WJN Management Committee (The Board)
WJN is governed and overseen by a Management Committee (The Board), comprising eight women, including those with lived experience of the criminal justice system;
Kat Armstrong is WJN’s President/Public Officer and works together with the board to ensure WJN’s vision and long term strategies are implemented and grow. Kat’s capabilities are a combined result of 10 years of lived experience and academic qualifications, including a Bachelor of Law. Kat is a co-founding member of this organisation from it’s commencement in September 2017 working as its CEO/Director in a voluntary capacity till 31 January 2016.
Nicki Petrou (Acting President) is the Principle solicitor of a Community Legal Centre in Darwin, NT. Nicki is a co-founding member of the organisation since it’s commencement in September 2017, working tirelessly on the Board for almost 10 years to ensure WJN has grown, reaching its’ current success. Nicki is passionate about all social justice issues and a particular interest in prevention and diversionary youth programs.
Victoria Keesing (Treasurer) is a Management Consultant, with her own business, advising clients on culture, organisation design and the people aspects of major strategy and transformation programs. She was previously a partner with PwC Australia and has also held a number of executive leadership positions in large corporate organisations. Victoria is passionate about social justice issues and plays an active role in the community. She commenced on WJN’s Board in late 2012
Dr Helen Dunstan (Secretary) became a volunteer with Prison Fellowship after a life-changing experience in 2006. She completed the WJN Mentor training in 2013 and has been a committed WJN mentor since. Helen is also part of the network of supporters of an Aboriginal community organisation. She is especially interested in walking alongside Aboriginal women who have lived experience of incarceration. An academic by training, Helen has remained actively involved in research on Chinese history since her retirement from the University of Sydney.
Dr Linda Steele is a Solicitor and Senior Lecturer at UTS:Law at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). Linda is just 2 months off from being a co-founding member of WJN, elected to WJN’s board in June 2008, after WJN was officially “founded” and incorporated in April 2008. Linda’s exceptional academic and law skills have been instrumental in WJN’s advocacy and policy work, always ensuring the voices of the women who we walk beside are heard and at the forefront of WJN’s campaigning and advocacy efforts. Linda has a specific skill set and insight into the cognitive and mental health issues of women affected by the criminal justice system.
Dr Lara Palombo is a researcher at the Institute for Culture and Society at University of Western Sydney. Lara was nominated and elected to the WJN Board in 2015 and has been a volunteer and member of WJN since 2014. She has been a member of a number of Management Boards in women’s organisations in NSW and South Australia. Lara’s social activism and research interests are focussed especially on issues affecting migrant women including racism, domestic violence, imprisonment and the legal-justice system.
Ashleigh Thomson is an Occupational Therapist in child and adolescent mental health and has a degree in Bachelor of Science: Occupational Therapy. Ashleigh was nominated and elected to the WJN Board in 2015. Since 2014 Ashleigh was both a volunteer WJN Mentor and member. Ashleigh’s passion for social justice stems from her extensive employment history relating to mental health and juvenile justice, combined with a continual commitment to the empowerment of marginalised groups within our community.
Eleni Psillakis has worked in Education for over 30 years and has a multitude of tertiary qualifications, including a Bachelor of Education, a Diploma in Nutrition and a Certificate IV in Small Business. Eleni is determined to combine her professional and lived experience of mental health issues and time in prison, to make a difference to the lives of women affected by the criminal justice system. Eleni has been mentored by WJN and has first-hand experience in understanding the many barriers faced by women affected by the criminal justice system that leads to incarceration and the ongoing issues post release imprisonment. Understanding these barriers, Eleni now assists people affected by the justice system to believe that their lives can change for the better and supports them in accessing education and employment pathways.
Click to download further information of the current WJN Management Committee (The Board)
Catherine Brennan (full-time) is WJN’s Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for leading the team of staff and mentors to achieve outcomes for the organisation and mentees, whilst ensuring that WJN is represented to its fullest potential within the community. Catherine currently holds the position of President/Chair at Caretakers Cottage youth homeless service in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and has worked within both the corporate and NGO sectors. With a first-hand understanding of the trauma and complexities faced by women and girls that come into contact with the justice system, Catherine is passionate about creating greater opportunities for women and girls to live trauma free and happy lives.
Amanda Aravena (full-time) is WJN’s Mentoring Coordinator and is responsible for the operational, coordination and delivery aspects of the WJN Mentoring Program (WMP). Amanda’s academic background is in sociology, communications and life coaching, and she has extensive experience supporting the empowerment of both women and young people.
Sarah Avery (part-time) is WJN’s Housing Support Coordinator and provides assistance and support to women who are affected by the criminal justice system and experiencing housing issues, including homelessness upon release, sourcing transitional and/or supportive accommodation and working in the prevention of women from becoming homeless. Sarah’s role also includes the extensive networking with other NGO stakeholders, in obtaining the beds needed to reduce homelessness of criminalised women.
Bianca Amoranto (part-time) is WJN’s Mentoring Support Coordinator and is working closely with the Mentoring Coordinator in ensuring the Adult and Youth Mentoring programs enhance and prevent young girls and our adult women from being embroiled in a system that leads to further trauma and disfunction. Bianca is half way through completing her Youth Work Counsellor Diploma, and this tertiary experienced, together with Bianca’s own lived experience of the criminal justice system will most certainly enhance the success of this pilot intervention.
Ann Petrou (part-time) is WJN’s Accounts/Administrative Coordinator and ensures all the day to day accounts and administrative tasks are completed. This includes all membership applications/renewals, donations and general enquiries are responded too and the all round office management duties are completed in making for an effective and organised office. Ann has an extensive background in bookkeeping and accounting, making her a truly integral part of the WJN team.
Click to download further information on the Women’s Justice Network’s Staff