Our Board

The Legal Aid NSW Board consists of nine part-time members including the Chair, and one full-time member, who is the CEO of Legal Aid NSW.

Part-time board members are appointed by the NSW Attorney General for a period of up to three years, except for the Chair, who is appointed for a period up to five years.

Support for Uluru Statement from the Heart

At a meeting on 29 June 2021 the Board of Legal Aid NSW gave its support to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The context of the Board’s support is in the following resolution:

“The Board acknowledges the award of the 2021 Sydney Peace Prize to the Uluru Statement from the Heart (‘the Uluru Statement’). We support the Uluru Statement and the outcomes sought therein.

“The Board shares the concerns expressed in the Uluru Statement as to the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in out of home care. The Board is committed to developing Legal Aid policies and supporting initiatives directed at improving access to justice for First Nations people.”

Board support for a Yes vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum

At a meeting on 29 August 2023 the Board of Legal Aid NSW gave its support to the Voice to Parliament referendum, as follows:

“The Board of Legal Aid NSW supported the Uluru Statement from the Heart and we now strongly support a Yes vote in the Voice to Parliament referendum.

“The Board considers that providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with a Constitutionally recognised Voice to make representations on proposed Commonwealth laws and policies that relate to them can only help in developing solutions for Closing the Gap; advance the cause of reconciliation; and is the right thing to do.”

The statements by the Board in support of the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Voice to Parliament express the collective viewpoint of the Board members and are not made on behalf of Legal Aid NSW

Board members

Portrait of Craig Smith, Chair of Board

Craig Smith – Chair

Dip Law (BAB), Dip Crim (SYD)

Mr Smith was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as Chair of the Board from 27 September 2022 to 26 September 2025.

A solicitor and former Judicial Registrar, District Court of NSW, Mr Smith has 42 years' experience in the administration of justice in NSW. He has worked in various government legal and policy positions, including senior positions with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He was Director Court Services and then Director Judicial Support prior to his appointment as Judicial Registrar in 2010.

Mr Smith has served as Chair of the Legal Aid Board since 18 February 2013.

Portrait of Monique Hitter, Chief Executive Officer

Monique Hitter – Legal Aid NSW CEO

BSW Dip Law

Monique began working as a community lawyer at Marrickville Legal Centre, and has worked as a lawyer in both the government and private sector. She developed the Cooperative Legal Services Delivery Model in 2004 and established new programs in the Civil Law Division for older people, prisoners and homeless people. Monique was appointed Chief Executive Officer in July 2022.

Monique is currently the CEO of Legal Aid NSW and was appointed to the role in July 2022. Prior to this she was the Acting CEO from November 2021. Monique was our Deputy CEO from November 2018 – November 2021 and prior to that was the Director, Civil Law for 11 years.

Monique has been practicing law since 1997 and has also served as a Senior Member on the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in the Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division.

In over 30 years working in social justice, Monique is especially proud of having established the Civil law Service for Aboriginal Communities, the Children’s Civil Law Service and expanding the reach and scope of the Legal Aid NSW Civil Law Program, such that the Productivity Commission in its landmark Inquiry into Access to Justice Arrangements, stated that it set the national benchmark for the provision of civil law services.

More recently in her role as Deputy CEO, Monique led a process to establish new policies in response to sexual harassment and unacceptable behaviour, the development of the Family Law Blueprint and the Legal Aid NSW response to the pandemic.

Portrait of Michael Coleman, Board Member

Michael Coleman – Board member


Michael Coleman was appointed as a representative who, in the opinion of the NSW Attorney General, possesses skills and experience that would benefit Legal Aid NSW. Mr Coleman has been reappointed until 26 September 2025.

The Board also appointed Mr Coleman as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee from 29 June 2016.

Mr Coleman is a chartered accountant. He retired from KPMG in 2011 following a career that included 30 years as an audit partner and practice leader.

Mr Coleman is a board member of Macquarie Bank Limited, having been a director and Chair of the audit committees of Macquarie Group and Macquarie Bank from 2012 until 2022. He was Chair of Bingo Industries Limited from listing in 2017 until its takeover in 2021 and was a member of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s audit committee and holds several significant roles with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New South Wales Australian School of Business, Deputy Chair and Audit Committee Chair of Planet Ark Environmental Foundation, and a Governor and Chairman of the Risk and Audit Committee of The Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology.

Portrait of Jacqueline Dawson, Board member

Jacqueline Dawson – Board member

Principal of Sexton Family Law, MA LLB (University of Sydney), GAICD and an Accredited Specialist in Family Law

Jacqueline Dawson is the Principal of Sexton Family Law and an Accredited Specialist in Family Law. Admitted to practice as a solicitor in 1994 and an Accredited Specialist since 2001, Jacqueline began practice in early 1995 with the firm then known as Robyn Sexton & Associates and remained as a principal of the firm when Judge Sexton was appointed to the Federal Magistrates Court.

Jacqueline is a Councillor of the Law Society of NSW. Within the NSW Law Society, she is presently Chair of the Specialist Accreditation Board, Co-Chair of the Family Law Committee, Deputy Chair of the Professional Conduct Committee and a member of the Audit Risk and Finance Committee.

She also serves as a committee member of each of the Sydney University Law Extension Committee and the Legal Qualifications Committee of the Legal Profession Admission Board.

