Board Members

The FRSA Board consists of seven elected members and up to two additional co-opted members, at the Boards’ discretion.

They meet four times annually to discuss governance and long-term goals, approve major actions of the organisation, support FRSA to fulfil its mission and ensure implementation of the FRSA Strategic Plan 2016.

Each Board position works on a two year term, and no Board member can exceed a maximum of three consecutive terms.

FRSA is responsible for supporting the Board, and for coordinating the Call for Nominations and ballot each year.

The Call for Nominations will be sent no more than 4 months prior to the AGM.

To nominate a potential candidate, you must be the authorised Member Delegate of an FRSA Full Member organisation who has not nominated any other candidate, and the person you are nominating must be the authorised Member Delegate of a Full Member or Associate Member organisation. All nominators, seconders and nominees must have their fees paid in full by the Call for Nominations date.

Useful Documents

The following documents are available to prospective nominees; please contact us or (02) 6162 1811 for copies:

  1. FRSA Position Description – Board Member
  2. FRSA Constitution 2016
  3. FRSA Policy and Procedures Manual
  4. FRSA Annual Report 15-16

FRSA Board Members (2016 - 2017)

Michael Austin

Finance & Governance Committee

MSW, BSW, Grad Dip Couple & Family Therapy

Appointed: 15 November 2012
Re-appointed: 6 November 2016
(Current term expiry AGM 2018)

Michael Austin was elected to the Board of FRSA in November 2012. As Board Chair during this time, Michael has played a significant leadership role during a critical time for the sector. He has represented FRSA at national consultations and meetings with senior government representatives and Ministers, including former Social Services Ministers Kevin Andrews and Scott Morrison and current Minister Christian Porter. Michael has played a strategic role, with the Board, in positioning FRSA with the new 5 year national contracts for the sector under the Family and Communities Program, and contribution to the Discretionary Grants review process. Michael has led a major human resource review of the FRSA Secretariat, overseen the Secretariat’s transition to a new Executive Director, and introduced enhanced Board processes to strengthen FRSA’s governance systems. Working collaboratively with the Board and the Executive Director, he has played a key part in the implementation of FRSA’s current strategic directions.

Michael’s service on the Board is underpinned by his long-term support for the work of FRSA. Michael has contributed to FRSA Conference organising committees, Parliamentary advocacy days, FRSA Child Inclusive Practice forums, FRSA Research Fund, and led or facilitated his organisation’s staff presentations at a number of FRSA national conferences.

Michael has worked in the community and social services sector for 31 years. Currently, he is Director of CatholicCare Wollongong, a multi-service community agency providing a broad suite of family and relationship and social services in regional NSW and south west Sydney. Michael holds a Masters in Social Work and Couple and Family Therapy and has held practitioner, manager and executive leadership roles in the family and relationships sector.

Michael has served on the Executive Committee of the NSW Family Therapy Association, as Vice Chair of the Board of the Institute of Counselling, Sydney, and he is a member of the Advisory Board of the Bachelor of Behavioural Science and Counselling at the University of Notre Dame. He has actively supported and engaged in interagency partnerships and joint research projects, and has presented papers at national conferences including the ANZ Family Therapy, Family Law Systems, FRSA and National Implementation Conferences. Michael brings to the FRSA Board a long standing commitment to family and relationship services, and a passion for working for a strong, diverse, collaborative and vibrant sector that delivers positive outcomes for Australian families.

Sue Christophers

Finance & Governance Committee
Research Advisory Committee
Sector Events Committee

Diploma in Management, Cert IV Training and Assessment

Appointed: 6 November 2014
Re-appointed: 1 December 2016
(Current term expiry AGM 2018)

Sue Christophers is the Senior Manager Community Engagement with AnglicareSA. In this dynamic leadership role within AnglicareSA’s Community Services portfolio, Sue oversees the Community Engagement Service Stream with program areas focussing on children, families and communities.

Sue has more than 20 years experience in community services with a strong focus on community development and connection.  Sue’s passion and commitment around putting children and young people at the centre of communities is at the core of what she does and has made her a sought after advocate and advisor.

Sue was involved in the development of the Communities for Children sites in Onkaparinga and Playford and has a leadership role in the South Australian Communities for Children all-sites network.

Throughout this time Sue has developed significant relationships and partnerships across South Australia and Australia inclusive of Federal, State and Local Government, Non-Government Organisations, Business and Community.  Sue is currently an active member representing AnglicareSA, including convening and chairing, of numerous State and National Steering groups and networks that include: Together SA (Director), Child Aware Onkaparinga, Children and Families Round Table, SA Family Law Pathways Network and the Southern Adelaide Regional Alliance Planning group.  Sue is familiar with the governance requirements and responsibilities inherent with membership of these committees and groups and has recently completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Company Directors Course.

