Our team

Louisa Gibbs headshot

 

Louisa Gibbs, CEO

I became a lawyer because I believe communities thrive when there is justice – genuine, fair treatment – for each of us before the law. I have worked in legal systems overseas that are strained and know just how lucky we are in Australia with our legal frameworks and institutions – but there is always room for improvement.”

 

As Chief Executive Officer, Louisa provides strategic leadership for the Federation. Louisa has worked as a Principal Solicitor in the community legal sector and in private practice, and spent 13 years living and working in low-income countries. In the Pacific, she was a Justice Adviser to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and partnered with community groups to advocate for the introduction of family violence legislation. In Africa, Louisa was named Anti-Corruption Lawyer of the Year in the Lawyer’s Weekly Women in Law Awards for her work with Senegalese Law Firms. Louisa is an elected member director of the Law Institute of Victoria Board. She loves helping kids to ‘grow inside outside’ through volunteering with Camp Cooinda and her local Scout troop, and has written two childrens’ books, one of which was presented as an official gift to the Duchess of Cambridge on her 60th Jubilee visit to the Pacific. 

https://assets.nationbuilder.com/fclc/pages/810/attachments/original/1691629074/Nicole.png?1691629074

Nicole Burnard, Executive Assistant to the CEO 

“Community Legal Centres provide a vital service for members of our community, and I feel very fortunate to be part of this amazing movement” 

Nicole comes to the Federation with a wealth of experience, having previously worked in executive assistant roles in diverse industries including education, biotech and clean energy. Nicole’s role at the Federation is to support Louisa and the team to support members and the sector. She loves working with an executive team to streamline and improve processes that enhance service delivery and build an organisation’s capacity to achieve its goals.  

When Nicole’s not at work, she enjoys taming her garden, visiting art galleries, watching stand-up comedy and surfing. Nicole volunteers at her local op shop, which she says gives her a great feeling of being part of the community.   

Nicole has a white schnauzer puppy, and a terrible sweet tooth!                        

Rachael Pliner headshot

 

Rachael Pliner, Director of Policy and Advocacy

“I feel strongly about the critical role Community Legal Centres play in our community. Working at the Federation gives me an opportunity to advocate on behalf of the sector and to focus on systemic reform.”

 

Before joining the Federation, Rachael was a senior lawyer at Eastern Community Legal Centre in Victoria and Central Australian Women’s Legal Service in Alice Springs where she focused on advocating for women experiencing family violence. Rachael has also worked as a lawyer in Sydney at knowmore Legal Service, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service and at corporate law firm, Herbert Smith Freehills. As our Policy and Advocacy Manager, Rachael is committed to improving social justice outcomes for people experiencing social and economic disadvantage and meeting the holistic needs of clients through collaboration between legal, health and community sectors. She has Masters’ degrees in Public Health and Family Law. When not advocating for social improvement, Rachael can be found playing with her rambunctious and emotional border collie and exploring any national parks she can find on bike or on foot.

Bronwyn Lay headshot

 

Dr Bronwyn Lay, Strategic Lead, Climate Justice Support Unit

“We live in interesting and challenging times. I feel hope working within a passionate sector committed to realising access to justice in its fullest meaning. The bravery of the Federation to prioritise climate justice and disaster response in order to meet the challenges of the future and the present is affirming.”

 

Bron is a Senior Legal Policy Adviser and Climate Justice and Disaster Lead at the Federation – in other words, she’s our climate justice champion. Bron works with Community Legal Centres and the wider legal sector helping them to prepare, adapt, respond and recover from disasters and the impacts of climate change. Through the Climate Justice Legal Project, Bron is helping Community Legal Centres embed climate justice into their practices to ensure the most marginalised members of our communities have equal access to climate justice. With a background working in Community Legal Centres and consulting with international NGOs on law reform strategies, and a PhD on environmental crime and climate litigation, focusing on climate justice is a natural fit for Bron. But it was working as a firefighter in France that ranks as Bron’s proudest moment. That experience also helped reinforce for her the importance of locally based support for communities. When not advocating for climate justice, Bron can be found indulging in “terrible” TV, gardening, or swimming in any kind of water she can find.

