Our people

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  • We are governed by an association of members;
  • We have a board of women;
  • Our Executive Officer manages the day to day running of the service.

The members meet annually at the Annual General Meeting to hear reports on the Service's activities and to elect the board for the coming year.

The board of women meets monthly and is responsible for the governance and strategic direction of the organisation.

Our new CEO Hayley Foster

Hayley has 20 years' experience in the community, health and justice sectors principally in the areas of domestic and family violence policy, practice and law reform.

Throughout this time, Hayley has worked with diverse population groups and organisations in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote settings across government, non-government and corporate sectors, including in frontline specialist women and children’s services; violence prevention; accredited men’s behaviour change; family law practice; family disputes resolution; policy; law reform; advocacy; sector development; training and organisational management.

Hayley holds tertiary qualifications in business (economics and finance), law (first class honours and university medallist), dispute resolution, financial planning and political economics.

Hayley is deeply passionate about the work of specialist sexual, domestic and family violence services and the importance of having diverse voices represented in addressing the issues of gender inequality and gender-based violence. Her particular area of expertise is in the development of integrated, multi-sectorial strategies to address sexual, domestic and family violence, child safety, and family, civil and criminal injustice, and she brings a focus on evidence-to-action and genuine participatory research to her work in policy, practice and law reform.

Hayley holds advisory positions on the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance and the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety and is an endorsed trainer with Our Watch.

"I am absolutely thrilled to join the world class team at Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.

It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to work alongside leaders in the field of sexual, domestic and family violence, providing specialist services to survivors and their supporters and advocating with communities, corporates and governments at the state/territory and federal level to prevent and better respond to gender-based violence."

Hayley Foster Headshot

Our staff

All clinical staff employed by Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia are tertiary qualified and experienced psychologists, social workers or counsellors.

Our staff have regular clinical supervision, attend ongoing professional development and participate in an award winning vicarious trauma support program.

Our board

The board of Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia seeks to build a collective sense of purpose and direction to enable Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia to identify and meet its philosophy, goals and priorities.

In doing this the board draws on the diversity of the community it serves and seeks members who have the skills needed to provide effective governance.

Members of the current board are passionate and committed women from different cultural and professional backgrounds.

All of them believe it is every person's human right to live their life free of violence and when violence occurs it is their right to receive compassionate and skilled support from highly qualified professionals.

Debbie Brewin

Board Member Debbie Brewin photo

With a strong background in education, Debbie was a primary teacher in many low socio economic areas of Sydney, where she developed and delivered programs specifically developing skills and empowerment programs for girls.

In the past fifteen years Debbie has worked in the National Rugby League as the National Schools Manager for Rugby League Development. Her passion for promoting females was very evident here and she employed over 40 female development officers who were instrumental in cultural change.

Debbie worked at Wests Tigers as Wellbeing Manager and is now Manager of Wellbeing and Education for women playing rugby league.

Debbie is a passionate advocate for equality and fairness.

Georgie Smart

Board Member Georgie Smart photo

Georgie Smart is a financial, business and accounting professional who started out her career in the early childhood and community development sectors. Holding both a master’s in professional accounting and an MBA,

Georgie is a member of the Institute of Public Accountants and is currently running her own business that supports the finance and governance functions for various NFP services and small, community focused businesses.

Along with professional financial regulation, Georgie is passionate about demystifying money and uses her skills to educate and empower individuals and organisations about money and finance.

As a social justice advocate, she firmly believes that community-based enterprises with strong governance and strategy are essential in our society to support those who have somehow slipped through the cracks and need to again become part of the community embrace.

“With strong liaison between funding bodies and services providers, like R&DSVA, social advantage can become a strong base platform for many more people across many types of communities," she says.