FRSA members can expect Sue to be a strong advocate for an integrated approach across all Families and Communities program areas with a particular emphasis on the synergies between Communities for Children and other Family and Children’s services and Family Law services.  Sue is passionate about collaborative practice and ensuring that all voices are heard in decision making processes.  She is committed to recognising and building on the strengths of communities to provide healthy, supportive and child friendly environments.

In her current Senior Management role she is responsible for programs within Family Law, Family Relationships, Specialised Family Violence and Communities for Children program areas.  Sue is able to recognise the value of diverse approaches to meeting the needs of children, families and communities including effective strategic planning and translation of strategic objectives into practical and achievable actions.  She has a strong commitment to working in partnership with Government and Non Government organisations to deliver a whole of community response.

Karen Field
Chairperson of the Finance & Governance Committee

Research Advisory Committee
Sector Events Committee

BA SocWk (Hons)

Appointed: 10 November 2011
Re-appointed: 7 November 2013 and 12 November 2015
(Current term expiry AGM 2017)

Karen has 25 years experience in developing, managing and delivering a range of public health evidenced based programs and services to communities, families, parents, young people and children. Her work has involved a range of sectors including health (primary and mental health) and welfare, education and employment, and justice sectors within government and community based organisations. Her knowledge base, employment experience and contribution spans the public health spectrum including promotion, prevention and early intervention, tertiary end treatment programs, and recovery and continuing care services.

As a FRSA Board member for the past four years and a member for the Child and Family Roundtable Karen is a strong promoter of the unique contribution that small not for profits make to the fabric of their local communities and the broader contribution our sector makes towards the health and wellbeing of Australian families. She brings a strong sense of social justice and has a demonstrated commitment to ensuring a viable sector through leadership, thoughtful advocacy and collaboration.

Karen is a well-regarded champion of research and evaluation to ensure that organisations build their capacity and contribute to the knowledge base of health and wellbeing; and that we identify, understand and meet the needs of our most vulnerable and excluded groups in the community. Her leadership in this area has culminated in her organisation, through its partnership with Deakin University and the Centre for Family Research and Evaluation, being selected onto the Department of Social Services Expert Panel and Industry List.

She is a campaigner of human rights and dignity for all Australian’s and the recognition of all families, this is especially demonstrated in her commitment to Stepfamilies, Refugee and Humanitarian Entrants and their families and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Community and their families.

Karen has written post graduate curriculum and taught at Melbourne University and was an Academic Fellow.

While a Senior Manager at beyondblue Karen project managed a range of significant national projects in relation to mental health (Indigenous, Youth, LGBTIQ and CaLD) and has been a significant developer of mental health programs.

She is currently an Academic Fellow with Deakin University.

Fiona Harley OAM
Chairperson of the Sector Events Committee
Research Advisory Committee

BSS, AICD Member

Appointed: 7 November 2013
Reappointed: 12 November 2015
(Current term expiry AGM 2017)

Fiona Harley has worked in the community services sector for over 30 years. She is currently Deputy Executive Director of Mallee Family Care and Director of the agency’s Education, Training and Research Unit. The Unit operates a number of programmes that positively engage with families and children in learning and education as a means to good life outcomes. She is also a member for the Partnership of Victorian Family Relationship of Victorian Family Relationship Centres and Chair of Northern Mallee LLEN. Fiona is also the Director of the Vinson Centre for Applied Social Research. The approach of the Vinson Centre for Applied Social Research is unique in that it takes a holistic view to the analysis of data that encompasses where a community is located, how it is faring economically and how these intersect with social indicators. In 2014, Fiona was awarded an Order of Australia medal in recognition of her services to welfare and community.

Dr Deborah Hartman
Chairperson of the Research Advisory Committee
Sector Events Committee

Dip. Teach, B.A., Grad Dip TESOL, M.Ed., PhD

Appointed: 7 November 2013
Reappointed: 12 November 2015
(Current term expiry AGM 2017)

Dr Deb Hartman is the Assistant Director of the Family Action Centre (FAC), at the University of Newcastle (UON). As a long-term member of the leadership team at the FAC, she has been involved in service delivery, teaching, research, governance, strategic planning, staff development and financial and human resource management in the Family Services Sector for over 19 years. The FAC is a unique multi-disciplinary, multi-functional centre in the Faculty of Health and Medicine, which undertakes teaching, research and direct service delivery built upon empirical and theoretical research frameworks and implementation science with the aim of supporting strong families and capable communities.

Along with the Centre’s newly appointed Director, Distinguished Professor Alan Hayes, Deb’s work involves strategic management and building the discipline of Family Studies. She is a leader of the Family Action Centre’s role in the federal government Expert Panel on Families and Children. The FAC is a member of the Planning and Implementation panel and Industry List and is currently supporting nine separate organisations to plan and implement family programs in regional NSW, including several with a high representation of indigenous families.

