Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Members of National Council to reduce violence against women and children announced

The Australian Government today announced the members of its National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children.

The Council will be chaired by one of the founders of the Australian White Ribbon Day campaign and international human rights advocate, Libby Lloyd AM, with support from deputy-chair, Heather Nancarrow, Director of the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research.

The nine other members of the Council are Lisa Wilkinson, Pauline Woodbridge, Vanessa Swan, Dorinda Cox, Andrew O’Keefe, Melanie Heenan, Associate Professor Moira Carmody, Maria Dimopoulos and Rachel Kayrooz.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that around one in three Australian women experience physical violence and almost one in five experience sexual violence over their lifetime.

No person should fear for their safety at home, at work, or on the street.

The purpose of the Council is to assist with the development and implementation the Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children, which aims to reduce domestic violence and sexual assault.

Council members have been drawn from diverse professional and personal backgrounds, which will enable them to provide expert advice and direction to assist the Government to lead the Plan. Upcoming priorities include:

  • Developing respectful relationship resources for Australian high school students to educate young Australians, particularly boys, about the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault;
  • $1 million over four years to support White Ribbon Day education activities in rural and regional communities to promote culture-change that will reduce violence against women; and
  • Toughening and harmonising state and territory domestic violence and sexual assault laws.

The Council will start work by undertaking a public consultation with a broad range of stakeholders including members of the public, victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and criminal justice sector professionals.

The Council will provide expert advice and direction to the Government to ensure evidence, best practice and innovation underpin the development of the Plan.

Council membership

Council Chair

Libby Lloyd AM, ACT

Ms Lloyd is a former president of UNIFEM Australia. She was actively involved in re-establishing the White Ribbon Campaign in Australia in 2003 and is now a Board Member of the White Ribbon Foundation. Libby worked intermittently over 14 years in the Commonwealth Public Service in Australia and as a United Nations staff member for five years, in two separate assignments. The first was with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) in Indonesia, working with Indo-Chinese boat people (1979-82). The second, again for UNHCR, was in Iraq (1989-90) working with Iranian refugees and with displaced workers from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in Iraq, and with Australian and other foreign hostages during the Iraq-Kuwait Crisis. Libby is the principal of a management consultancy, focussing on cross cultural awareness, program and service review. She is also involved in a range of community support activities. In 1992 Libby was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to refugees and to the international community in Iraq and Kuwait.

Deputy Chair

Heather Nancarrow, Qld

Heather Nancarrow is Director of the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, Central Queensland University, and Convener of the Queensland Domestic Violence Services Network. She has more than 25 years experience in the domestic and family violence prevention field, including 11 years in community-based women’s services and approximately 10 years in Government policy. This included management of Queensland’s Domestic Violence Prevention Unit, with responsibility for domestic violence legislation, cross-government policy coordination and community education. Ms Nancarrow’s primary research interests include justice responses to domestic and family violence, and responses that meet the needs of Indigenous, and rural and remote communities.


Associate Professor Moira Carmody, NSW

Associate Professor Moira Carmody has been working in the area of sexual assault since 1983. She has been a sexual assault counsellor and co-ordinator and policy advisor to state governments across Australia. She was a foundation member of the NSW Premier’s Council for women from 1995-1999 and provided key leadership in the development of the NSW Violence against Women Strategy. Since 1995 she has been researching, teaching and writing about sexual assault prevention, gender and sexuality. She is currently the coordinator of the Criminology Programme and a member of the Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney.

Dorinda Cox, WA

Dorinda Cox is a young Aboriginal woman from Western Australia with expertise in developing and delivering Aboriginal specific sexual assault education. She was previously an Aboriginal Liaison Worker at Perth’s Sexual Assault Resource Centre and currently a member of ACSSA’s Reference Group for the Office for Women. Ms Cox is the Manager of a sexual assault/family violence healing project funded jointly by the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) and the Western Australian Government.

Maria Dimopoulos, Vic

Maria Dimopoulos has a formal legal background and has worked for over ten years as a legal adviser at the Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre. During that time, she also coauthored the book: “Blood on Whose Hands – the Killing of Women and Children in Domestic Violence” (Federation Press 1992). She continues to work as a legal trainer and legal policy consultant with a broad background in community service delivery and service development. Maria has provided training on the issue of family violence to the Australian Institute of Judicial Administration, Judicial College of Victoria Family Court of Australia, various police jurisdictions and legal aid bodies. She has held numerous positions on government, judicial and community committees relating to family violence. In March 2002, Maria was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women and is also a recipient of an Amnesty International Human Rights Award for her work on the legal needs of women from NESB experiencing family violence. Maria is currently enrolled at RMIT in a PhD program examining concepts of family violence, ‘culture’, the legal system, and judicial education programs and is the Managing Director of Myriad Consultants.

