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:

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 Finance & Risk Committee.

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.

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 & Risk 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 in an advocacy and solutions-oriented role for vulnerable families at a Geelong community services organisation, and was previously 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.

Liv is also Chair of our People & Culture Committee.

Bio coming soon

Myra is also a member of our People & Culture Committee.

Blake is an accomplished professional renowned for his leadership in community development, youth services, and mental health advocacy. With a strong dedication to empowering individuals and fostering inclusive communities, Blake has made a lasting impact throughout his career. As the Chief Executive Officer of The Youth Junction, he provides governance, leadership, and support, ensuring the effective delivery of services and transforming the Visy Cares Hub – Sunshine into a thriving centre for aligned Youth Services.

Blake’s achievements extend to his roles in local Government, where he spearheaded the planning, development, and delivery of youth and community services. He forged vital partnerships with regional providers and championed the needs of young people. His commitment to mental health and community capacity building was evident as a Remote Program Manager in the Northern Territory where he successfully developed and managed culturally informed family mental health programs in remote Arnhem Land Communities. Blake has worked across a diversity of youth and community services over a 20-year career including in substance abuse and sexuality education, further demonstrating his dedication to making a difference in the lives of young individuals.

Blake is also a member of our People & Culture Committee.

Since completing his Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws at Deakin University, Satbir has practiced exclusively in Family & Relationship Law. After completing his degree Satbir worked for two years as a Judge’s Associate at the Federal Circuit Court of Australia in the Family & Relationship Law jurisdiction. From there, he worked in a Melbourne law firm practicing exclusively in all areas of family law.

In 2021, Satbir won the Lawyers Weekly 30 under 30 award for Family Law. The award recognises and rewards the young rising stars within the legal industry aged 30 and under who excel in their chosen field, displaying key leadership qualities such as dedication, professionalism and eagerness to grow both themselves and their firm. In 2021 Satbir was recognised as a Rising Star by the Doyles Guide.

In 2022 and 2023 Satbir was recognised as a Recommended family lawyer by the Doyles’ Guide.

He has a keen interest in sports, particularly cricket and football, and in his spare time manages the Junior Program at his local cricket club.

Satbir is also a member of our People & Culture Committee.

Our Leadership Team

Tamara Kotowicz
Practice Manager - Family Law and Family Violence

Last modified on May 6th, 2024 at 8:23 am

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