Deb also coordinates the International Family Studies specialisation in the Master of Family Studies. In this role, she is a member of the Global Consortium for International Family Studies (GCIFS), a consortium of universities with a focus on teaching and research in Family Studies.

Deb is Chair of the Academic Committee of the GCIFS, and in this role has instigated international research partnerships with the aim of strengthening the mental health and wellbeing of rural and remote families. In a second term, she would continue to bring these capacities in leadership and interests in family to my responsibilities as an FRSA Board Member.

Marie Morrison
Board Deputy Chairperson
Finance & Governance Committee

Sector Events Committee

BSc Psych (Hons), AICD Member

Appointed: 7 November 2013
Reappointed: 12 November 2015
(Current term expiry AGM 2017)

Marie Morrison has held the position of CEO at Relationships Australia NT (RANT) for almost ten years. Marie brings the experience of having delivered a broad range of Family and Children’s Services, especially to large numbers of Aboriginal and Islander clients in remote and isolated parts of Australia. Marie has a varied background including community development, clinical work, policy development and management. Her leadership and organisational skills were nationally recognised when she won the Northern Territory Telstra Business Woman of the Year Award. Marie brings the experience of 27 years of living and working in the Northern Territory including in remote Aboriginal communities.

Marie has considerable knowledge in delivering a wide range of Family and Children’s Services including Family Relationship Centres, other Family Law Services, Counselling, Education and other Family and Relationship Services, counselling for traumatised children and capacity building projects, including Communities for Children, as a community partner in several projects.

His Honour, Judge Matthew Myers AM
Co-Opted Board Member

BA, B.Laws, GDip Family Dispute
Resolution, M.Laws

Appointed: 6 February 2015
Reappointed: 17 February 2016
(Current term expiry AGM 2017)

Judge Myers AM sits as a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. His Honour is a Gadigal/Wiradjuri man who is proud to be the first Indigenous lawyer appointed to a federal court in Australia. Prior to his appointment to the Bench in December 2011, Judge Myers was a practising solicitor in the central coast of NSW undertaking Legal Aid and private family law work in parenting and property matters. Judge Myers is also an accredited and experienced Family Dispute Resolution practitioner, and is active in a number of committees including the Federal Circuit Court Indigenous Access to Justice Committee, the Law Society of NSW Indigenous Issues Committee, the Co-Chair of the Aboriginal Family Law Pathways network, and guest lecturer at the University of Newcastle. Judge Myers received the award of Member of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2013.

Paula Washington
Research Advisory Committee
Sector Events Committee

Appointed: 1 December 2016
(Current term expiry AGM 2018)

Paula Washington has worked in the social services sector for 22 years across the areas of child protection, alternative care, counselling mediation, aged care, volunteer and disability support services. She has been in leadership roles for more than 18 years, managing residential, counselling, therapeutic, dispute resolution, employment and educational services across rural, remote and regional centers in Central and North Queensland.

Paula has an undergraduate major in psychology and MBA majoring in dispute resolution. Her areas of interest include service development and strategic planning with particular focus on National Disability Insurance Scheme service development and Domestic and Family Violence Interventions. Her passion for innovation has driven the development of a series of initiatives responding to regional issues for the Northern and Central Queensland regions including research and development of family wellbeing initiatives for FIFO and mining families, development of programs for Defence and Military families that resulted in securing funding, ongoing strategic and practice linkages with James Cook University.

Paula is presently involved in regional leadership groups focused on workforce development for the Disabilities services sector, integrated domestic and family violence responses, the Townsville West Communities for Children Committee and is the Chair of the North Queensland Family Law Pathways Network.

Terms for Current Board Members

Michael Austin since AGM 15/11/12 to AGM 2018

Sue Christophers since AGM 06/11/14 to AGM 2018

Karen Field since AGM 10/11/11 to AGM 2017

Fiona Harley since AGM 07/11/13 to AGM 2017

Deborah Hartman since AGM 07/11/13 to AGM 2017

Marie Morrison since AGM 07/11/13 to AGM 2017

Judge Matthew Myers since 6/2/15 to AGM 2017

Paula Washington since AGM 1/12/16 to AGM 2018


Chair: Michael Austin
Deputy Chair: Marie Morrison
Treasurer: Karen Field

Finance and Governance Committee

Chair: Karen Field (Treasurer)

  • Michael Austin (Board Chair)
  • Marie Morrison (Deputy Board Chair)
  • Sue Christophers
  • Jackie Brady (ED – Ex officio)

Research Advisory Committee

Chair: Deb Hartman

  • Fiona Harley
  • Sue Christophers
  • Paula Washington
  • Karen Field (Treasurer)

Sector Events Committee

Chair: Fiona Harley

  • Sue Christophers
  • Marie Morrison
  • Karen Field (Treasurer)
  • Paula Washington
  • Deb Hartman

Co-Opted Board Members

Judge Matthew Myers