More about our speakers and presenters

Dr Susan Heward-Belle - Director of the MSW(Q) program in Social Work and Policy Studies, University of Sydney

Susan is Director of the MSW(Q) program in Social Work and Policy Studies at the University of Sydney. With over 20 years professional experience in the child protection and domestic violence fields, Susan specialises in research examining statutory child protection services’ responses to families experiencing domestic violence.

Susan recently led the NSW component of a national study funded by ANROWS, the PATRICIA project, which examined barriers and facilitating factors for collaborative work across statutory child protection, women’s domestic violence support services and services provided in the family law arena. Susan’s PhD research examined the fathering experiences and practices of domestically violent men.

Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter (F.I.S.H)

Family Inclusion Strategies Hunter (FISH) is a group of practitioners, parents, family members and carers who have formed to promote family inclusion in the lives of children in child protection and out of home care and family inclusive practice in the child protection and out of home care service system.

Felicity Kime is a co-founder and executive member of Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter and a regular consultant on family inclusion with agencies in Sydney and Newcastle. She is the mother of four children including two daughters now restored to her care, a son who was never removed, and one son who remains in long term care. Felicity’s experience means she has a profound understanding of the struggle parents go through when dealing with the child protection system. Felicity is a regular speaker and facilitator at events about family inclusion and is dedicated to systemic change in the interests of children.

Angela Geale is a leader of Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter and contributes to various initiatives to improve family inclusion. Angela is a regular speaker at events with workers and carers about improving their relationships with parents and families and is a facilitator of morning tea gatherings and support groups for other parents involved in the system. Angela has four children; two have been in kinship care for four years and two others spent time in both foster care and kinship care. Angela and her children are currently in the final stages of preparing for restoration.

Lou Johnston is a social worker and member of Family Inclusion Strategies in the Hunter. Her primary FISH contribution is workshops for carers and workers. Lou was part of a 2016 research project that looked at parents’ experiences of child protection, legal, and social services in the Hunter Valley. She is a lecturer at the University of Newcastle and a consultant for human service agencies. Her consultancy covers policy and practice reviews, individual and group professional supervision, and development and facilitation of workshops and practice initiatives mainly focused on supervision, leadership, and reflective practice.

Bruce Shillingsworth and Catherine Tarrant – AbSec

Peter Freeman and Stephen Wayumba

Peter is a manager casework at Lakemba CSC. He has completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Social Work. Peter been with FACS since 1988 (a veteran) and worked in a range of CSCs (including Newtown, Campbelltown and Burwood) and had a number of stints in Central Office including the Complaints Unit and Department Liaison Office in the Ministers office.

Stephen has worked within the community services sector for 14 years, of which 4 years have been with Family and Community Services. He is currently A/Manager Casework at Ingleburn CSC. Prior to this, he was Caseworker - Child Protection Adolescent Response team SWS District. He has strong interest in working with families, children and young people, especially those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders. Stephen committed to ongoing development, working collaboratively, acting with integrity, problem solving and delivering results within the community services sector.

Robert Bosi and Melaine Laidlaw

Robert Bosi the Claymore Place Manager, in South West Sydney District. A psychologist with over 20 years experience in human services both as a clinician and manager, Robert has extensive experience in policy and programme initiation, development and implementation for local & state government and NGOs. He has extensive experience in vulnerable communities including child protection, drug and mental health, acquired brain injury, homelessness and developmental disabilities.

Melanie Laidlaw is a child protection caseworker who has spent the last 15 months working intensively within the Claymore community. Prior to this she was a caseworker at Ingleburn CSC. Melanie has a broad range of experience within the community services sector including with Housing NSW in the busy Inner City Assessment Team and with NGOs in residential out of home care. Melanie is passionate about improving outcomes for children in Claymore and the south west.

Daniela Lewkowicz and Zia Tayebjee

Daniela Lewkowicz is the Co-Coordinator for the Pregnancy Family Conferencing program, a jointly funded Family and Community Services and Sydney Local Health District (SLHD) initiative. Daniela has degrees in International Studies and Counselling and has had experience working with vulnerable children and their families in Australia and overseas for over 10 years. She has clinical experience in child protection and more specifically in early intervention with pregnant women, where her passion lies.

Zia is the co-coordinator of the Pregnancy Family Conferencing program. She has worked in child protection for over 10 years in Family and Community Services as a Caseworker and Manager Casework. She has clinical and management expertise in child protection and has provided assessment and advice to vulnerable children and families where there is drug and alcohol use, mental illness, abuse and neglect, and domestic violence.

