About us

QAI Team

Management committee

Photo of Byron Albury

Byron Albury

President

 

I am an indigenous male with a disability which I believe gives me a unique perspective on fighting for the rights of not only indigenous people but also other marginalised and disadvantaged people. I became a member of Queensland Advocacy Inc. in the year 2000. My disability type is Cerebral Palsy Spastic Quadriplegia. My childhood years were spent in an institution setting in Brisbane. My family came from Rockhampton but has lived in the Cherbourg Community for over 20 years.

I am a team player, well spoken, loyal, passionate and determined in my beliefs to maintain and defend the fundamental needs of people with disability in Queensland. I have been an active volunteer member and team leader of Club Rainbow (formally Radio Lollypop) at the Royal Children’ Hospital at Herston since 1994.

I have recently undertaken and completed the 3-day Social Role Valorisation (SRV) training with Peter Millier, senior trainer. This training has assisted me along the way to deepen my understanding of the bigger picture of social and systems advocacy. I also intend to undertake P.A.S.S.I.N.G. in October this year.

Since I was 22 years old I have been passionate about advocacy from a grass roots understanding. My experiences range from working closely with people with disability, families and senior management of many community organisations.

I am currently the Chair of the Client Consultative Committee with the Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland and have been for the past five and a half years.

If a conflict should arise between my involvement with the Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland and the QAI committee I will deal with it in an appropriate manner.

The experiences I have gained throughout my life will assist me to contribute to furthering QAI’s mission statement, values and beliefs.

Photo of Fiona Kennedy

Fiona Kennedy

Vice President

 

Principal Solicitor | B.A. (Hons), Dip.Ed., LL.B.(Hons)(UQ)

 Fiona Kennedy completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English Literature at University of Queensland in 1984, her Diploma of Education in 1988 and her Bachelor of Laws (Hons) in 1998 from the same institution. She has tutored in Law at the University of Queensland.  

After Fiona completed articles with Delaney & Delaney and worked as an employed Solicitor in another CBD firm and at a legal advisory service, she returned to Delaney & Delaney as Principal Solicitor of the firm in 2001. Fiona has also completed the Barristers’ Practice Course so that she is comfortable as an advocate in the courtroom as well as in her role as solicitor.  

In 2005, Fiona became an Accredited Family Law Specialist.  She also practices in Employment and Commercial Law.  Currently she has a special interest in Native Title and working for organisations in the disability sector.  

Delaney & Delaney is a general law firm of six solicitors with offices in the Brisbane CBD and Wilston on Brisbane’s inner city northside. 

Fiona has had four children, one of whom, Andrew, was severely disabled with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hearing and sight loss associated with microcephaly.  She has been involved in advocacy for disabled people through committee positions for Queensland Parents of the Disabled (later named Queensland Parents of People with a Disability), the Cerebral Palsy League and Red Hill Special School P & C.   She has been a member of the Board of QAI since the AGM in 2009. 

Fiona believes passionately in systemic advocacy for the disabled.  She has experienced the frustrations of advocacy for individuals in systems that are chronically underfunded and disconnected from the needs of those who are most vulnerable.  She wants to be part of QAIs drive to effect positive change. 

Photo of Donna Best

Donna Best

Secretary

 

Donna Best is a board member and founding member of QAI and she is a long term self-advocate.  She has been involved in trying to give people with intellectual disability a better life.  Donna has had a long history of advocacy involvement with people with disability at Queensland Advocacy Incorporated, Queensland Parents of Persons with Disability, SUFY (formerly Speaking Up for You), GADIP (Greater Achievement for people with Disability Ipswich) and Queenslanders with Disability Network (QDN).  Donna is the convenor of Brisbane Hot Topics (a discussion group of  people with disability).  Donna has been working with SARU (Self-advocacy Resource Unit) in Melbourne on their website development, funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).  

Donna recently was working on Peer Facilitation for the Ready to Go Project which provided NDIS participation readiness.for people with intellectual impairment. Donna has a long history of being involved in projects like the Community Living Project (CLA), Community Resource Unit (CRU), Australian Communication Exchange (ACE) and Lifestream.  Donna was involved in the Stewart (Basil Stafford) Inquiry, the Senate Inquiry into Young People in Aged Care, and the Senate Inquiry into Sterilization of People with Intellectual Disabilities.    

