Committee Members Profile

Blanch Lake: Member (Aboriginal)

Highest qualifications: Diploma in National Indigenous Legal Studies and Diploma in Business.

Blanch Lake is a Weilwan woman of the Wiradjuri Nation, located in Warren, Central West NSW. Blanch is a current member on the HAC. Blanch represents the Redfern/Woolloomooloo/Glebe areas in her work with the NAIDOC Committee. She is employed as Student Services and Residential Life Officer at the University of Technology Sydney. She has broad experience across youth, juvenile justice, homelessness, crime prevention and an in depth understanding of current issues affecting Aboriginal people in NSW.


Neva Collings: Member (Aboriginal)

Highest qualifications: Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Economics, Master of Laws, Solicitor, currently completing a PhD Faculty of Law, UTS.

Neva Collings is a Yuin woman from the Yuin Nation, South Coast of NSW. Neva is a current HAC member, a board member of the Aboriginal Housing Office and practicing solicitor specialising in environmental law. Previous roles include solicitor for the NSW Environmental Defenders Office and Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault Taskforce. Neva is a Council Member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies since June 2013. Neva has published numerous journals, books and articles on a broad range of subjects relating to her expertise. Neva is completing a PhD thesis that proposes to evaluate Aboriginal governance structures for protecting traditional knowledge and culture in relation to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Nagoya Protocol.


Julie Hourigan Ruse: Presiding Chairperson

Highest qualifications: Masters in Law, Human Rights and Social Justice, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Associate Diploma in Business

Julie is a current HAC presiding chairperson and the Chief Executive Officer for NSW Family Services Inc. (FAMS), a peak body for not-for-profit organisations working with vulnerable children, young people, and families in NSW. Previously Julie worked with the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service NSW, Department of Primary Industries, NSW Coal Compensation Board and the Disability Discrimination Legal Centre. Julie has held roles of Director and Chairperson on the Board of Shelter NSW. Julie is an experienced chairperson with relevant tribunal and board experience.


Adrian Williams: Presiding Chairperson

Highest qualifications: Master of Health Law, Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts

Adrian is a current HAC presiding chairperson and assessor with Victims Services, NSW Justice. Previous roles include presiding legal member of the Queensland Mental Health, Guardianship and Administration Review Tribunal, and sessional lecturer at Queensland University of Technology. He has expertise in mental health, disability, administrative and migration law, education, ethics and public speaking. Adrian is an experienced chairperson with cross jurisdictional tribunal experience.


Susan Fenwick: Presiding Chairperson, Regional NSW

Highest qualifications: Diploma in Business Administration, Diploma in Law

Susan is a current presiding chairperson on the HAC and as general member on the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) presiding over cases across the residential tenancy, commercial and home building disputes divisions. Susan has her own business supporting employees of international mining companies settle into unfamiliar regional NSW locations. Susan’s previous experience covers international experience in tribunals and social housing, including managing programs of the Audit Commission into public services in London, UK. Susan is an experienced chairperson with extensive international and regional NSW experience.


Claudia Kennedy: Presiding Chairperson

Highest qualifications:Master of Arts (Social Policy), Diploma of Rehabilitation Counselling, Diploma of Education

Claudia is a current HAC presiding chairperson and a senior professional member of the Guardianship Division of NCAT. Claudia’s previous roles include high-level national disability policy negotiations for the development of the National Disability Strategy, and a regulatory and audit role making accreditation decisions about rehabilitation providers for WorkCover. Claudia lead research for community care solutions for people who are homeless or living in squalor (ADHC) and is a qualified rehabilitation counsellor with over 35 years experience working with high needs clients. Claudia is an experienced chairperson with cross jurisdictional tribunal experience.


Catherine White: Member

Highest qualifications: Bachelor of Social Science (Welfare), Diploma of Business, Diploma of Management, Diploma of Business Administration

Catherine White is a current HAC member and a consultant specialising in Locum EO, professional supervision, program scoping, project management review, quality assurance, policy development, complaint investigation/management and grant writing. Previous roles include Manager, Women’s Activities and Self Help (WASH) House, Child Protection Caseworker (FACS), TAFE teacher and Senior Client Service Officer Specialist (Department of Housing). Catherine has also been a Board member of a number of NGO’s in Western Sydney and has expertise in women’s health, domestic violence and child protection issues.