Portrait of Peggy Dwyer, Board Member

Peggy Dwyer – Board member

BA LLB (ANU) Ph D (University of Edinburgh)

Peggy Dwyer was appointed as a representative of the NSW Bar Association by the NSW Attorney General and has been reappointed until 26 September 2025.

Dr Dwyer was called to the bar in 2010 after more than 10 years as a solicitor, specialising in criminal law and, later, coronial law. She previously worked for the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT), the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in the Northern Territory, and the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office. As a barrister, Dr Dwyer appears in a wide range of criminal matters, including jury trials, appeals, Children’s Court of NSW matters and State Parole Authority hearings. She has a busy practice in coronial proceedings and a significant interest in medical disciplinary law.

She appeared as Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into the Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse and as Counsel for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency in the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

Dr Dwyer was an Associate to Justice Michael Kirby in the High Court of Australia between 1995 and 1996.

Portrait of Sue Gilchrist, Board Member

Sue Gilchrist – Board member

LLM, BA LLB (Hons)

Sue Gilchrist was appointed as a representative who, in the opinion of the NSW Attorney General, possesses skills and experience that would benefit Legal Aid NSW. Ms Gilchrist has been reappointed until 26 September 2025.

Ms Gilchrist is a senior intellectual property disputes partner at Herbert Smith Freehills. She is experienced in all intellectual property areas, including patents, designs, copyright, trademarks, passing off, and confidential information. She is regularly recognised in the top ranking of legal profession directories for intellectual property litigation, and in particular, patent litigation.

Ms Gilchrist has strong management experience, having been the Regional Managing Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills for Asia and Australia until 2017. She is a member of the Global Council for Herbert Smith Freehills, and is also Chair of her firm’s global governance body for Pro Bono and Responsible Business. Ms Gilchrist is Co-Chair of the firm’s Reconciliation Action Plan Steering Committee and is proud to have helped the firm reach the elevate level for its Reconciliation Action Plan, as endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. She is also a member of the Finance Audit and Risk Committee of the Art Gallery of NSW.

Portrait of Richard Leigh Henry, Board member

Richard Leigh Henry – Board member

AM, MB BS, MD, FRACP, Dip Clin Epi

Richard Henry was appointed as a representative who, in the opinion of the NSW Attorney General, possesses skills and experience that would benefit Legal Aid NSW. Dr Henry has been reappointed until 26 September 2025.

Dr Henry is an Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He was Professor of Paediatrics at both the University of Newcastle and UNSW and has held senior leadership roles in both the university and health sectors. From 2006 to 2012, he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) and Vice-President at UNSW. Since his retirement from UNSW, he has worked as a consultant in health and higher education. Dr Henry’s current unpaid roles include Director of the Children’s Cancer Institute, Chairman of Trustees of Sydney Grammar School and Director of Luminesce Alliance.

He was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007 for service to paediatric respiratory medicine as a clinician, researcher, educator and mentor, and for serving in a range of roles with professional medical organisations.

Portrait of Alison McRobert, Board member

Alison McRobert – Board member


Alison McRobert was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as a representative of Unions NSW and has been reappointed until 26 September 2025.

Ms McRobert is currently the legal counsel and manager of legal services at the Public Service Association of NSW. She has specialised in employment and industrial law in the NSW public sector for over 20 years and previously worked at several employment law firms including McNally Jones Staffand Haywards Solicitors. Ms McRobert previously served as a Director at Federation Law Pty Ltd from 2013 to 2016. In November 2020 Ms McRobert was appointed as an advisory member of the Rule Committee of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales.

Portrait of Ainslie van Onselen, Board Member

Ainslie van Onselen – Board member

LLB (UWA), MAppFin, GDipAppFin (Finsia), GAICD

Ainslie van Onselen was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as a representative of consumer and community interests. Ms Van Onselen has been reappointed until 26 September 2025.

For more than 20 years Ainslie enjoyed a parallel career as a law partner and non-executive director, before progressing into senior executive roles at Westpac, including Managing Director of RAMS Home Loans and running its retail deposits portfolio. Ms van Onselen has been the Chief Executive Officer of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand since May 2020.

Ainslie is passionate about social justice, inclusion and diversity. She is the former Global Director of Women’s Markets, Inclusion and Diversity for Westpac and currently serves as Chair of Kambala Girls School and is Chair (elect) of Chartered Accountants Worldwide. She is a non-executive director of Global Accounting Alliance, and share registry company Automic. She is also the former Deputy Chairperson of the Insurance Commission of Western Australia. 

A member of Chief Executive Women, Australia, an Australian Financial Review Women of Influence winner and a former 40 under 40 WA Business News and University of Western Australia Award winner, Ainslie was invited to represent CAANZ and the accounting and auditing professions at the Australian Government’s 2022 Jobs Summit. 

As well as steering CAANZ’s strategy and digital and data transformation, Ainslie drives CAANZ’s inclusion and diversity agenda and is a prominent advocate for global sustainability and ESG standards.


Board of Legal Aid NSW Code of Conduct

Board of Legal Aid NSW Code of Conduct PDF | English | July 2023 | 580 kb

Board of Legal Aid NSW Charter

Board of Legal Aid NSW Charter PDF | English | August 2023 | 617 kb