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The role of the Executive

Promoting professional discussion and consultation, as well as preparing position papers and submissions on a range of matters affecting the family law jurisdiction. The Family Law Section has developed a reputation as a source of sound advice to those responsible for framing family law legislation and for determining policy and organising the administration of family law in Australia.

Developing and delivering quality continuing legal education on a national basis. This is considered important particularly given the history of the government and the courts making regular major changes to the areas of family law and child support.

Meeting on a regular basis with various government and other agencies. These meetings are an important part of the Executive's work and provide an opportunity for FLS to have input into a wide range of matters which affect family law in Australia. Such agencies include:

  • The constituent bodies of the Law Council of Australia
  • Family Law Practitioners' Associations
  • The Attorney-General's Department
  • The Family Law Council
  • The Department of Human Services (Child Support)
  • The Family Court's Rules Advisory Committee
  • Combined Family Court and Federal Circuit Court working party on Self Represented Litigants

The FLS Executive consists of:

  • One barrister and one solicitor from each of NSW, Victoria and Queensland
  • One practitioner from ACT, SA, WA, Tasmania and NT (from 2016 election)
  • The immediate past Chair of the Section Executive.

The members of the FLS Executive are elected every two years by members of the FLS, with the poll being declared at the FLS AGM.

The FLS Executive has a Chair, Deputy Chair and Treasurer, elected by majority vote of the Section Executive. The Executive is supported by a small team led by the Director.

The current members of the FLS Executive are:

Wendy Kayler-Thomson (Chair)


Forte Family Lawyers
Level 2, 535 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9248 5800


Wendy was elected Chair in February 2016, having been Deputy Chair since November 2012, and a member of the executive since November 2007. She is an accredited family law specialist and a partner of Forte Family Lawyers, Melbourne.

Wendy was admitted to practice in 1993, having completed a law degree and commerce degree at the University of Melbourne. She has practiced exclusively in family law since that time.

In addition to obtaining specialist accreditation, Wendy has also completed a Master of Laws degree at Monash University, focusing primarily on family law related subjects. She has also completed training in mediation and collaborative family law. Wendy has written and presented papers on a variety of family law related topics to family lawyers, non-family lawyers and non-lawyers.

Wendy served on the Executive of Victorian Women Lawyers for many years and in 2000/2001 was the Convenor of the association. Wendy has also served a board member of Australian Women Lawyers.

Paul Doolan (Deputy Chair)

Paul Doolan (Deputy Chair)


Barkus Doolan Family Lawyers
Level 9, 370 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone:(02) 9265 0111


Paul is a partner of Barkus Doolan Family Lawyers in Sydney and was elected as Deputy Chair in February 2016. He has been the NSW Solicitor representative on the Family Law Section Executive since November 2010.

In 2015, Doyle's Guide to the Australian Legal Profession rated Paul Doolan as the Market Leader of all Australian family lawyers and in 2016 as one of the pre-eminent lawyers in the country. The firm of Barkus Doolan was rated in both 2015 and 2016 as one of a select group of Tier 1 family law firms across Australia.

Paul was the first Legal Associate to Justice Lindenmayer in the Appeal Division of the Family Court and admitted to practice as a Solicitor in 1995. After working with Hunt & Hunt Lawyers in Brisbane in corporate, tax and family law areas, he joined a Sydney practice in 1998 and made Partner the following year. He holds a Master of Laws degree and is an accredited family law specialist.

Paul is a member of the Editorial Board of the Australian Journal of Family Law, a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, a former Director of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators, and a member of the Family Law Issues Committee of the Law Society of NSW.

Paul has presented or published over 60 papers on family law. These include parenting issues such as the unacceptable risk test and the court's approach to interim parenting disputes, together with financial matters such as the taxation aspects of family law settlements, the impact of bankruptcy in family cases, the approach in superannuation cases, the resolution of big money financial disputes and problems surrounding Financial Agreements.

Paul is editor of the Australian Family Lawyer.

Geoff Sinclair (Immediate Past Chair)

Geoff Sinclair (Immediate Past Chair)

Level 21, 215 Adelaide St
Brisbane QLD 4000
Phone: (07) 3231 6300


Geoff was Chair of the Family Law Section from November 2008 to November 2012. He continues as Immediate Past Chair of the Section following the appointment of Rick O'Brien to the Family Court of Western Australia in February 2016. Geoff has been a member of the Executive since November 2002.

Geoff was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1986. He joined the Barry.Nilsson. Family Law Department in 1988 and was elevated to the position of partner in 1993.

Geoff has practiced solely in family law since 1988. He has particular interest in the law relating to child abduction, including its international aspects together with complex property settlement matters. Geoff was a co-contributor to the Superannuation Section of the Family Law and Practice CCH and has published various other articles on issues relating to bankruptcy law, family law and international child abduction matters. Geoff also contributes to LEXISNEXIS Practical Guidance.