Donna presented at the Round Table for People with Intellectual Disabilities in Brisbane, and at the ‘Walk the Talk’ Forum at the Brisbane Convention Centre.  Donna was involved in the Digital Stories Project for QDN.  With Samantha Mathieson, Donna presented a paper at the Speakout Conference in Tasmania in 2017, and she will present as part of a roundtable discussion at the Australasian Society for Intellectual Disability (ASID) conference on the Gold Coast in Queensland in November 2018.  Donna currently  is working with others towards the establishment of a Queensland-based self-advocacy group.  

Photo of Meriel Stanger

Meriel Stanger

Treasurer

 

In March 1995, an event occurred that changed my life forever. As a result of a fall from a horse, I acquired a brain injury. I was 35 years old and had two daughters aged seven and twelve at the time of the accident. I spent three and half months in a coma and a year in hospital all together. I am now a ‘spastic’ quadriplegic and partially blind in one eye. 

I now live at home with my two daughters. I am a member on the Board of Management at Qualtime Association Inc (a day respite centre for physically and intellectually young people) as the Consumer Representative. I’m also involved with a new group of people who are endeavouring to make life better for some of the long-term residents at the Jacana ABI Centre. 

I’m in the process of writing a book about my accident and journey of recovery called ‘Permission To Shine’. 

I feel I have some first-hand experience in this field, although I have much to learn. I’m willing to become as knowledgeable as I can about disabilities.

Before moving to Queensland in 1992, I had an interior design business in Perth for ten years. A field I would like to follow is making homes disabled friendly without it looking like a disabled circus!

Photo of Brendon Donohue

Brendon Donohue

General member

 

My name is Brendon, I am a young disability advocate who has worked on making public service websites and mobile apps accessible.  

In particularly the Seek.com website and the Centrelink login process. Increasing employment access to people with a disability.  

I have also worked on making public transport accessible increasing the access to the world to people with a disability. I have also commented and provided submissions into the NGR Train failure in Queensland.  

I believe my hard work and my continuous willingness to learn about advocacy makes me a good placement on QAI’s board. 

Photo of Niki Edwards

Nikki Edwards

General member

 

Niki graduated in Social Work from the University of Queensland (UQ) in 1982, completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1992 (UQ), a Master of Public Administration in 2000 (UQ) and a PhD in Epidemiology in 2007 (UQ). She has worked in health, disability and human services for more than 20 years: initially working in psychiatric services as people with disabilities moved from institutional care/community development, then clinical work in hospital and rehabilitation settings, public policy and public administration across government portfolios including family services, community services, disability and mental health, and in recent years, medical education. 

Niki has been involved in academia for more than a decade, undertaking mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) research and teaching responsibilities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, including teaching of medical students and trainee psychiatrists. She recently worked for government developing mental health policy and undertook community partnership work but is more specifically interested in the mental health needs of vulnerable people, including people with disabilities (particularly those with intellectual and developmental disability). 

Niki is one of the few accredited international trainers in the psychiatric assessment of adults with intellectual and developmental disability. Other focused research and teaching interests include disability in the international setting, human rights, women’s issues and clinical communication between allied health professionals and medical practitioners. Niki is appointed as a Senior Lecturer with the School of Public Health and Social Work and from 2014 was appointed as the Coordinator of the Social Work undergraduate degrees. Regardless of her academic career and working life, Niki considers her greatest achievement to be parenting her five beautiful children and three “pesky” dachshunds with her partner of 30 years.

Trevor Boone

General member

 

Trevor joined the Management Committee of QAI in 2010. He served on the board as Secretary for the year of 2013-14 and has now returned to being a commitee member. Trevor has a passion for advocacy and supporting people who are trying to improve their situation.  Trevor has completed a Diploma of Business Management, and works full time for the Queensland Government as a Call Centre Consultant.  Trevor also has an interest in tutoring English to new migrants on a voluntary basis.

