistics for women in Australia she understands the power of the Women’s Alliances and the collaborative strength of the sector. Katherine is a PhD candidate in Sociology under Dr Michael J Walsh at the University of Canberra.
Director, Clinical and Client Services, Full Stop Australia
Tara Hunter is the Director of Clinical and Client Services at Full Stop Australia. Tara has Masters level qualifications in Social Work, with additional qualifications in Workplace Training and Assessment and Family Dispute Resolution.
With over 20 years experience working in the NFP and health sectors as a Service Manager, Clinical Leader and Trainer. Tara has deep expertise in leading service and clinical responses to gender-based violence with a focus on client-centred care and creating service systems that support clients and workers who deliver their care.
Ngunya Jarjum Aboriginal Child And Family Service
Wiradjuri woman, visiting in Bundjalung Country. Strong practitioner background in social service sector including housing and child protection, focussed on family led decision making and dignity through choice, I challenge self-determination and empowerment concepts in the face of systemic oppression.
Over 27 years working with vulnerable communities and lived experience to compliment my employment, I host experience on issues associated with Aboriginal equity and suppression. National and State presenter on First Nations child and family models of communal care.
Focussed on earlier and targeted intervention, family preservation services – We know to be the path toward empowerment for our Aboriginal communities.
Community Liaison Officer, Multicultural Policy and Engagement, Strategy and Programs, NSW Department of Communities and Justice
A former asylum seeker, worked tirelessly supporting and assisting refugees since 2008, first as an adult settlement teacher at University of Western Sydney then Navitas English, currently at NSW Department of Communities and Justice since 2013. Sam led many successful crime prevention projects to support Multicultural Communities through education and breaking barriers with authorities. Sam is the co-founder of the South West Sydney Domestic Violence Committee and the winner of 2020 NSW Humanitarian award, and a multicultural advisor for few local councils in NSW.
Chief Executive Officer (she/they), Engender Equality
Alina Thomas has an established career in the community sector with over 20 years of experience across a range of health and community projects, focusing on women and wellbeing.
Alina has a sound standing as a spokesperson on gender inequality and family violence and is sought after for her position on victim-survivors as experts in their experience and calls for increased recognition of the expertise of victim-survivors. In her representation Alina considers the diversity of the community and strives for inclusion and equal access of all people regardless of their lived experience, identity or economic background.
Alina has been the CEO of Engender Equality for 10 years.
Alina has a degree in Social Sciences (Community Services), a post graduate degree in Women’s Studies, she has trained under the United Nations in Gender Mainstreaming and is endorsed by Our Watch to deliver the Change the Story and Workforce Equality and Respect packages.
Workplace Trainer Lifeline Tasmania
Deputy Chair, Victim Survivor Advisory Council, Family Safety Victoria Geraldine is a victim-survivor of intimate partner violence and has shared her experiences across several media outlets. In 2021 she completed her Graduate Certificate in Family Violence and is currently undertaking a Master of Policy and Politics.Geraldine was previously Deputy Chair of the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council, is a current board member of Kara House Family Violence Services and a member of White Ribbon’s Advisory Council. In 2022 Geraldine worked with Family Safety Victoria on their Lived Experience Strategy and is currently working as a Project Officer in their Research and Evidence team.She is passionate about seeing the use of lived expertise in the family violence space progress. Across 2022 Geraldine’s “Wisdom in Practice” reverse mentoring program was launched in Victoria. 15 social work graduates and their supervisors have been mentored by victim-survivors. Geraldine will be joined by her mentee Amorette Bennett, social work graduate at Family Life.
Senior Manager, Suncoast Counselling
Has worked as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner for over six years. Managed a Mental Health organisation which utilized the ‘Boston Model’ of recovery. Is still working in the corporate sector supporting workplaces that have healthier teams through understanding their values. David is the author of the ‘Core Value Therapy’ model developed in 2007 and has published a book on this new therapeutic approach which helps a person discover their individual values and where they may be breaching these values towards others. Currently he is the Senior Manager for Suncoast Counselling in Qld specializing in men’s work and couple therapy. His passion is to help equip people to understand how to have healthy lasting relationships.
Executive Director, White Ribbon Australia
Project Manager, Building Access | People with Disability Australia
Karina is a disabled queer person who lives, works and plays on the beautiful lands of the Whadjuk Nyoongar people. They are is currently managing the Building Access Project at People with Disability Australia which is an initiative enabling domestic and family violence services to better meet the needs of women and children with disability. Karina has an extensive background in the not for profit sector and is a passionate advocate for incorporating lived experience in working toward better outcomes for women and gender diverse people with disability. She is also a Pilates instructor and loves encouraging people to enjoy moving their bodies!
CEO, Sexual Assault Support Service
Jill is the CEO of SASS (Sexual Assault Support Service).
She is enthusiastic about living life to the full, contributing to change at both an individual and community level, and encouraging herself and those around her to be the best versions of self they can be.
On a personal level, this enthusiasm has led Jill to test her abilities in climbing mountains or kayaking remote rivers at every opportunity and it wouldn’t be unusual to find her out on evenings and weekends on a mountain trail or river.
On a professional level, the journey has been from serving 13 years with Tasmania Police to completing Bachelors Degrees in Social Work and Psychology to working as a counsellor in the Family Violence Counselling and Support Service to then working almost 10 years with Volunteering Tasmania.
She graduated from the Tasmanian Leaders Program in 2011 and is passionate about leadership and the influence this has on creating a safe, respectful, learning culture that inspires confidence in each other and results in an organisation expanding its vision and therefore its opportunities.
Student Leader, Anzac Prize Recipient & Youth Advocate
I am Nooria Ahmadi, a student leader, Anzac Prize recipient, and youth advocate. I am extremely enthusiastic about forming social change. As a recipient of a scholarship to attend the FECCA conference in 2021, I am now able to recognise the significance of conferences and have thus opted to join the organising committee for the Stop Domestic Violence conference. I am currently a writer who has completed the first draft of a 40,000-word book. I am also a participant in Lions Youth of the Year, where I won first place in a club final and received a participation certificate in regional competitions. I aspire to pursue a career as a politician in the future, but I am also passionate about studying law at the University of Queensland in 2024.