Who We Are - Barwon Community Legal Service

Who We Are

We are an independent Community Legal Service that is funded by the State and Federal Governments to provide free legal information, advice, and casework to members of our local community. A key part of our work is community education and awareness and contributing to law reform, as well as providing direct legal assistance.

Established in 1986 as the Geelong Community Legal Service, our service now supports the legal needs of the Greater Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast and Colac Otway communities.

We are one of more than 200 Community Legal Centres across Australia. These centres all focus on social justice and working with marginalised and disadvantaged people.

Our Vision

A just society in which all people have equal access to, and status under, the law; and a legal system which is humane, fair, and equitable.

Our Mission

To challenge systemic disadvantage and enable our priority communities to access the support they need to understand their legal rights and overcome their legal problems.

Our Commitments

  • Making the interests and needs of clients and community our first priority
  • Social justice, in the belief that access to justice is a fundamental human right
  • Legal change to effect more than individual solutions to legal problems
  • A community development approach which aims to understand our environment and engage with stakeholders and the broader community
  • The empowerment of clients and the broader community where possible and appropriate
  • The provision of accessible services for clients and community
  • Enabling members of the community to make informed decisions
  • Treating members of the community with respect, dignity, and consideration
  • Acting ethically, and with integrity, diligence, and competence in all work activities
  • A supportive, stimulating, and safe work environment for staff and volunteers
  • Continuing improvement through on-going learning and development

Our Commitment to child safety

Barwon Community Legal Service is committed to child safety.

We want children to be safe, happy and empowered.

We support and respect all children, as well as our staff and volunteers.

We are committed to the safety, participation and empowerment of all children.

We have zero tolerance of child abuse, and all allegations and safety concerns will be treated very seriously and consistently with our robust policies and procedures.

Barwon Community Legal Service is committed to preventing child abuse and identifying risks early, and removing and reducing these risks.

Barwon Community Legal Service has robust human resources and recruitment practices to reduce the risk of child abuse by new and existing board members, staff and volunteers.

Barwon Community Legal Service is committed to training and educating our board members, staff and volunteers on child abuse risks.

We are committed to the cultural safety of Aboriginal children, the cultural safety of children from culturally and/or linguistically diverse backgrounds, and to providing a safe environment for children with a disability.

We have specific policies and procedures in place that support our board members, staff and volunteers to achieve these commitments.

Our Board

We are governed by a volunteer Board comprising members of the local community with diverse skills and backgrounds. Our Board Members are:

Tom joined the board in 2018.  Tom is an experienced commercial lawyer and has worked in private and public practice in the Geelong region for over ten years.  He has a strong connection to the region and also a commitment to social justice and to delivering quality legal services to all people in the greater Geelong area.

He is a graduate of the Committee for Geelong’s, Leaders for Geelong program and is currently undertaking the Australian Institute of Company Directors company directors course.

He lives on the Surf Coast with his young family and when not working can be found either on the beach with his children or swimming or surfing at one of our region’s amazing beaches.

Tom is also a member of our Finance and Risk Sub-committee

Natasha has been employed by Victoria Police since 1996, initially working in policy, before becoming a sworn police officer in 2000. Natasha has worked frontline response in Melbourne and across Geelong and has specialised in family violence investigations and response for several years. Natasha is passionate about trauma informed victim centric policing.

Natasha also worked for the Australian Federal Police on secondment for several years, and has a strong working knowledge of the integrated family violence system in Victoria and other states and territories. Natasha is currently an Inspector at Professional Standards Command; in this role she identifies strategies to address organisational corruption risks. Natasha values the importance of stakeholder relationships to support the identification of systemic issues and is an advocate for addressing corruption risks and misconduct in Victoria Police and the public sector.

Natasha has experience in risk management, risk mitigation, planning and compliance. She also has experience in management, OH&S, overseeing quality systems, and staff development, having been in charge of several 24-hr police stations.

Natasha is currently the Deputy Chair on the Board of Barwon Community Legal Service and Chairs the People & Culture sub-committee. Natasha sits on several Victoria Police committees which advocate for gender equality and supporting women in policing.

Natasha loves adventurous travel with her husband and their children, and is a resident of Geelong, where her husband runs a small business, and their children go to school and university.

Charlie Agar has a Bachelor of Business from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and joined our board in 2018.

Charlie practises in business and taxation advisory. Charlie specialises in providing financial guidance for his clients to achieve their business goals while ensuring they meet their compliance requirements. Charlie also brings industry finance experience having previously worked in a publicly listed corporation.

Charlie is also chair of our Finance and Risk Sub-committee

Dominique is an experienced lawyer and a leader in her field. For more than twenty years she has worked predominantly in health law, mental health, disability, aged care and discrimination. Before becoming a lawyer she was a social worker, and as such she will consider legal questions from different perspectives.

Dominque also has a deep interest in sound corporate governance in the public and not-for-profit sectors. She is the Chair of the Ethics Review Committee, Audiology Australia and the Australian College of Audiology and is the Chair of Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service.

Dominque is also a member of our People and Culture Sub-committee

Bio coming soon

Myra is also a member of our People and Culture Sub-committee

Paul is a finance professional with over 10 years’ experience in funds management and corporate advisory roles at domestic and global businesses in Sydney and Melbourne.

He has a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) and a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons) from the University of Melbourne along with a Master of Applied Finance (Hons) from Monash University.   He joined the board in 2021 and is also a member of the Finance and Risk Sub-committee.

Paul grew up in Colac and, after extended periods in Melbourne and Sydney, returned to the Barwon area where he now lives with his wife and young children on the Surf Coast.

Highly qualified Maree has undertaken formal studies in Science (B.Sci) and Business (B.Bus), training (CertIV TAE) and the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ course with further professional development in economics, technology and leadership.

Maree has 30 years’ experience in industry, predominantly in the provision of recruitment and HR services across, Melbourne, Perth and Hong Kong with international recruitment firm, Hudson.

Maree is Director of boutique end-to-end HR services firm, Harvest (est’d 2009) and with her years working across diverse industries, on thousands of assignments, Maree brings the ability to hone on disciplines, sectors and capabilities very quickly.

Recently awarded the Geelong Business Leader of the Year (2022), Maree is Past President of the Geelong Business Club, sits on the Cultural and Economic Development Pillar of G21, the Strategy and Policy Committee of the Committee for Geelong, the Board of Barwon Community Legal Services and has memberships to the Geelong Chamber of Commerce (Silver Partner) and AHRI – Australia’s Peak Human Resource body.

Maree joined the Board in November 2022 and is also a member of the People & Culture Committee.

Liv joined the Board in November 2022. She brings Communications, Public Relations and Policy/Government Relations experience to the Board.

Liv also holds a Bachelor of Professional Communications (majoring in PR and Politics) and is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws. She currently works at a not-for-profit organisation as a Communications & PR Manager, and prior to that was employed by Parliament of Victoria as a Parliamentary Adviser.

Liv was born and raised on the Surf Coast and volunteers in the community addressing issues in the justice system and running school debating in Geelong. Liv is passionate about justice issues especially early intervention and primary prevention, including access to legal representation.

Our Leadership Team

Tamara Kotowicz
Practice Manager - Family Law and Family Violence

Last modified on May 15th, 2023 at 2:31 pm

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