Ted Cole

General member

 

Ted has been actively involved with individual and systems advocacy for the past twenty-five years. This included volunteering at eight Not-For-Profit organisations in Canada and Australia, of which three were Board of Director positions. A list of these NFP organisation follows. Most notable is his involvement with assessing rent affordably/appropriateness for lower-income earners in Queensland.

His passion is assisting others in exercising appropriate, informed choices and to ensure they have a voice in matters regarding their dignity, fairness, justice, equality, safety, inclusion, autonomy and respect, especially when they are not being heard.

He has worked at sixteen corporations in the public and private sectors. His transferable skills include Accounting, Financial Reporting, Project Management, Change Management, Data Analysis, Strategic Planning, Business Analysis, Work Evaluation, Process Compliance and Quality Assurance.

Ted’s most significant Accounting and Financial Reporting roles were that at EXXON/Esso in Canada, as well as being a Project Manager at Queensland University of Technology for their Financial Management Reform Programme.

Eight NFP organisations Ted has been volunteered with: 

  • Parents Against Drugs
  • Family Education Centre*
  • Worlds of Music Toronto*
  • City of Kingston, Community Services Endeavour Foundation*
  • A Place to Belong Anglicare UnitingCare

*Board of Directors

Staff

Photo of Matilda Alexander

Matilda Alexander

Chief Executive Officer

 

Matilda started with QAI in March 2021 and her work builds on her longstanding commitment to working towards a free, equal and inclusive society.  Matilda is a leader and human rights lawyer with a lengthy history in the community legal sector including at Prisoners’ Legal Service and LGBTI Legal Service. 

She teaches Prison Law at Griffith University and has previously worked at the Queensland Human Rights Commission and Legal Aid Queensland.  She has won multiple awards for her work with vulnerable communities and holds an enduring passion for justice.

Photo of Bill Kyle

Bill Kyle

Chief Operating Officer

 

Bill has been working in the not-for-profit sector for over 35 years and in the Community Legal Sector since 2004. Originally setting out on a career as a Corporate Accountant in the early 1980’s he decided there was more important things to do with one’s life and promptly ran away to join the circus now known as Circa.

His work since his circus days includes filling the roles of Finance Officer with Youth Advocacy Centre for seven years, overseeing the financial aspects of QAILS (CLCQ), leaving the auspice of Women’s Legal Centre, and over six years as the Accountant at Caxton Legal Centre. He also has extensive experience doing project and consulting work for many not-for-profits particularly in the arts and cultural development sectors and looks forward to contributing to QAI’s future.

Photo of Carly Dennis

Carly Dennis

Principal Solicitor

 

Carly is Principal Solicitor at Queensland Advocacy Incorporated. Carly joined QAI’s Mental Health Legal Service (MHLS) in August 2017 as a solicitor before moving into the role of Principal Solicitor in November 2019. Carly has a degree in psychology and has experience in the private sector and litigation. 

Carly is driven by her passion to help others, promote social change and support the most vulnerable people in the community with disability by fostering genuine positive relationships and advocating for individual rights. 

Carly’s background in psychology and interest in mental health and human rights compels her work with QAI’s MHLS, which provides legal representation for vulnerable clients before the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

Photo of Emma Phillips

Emma Phillips

Principal Solicitor

 

Emma Phillips is Principal Solicitor at Queensland Advocacy Incorporated. She holds a Bachelor of Laws (Hons 1) and a Bachelor of Arts (political theory) from the University of Queensland and a PhD in human rights law from La Trobe University. 

Emma commenced her career working in private practice, specialising in discrimination and industrial law and has worked in the community legal sector for many years. Emma has a keen interest in human rights protections for vulnerable people and was actively involved in the campaign for a Human Rights Act in Queensland and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) disability rights network. She is Deputy Chair of the Human Rights and Public Law Committee of the Queensland Law Society and former Chair of the Human Rights Subcommittee of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.