 

Clint Westig, Program Lead, Climate Justice Support Unit

“Working with communities to prepare for, and respond to, climate change induced events is becoming ever more important. This role allows me to support communities to grow their strengths and build resilience to climate change.” 

 

As the Climate Justice Support Unit’s Program Lead, Clint’s work focuses on building up the capacity of Community Legal Centres to identify climate and disaster risks and meet climate and disaster related legal need. The unit also supports climate and disaster justice by promoting law reform and preparing communities for climate events. Working with communities impacted by climate change was the focus of Clint’s Masters of International Community Development, which he completed in 2021. Clint has spent around 20 years working and volunteering in various community health and development roles in Australia and overseas.Outside of work Clint loves to spend time with his kids and their various pets. With many other members of his family overseas, Clint is often awake at odd hours connecting with them during their daytime. Clint enjoys music, cooking, reading and being active, and volunteers with Tearfund Australia on international development projects. 

Murray headshot

 

Murray Raff, Senior Legal Policy Adviser, Climate Justice Support Unit

“Everyone in the community must have access to high quality legal services if equality before the law is to be a realised right, and more than just an empty abstract principle. The Community Legal Centre movement defends the right to justice in the context of the complex social and environmental challenges of the 21st century, and the Federation plays a crucial role in guiding this movement.”

 

As the Senior Legal Policy Adviser in the Federation’s Climate Justice Support Unit, Murray helps Community Legal Centres meet the climate and disaster justice needs of their communities. Murray has always loved nature and the environment, and has provided pro-bono assistance to community environment groups throughout his legal career. Murray has a deep understanding of the impacts of climate change on individuals and communities, and brings a wealth of professional and academic experience to the Federation. Murray was a founding member of what is now Environmental Justice Australia, where he worked for a number of years. He has also spent time working in academia, and as a university lecturer, during which time he pioneered the teaching of environmental law in universities. Outside of championing climate justice, Murray is an avid blood donor, sailor and self-proclaimed recycling obsessive. He also enjoys caring for the family cat named Stripey.

 

Lee Carnie, Senior Legal Policy Adviser

“I'm passionate about tackling systemic injustice, and building the power of Community Legal Centres to advocate for structural change that makes a real difference to the everyday lives of individuals.”

 

As a Senior Legal Policy Advisor at the Federation, Lee partners with frontline lawyers in Victorian Community Legal Centres to create fairer laws for the communities they serve. Lee’s career as a human rights lawyer and social justice advocate began as a graduate completing articles rotating through four Community Legal Centres over a decade ago. Since then, they have worked and volunteered at a number of legal services and community organisations in various capacities, including in frontline legal advice, community legal education and strategic policy and advocacy. Their focus areas have included youth homelessness, family violence, victims of crime, civil justice and poverty law.

When Lee is not pushing for a more equitable society, you might find them hiking, creating pottery, shimmying with their sparkly Body Electric dance crew, or cuddling their very fluffy (and very cheeky) cat Mini.

 

Naomi Bellingham, Senior Legal Policy Adviser

“I am passionate about supporting the crucial work of Community Legal Centres and championing their collective voice to advocate for fairer laws, policies and systems. It is a privilege to be a part of the bold and innovative team at the Federation, and to be given the opportunity to create lasting, tangible and systemic change.”

 

As a Senior Legal Policy Advisor, Naomi works closely with Victorian Community Legal Centres to advocate for legal and policy reforms to create a fairer and more just society.

Prior to joining the Federation, Naomi spent more than a decade as a barrister, specialising in family law and human rights, and engaging in policy and advocacy initiatives in those areas. Naomi’s most challenging work has included cases of police corruption, human trafficking, and international child abduction. Naomi has spent time volunteering in community law in London, Cape Town, New York and Tokyo. More recently Naomi worked as a policy adviser in the family violence space in Australia. Naomi is passionate about supporting a collective voice across the community legal sector and centring the voices of lived experience to drive real and sustained change.

Naomi is a self-proclaimed failing vegan and crossfit imposter. Thoroughly enjoying adventures, in a time BC (before Covid and children) Naomi cycled from Kenya to Cape Town with nothing but a tent and a spare pair of shorts. Now when she is not working, she enjoys seeking out new spots to walk, bike or swim with her partner and two little mischief-makers.