Carrie Osborn and Sarah Hughes

Carrie Osborne is acting Manager Casework at Maroonbaliin IFBS. Prior to this she has worked as a casework specialist, within Newcastle JIRT and also as a child protection caseworker.

Sarah is a casework specialist with Hunter Adolescent Services. She has also worked at Newcastle JIRT and as a Child Protection caseworker in Hunter District.

Felicity Davis, Sahra Hawkins & Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation

Felicity is a casework specialist in Nepean Blue Mountains District.

Sahra was born in Queensland and grew up in the care of the Minister. Sahra’s eldest two children were taken from her by FACS. Sahra says she 'got herself clean, did some work on myself' and now has a beautiful baby girl who FACS are not involved with. Sahra decided that other parents with the same issues she experienced would benefit from a support group and has been part of setting this up with Marrin Weejali.

Marrin Weejali Aboriginal Corporation is a non-residential cultural and spiritual healing centre in Western Sydney that provides alcohol and other drug services to the community as well as meeting the holistic needs of individuals, their families and broader community through formal partnerships and informal collaborations with a wide range of service providers who deliver services from the centre in an environment of cultural safety.

Tim Gough and Alexis Beniston  

Tim is currently working with Southern NSW District as a Senior Project Officer with the QACI team to help the district list their practice around children in care. Tim has worked in this sector since 2003 and across many positions and areas in FACS in this time. Tim is passionate about Children’s Rights and making our records relevant and meaningful for children now, and into their future.

Alexis is a currently a project officer working in the Hunter's Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement team. Alexis joined the QACI team in April this year due and has been working with within FACS since 2015. Alexis is committed and passionate about the way we continue to evolve the way we work with children and young people and always looking for new and innovative ideas to continue to drive practice forward.

Jade Davis and Scott Lewis

Jade Davis has worked for FACS since 2014. She has worked with children and young people in care, and is currently working in an Intensive Support role. She has a passion for young people. Jade is on the PAG and currently seconded to ChildStory Support.

Scott Lewis has been working for FACS for well over 10 years, and in Out of Home Care for the last 3 years. He has a particular interest in making sure young people have the skills to leave care with hope and purpose.

Megan Spencer and Melanie Haile

Megan is a Psychologist in the Hunter region with over 13 years’ experience.  She has Bachelor of Psychology (Hons) and a Master in Clinical Psychology and is currently working towards clinical endorsement. Megan has extensive experience and strong knowledge of the theoretical and therapeutic frameworks that underpin assessment and intervention in the context of child abuse/neglect.

Melanie is a clinical psychologist with over 13 year’s experience working for Community Services. She has specific experience and interest in understanding of the trauma experiences of children, young people and adults, and specifically interventions which emphasize the attachment system as a foundation on which to base clinical intervention.

Catherine Carter and Tracey Webb

Catherine Carter has worked in a variety of government and non-government human service organisations in both metro and rural areas for more than 20 years. Catherine is deeply committed to the child and family field. She is fond of inviting families and colleagues to be brave, bring their best collaborative selves to the sandpit and share the buckets and spades.

Tracey Webb has worked with children, young people and families in Australia and the UK. Tracey is passionate about all things permanency, most especially purposeful casework that achieves permanency for children and young people within their timeframes, so they can get on with childhood. Tracey is committed to keeping up to date with research to inform guardianship training and work.

Zoe Sharman and Caitlin Stewart

Caitlin is the Acting Manager of the Clinical Issues team. She holds a BA in Psychology and started working with families as a child protection caseworker in the early 90’s. She has worked in the UK, including in a residential program where families moved in for three months and worked on increasing safety for their children. Caitlin was formerly part of, and then managed, FACS’s home based assessment team named Montrose. After a long stretch away from FACS she returned to work in the Complex Case/Ombudsman team before joining the OSP and Clinical Issues team.

Zoe is a Clinical Consultant with FACS’ Clinical Issues Team. The Team supports staff who are working with families where there are issues of domestic violence, child sexual assault, alcohol and other drugs and/or mental health. Zoe holds an MA in Psychotherapy and Counselling and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Developmental Trauma, and has worked in a variety of case work and management roles in child protection, out of home care and women’s services.

Wendy Dennes

Wendy is currently employed as a Case Worker for Metro ISS and has been with the unit for approximately 2 years. Wendy has worked in Child Protection for ten years and has also worked in education teaching in Juvenile Justice Centres in South Australia.

Anna Mattiuzzo

Anna is a social worker and has worked with vulnerable young people at ISS since 2010 and is currently the Manager Casework at Metro ISS. She has worked in child protection for thirteen years in both New South Wales and in Queensland.

