Meet the DFV Prevention Council members

Learn about the members of the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council (the Prevention Council).

Ms Vanessa Fowler OAM (Co-Chair)

Photo of Ms Vanessa Fowler OAM (Co-Chair)Vanessa Fowler is Chair of the Allison Baden-Clay Foundation (the Foundation). Little did she know that in 2012 her life would take such a drastic turn in horrific circumstances following the murder of her sister, Allison. Vanessa has been a guiding force in the formation of the Foundation and is instrumental in coordinating the annual Strive To Be Kind Day in schools, businesses and community groups where she encourages others to share messages of kindness and respect.

Vanessa and her family are on a journey to educate and raise awareness of domestic and family abuse, and has turned a tragic family circumstance into making a difference in the community. The Foundation educates people to recognise the signs of domestic and family abuse and coercive control, and how to become an effective bystander, using tactics to intervene effectively.

Vanessa was named as the 2019 Ipswich Citizen of the Year and the Queensland Winner of the Pride of Australia Medal. In 2021, she was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to community organisations and the Foundation has been inducted onto the Queensland Government’s Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Honour Roll.

As well as her work with the Foundation, Vanessa is an advisor to a number of groups including the University of Queensland Vice Chancellor’s Sexual Misconduct and Prevention Advisory Group, Queensland Equal and Together Alliance, Southern Queensland Diocese of the Anglican Church—DFV Working Group, the Queensland Government’s Respectful Relationships Education Advisory Group, and the Queensland Government’s Integrated System Services Response Advisory Panel.

Vanessa inspires others through her resilience, determination and compassion, ensuring that other families do not experience the same heartache and challenges that her family has endured over the last 10 years. She is passionate about empowering people to consciously contribute to the world around them by creating safe, equal and inclusive environments.

Mr Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO APM (Co-Chair)

Photo of Mr Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO APM (Co-Chair)Bob Atkinson was the Queensland Police Commissioner from 2000 to late 2012. Bob’s significant achievements include overseeing responses to Cyclone Larry in 2006 and the 2010–11 Queensland flood and cyclone disasters, reductions in crime and the road toll, enforcing welfare support, advocating for multiculturalism, and increasing Police Liaison Officer positions including the first Sudanese and Muslim positions.

In 2013, he was appointed as one of 6 Commissioners for the 5-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Bob’s contribution has continued in advisory roles for youth justice, sentencing for child homicide offences, and as the Chair of the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce.

Dr Faiza El-Higzi OAM

Photo of Dr Faiza El-Higzi OAMDr Faiza El-Higzi is an academic, recognised social advocate and respected community leader. She brings extensive experience in cultural diversity as a member of the Queensland Multicultural Advisory Council, Deputy Chair of the University of Queensland’s Cultural Inclusion Council, and Chair of the Ethnic Broadcasting Association of Queensland.

Faiza works to raise awareness of domestic and family violence (DFV) and inform implementation policies and services to meet the complex needs of multicultural communities. Her efforts were recognised by an Order of Australia Medal and a Queensland Multicultural Outstanding Individual Award.

Mr Andrew Taukolo

Photo of Mr Andrew TaukoloAndrew Taukolo is an Australian male of Tongan descent who established the Men4Respect peer support model to engage young men in conversations that question the values, knowledge and skills required to build respectful relationships.

Andrew graduated from Griffith University with a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and has presented at a range of national and international conferences on gender-based violence and violence in relation to young people. He was also a member of the Policy Advisory Group for the National communities attitudes towards violence against women survey which is led by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

Andrew currently applies his expertise in roles as a Director of The AIM Foundation, Queensland Multicultural Advisory Council Member, and Widening Participation for the University of Queensland. A key driver for Andrew is his passion for addressing the structures that lead people into adversity.

Mrs Lynette (Lyn) Anderson

Photo of Mrs Lynette (Lyn) AndersonLyn Anderson is a Gangaalu/Bitjarra woman from the Central Queensland region. She has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Helem Yumba Central Queensland Healing Centre—based in Rockhampton—since 2005. The Centre uses a range of traditional and cultural healing programs—as well as western clinical therapies—to heal and strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing DFV, mental unwellness, addictions and family dysfunction.

Lyn has a career background in vocational and tertiary education, having worked for 12 years at Central Queensland University—including 6 years as Head of Department of Nulloo Yumba (Indigenous Higher Education and Student Support)—as a lecturer of Business Studies at the Central Queensland TAFE, and in community engagement at the Fitzroy Basin Elders—Natural and Cultural Heritage program.

In addition to supporting the implementation of the Queensland Government’s Fourth action plan to tackle DFV, Lyn aims to draw attention to the ways in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people respond to address DFV. That is, asserting that traditional ways of cultural healing can also be adapted and applied to support others to respond to and stop DFV.