Dr Melanie Heenan, Vic

Dr Melanie Heenan works at the Australian Football League (AFL) as the Senior Project Officer responsible for the implementation of their Respect and Responsibility Program. The program is designed to build environments across the football industry that are safe, supportive and inclusive of women and girls. Dr Heenan also works as the Senior Program Adviser to the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation’s violence against women program. Dr Heenan’s career has included over 15 years of research and policy experience. She was the inaugural co-ordinator of the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, and she has held positions with the Victorian Law Reform Commission and the Victorian Department of Justice. Dr Heenan has also worked with the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA House) 1995-2000, National Conference on Sexual Assault and The Law 1995-96, and the Rape Law Reform Evaluation Project 1992-95. She has also been heavily involved on State Government Advisory Committees and in community groups.

Rachel Kayrooz, Qld

Ms Kayrooz is survivor of domestic violence and is a working single mother who began her selffunded organisation Shout! Speak Out, which assists in the prevention and awareness of domestic violence through education & public speaking, in November 2005. She is now a highly sought-after writer, speaker and educator on domestic, family & sexual violence, healthy relationships, self esteem and the single parenting/workforce relationship. She is also a mentor to single parents starting out in business.

Andrew O’Keefe, NSW

Andrew O’Keefe is the Chairman of the White Ribbon Foundation (Australia) and a leading Ambassador in the White Ribbon Campaign. The White Ribbon Campaign promotes culturechange around violence against women, with a particular emphasis on shaping the attitudes and behaviours of men and boys. Through a national media campaign, as well as educational and community-based programmes, the White Ribbon Campaign seeks to engage men and boys as leaders in the fight against violence. Some 300 prominent Australian men have to date agreed to be White Ribbon Day Ambassadors to advocate and educate for healthy, non-violent relationships with women. Mr O’Keefe has been instrumental in raising the profile and activity of the White Ribbon Day campaign. He is best known as the host of Channel 7’s Deal or No Deal, and as cohost of Weekend Sunrise, also on the Seven Network. Andrew’s past experience includes four years as a solicitor with Allens Arthur Robinson and a short time with PIAC (the Public Interest Advocacy Centre).

Vanessa Swan, SA

Vanessa Swan is the Director of Yarrow Place and is a former Chairperson of the National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence (NASASV), the peak body for organisations who work with victim/survivors of sexual violence and who work to prevent sexual violence. Ms Swan is on the Parole Board of South Australia and is a current member of the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA) Reference Group. She is of Lebanese origin and has a women’s health and therapy background.

Lisa Wilkinson, NSW

Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of the Nine Network’s TODAY Show, is one of Australia’s most admired and respected journalists and corporate presenters. For the past two decades, she has successfully applied her journalistic talents to magazine publishing, television and radio. Her communication skills have also made her one of the country’s most sought-after corporate presenters and conference and event facilitators. Ms Wilkinson’s media career got off to an astonishing start when she was appointed editor of the national women’s magazine Dolly at age 21. Four years later, on the recommendation of the late Kerry Packer, Ms Wilkinson was offered the editorship of Cleo. Over the next decade, she oversaw Cleo’s rapid circulation surge which resulted in a doubling of circulation and guiding it to the position of the No. 1 selling women’s lifestyle magazine per capita in the world. Later she became Cleo’s International Editor-in-Chief, running editions in New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Apart from her unrivalled magazine skills, Lisa is a leading business mentor. Under her special brand of guidance and training, there are now 18 women and men around the world who have gone on to become successful magazine editors themselves. Nicole Kidman, Megan Gale and Kate Fischer can also thank Ms Wilkinson for her astute talent-spotting abilities and the role she has played in launching their careers.

Pauline Woodbridge, Qld

Pauline Woodbridge, Chair of the Women’s Services Network (WESNET), has been involved in the field of domestic and family violence prevention for 25 years. In this time she has shown leadership and made significant contributions to domestic and family violence prevention in national roles and also in rural and remote areas of Queensland, including services to Indigenous communities. During the early 1990’s, Pauline was involved in the initial formation and formal establishment of the WESNET. In 1995, she formed the North Queensland Domestic Violence Resource Service in Townsville, which has since expanded to include another office in Mount Isa. In 1998, Ms Woodbridge began a Men’s Perpetrator Education Program in Townsville, and has maintained involvement in the inclusion of men’s programs in both Townsville and Mount Isa. She has also facilitated information groups about domestic and family violence for men and women from Sudan, Fijo and Tokelau Island. Pauline was given recognition of her contributions in 2006 as an individual winner of Queensland’s Domestic and family violence prevention awards and in 2007 received the Townsville Australia Day Achievement Award.

More information can be found at National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their children.