Freija Brandie and Romina Tucker

Rebecca Hirst and  Michael Gathercole

Michael is a Guannai man from Gippsland. He is a trained social worker and psychologist who has nearly 40 years in the field. He has worked consistently in the fields of welfare and health with families, in age care, with veterans, in rehabilitation, mental health, prisons and juvenile justice. Michael works from the perspective of trying to improve outcomes for the Aboriginal community.

Rebecca is a Casework Specialist from Northern NSW.

Jodi Barton and Matt Anderson

Jodi Barton is a psychologist located at Tamworth CSC. She is the current chair of the Clinical Reference Group for Problematic Sexualised Behaviours. She has worked in this role for close to five years after working solely in the private sector for several years. Prior to this she has worked in Violence Prevention with NSW Health for several years after a short stint with Corrective Services (she promises that it was as a psychologist).

Matt Anderson is a senior clinical psychologist at Coffs Harbour CSC. He has worked in this role for more years than he can remember. He is currently the acting manager for Psychological Services in the New England and Northern districts. He provides clinical supervision to psychologists within ISS and was actively involved in the establishment of the LINKS trauma treatment services in the Hunter region.

Justice Tom Altobelli & Catherine Samuels

Catherine has extensive knowledge and experience working in the area of children's law including 8 years at the Crown Solicitor's Office and 3 years at the NSW Ombudsman's Office.  Before joining FACS in February 2016, Catherine Samuels was Assistant Crown Solicitor at the Crown Solicitor's Office, leading the Child Protection Practice Group.  Catherine holds a Master of Laws and is an Accredited Specialist in Children's Law.   She is a current member of the Children's Court Advisory Committee, the Supreme Court's Adoption Working Group and the Law Society's Children's Legal Issues Committee.

Dr Tom Altobelli was appointed to the Federal Magistrates Court in 2006 after 25 years in practice. He is currently sitting as the Federal Circuit Court Judge in Wollongong.  He holds a Master of Laws and Doctorate in Juridical Science, and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, University of Western Sydney. Before his appointment, Judge Altobelli was accredited as a specialist in the areas of family law, children's law and mediation. He has authored four books on family law and dispute resolution and 50 articles in Australian and international journals.

Casework Specialists workshop

Amy Payne is a Casework Specialist at Metro Intensive Support Services and Penrith CSC. Amy is PACEful. Amy is a trained therapeutic life story work practitioner and a registered Psychologist. Amy enjoys working with practitioners around creative play, expression and tools for us all to better hear and experience the voices of children, young people and their families.

John Pitt is an A/Casework Specialist at Tweed Heads and Ballina CSCs, and an accredited Social Worker [AASW]. Prior to that John has worked as an ISS caseworker, and also spent time in Child Protection. John, who also exhibits as a sculptor, believes in the power of play to transform lives, and is trained in Therapeutic Life Story and Family Finding.

Tim Cohen is a Social Worker working in the role of Casework Specialist in Wollongong. Tim is passionate about the use of language and genuine participation for all those that he works alongside. Tim has worked in NSW and the UK in various Child Protection Roles and has a passion for connecting and empowering families through Family Finding work and Family Group Conferencing.

Bronwyn Killen is a Casework Specialist at Bathurst and Mudgee CSCs. She is a Social Worker who is passionate about child protection. Bronwyn believes that we should never stop learning and growing in our practice and is excited by the evolution of practice she has seen over the past 25 years when she has been working for FACS. Bronwyn has a special interest in understanding what is driving people’s behaviours.

Ingrid Dalkeith has been Casework Specialist with FACS for four years, and is currently based at Auburn CSC. Ingrid has a great passion for making safe moments for children to express themselves and for hearing what children have to say about their lives. Ingrid also has experience as a caseworker, and manager within FACS and with two NGO’s. She is currently doing a Masters of Social Work (Qualifying) and is obsessed with her dog “Chips”.

Cayley Hamilton is a Casework Specialist at Blacktown CSC. Previously Cayley has worked as a caseworker in child protection and out of home care in the Western Sydney area. Cayley's passion involves spending time with children to capture and share their story. Cayley also loves working alongside practitioners to encourage them and to build their confidence in building relationships with children and young people.

Kelly Shepherd is a Casework Specialist at Liverpool OOHC Hub. Prior to this Kelly worked as a Caseworker in Child Protection at Hawkesbury CSC. Kelly has a passion for building and strengthening children’s connections with their family and she enjoys working with practitioners in Family Finding and restoration work.