Ms Rachel Durdin

Photo of Ms Rachel DurdinRachel Durdin is a high-profile champion of diversity at Rio Tinto who has progressed major changes to policy, and helped steer the company to become a global business leader in DFV issues.

Rachel’s advocacy work has measurably improved outcomes for women in resources, other Australian businesses and the communities in which Rio Tinto operates.

In her current role as Project Director, Rachel is responsible for establishing a group within Rio Tinto that will support people experiencing bad behaviour including sexual assault, harassment, bullying and racism. Rachel is leading the company’s DFV response, which includes becoming the first Australian global mining company to achieve White Ribbon workplace accreditation.

In 2018, Rachel was named Gender Diversity Champion at the 2018 Women in Resources National Awards hosted by the Mineral Councils of Australia. Rio Tinto also won the Award for Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance for their work in DFV. Rachel is a representative on the DFV Prevention Corporate and Community Roundtable.

Ms Kay McGrath OAM

Photo of Ms Kay McGrath OAMKay McGrath is an award-winning journalist and presenter. Working with the Seven Network Australia for the last 35 years, the popular former 6 o’clock news presenter’s brand is trusted, genuine and strong.  Stepping down from the news desk in 2020, Kay currently files special interest news stories and can be seen on Weekender.

With a special brand of warmth and humour, Kay is a sought-after Master of Ceremonies, facilitator and speaker who is able to think on her feet. She has addressed major audiences in Australia and facilitated numerous conferences. Kay has also worked with the Australian Institute of Company Directors in a moderator role.

An authentic operator, she ‘walks the talk’ and is a long time committed child protection campaigner. Kay is Patron of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, Patron and Co-founder of Protect all Children Today, and a Lifetime Ambassador for Act for Kids. She is also a founding member of Women in Media Queensland and sits on the committee.

In 2016 Kay received a Queensland Clarion Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism and in 2017 was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her work in media and child protection. From 2017 to 2021, Kay chaired and then co-chaired the Queensland Government’s Prevention Council. In 2019 Kay was recognised as a Queensland Great. She recently joined the ranks of Australia’s Chief Executive Women.

Kay is keen to use her media profile to further increase awareness and understanding about DFV and how—together—we can work to prevent it.

Ms Torita Blake PLY

Photo of Ms Torita Blake PLYTorita Blake is a proud First Nations Dunghutti woman on a cultural journey to understand her heritage. Born in Moree and growing up in Logan, Torita was barely a month old when she was a victim of family violence and suffered severe brain injuries and a broken rib and collarbone.

She is currently a full-time elite athlete training at the Queensland Academy of Sport, having been selected to compete for Australia on 8 occasions. She is a 2-time Paralympian and a 2-time medallist at the Para World Athletics Championships. Her profile in athletics has given her the opportunity to work on community projects such as Deadly Choices and Athletics Australia’s Raise The Bar Academy, focused on encouraging Indigenous youth to further their academic and sporting endeavours.

As a survivor of family and sexual violence, Torita has a desire to contribute to the work of the Prevention Council by increasing the understanding of healing from trauma and as a national sporting hero wants to educate about domestic, family and sexual violence and how to overcome the odds.

Mr Ben Bjarnesen BM

Photo of Mr Ben Bjarnesen BMBen Bjarnesen is a passionate educator, campaigner and speaker who believes that all people—no matter what their sexuality or gender identity—deserve the right to live a life free from DFV. Ben became a fierce advocate for improved services for LGBTQ+ victims and survivors of DFV after discovering an incredible gap in services following his experience of violence and abuse within a same-sex relationship.

Ben is a Churchill Fellow and has travelled internationally to explore best-practice solutions for police departments to enhance the way in which they respond to DFV in LGBTQ+ communities. He has since been actively involved in advising government and non-government organisations internationally on a range of initiatives designed to improve service delivery to LGBTQ+ communities.

Ben is an operational police officer and volunteers as the Regional Coordinator of the Queensland Police Service LGBTI Liaison Officer Program. In 2020 he founded the LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Foundation and he is also on the Board of Directors for DVConnect. Ben is an awarded educator and campaigner and has previously been named as a Human Rights Hero by the Australian Human Rights Commission and as one of Australia’s Outstanding 50 LGBTI+ Leaders by Deloitte and Google.

Ms Nikita Sellin

Photo of Ms Nikita SellinNikita Sellin is a Yindji, Wakaman and Bidjarra woman born in the Yarrabah Shire where she grew up with her parents and 3 sisters. After undertaking a Bachelor of Law, Nikita was awarded a graduate position with the Australian National Audit Office within the portfolio of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in Canberra.

Since being admitted to the Supreme Court in 2017, Nikita has lived and worked in remote communities in far northern Australia and is currently based on Mornington Island where she undertakes the roles of CEO of the Junkurilaka Justice Group and a senior lawyer on secondment to Atherton Tablelands Law.

