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Director of Safeguarding

Promoting mutual responsibility, championing the safety and care of children and vulnerable adults, particularly those from marginalised and disadvantaged circumstances, promoting systemic respect for the individual, and being of service to the collective good, have been core motivations in my career.

During 17 years working in NSW statutory authorities I held multiple roles in the field of safeguarding adults with disabilities and children, including those of casework specialist, middle management, senior project roles and advising departmental leadership.  In 2004, I moved into the community sector, leading a state wide practice improvement and internal investigations service for one of the larger community charities.  In late-September 2009, I joined the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle as manager of Zimmerman House.  For five years I was the Diocese’s representative to the NSW Cunneen Special Commission and the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, while also leading the Diocese’s increasingly sophisticated safeguarding program.

I have a BA (Psych) and have undertaken postgraduate studies in medical services management and social work.  I have undertaken consultative roles in the private sector and to NSW government and presented in several public and professional fora, recently being a member of the Child Safety Panel in Case Study #50 of the royal commission, and presenting at the joint ICAC-NSW Ombudsman 11th National Investigations Symposium.

The most challenging, complex and worthwhile role I have undertaken in my career is that of leading Zimmerman Services into becoming the Office of Safeguarding.  I am humbled by and thankful for the trust the leadership and people of our Diocese have afforded me, and I look forward to continuing to serve.

Healing and Support

​I am a social welfare worker with more than 30 years’ experience in casework and counselling.  I commenced my career in Community Health Wagga Wagga while completing my undergraduate degree at Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga.  I have had varied roles over the 30 years including child and adult sexual assault counsellor, supervised contact co-ordinator, adoption caseworker and pregnancy counsellor.  These roles have allowed me to develop deep knowledge and practice.  I have worked across three Catholic dioceses in Centacare/CatholicCare over a combined period of nearly 20 years. 

I feel privileged to work in the Healing and Support Service supporting people affected by sexual abuse perpetrated by those employed or in the service of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

​I am a social worker with more than 35 years’ experience working in the area of children and families but particularly in the area of child protection. I have worked in different roles, as a consultant with Family and Community Services in child protection, as a sexual assault counsellor with NSW Department of Health, and as the manager Children’s Services CatholicCare.

I have been the co-ordinator for Healing and Support for more than 11 years and have given evidence at both the NSW Cunneen Special Commission and the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, as to the model of care and support our Diocese affords survivors and their families. I felt proud of the service we deliver when I heard positive comments about it from the two commissions and other institutions.

I have met with hundreds of survivors and their families and feel honoured that they have allowed me to accompany them on a part of their unique journey.

I am passionate about social justice, and I believe that it is vitally important to support and empower our communities most vulnerable and disadvantaged people, particularly those impacted by childhood trauma, to recover, repair, and reach their full potential.

My previous experience includes working as a Specialist Homelessness Caseworker where I supported young people who were homeless, pregnant and or parenting and families or individuals who were homeless or at risk of homelessness; I am a qualified Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Caseworker who worked in the court system, refuges, with families fleeing DFV, facilitating DFV support groups for survivors and alongside Family & Community Services in a pilot project to reduce children at risk of DFV from entering the statutory child protection system. I have worked for NSW FaCS as a child protection caseworker, and for Barnardos Australia as a Case Manager where I worked with children from age 0 to 18 who were placed in the care of The Minister until age 18, while my key role was to support the child, I also supported their birth parents, their carers and their extended families.

I hold a certificate IV and a Diploma in Community Services, and a Bachelor of Social Science with a major in Social Welfare from Charles Sturt University.

I believe that my previous experience will enable me to be an asset to the Healing and Support Service where I have the privilege of walking with and supporting members of the community who suffered trauma as children, due to abuse perpetrated by those employed by the Catholic Church in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese in their journey to recovery.

Prevention and Response Service

Protecting children and vulnerable people has always been a passion of mine. I joined the NSW Police Force to not only assist those who needed protection but also to advocate for those who don’t have a voice of their own. I have worked extensively throughout my policing career with children and vulnerable people who have suffered neglect and heinous offences committed against them.

More recently I have worked in the Law Industry assisting medically retired NSW Police Officers navigate the Workers Compensation System and obtain their financial rights.

I currently have a Diploma in Policing.

I have only recently joined the team at the Office of Safeguarding and I look forward to a career in the protection of children and vulnerable persons within a team of passionate and like-minded Investigators. 

My long-held interest in human behaviour and why it is that we do what we do is underpinned by both my educational and vocational experience.  After attaining a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Psychology from the University of Sydney, I took my first professional position with the Mental Health Co-ordinating Council, the peak body of its industry, working in mental health policy. 

I worked with NSW Police throughout the inner-metropolitan area of Sydney to implement a new way of policing alcohol-related crime after which I took a civilian position with The Rocks local area command as intelligence analyst.  I then gained welfare experience with the Diocese of Wollongong providing case management support to persons in need.  Finally, returning to my home town of Newcastle in 2009, I commenced my current role of investigator with Zimmerman Services, now the Office of Safeguarding.

