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Emergencies & disasters! What is the role of legal and public sector agencies?

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Event description

In three years, the Victorian community has experienced floods, fires, and the COVID-19 pandemic. What have public centre agencies done well during this period? What have they learned from responding to emergencies, handling complaints, and service response? What practices should be carried forward?   

At this special Victoria Law Week event, expert panellists will answer these pressing questions and discuss the future responsibilities of the legal and public sectors during times of crisis.

Facilitator - 

John Richardson, Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience

John Richardson is the Manager of Knowledge Development, for the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, which is the national institute for disaster risk reduction and resilience. He studied geography at ANU, took a left turn and became a registered nurse, did a bunch of other things before answering a job ad for an emergency management professional in 1997.
Since then, he was the State Recovery Manager for Victoria in the 2000s, the National Resilience Adviser for Australian Red Cross, and has been involved in a number of major, and hidden, disasters in that time. He also is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Melbourne in the Melbourne School of Global and Public Health and has represented Australia in International fora. He has a keen interest and eye for patterns and connections in disasters, both at a practice and a policy level. 

Panelists –   

Deborah Glass, Victorian Ombudsman

Deborah Glass is the Victorian Ombudsman. Her 10-year term began in March 2014. She is the first woman to serve as Victorian Ombudsman.
Before becoming Ombudsman, Deborah led criminal and misconduct investigations into police for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) of England and Wales.
In 2008 Deborah became the IPCC Deputy Chair and in 2012 she was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her service.
Raised in Melbourne, Deborah studied law at Monash University. Her career has taken her to an investment bank in Switzerland through to financial services regulation in Hong Kong and London.
Deborah is on the board of the International Ombudsman Institute, which connects more than 190 Ombudsman offices world-wide.
Deborah is committed to ensuring fair and reasonable decision making and improving public administration. She holds a firm belief in public sector integrity and advancing human rights.

Jennifer Beveridge, CEO, Tenants Victoria

Jennifer has been CEO of Tenants Victoria since June 2019. A collaborative not-for-profit leader, her experience spanning management and service delivery roles in housing, health, youth and community development over 25 years has been centred on the needs and aspirations of people in the community receiving those services. Driven by social justice values, Jennifer’s operational skills are complemented by a grasp of public policy detail and what’s required for stakeholder engagement and successful advocacy. Many of her most satisfying work outcomes, Jennifer says, have been achieved at times when public policy and funding constraints required bold decision-making

Before she joined Tenants Victoria, Jennifer was CEO for seven years at Eating Disorders Victoria. She has also worked at Jesuit Social Services and Merri Health and lectured at La Trobe University. Jennifer’s initial training was as a clinical speech pathologist. She also has two Master’s degrees – a Master of Strategic Foresight and an MBA, both from Swinburne University. In 2016, Jennifer was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and undertook a study program at Harvard University on how innovation and collaboration can improve service outcomes.

Sharon Keith, Program Manager, Disaster Legal Help  

Sharon is the Program Manager of Disaster Legal Help Victoria (DLHV), a partnership of legal bodies which connects people with support for their legal problems – both in preparation for, and after disaster. In this role, she helps lead the strategic vision of DLHV partners: the Federation of Community Legal Centres, Justice Connect, the Law Institute of Victoria, Victoria Legal Aid, Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and the Victorian Bar Association. Before DLHV, Sharon spent almost two decades at Victoria Legal Aid, across various parts of the organisation, as acting managing lawyer of the Dandenong office, managing lawyer of the Bail and Remand Court and summary crime teams, as well as extensively in the therapeutic courts. Her focus is on supporting clients and the broader community by increasing and improving access to justice and ensuring that client experiences are central to reform.

    Gillian Wilks, CEO, Social Security Rights Victoria

    Gillian Wilks is the Chief Executive Officer at Social Security Rights Victoria, a position she has held since the start of 2017. Her previous sector experience includes roles as the Deputy CEO at Peninsula Community Legal Centre, the leadership position at the Federation of Community Legal Centres, and as a community legal education work/volunteer co-ordinator. In these roles Gillian has had the opportunity to work and represent the sector at local, state and national levels and to take on a wide range of responsibilities. She is the author of resources relating to the design and delivery of community legal education and of volunteer programs.

    Social Security Rights Victoria is a state-wide community legal centre that specialises in social security and related laws, policy and their administration.

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