Vijaya Nagarajan

Board member Vijaya Nagarajan photo

Vijaya Nagarajan works in the areas of gender equality, corporate governance, and commercial regulation. As a consultant, Vijaya has worked in several Pacific countries focussed on gender equity and women’s economic empowerment. Her contribution includes implementing pilot programs involving women in the private sector in Solomon Islands, designing participation processes that allow women’s voices in PNG, policy recommendations on closing the gap between women and men’s access to superannuation benefits across the Pacific region. Her analysis has informed policy development, as illustrated by the publication of Women and business in the pacific.

Vijaya has been an academic for over three decades. As Professor in the Law School at Macquarie University she served in several leadership positions including Acting Dean and is the recipient of numerous awards including a University Teaching Award. Her research, publications and teaching have been in the areas of corporation governance and competition regulation. She continues her affiliation with Macquarie University as Emeritus Professor and her current research looks at how businesses address climate change risk.

Vijaya brings her knowledge of governance and passion for gender justice to this role with the RDVSA.

Board member:
Gail Meyer

Board Member Gail Meyer photo

Having a long history of working in the women’s health sector Gail can contribute to effective governance through expertise, qualifications in management, community management, Human Resource management and knowledge of the sector issues and challenges.

Gail has Board experience at Women’s Health NSW and also at a rural organisation. Gail works in a feminist philosophy within a trauma informed framework and ensures women have contact details for R&DVSA to allow access to trauma informed services 24/7.

This therefore addresses gaps in services in a rural setting including out of hours access. This support is an important aspect of the framework of R&DVSA as it progresses into the future and confirms the necessity for services to work together.

Board member:
Dr Kate Gleeson

Board Member Kate Gleeson photo

Dr Kate Gleeson is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Macquarie University with specialist expertise in civil and criminal justice for sexual violence, including child sexual abuse. Kate has a PhD in Politics and International Relations from UNSW and has previously served as an executive member of the Australian Political Studies Association.

Kate’s professional background includes diverse roles in industrial relations, gender equality policy and child protection.

Along with her two decades of experience teaching about gender, sexual politics and law in university classrooms, Kate has conducted workplace training in Australia, South East Asia and the South Pacific.

Board member:
Nikita Knapp

Board Member Nikita Knapp photo

Nikita Knapp is a Child Protection Case Worker in a Family Support Service. Nikita graduated from The University of Sydney in 2018 with a Bachelor of Social Work and Arts majoring in Gender Studies.

Nikita is passionate about working against gender inequalities and empowering women and children to re-establish safety and security after experiencing violence.

Board member:
Dr Pernille Christensen

Board Member Pernille Christensen photo

Dr. Pernille Christensen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Built Environment at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) teaching subject across the Bachelor of Property Economics, Master of Planning and Master of Property Development courses. Her specialist expertise relates to urban resilience, including considerations related to social, environmental, governance and economic sustainability issues.

Pernille has a PhD in Planning, Design and the Built Environment from Clemson University in South Carolina, USA, and currently serves on the board of Directors of the American Real Estate Society.

Pernille’s professional background includes diverse roles in research, professional practice and academia.

Board member:
Dr Meg Clement-Couzner

Board Member Meg Clement-Couzner photo

Meg Clement-Couzner is a feminist social policy expert in disability and gender. She is currently Senior Policy Officer at People with Disability Australia with responsibility for violence prevention and access to justice, including leading policy work on the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Meg previously worked at Family Advocacy NSW, where she managed systemic advocacy, with a particular focus on inclusive education. Meg holds a PhD on the intersection of gender studies and economic justice.

Board member:
Laura Entwistle

Board Member Laura Entwistle photo

Laura is a Director in Deloitte who supports clients with their technology strategy, operations and transformations. She brings business and technology expertise to the board to support complex decisions in these areas. She gained a BSC Hons in Business and Computer Science at University.

Laura is a mum of one and enjoys travelling and photography in her spare time. She is originally from the UK and moved to Australia in 2018.

Laura has previous board experience from the UK and vast volunteering experience. She is passionate about gender equality and eliminating sexual violence.