Geoff is a former Director of the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators (AIFLAM) and the Chairman of the World Congress for Children's Rights. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers.

Geoff was Deputy Chair of the Organising Committee for the 2004 biennial National Family Law Conference held at the Gold Coast and assisted in the organisation for the 1990 Queensland National Conference.

Geoff has been an Accredited Family Law Specialist since 1996 and has served as a former member of the Queensland Child Support Agency Liaison Group as well as being a past secretary of the Family Law Practitioners Association (Queensland).

Michael Kearney SC (Treasurer)

Michael Kearney SC (Treasurer)


Waratah Chambers
Level 16, 175 Liverpool Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9264 8444


Michael Kearney SC joined the Section Executive as the New South Wales Barrister representative in December 2011. He was elected Treasurer in November 2012. Michael was Co-Chair of the National Family Law Conference in Sydney in 2014, having also been a member of the organising committee for the 2000 National Conference.

Michael was admitted to the NSW Bar in January 2000 and took silk in 2012. Since admission as a legal practitioner in 1994, he has practised predominantly in the family law area.

Michael is a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, a Member of the New South Wales Bar Association and of its' Professional Conduct and Family Law Committees. He has previously held positions as Appeals Editor of the Australian Family Lawyer and as a Casenote Editor of the CCH publication ‘Current Family Law'. 

The majority of Michael's practice is in the area of family law, encompassing all issues including complex financial and parenting disputes. Michael has a particular speciality in appellate work in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia throughout the Eastern States and has also appeared in the NSW Court of Appeal and High Court of Australia.

Sarah Bastian-Jordan

Sarah Bastian-Jordan


Phillips Family Law
Level 2, 145 Ann Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
Phone: 07 3007 9898


Sarah Bastian-Jordan has been a member of the Executive since November 2016.  She has practised exclusively in family law for over a decade and has been recognised as one of the leading family lawyers in Queensland for the past two years (2016 & 2017, Doyles Guide) and is the former Director of one of the leading firms in Queensland.  Sarah has specialised in complex, high-net worth matrimonial property disputes — typically involving numerous corporate and trust structures and third parties such as siblings and family trustee companies.

Sarah currently holds the position of Senior Legal Counsel with the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health — a non-profit organisation leading the planning, development and delivery of primary healthcare services to indigenous communities in South East Queensland.  Sarah is heading the establishment of a fully integrated legal service with health care for indigenous communities.

She remains a consultant with Phillips Family Law and has been cited in The Australian, published for Proctor Qld, been a presenter for Law Australasia, the Queensland Law Society and TVeD and undertaken pro bono work for the Caxton Legal Centre Qld and the Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre as part of the Unrepresented Asylum Seeker Project.

Dr Jacoba Brasch QC


18 Inns Barristers' Chambers
Level 18, Inns of Court,
107 North Quay,
Brisbane QLD 4000


Jacoba joined the FLS Executive, as the Queensland Barrister, in 2014. She is also Chair of the LCA's Domestic and Family Violence Taskforce and Chair of the Australian Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee. In 2014, she represented the LCA at a roundtable held by the Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sex Abuse. In 2014-15, Jacoba represented the Queensland Bar before the Dame Quentin Bryce Taskforce into Domestic and Family Violence, and continues representing the Bar before the subsequent Implementation Council.

Jacoba is Chair of the Bar Association Queensland's Family Law Committee. She is also a member of the Curriculum Advisory Committee, College of Laws: Master of Applied Law (Family Law) and Master of Laws.

Admitted to the Bar in 2000, Jacoba's practice centres on family law, child protection, mental health law and family violence. She has appeared in various States and Territories of Australia and often appears in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia. Jacoba has also appeared in the High Court of Australia, with those matters including, but not limited to, Family Law and the Hague Convention (Child Abduction).

Prior to coming to the Bar, Jacoba completed an LLM at New York University as a Fulbright Scholar and NYU Graduate Merit Scholar. In 2010, Jacoba graduated with a PhD from UNSW where her doctoral thesis concerned what constitutes a fair, independent and impartial trial.

Greg Howe

Greg Howe


Howe Jenkin
Level 9, 111 Gawler Place
Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: (08) 8232 8422


Greg has been a member of the Executive since November 2008. He is a director of the firm Howe Jenkin, a specialist family law firm in the Adelaide CBD and is a senior Adelaide family law practitioner with over 38 years experience. He has acted primarily in financial matters, and has particular experience in those matters involving companies, businesses and trusts and more complex financial issues including property disputes in de facto relationships.

Greg is also a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), and is one of only three practitioners in South Australia who are members of IAFL. In April 2008, Greg chaired the Organising Committee for the successful 13th National Family Law Conference held in Adelaide.