I bring to my role in the Office of Safeguarding a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice Studies enhanced by my experience working in a range of both government and NGO child-focused agencies, including for the West Australian and ACT governments’ child protection authorities and NSW Department of Health’s Child Wellbeing Unit. I have also worked in the community statutory residential care sector and the Brighter Futures Program with the Benevolent Society. 

Thorough and fair in process, while working collaboratively with people, organisations and services, I am committed to protecting children and vulnerable adults as an investigator in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

I started my role at the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in 2008 with CatholicCare’s Out of Home Care program where I was able to work closely with vulnerable children, young people and their families.  As I progressed in the Out of Home Care team, I also completed my Bachelor of Social Science degree, majoring in both psychology and criminology. 

In my Out of Home Care roles and through my studies I was able to extend my knowledge in child development and trauma-informed care while advocating for children and empowering them to have a voice. 

It was my strong desire to provide children and young people with their inalienable right to be safe and protected that attracted me to the role of investigator with Zimmerman Services, now the Office of Safeguarding, and in early 2018, I commenced this new chapter in my career with the Diocese.

My working background has involved investigating abuse of children and helping and protecting the vulnerable within our community.  I was a member of NSW Police where I remained for 10 years.  For the last five years of my service, I was a detective on the Joint Investigative Response Team now known as the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad.  My duties involved investigating highly complex and confronting incidences of the criminal abuse of children. These included sex crimes, serious physical abuse or extreme neglect and working with the children who had suffered or were currently suffering severe trauma.  Most recently, my employment at a local Community Centre allowed me to work with the vulnerable families and their children in a more collaborative environment.  I developed programs on child protection issues for playgroup teachers and staff and helped educated local children in the community.

I have completed a Bachelor of Policing (Investigations), Certificate IV in Government Investigations and a Diploma of Business Administration.

I have only recently commenced my current role as an investigator with the Office of Safeguarding.  I am looking forward to working with a team of professionals dedicated to the protection of children and the vulnerable.

I have a strong ethos of social justice and a passion for working with the vulnerable and marginalised.  While obtaining my degree in Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) at the University of New England, I worked in a residential setting for youth at risk of homelessness. 

After seeing the short-term effects of abuse, I then worked as a front-line statutory child protection caseworker in both NSW and the United Kingdom. 

I then moved to work with children and young people in statutory out-of-home care, to protect and support those who were unable to live with their families of origin due to the risk issues present.  In 2009 I began working as an investigator with Zimmerman Services, now the Office of Safeguarding. 

I believe this role has brought together the skills and expertise I have obtained in the near 20 years of experience I amassed in government and community sector child protection services.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

I have had a lifelong interest in human interaction, and the processes applied in our society to resolve disputes.  After I completed my arts and law degrees I worked as a solicitor practising predominantly in family law.  This work emphasised the complexities associated with making decisions that relate to children.  I completed my mediation training and worked as a family dispute resolution practitioner at the Family Relationship Centre. This led to my appointment by secondment at the university’s Family Action Centre.  I pursued my interest in child protection after I had my own family.  My role as investigator with Zimmerman Services, now the Office of Safeguarding, strengthened my skills and experience in the protection of children and vulnerable adults. 

My professional experience has taught me that children and those who may be vulnerable do best when their supporters are confident in the abilities and intentions of the people around them.  I believe the experience of children and vulnerable adults should be considered in decisions that may affect them.  I am proud to invest in a vocation that is dedicated to assisting carers and professionals alike to achieve outcomes that are focused on the children and the vulnerable.

I have a BA LLB, Graduate Diploma Legal Practice, Dispute Resolution Bond University and Certificate IV in Government Investigations, Government Statutory Compliance and Training and Assessment.

Director's Office

I joined the Office of Safeguarding back when it was known as Zimmerman Services, in March 2014, as an administrative assistant. In this roll, I support the team in any way required, while also providing day-to-day administrative duties. I am very privileged to work in such a dedicated and committed team, devoted to making our Diocese a safe place.

From a background in establishing and managing a small business I commenced working with the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle in 2014 within Pastoral Ministries.  It is here that I further developed my desire to help children and adults through my involvement with the Seasons for Growth suite of programs that aim to educate children, young people and adults with knowledge and skills to strengthen their social and emotional wellbeing after experiencing change, loss and grief.  This evoked a strong interest in the field of psychology and I am currently studying a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology). 

I bring a broad range of skills and qualifications in training and assessing and legal studies.  I am proud to be a part of a vital service that demonstrates an unyielding commitment to the safety of children and vulnerable adults, which is in alignment with my core beliefs.  I am excited to take up these new opportunities and work and learn alongside a group of dedicated professionals while supporting the director and the whole Office of Safeguarding to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency.

I started working at Zimmerman House in January 2009.  I was previously the secretary for the Diocesan Pastoral Support Unit from 2005. I am a Justice of the Peace and a civil marriage celebrant. In setting up Zimmerman Services, our Diocese has made a clear commitment to promote the safety, welfare and well-being of children.  I continue to support this commitment through my role as an office administrator in the Office of Safeguarding.  I have seen first-hand how our team works towards keeping children safe — acting with courage, respect, integrity, justice and compassion.