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Annual Report 2017 - 2018

Board members, 1 July 2017 to 30 Jun 2018

Craig Smith

Craig Smith, Chairman of the Board

Dip Law (BAB) Dip Crim (SYD)


Craig was re-appointed by the NSW Attorney General as Chair of the Board from 23 June 2016 to 22 June 2019.

A solicitor and former Judicial Registrar, District Court of New South Wales, Craig has 42 years’ experience in the administration of justice in New South Wales. 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 before his appointment as Judicial Registrar in 2010.

Craig has served as Chair of the Legal Aid NSW Board since 18 February 2013.

(Attended seven meetings)

Brendan Thomas

Brendan Thomas, CEO


Chief Executive Officer

Appointed by the NSW Attorney General, Brendan commenced in his role as Chief Executive Officer of Legal Aid NSW on 22 May 2017.

Before this, Brendan was the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Justice.

Brendan worked for the Department of Justice for more than 20 years and has a strong track record of designing and implementing reforms providing services for victims of domestic violence and for Aboriginal communities.

Brendan has worked in crime prevention and criminal justice for more than 19 years. He has written widely on crime prevention and Aboriginal justice issues.

(Attended seven meetings).

Dr Peggy Dwyer

Dr Peggy Dwyer, Board member

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

Board member

Peggy was called to the Bar in 2008, after nearly a decade as a solicitor with Aboriginal Legal Services in NSW and the Northern Territory. She has a varied practice, but specialises in criminal law, and appearance in trials, appeals, the children’s Court and State Parole Authority. Peggy has a busy practice in coronial proceedings, appearing as Counsel Assisting the Coroner and counsel for interested parties, and she recently been Counsel in the Royal Commission into the Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse and the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

Peggy also appears in disciplinary tribunals including the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and Medical Council, for both prosecution and defence.

(Attended two meetings)

Ainslie van Onselen

Ainslie van Onselen, Board member

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

Board member

Ainslie was re-appointed by the NSW Attorney General as representative of Consumer & Community Welfare Interests for the period 23 June 2016 to 22 June 2019. Ainslie has practised as a commercial litigator for over 19 years and is admitted to practise law in several jurisdictions across Australia.

In addition Ainslie sits on the Boards of Beem It, RAM’s Financial Group Pty Ltd and is the Chair of the Kambala Girls School Council. She was the former Director and National President of the Migration Institute of Australia, former columnist for the Legal Affairs section of The Australian Newspaper, former panelist on The Contrarians—Sky News and former Associate Professor of the University of Western Australia.

Ainslie is currently the General Manager of Deposits and Unsecured Lending in Westpac’s Consumer Bank.

Ainslie has been with Westpac Group for more than four years in a range of senior roles. Most recently she was Managing Director of RAMS, and prior to this, Director of Women’s Markets, Inclusion and Diversity.

(Attended seven meetings)

Michael Coleman

Michael Coleman, Board member

M Comm, B Comm, FAICD, FCA, FCPA

Board member

Michael was appointed as a representative who, in the opinion of the NSW Attorney General, possesses skills and experience that would benefit the Commission for the period 23 June 2016–22 June 2019.

The Board also appointed Michael as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee from 29 June 2016–22 June 2019.

Michael is a Chartered Accountant. He retired from KPMG in 2011 after a career that included 30 years as an audit partner and practice leader.

Michael is a member of the boards of Macquarie Group and Macquarie Bank, where he chairs the Audit Committees. He is Chairman of Bingo Industries Limited, was a member of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Audit Committee; and has a number of significant roles with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

His current roles include Adjunct Professor, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales; Chairman of Planet Ark Environmental Foundation; a Governor and Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee of The Centenary Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology and a director of the Belvoir St Theatre Foundation.

(Attended six meetings)

Emeritus Professor Richard Henry

Emeritus Professor Richard Henry, Board member

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

Board member

Richard was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as a representative who, in the opinion of the NSW Attorney General, possesses skills and experience that would benefit the Commission for the period 23 June 2016–22 June 2019.

Richard is Emeritus Professor and Pro-Chancellor of UNSW Australia. He was Professor of Paediatrics at both the University of Newcastle and Univeristy of NSW, and held senior leadership roles in both the university and health sectors. From 2006–2012, 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. Current unpaid roles include Pro-Chancellor at UNSW, Director Children’s Cancer Institute, Trustee Sydney Grammar School, Chair Board of Centre for Social Impact and Director Paediatrio.

