Our people

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  • We are governed by an association of members;
  • We have a board of women;
  • Our Executive Officer Karen Willis 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.

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia is managed on a day to day basis by Executive Officer Karen Willis OAM.

Karen has worked against violence against women for over 30 years, commencing her role with Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia in 2002.

Karen is a fearless advocate for women’s rights, and particularly for the rights for those who have experienced sexual, domestic or family violence to receive the highest standard of professional assistance in their recovery, and full redress for the crimes through the criminal justice system.

Karen is a NSW representative of the National Association of Services Against Sexual Assault (NASASV), a member of the NSW Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council and a Board member of Women’s Health NSW.

Karen also delivers training on responding to sexual, domestic and family violence and sexuality and ethics.

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.

Chair: Jane Gold

Jane Gold has been working in Community Services for over 25 years. This has encompassed women’s refuge work, family services work and in the women‘s health arena.

Jane’s experience provides Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia with skills and knowledge from an on the ground perspective as well as a Management experience.

Jane’s Board experience has been with WHNSW from 2011 ongoing.

These years of work range from collective structures to management structures, providing a good balance of feminism, governance, collaboration, inclusiveness, consensus and respect.

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia needs this mix of leadership to continue on the path of supporting our community in the critical work it provides 365 days each year.


Treasurer: Georgie Smart

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.


Board member: Helen Campbell

Helen Campbell is the Executive Officer of Women’s Legal Service NSW, a state-wide specialist community legal centre for women. She is a lawyer with over 20 years’ experience in the community and public sectors. In addition to her legal qualification she is a Master of Women’s Studies and holds a Diploma in Frontline Management.

Previously Helen managed Redfern Legal Centre, and has also held a wide range of voluntary appointments including Chair of Community Legal Centre NSW, Director of NCOSS and consumer representative on the Council of the Energy and Water Ombudsman.

In 2011 Helen was awarded a medal in the order of Australia for services to the law and to the community of Redfern.


Board member: Dr Pernille Christensen

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

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: Dr Kate Gleeson

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: Gail Meyer

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 Secretary: Debbie Brewin

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.


Board member: Nikita Knapp

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.