At Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service we refer to our family dispute resolution practitioners as chairpersons.
What they do
The chairperson is a trained family dispute resolution practitioner that helps parties to a family law dispute isolate the issues, develop and consider options, and work towards an agreement. They have authority to issue a section 60I certificate under the Family Law Act.
They do not give anyone tailored legal advice. Each party has the right to obtain their own legal advice at any stage of the family dispute resolution process.
Who they are
Meet our chairpersons
Freia Carlton, Manager Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service
Freia is the Manager of Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service. A Nationally Accredited mediator, she has also trained in mediating international parental child abduction cases in both Australia and Japan. She is a Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Specialist in children’s law, having served as chair of the first children’s law specialisation advisory committee and a former board member of International Social Service Australia. She is a current steering committee member of the Greater Melbourne Family Law Pathways Network. Freia has practised in family, civil and criminal law and has previously led the independent children’s lawyer team in the Family Law Program at Victoria Legal Aid.
Samantha Lawry, Managing FDR Practitioner, Family Dispute Resolution Service
Sam is the Managing Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Victoria Legal Aid Family Dispute Resolution Service. She has practised at Victoria Legal Aid in children’s law, family law (as an independent children’s lawyer) and crime and has also delivered family dispute resolution services at a Family Relationship Centre, where part of her role included developing a legally assisted FDR model. She has held a range of management roles in different agencies, also working as a trainer and consultant, and her current role includes the facilitation of peer supervision with the Chairperson panel. She has also trained in Child Inclusive Mediation and Counselling.
Paul is a social worker, family consultant, sessional mediator, trainer, consultant and expert witness and panel member for various agencies, including consultancy work with First Nations groups, and training nationally and internationally on family group conferencing. He has a background in child protection and child welfare and was a Dispute Resolution Convenor at the Children’s Court of Victoria. He is a family consultant providing reports to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia and has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2003.
Natasha is a Nationally Accredited mediator with qualifications in law and psychology, who has worked in the family services and dispute resolution sector. She is a family dispute resolution trainer and a group facilitator of parenting after separation and parenting programs. She has appointments as a facilitator with the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Defence Restorative Engagement program, and the Victorian Restorative Engagement and Redress scheme and is an expert on two Victorian Department of Education panels (for dispute resolution and student wellbeing). Natasha became a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel in 2022, as well as of its Child Consultant panel, delivering Kids Talk services.
Kathy is a Koori woman from Wiradjuri Country, a lawyer and a Nationally Accredited mediator and member of the Tarwirri Indigenous Lawyers Association. With more than 20 years’ experience working in and with Aboriginal communities, she has worked as a lawyer in family, criminal, family violence, and youth law, and established her own family law practice. Kathy has worked for the Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Aboriginal Legal Service of New South Wales, Katherine Women’s Information and Legal Service, and the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria as well as in private practice. She has also taught Aboriginal history and culture at the University of Wollongong and has undertaken additional training in applied family law and psychology. She provides advice to the service on delivering dispute resolution services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, as Aboriginal Consultant Chairperson. Kathy has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2012.
Carmel is a family lawyer who has worked extensively in the family law and dispute resolution sector. Carmel previously worked at the Family Dispute Resolution Service as a Case Manager and since her accreditation as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner has worked both at government funded agencies and in private practice as a mediator and family lawyer, and at Deakin University. She became a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel in 2022.
Anthea is a Nationally Accredited mediator who has worked extensively in family relationship services, including in family dispute resolution. She also has experience as a bilingual consultant specialising in trade and investment with China, including working for consulting firms and the Australian Trade Commission. Anthea is currently undertaking additional qualifications in family therapy. Anthea has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2012.
Jodie is a social worker and Nationally Accredited mediator, who has worked in community agencies and now has her own private practice. Jodie is an accredited trainer and coach in mediation theory, practice, and techniques, training family dispute resolution students, law students and lawyers, and provides regular supervision to Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners and other mediators, and to Restorative Engagement Practitioners. Jodie is appointed as a Defence Abuse Response Taskforce Restorative Engagement Facilitator. Jodie became a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel in 2022.