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 serving in a range of roles with professional medical organisations.

(Attended seven meetings)

Sue Gilchrist

Sue Gilchrist, Board member

LLM, BA LLB (Hons)

Board member

Sue was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as a representative who, in the opinion of the NSW Attorney General, possesses skills and experience that would benefit the Commission for the period 23 June 2016–22 June 2019.

Sue is a senior Intellectual Property disputes partner at Herbert Smith Freehills and she is experienced in all intellectual property areas, including patents, designs, copyright, trademarks, passing off and confidential information. Sue was the lead partner acting for Apple in the Apple v Samsung patent and design litigation relation to tablets and smartphones. Sue is regularly recognised in the top ranking of legal profession directories for IP litigation, in particular patent litigation.

Sue also has strong management experience, having been the Regional Managing Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills for Asia and Australia until 2017. Reflecting two areas Sue feels strongly committed to, Sue remains a member of her firm’s governance bodies for each of pro bono and citizenship, and diversity and inclusion. Sue is also the Chair of the firm’s RAP Steering group, and is proud of the Firm’s Elevate RAP status.

(Attended seven meetings)

Darryl Browne

Darryl Browne, Board member

LLB, Accredited Specialist (Wills and estates), FAICD, Public Notary, TEP

Board member

Darryl was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as a representative of the Law Society of NSW for the period 23 June 2016–22 June 2019.

Darryl is an Accredited Specialist in Wills and Estates. His forte is estate planning (involving wills, superannuation, powers of attorney, enduring guardian appointments, advance care directives, trusts and related aspects), but he also conducts estate and other litigation for clients. He advises clients concerning commercial law issues (including business acquisitions, leases, employment issues and planning matters) as well as with conveyancing and related real estate transactions.

Darryl’s professional achievements include Director (Councillor) of the Law Society New South Wales, Chair of Elder Law, Capacity and Succession Committee, Chair of Elder Abuse Working Group, Member Specialist Accreditation Board, Director of Lawcover Insurance Pty Ltd, Member Future Committee, Chair Law Council of Australia’s Elder Law and Succession Committee, Member of the State government’s Steering Committee on preventing and responding to elder abuse and Member of the University of Sydney’s Law Extension Committee.

(Attended seven meetings)

Associate Professor Anna Cody

Associate Professor Anna Cody, Board member

LLM (Harvard), GDip LP (UTS), LLB (UNSW), BA (UNSW)

Board member

Anna was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as a representative of bodies providing community legal services for the period 23 June 2016–22 June 2019.

Anna is an Associate Professor and Director of Kingsford Legal Centre which specialises in discrimination and employment law. The Centre is part of the University of New South Wales Law Faculty where Anna teaches law. She has worked at the Centre for over 16 years.

In 2007 Anna won the NSW Women Lawyers achievement award in the government/ community lawyer section.

From 2011 to 2013, Anna was the Chair of Community Legal Centres NSW and member of the Board of LawAccess NSW. She was also the Deputy Chair of the NSW Legal Assistance Forum. She is currently a Board member of the National Association of Community Legal Centres.

(Attended five meetings)

Rachel Francois

Rachel Francois, Board member


Board member

Rachel was appointed by the NSW Attorney General as representative Unions NSW for the period 23 June 2016–22 June 2019.

Rachel is a barrister at the NSW Bar. Rachel specialises in discrimination law and consumer protection cases and also practices in administrative law and commercial litigation. Rachel was employed by Legal Aid NSW as a lawyer in civil litigation between 1996 and 2000. During that time, Rachel was a member of the PSA Departmental Committee and a delegate to the Peak Consultative Committee.

Rachel has a strong commitment to union principles and social justice. Rachel was a member of the NSW Bar Council in 2007 and was junior counsel assisting ASIC in its investigations into the corporate wrongdoing of HIH Insurance and James Hardie. Rachel’s more recent cases include the class actions against Cash Converters in relation to alleged unlawful interest rates and the landmark sexual harassment decision in Richardson v Oracle (2014) 223 FCR 334.

(Attended six meetings)