Tim McMahon headshot

 

Tim McMahon, Data Systems Project Manager

“I find my work is greatly appreciated and feel I can make a change for the better. I enjoy working with Community Legal Centres, which are full of people who are genuinely altruistic.”

 

Tim is the Federation’s Project Manager for Data Systems, which means he is helping the sector develop a modern legal management system to better collect, interpret and analyse data. It’s a big job, but ultimately it will help the sector plan for current and future community legal needs. After many years working in management positions for large, complex government organisations, Tim enjoys the flexibility of a small, peak body and values the opportunity to help create changes that will benefit this important sector. Tim is well placed to work with the diverse network that makes up Community Legal Centres across Victoria – after all, he grew up with four brothers and four sisters!

Skye Forster headshot

 

Skye Forster, Implementation Analyst

“In this role I get all the best bits – diving deep into data, working with some of the smartest and most experienced people in the Community Legal Centre room, doing big sky thinking and asking important questions of those who make the consequential decisions about why something is done a certain way.”

 

As our Implementation Analyst, Skye is helping to build practice management systems and data collection across more than 20 Community Legal Centres. Skye has two decades of experience managing projects, people and stakeholders in a broad range of industries including legal, finance, retail and hospitality. She has overseen change management and innovation projects at Community Legal Centres and has been instrumental to improving significant infrastructure and business processes. As a data crusader, Skye is passionate about streamlining and simplifying data collection and using clever analysis and insights to build better services to help those the sector serves. Once she exits the spreadsheets, Skye loves her caring for her rescue dogs, gardening and has a fascination with vintage fabrics and patterns.

Logo headshot placeholder

 

Simon Kuut, Quality and Capacity Development Manager


“I enjoy the genuine passion for social justice and human rights of my colleagues, which is very much in line with my beliefs. I feel privileged to work for a committed peak body and work closely with such a diverse range of centres.”

 

Simon is the Quality and Capacity Development Manager with the Federation. Simon helps us by conducting the National Accreditation Scheme for Community Legal Centres, overseeing and informing the Federation’s member training calendar, supporting the Professional Standards and Support Committee and helping to administrate the Integrated Services Fund. Hailing from the Netherlands, Simon brings a wealth of experience both from his home country and working here in Australia in various community sectors as a social worker. This career path led Simon towards work in quality improvement, where he discovered a passion for best practice and standards, a culture of continuous improvement, and making services better for clients. When Simon isn’t at the office or cycling to and from work, he has been known to feature on SBS Dutch community radio, to cook up a storm for his family, and to coach a women’s community soccer team.

Logo headshot placeholder

 

Kimberly Yeung, Quality and Program Support Officer

“I feel like I’m a part of really important work at the Federation, and it feels like I am contributing to something useful.”

 

As the Quality and Program Support Officer at the Federation, Kimberly supports members with the administrative processes of the National Accreditation Scheme, Professional Standards and Support Committee and the Integrated Services Fund. Kimberly has a BA in Psychology and Sociology and honours in Women’s Studies. After years of working in not-for-profit organisations, she excels in administration, process improvement and operational organisation. When not working at the Federation, Kimberly can be found at the beach swimming or surfing or spending time with her dog  a seven-year-old border terrier named Mickey.

Logo headshot placeholder

 

Gabby Talmadge, Training and Capacity Development Coordinator

“This role uses my event and project management skills and does so in a membership organisation – my favourite environment. My work and its outcomes appeal to both ‘the heart and the head’ which is the perfect mix for me.”

 

As the Federation’s Training Coordinator, Gabby spends her days thinking about how to ensure Victoria’s Community Legal Centre staff have the training they need to do their jobs most effectively. From researching training options, working with facilitators, coordinating all aspects of training sessions and following up with attendees afterwards, Gabby ensures the Federation delivers a comprehensive training program that best meets the needs of the sector. With a background in events and project management, Gabby is perfectly suited to manage our training calendar. When not thinking about training, Gabby has a very eclectic set of interests – from reading everything she can to researching early Australian film and theatre, from sewing vintage patterns to listening to live music. But her one true love is MotoGP and World Superbikes.

Logo headshot placeholder

 

Katie Wand, Communications Manager

“Communication plays an essential role not only in spotlighting the sector’s achievements, but in exposing the many challenges that community legal services and the people they serve continue to face.”