Susan is a Nationally Accredited mediator, trainer and Law Institute of Victoria accredited specialist in mediation and family law. Susan is also on the Independent Children's Lawyer Panel at Victoria Legal Aid and continues to work privately as a lawyer, family dispute resolution practitioner and mediator. Susan is also a trained conflict coach, arbitrator, and lecturer at the College of Law. Susan has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2003.
Mary Louise Hatch
Mary Louise is a collaboratively trained family lawyer, Nationally Accredited mediator, and Parenting Coordinator, working in the public sector and private practice. A former executive member of Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria and Victorian Women Lawyers, she is currently Deputy President of Victorian Association of Collaborative Professionals. Mary Louise provides mediation and dispute resolution training and coaching for private organisations and a university, and lectures in family law. Mary Louise is also on the VCAT Mediation panel. Mary Louise became a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service Chairperson panel in 2022.
Mark is a Nationally Accredited mediator, former Chair of the Mediator Standards Board and barrister who has combined legal practice with extensive mediation work in family law and other jurisdictions. He is a former Chair of the Mediator Standards Board and is an accredited course presenter, trainer, coach, and assessor. Mark has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2003.
Walter is a social worker, Nationally Accredited mediator and former family consultant at the Family Court of Australia who has worked as a practitioner, trainer, and manager in dispute resolution for decades. When the service started in 2003, he was one of the founding team members and has since held roles as clinical services coordinator, supervising consultant, and manager, regularly supervising mediators. Walter is also a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service Child Consultant Panel, delivering Kids Talk services.
Valda is a family lawyer and Nationally Accredited mediator, Law Institute of Victoria accredited specialist in family law, former Family Court of Australia registrar and mediator. Having worked in private practice and the legal assistance sector, she now undertakes private family law locum and dispute resolution work. Valma has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2012.
Tony is a family consultant, providing reports to the family law courts and working in private practice offering counselling and family therapy. He has worked in child protection as a Dispute Resolution Convenor at the Children’s Court of Victoria and as a family group conference convenor and in corrections providing individual counselling to prisoners, particularly around drug-related offending behaviour. Tony has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2003 and is also a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service Child Consultant Panel, delivering Kids Talk services.
Jill is a family lawyer, Nationally Accredited mediator and arbitrator, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Sessional Judicial Registrar and was previously a Senior Registrar and Court Mediator. She worked for many years with the Child Support Agency, determining applications for review of child support assessments. She works privately as a family dispute resolution practitioner and mediator. Jill has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2003.
Kalman is a practising psychologist, focused on family law mediation, counselling, individual and family therapy. He worked as a manager and mediator in the Family Court of Australia and continues his clinical, counselling and mediation practice privately. Kalman has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2003.
Graeme is a lawyer with a practice spanning family, family violence, and children’s law, primarily in the Western district of Victoria, having also been a Magistrates’ Court registrar. He has also worked as a family dispute resolution practitioner in community agencies in Warrnambool. Graeme has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2012.
Rosa is a psychologist and collaborative law professional practitioner who has worked as a family counsellor/consultant for the family law courts, including as a Child Dispute Services manager and Dispute Resolution Coordinator, and in private practice, where she has continued to provide family reports for the courts. She is a trainer of family consultants and independent children’s lawyers and is also member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service Child Consultant panel, delivering Kids Talk services. Rosa has been a member of the Victoria Legal Aid Chairperson panel since 2012.
Nigel has a background in the community sector, including youth support, supported housing for youth, public housing advocacy, private rental brokerage, consumer affairs advocacy, drug and alcohol support, multicultural mental health and for the Office of Corrections, and then as a family dispute resolution practitioner. Nigel has been a member of the Family Dispute Resolution Service’s Chairperson panel since 2012.
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Reviewed 27 July 2022