Kanagasabai Vasan: Member (CALD)

Highest qualifications: Attorney at Law (Sri Lanka), Master of Industrial Relations and Industrial Law (London) Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management

Kanagasabai is a sole legal practitioner representing clients with mental health issues before the Mental Health Review and Guardianship Tribunals. Kanagasabai is a member of the NSW Legal Aid Mental Health Advocacy Panel. He previously worked as a Senior Lawyer for the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the NSW Internal Audit Bureau. He has extensive NSW and international experience across broad justice roles including the NSW Anti Discrimination Board and NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. Kanagasabai is of Sri Lankan background.


Julie Walding: Member

Highest qualifications: Bachelor of Arts, Diploma of Education

Julie is currently volunteering for 2RPH, a radio program in Sydney for the print handicapped. She has been involved with the Street Soccer program, managing teams and working with marginalised members of the community in Canberra. Julie has extensive experience working with complex needs clients through her work with the Australian Public Service in Queanbeyan as well as roles in the not for profit sector. Early in her career, Julie worked as a secondary school teacher in Canada, Act and Victoria.  Julie is now retired and devotes most of her time to helping those in need through volunteering roles.


Mark Groom: Member, Regional NSW

Highest qualifications: Bachelor of Legal Studies, Certificate in Cross Cultural Training and Awareness and Certificate in Mediation

Mark is an Inspector of Custodial Services in the capacity of Official Visitor to Cessnock Correctional Centre.Mark held a Senior Registrar and Chamber Magistrate position at Mt Druitt and currently holds a casual board position with the Inspector of Custodial Services. He has extensive experience in administrative decisions in a statutory framework and independent assessments that involve evaluating complex and sensitive information against broad policy and legislation.


Kerryn Boland: Member

Highest qualifications: Bachelor of Law, Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice, Graduate Diploma Sports Law, The Modern Regulator (ANZSOG)

Kerryn was the NSW Children’s Guardian from 2005 to July 2017. Her previous roles include Chief Executive Officer, Commissioner for Children and Young People with a mandate to protecting children by promoting and regulating child safety, quality organisations and services reporting to the Minister, FACS. Kerryn orchestrated the delivery of high-impact mandates, including the design and implementation of the Working with Children Check and voluntary OOHC Register for children with disabilities and the Foster & Kin Carer authorisation Register. Both were recommended by Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse of Children for replication in other States.


Kristie Walker: Member

Highest qualifications: Graduate Certificate Business Administration, Certificate IV in Government Investigations, Certificate IV in Project Management

Kristie is current Director, Quality for the National Disability Insurance Agency. She is responsible for feedback management and continuous improvement arising out of customer complaints. Her previous roles involve managing complaints, investigations, team leadership, change, and service delivery across a range of review bodies and government agencies including Energy and Water Ombudsman, Health Care Complaints Commission, and Ralcorp.


Shane Brown: Member

Highest qualifications: Post Graduate Diploma in Community Management, Certificate in Narrative Therapy Counselling, Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training

Shane is the founder and CEO of Weave Youth and Community Services and has worked with this organisation for 32 years. Weave provides support for disadvantaged and socially excluded children, young people and families in the inner Sydney. Previous roles include health promotions worker in Family Planning NSW, mental health worker, and youth worker in Mt Druitt. Shane developed the very first drug and alcohol mental health service in a community youth centre in NSW. Shane has extensive experience working with Aboriginal communities, youth and clients with complex needs.


Maria Linkenbagh: Member, Regional NSW

Highest qualifications: Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Arts

Maria is a Locum solicitor for a private legal firm in Sydney. Maria has extensive experience in Administrative Law, having been a Member of both Commonwealth and State Tribunals. She has held roles on Disciplinary Appeal Committees and Retirement and Redeployment Appeal Committees, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and Workers Compensation Resolution Service. She has worked as Judicial Registrar, acted as member of the Mediator’s Panel of NSW Supreme Court and Land and Environment Court. Maria currently holds several volunteering positions across diverse industries and community interest groups.


Qingsheng Zhou: Member (CALD)

Highest qualifications: PhD (Sydney), Masters in Science (China), Bachelor of Science (China)

Qingsheng Zhou is an academic researcher, currently the Senior Research Fellow of the National Centre for Classification in Health at the University of Sydney. He previously worked in various roles in a number of NSW government agencies, including planning, housing, disability and age care. He had been manager/director of several units that specialised in research, evaluation, data analysis & modelling to support strategic reform initiatives and operational policies. Qingsheng represented NSW at national performance reporting platforms such as the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services. He was also the NSW member of national working groups for data collections such as social housing (public community and Indigenous), disability and aged care. He has lectured at the University of Sydney and Nanjing University (China). Qingsheng has published numerous journals, articles and chapters in books, related to his areas of expertise and interests. Qingsheng is of Chinese background.