Kate Mooney

Kate Mooney


Michael Kirby Chambers
49 Davey Street
Hobart TAS 7000
Phone: (03) 6224 4400


Kate was admitted to practice in 1996, having obtained Arts and Law degrees from the University of Tasmania. She spent five years in general practice as an employed solicitor before specialising in the Family Law and child protection matters with the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania. She has been at Tasmanian Bar since January 2010 where she accepts briefs in coronial and family law matters.

Kate has been a member of the Executive since November 2012. She was a member of the Bar Council of the Tasmanian Independent Bar from 2011 until 2013 and is a current member of the Council and Executive Committee of the Law Society of Tasmania. She is a member of the Australian Bar Association's Access to Justice Committee, and is a member of Tasmanian Women Lawyers and the Family Law Practitioners' Association of Tasmania. She is on the panel of independent children's lawyers and separate representatives, and convenes mediations in property and children's matters.

Jaquie Palavra

Jaquie Palavra


Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission
Telephone: (08) 8999 3000


Jaquie joined the Executive as the first NT representative in November 2016.

Jaquie was admitted into practice in 1988 as a solicitor in New South Wales joining a small general practise in Sydney and later the Central Coast. She took a break from the law to travel, live and work abroad in Italy for 10 years studying dry-cargo shipbroking and became a Member of the Institute of Charted Shipbrokers, London, whilst working in a small dry-cargo shipbroking firm.

In 2001, Jaquie returned to Australia and the law practising in New South Wales, Queensland and currently the Northern Territory as the Manager of the Family Law Division of the NT Legal Aid Commission. She has practised almost exclusively in family law and child protection since 2003.

Jaquie represents clients from diverse cultures and backgrounds and the best interests of children as an Independent Children's Lawyer. As a registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, she also assists parties in negotiating and settling their disputes at legal aid family law conferences.

Di Simpson

Di Simpson


Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson
18 Kendall Lane
Canberra City ACT 2600
Telephone: (02) 6212 7600


Di joined the Section Executive as the Australian Capital Territory representative in November 2016.

Di was admitted to practice in 1993, having completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Melbourne. Di first worked in regional Victoria and Melbourne before moving to Canberra in 1998, where she continued to practise family law with a national firm.

In 2007 she was a founding partner of DDCS Lawyers.

Di is an Accredited Specialist and a highly regarded solicitor advocate who undertakes pre-trial and trial work in the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

In Doyle's Guide to the Legal Profession, Di has been consistently regarded by her peers as a pre-eminent family lawyer in the ACT. Di is the only ACT family lawyer noted as a recommended family lawyer nationally.

She is Chair of the ACT Law Society's Family Law Committee, a member of the Law Society's Legal Profession Act and Ethics Committee and a member of the Women Lawyer's Association of the ACT.

She regularly presents to students, lawyers and other professionals about family law and professional development and is actively engaged in mentoring and supporting the development of young practitioners.

Minal Vohra

Minal Vohra SC


Owen Dixon Chambers East
205 William Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9225 7157


Minal has been at the Victorian Bar since 1997. Prior to this she was a Solicitor at Slater & Gordon practicing in personal injury, class actions and family law. She now practices exclusively in the Family Law jurisdiction.

Minal graduated from the University of Melbourne as a Bachelor of Arts (hons) and a Bachelor of Law. She has also obtained a Masters of Law from Monash University.

Minal has been the Victorian representative on the Family Law Section Executive of the Law Council of Australia since 2007. She is a regular presenter for TEN on family law issues. She has presented papers for the Family Law Section Intensives around Australia. She has also written and presented papers for the Law Institute of Victoria, Victoria Legal Aid, the Leo Cussen Institute as well as the Tasmanian Family Law Practitioners' Association and the WA Family Law Practitioners' Association. She presented a paper on the role of Independent Children's Lawyers for LAWASIA's 2009 Singapore Conference.

Minal is an accredited Arbitrator. She is also an Advocacy Trainer for the Australian Advocacy Institute.

Nicola Watts

Nicola Watts


O'Sullivan Davies Lawyers
Level 27, 197 St Georges Terrace
Perth WA 6000
Phone: (08) 9426 4711


Nicola joined the Section Executive as the Western Australian representative in November 2016.

Nicola grew up in Tasmania and worked in all areas of litigation from her 1993 admission until she moved to Melbourne in 1997.

Between 1997 and 2013 Nicola practised family law in Victoria and has trained as a Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer.

Since 1995 Nicola has acted as Independent Children's Lawyer in Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. In 2011 Nicola was made Citizen of the Year by the City of Stonington for her services to youth.

Nicola moved to Western Australia in June 2013. 

What's New.

The latest edition of FLS News is now available through the member library.

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The latest edition of FLS News is now available through the member library.

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