Photo of Andrea de Smidt

Andrea de Smidt

Senior Solicitor

 

Andrea de Smidt has worked for over twelve years as a lawyer supporting disadvantaged members of our community. Andrea’s experience includes coordinating the Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic and Self Representation Service, both initiatives of LawRight, and working as a Senior Lawyer for Legal Aid Queensland representing clients in anti-discrimination complaints and National Disability Insurance Scheme appeals.  Andrea enjoys working with vulnerable clients and tries her best, through her practical and empathetic manner, to make a difference in their lives.

Vinay Veerabhadra

Senior Solicitor & Volunteer Coordinator

 

Vinay is the Senior Solicitor and Volunteer Coordinator at Queensland Advocacy. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours in Political Science) from York University and a Juris Doctor from Bond University. 

Vinay Veerabhadra works across the Mental Health Legal Service specialising in mental health and human rights law. He was previously employed as a solicitor at LawRight within their Mental Health Law Practice and Health Advocacy Legal Clinic (now a part of the Community and Health Justice Partnerships).

Photo of Sophie Wiggans

Sophie Wiggans

Systems Advocate

 

Sophie’s passion for upholding the human rights of people with disability comes from her experience in individual disability advocacy and working alongside people with disability and their families as a social worker in the health setting. Sophie’s undergraduate degree in law complements her understanding of the systemic barriers facing vulnerable members of our community and inspires her to promote the values of social justice and equality.

Photo of Beenush Khokhar

Beenush Khokhar

Mental Health Solicitor

 

Beenush is a solicitor in the MHLS team, assisting clients appearing before the Mental Health Review Tribunal for a range of matters. She has extensive experience in advocating for the human rights and protections for vulnerable peoples, and particularly enjoys supporting people of diverse cultural backgrounds.

Photo of Saibal Kar

Saibal Kar

Mental Health Solicitor

 

Saibal is a solicitor in our Mental Health Legal Service. After completing his legal studies, Saibal volunteered in the Mental Health Law Practice at LawRight. Saibal has also volunteered in a variety of Community Legal Centres, including Caxton Legal Centre and Refugee and Immigration Legal Service.

Thirushka Naidoo

Mental Health Solicitor

 

Thirushka is a solicitor in our Mental Health Legal Service. Thirushka comes from a background of being a criminal defence lawyer working on varied matters ranging in complexity. With this background, Thirushka has developed a passion for social justice and protecting people’s rights and believes that being able to provide support for clients in some of their most difficult times is a vital and rewarding aspect of legal practice.

Photo of Eva Thelander

Eva Thelander

Mental Health Paralegal

 

Eva is a Paralegal in our Mental Health Legal Service, managing matters referred from Legal Aid Queensland. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Film, Television and New Media with a second major in Fashion and is currently in her final year of her Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT. 

Eva has extensive experience in administrative support roles in government, private practice and in the community legal sector, and is looking forward to pursuing a legal career in Forensic Mental Health and Human Rights.  

Photo of Dayne Kingston

Dayne Kingsford

Human Rights Solicitor

 

Dayne Kingsford is a solicitor in QAI’s Human Rights Legal Services. Dayne joined QAI in 2020 and has previously worked at a range of organisations, including community legal centres, not-for-profits, and commercial practice. He was admitted in 2017 as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of Queensland and joined the High Court of Australia’s register in 2019. Dayne holds a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), both from the Queensland University of Technology. He also holds a Bachelor of Communication degree from Griffith University and is working toward a masters degree in law from the University of Sydney. Dayne has a passion for protecting the rights of vulnerable community members, with a particular focus on human rights, mental health advocacy, and Indigenous rights. Dayne’s interests outside of work include gardening, animals, visual arts, and reading.

Jessica Park

Human Rights Paralegal

 

Jessica Park is the Paralegal in our Human Rights Legal Service and has recently started representing clients for Treatment Authority reviews as a non-legal advocate in our Mental Health Legal Service. She holds a Bachelor of Nursing from QUT and has previously worked in surgical and orthopaedic wards, as well as aged care as a Registered Nurse. Jessica has been a Mental Health Registered Nurse since 2016 and is due to graduate from a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT at the end of 2020. Jessica would like to pursue a career in the medico-legal field after graduating from law school. She is interested in and passionate about – healthcare policies and procedures, forensic mental health, human rights and social justice.