In her current role she manages 2 programs and supervises 3 full-time staff. In addition to the Community Justice Group, Junkurilaka delivers the Muyenda Men’s Program, and Nikita also undertakes pro bono legal work in the community. Nikita hopes to bring experience and expertise to her role with the Prevention Council, including grassroots advice and experience as a First Nation person. In 2022, Nikita won the Queensland Law Society’s First Nations Solicitor of the Year Award.

Mr Adair Donaldson

Photo of Mr Adair DonaldsonAdair Donaldson is a lawyer and educator who is also an ambassador for Rape and Domestic Violence Services of Australia. Adair founded Donaldson Law in 2016 and has been a lawyer for more than 25 years. Over this time, he has built a large regional practice and worked as a partner in a national legal firm.

Adair developed Donaldson Law with a primary focus on a non-adversarial approach to achieving holistic legal solutions for clients. His work focuses on helping those who have suffered abuse within institutions such as the Australian Defence Force, religious organisations, educational departments and sporting institutions.

Since 2007 Adair has worked to develop educational programs and consulted on legal issues affecting youth. The development of acclaimed preventative law resources that address the legal consequences of alcohol abuse, sexual assaults, discrimination, illicit drugs, violence, social media, and the illegal use of technology has been a long held passion for him. Adair has presented workshops to thousands of students, parents and athletes over the past decade, and has worked closely with the NRL to develop and implement educational resources for their players and clubs.

He is a member of the Australian Rugby League Commission’s Respectful Relationships Committee, which focuses on ensuring respect for women throughout the code. In 2002 and 2005 he was nominated by his peers for the Australian Plaintiff Lawyers Association Civil Justice Award in Queensland, and has appeared before federal and state parliamentary committees to provide evidence in addressing youth violence, alcohol related issues, and abuse within the Australian Defence Force.

Mrs Jacque Lachmund

Photo of Mrs Jacque LachmundJacque Lachmund is a mother, grandmother of 4, a survivor of DFV and has worked within the domestic violence sector for well over a decade. Jacque was the Coordinator of Chisholm Women’s Refuge, Chair of the Combined Women’s Refuge Group (CWRG), and CEO of Challenge DV.

Jacque has her own DFV consulting business and is a Co-director of Workplace Respect. Placing a strong value on equity across gender, accessibility to support services and prevention strategies to minimise harm, Jacque fosters diversity and inclusion.

As an innovative professional, Jacque is solutions-oriented and works collaboratively with workplaces to embed sustainable cultural change strategies. Jacque has extensive experience developing and facilitating workplace DFV programs for both the public sector and private organisations and is dedicated to educating and supporting businesses to make workplaces safer environments, where conversations about DFV can take place without creating further stigma, shame and fear.

Jacque has well-developed communication and rapport-building strengths and is skilled and experienced in public speaking. Jacque has been invited to speak at corporate, government and community events across Australia to increase awareness and education about DFV through the lens of a survivor. Jacque joins the Prevention Council to be part of the change and contribute to increasing awareness and understanding of DFV, primary prevention, coercive control and the role that each and every one of us plays in ending DFV through our communities and workplaces.

Mr Kai Lowah

Photo of Mr Kai LowahKai Lowah is a proud Torres Strait Islander man who works as a Health Information Officer at Apunipima Cape York Health Council.

He is currently studying to be an Indigenous health practitioner so he can have an impact on health programs in communities. While Kai is passionate about the physical health of people in the community, he also has a specific interest in young people’s mental health. As a board member of Deadly Inspiring Youth Doing Good Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, he provides a health perspective in the decision-making at the same time as building capacity to give back and connect to his people.

Kai also previously served as Captain of the Indigenous Rugby Union Team on an international tour of the United States of America and Canada. Playing against teams in New York City, Boston, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax and Longbeach.

Ms Sha-Lane Gibson

Photo of Ms Sha-Lane GibsonSha-Lane Gibson is a former Queensland Youth Parliament Member and is descendent from the Waymburr, Nuguul and Gamaay clan groups in Far North Queensland.

Sha-Lane has been contributing to improved outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities since graduating from Bond University in 2015. Following a 5-year project role at Cape York Partnerships where she worked across communities including Mossman, Coen, Aurukun and Hope Vale, Sha-Lane was appointed as inaugural Indigenous Projects Officer at Cook Shire Council in 2020.

In late 2022, Sha-lane returned to her home town of Hope Vale as Manager of the Hope Vale O-Hub. O-Hubs are an initiative of Cape York Partnerships and are purpose-built community centres designed to empower families and individuals living in Cape York through capability development and other support services.

Sha-Lane’s great-grandfather Eric Deeral was Queensland's first Indigenous Member of Parliament, representing the seat of Cook in the Queensland Parliament from 1974 to 1977.