 

As Senior Communications Adviser at the Federation, Katie directs and manages communications that promote and raise the profiles of the Federation and Community Legal Centres. Her experience with a range of not for profits, including other peak bodies, has given her insight into many of the social injustices that exist in Victoria and that she believes can be changed through reform and sound legislation.

Katie has a Masters’ degree in International Development, and has spent time living in Buenos Aires, Kathmandu, Paris and London, where she is originally from. In her spare time she enjoys socialising, cooking and exploring the great outdoors.

Logo headshot placeholder

 

Ariel Parker, Digital Communications Officer

“It’s a frustrating reality that the justice system often further disadvantages those who need access to it the most. Community Legal Centres do incredibly difficult but important work to help break through those barriers, and through the Federation are supported and strengthened in that work.”

 

As Digital Communications Officer, Ariel helps communicate on behalf of the Federation and community legal sector by creating written, visual and digital content. This work supports the Federation to be a key voice on social justice issues. With a background in government and non-profit communications, Ariel enjoys thinking creatively about how to communicate on behalf of an organisation, sector or cause. Her combined work experiences whilst also studying a Juris Doctor has fostered a passion about increasing access to legal systems, and the Federation is a great place to put that passion to work. Outside of work, Ariel is often reading, walking or tending to every whim of her rescue cat, Minnie.

 

Rosanna Di Grazia headshot

 

Rosanna Di Grazia, Office Coordinator

“I really enjoy supporting members to provide them with the resources to do their job effectively and I particularly enjoy helping new staff settle in at the Federation.”

 

 

If you’ve ever contacted the Federation, you’ve probably spoken with Rosanna, our frontline Office Coordinator who handles everything from online and phone queries to office coordination and administrative support. Rosanna has more than 25 years’ experience in administrative roles in sectors as diverse as legal recruitment, information technology, children’s services, social work services, mental health services and even a stint in scientific innovation. But she is at her happiest working in the not-for-profit sector. When not at the Federation, Rosanna moderates a 10,000+ strong Facebook group for her local community, and enjoys cooking with her home grown produce or dancing up a storm at a Zumba class. 

Michelle Taylor headshot

 

 

Michelle Taylor, Operations Manager

“Seeing and experiencing the passion for the work that the Federation, Community Legal Centres and the sector do is inspirational. I enjoy being part of the driving force for change and seeing outcomes that help the sector fight for justice.”

 

Michelle is the Operations Manager for the Federation. She’s the team member who makes sure the systems and processes are in place to help us all work more efficiently and effectively. In short, she makes sure our business runs smoothly while quietly making changes in the background that improve our processes. When not thinking about how we can improve our work processes, Michelle loves the beach, nature parks and buying cookbooks despite the fact that she does not love cooking!

 

Logo headshot placeholder

 

 

Angela McCrorie, Executive Assistant to the Deputy CEO

“I feel grateful to work with an amazing and approachable bunch of people, who inspire me on a daily basis.”

 

 

As the Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer, Angela works with Federation staff to ensure the wheels of the organisation keep turning. She can often be found playing tetris with calendars. After years spent working in administrative and executive assistant roles, she is adept at helping organisations operate effectively. At the Federation she gets to do all that in a role that aligns with her personal values. She most appreciates the organisation’s willingness to embrace innovative ways of working to ensure we remain effective in what we do. Angela always starts her day with a workout, anything from a HIIT class to pilates or a run, but balances it out with an avid interest in wine.

Tanya Sawtell headshot

 

Tanya Sawtell, People and Culture Adviser

“I love the outcomes and impact we have on communities – we do great work. And I learn from my colleagues everyday – the organisation is filled with intelligent, passionate and supportive people.”

 

Tanya is all about the people at the Federation. As People and Culture Adviser, Tanya leads the Federation’s workforce planning, recruitment and on-boarding, performance, remuneration, wellbeing, culture, awards and policies, and payroll. For Tanya it’s all about listening, supporting, advising, coaching and enabling – at both the organisational and individual level. After studying psychology and science, Tanya fell into HR and has worked in the higher education and not-for-profit sectors. In her downtime, Tanya regularly cooks for the people in her community who need a meal and is a self-confessed chocoholic.

Sign up