Chris Coombes

NDIS Appeals Advocate

 

Chris is a friendly and motivated person, eager to see better outcomes for people with disability. Encouraged to work in the field by a loved one with disability ten years ago, Chris has since held positions in research, government, and not-for-profit organisations. He recently returned from London, where he was completing his postgraduate degree in social policy and co-leading a grassroots civil society organisation.

Photo of Sara Martins

Sara Martins

NDIS Appeals Advocate

 

Sara is the newest advocate in our NDIS Appeals team, having been a paralegal in our MHLS and DRC Advocacy Program, after volunteering with the NDIS team. Sara has a bachelor degree from a Brazilian university, and is a registered lawyer in Brazil having two years of practical experience in the area. Apart from Australia, Sara has also lived in Ireland for two years with her partner Anderson, who shares her life here in Brisbane. Sara has been living in Australia since 2018 and says “I hope to stay here longer, as much as I hope to continue working with this beautiful team at QAI”.

Photo of Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith

NDIS Decision Support Advocate

 

Jenny lives at the Capricorn Coast, near Rockhampton in Central Queensland, and has worked for more than 30 years with marginalised and vulnerable people in aged care, mental health, youth work, emergency services, but most extensively with people who live with disabilities.  She has a strong appreciation for the diverse forms and contexts of social advocacy for people with disability and has operated as an advocate for more than 25 years.

Sarah Thompson

NDIS Decision Support Advocate

 

Sarah has been with Queensland Advocacy since 2018 when she started as an adovcate in the NDIS Appeals Support Program. Sarah is now one of our two advocates in the NDIS Decision Support Pilot Program.

Photo of Caitlin De Cocq Van Delwijnen

Caitlin De Cocq Van Delwijnen

Social Worker & Education Advocate

 

Caitlin is passionate about supporting people with disability to live a happy life. She has completed a Bachelor of Social Work, Certificate II in Auslan and started a Graduate Certificate in Disability Inclusion. Caitlin has become QAI’s first social worker as of mid-August 2020, after several years as an advocate in QAI’s NDIS Appeals Support Program. Before starting with QAI, Caitlin worked in the areas of community development and inclusion and spent many years as a support worker.

Tania Steinmuller

Disability Royal Commission Advocate

 

Tania is a qualified legal practitioner with an honours degree in law from QUT and a doctoral degree from the ANU specialising in international humanitarian and human rights law. Her work and scholarship in this area has produced a number of important procedural and policy recommendations for more effective indictment and prosecution of war crimes involving sexual violence. Tania’s commitment to gender and social justice at both international and local levels includes involvement with the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery; contributions to the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention; and on-going pro bono work with not-for-profit organisations providing crisis support and advocacy for asylum-seekers and other marginalised members of the community. Her passion for human rights and commitment to supporting and empowering vulnerable and disadvantaged persons remains a driving force in her life.

Elizabeth Francis

Justice Support Advocate

 

Liz joined the QAI team in September 2010 and runs the Justice Support Program. Prior to this, Liz worked at Legal Aid Queensland.

Photo of Shannon Bell

Shannon Bell

Administrative Assistant & Communications Coordinator

 

Shannon started at Queensland advocacy in late 2018 as an Administration Assistant and has since become our first Communications Coordinator. Shannon has a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Drama and Creative Writing), a Master of Journalism, and is currently studying a Master of Digital Communications.

Photo of Rebecca Howes

Rebecca Howes

Administrative Assistant

 

Rebecca joined the QAI team as Receptionist / Intake / Administration Assistant at the end of 2016.  Prior to working at QAI, Rebecca was a Mental Health Case Worker, providing one on one outreach support to people experiencing mental health issues.

Photo of Cate Sudbury

Cate Sudbury

Administrative Assistant

 

Cate joined Queensland Advocacy in early 2019 as a volunteer and was quickly offered a full-time position in our administration team. Cate has extensive experience working in administration, with her past roles including admin for law firms, accountants, a building society and financial regulator.

Get in touch with us

Fill in your details below and we will get back to you soon.