Nerita Waight
Nerita Waight

Chief Executive Officer

Nerita Waight completed her Bachelor of Arts and Laws at the University of Melbourne in 2011. She also pursued a cadetship through the Australian Taxation Office. In 2012, Nerita commenced a traineeship with the Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office and participated in exciting work in various areas of practice.

Trevor Plowman
Trevor Plowman

Chief Financial Officer

Trevor Plowman has extensive experience in financial services delivery and administration and leads the VALS finance unit, encompassing all key financial and risk management review. Prior to working with VALS, Trevor worked with the Department of Justice, EPA Victoria, the Bureau of Meteorology, and Domain Caravans, within senior financial management roles. He served as the CFO of the Bureau and EPA, and Finance Director of Domain Caravans.

George Salvenara
George Selvanera

Deputy Chief Executive Officer

George has extensive international experience working with government, business and not-for-profits on organisational and service design, strategy, and transformation. George has responsibility for company-wide governance, partnership and business development. He also directs our corporate, reporting and executive services functions.

P Cook
Patrick Cook

Acting Head of Communications, Policy and Strategy

Patrick has over a decade of experience in policy, campaigning and advocacy. He has a Master of Public Policy from RMIT. Patrick has previously worked as a Ministerial adviser and bureaucrat in the Victorian Government. He has a passion for building sustainable campaigns for systemic reforms.

Print Charmain_22_07_VALS1_IMG_5541_f
Charmain Anton

Statewide Community Justice Program Leader

Charmain is a proud Mutthi Mutthi, Waddi Waddi, Wemba Wemba woman, who has been with VALS since 2019 where she started as the Client Service Officer for Swan Hill. In 2021, Charmain became Team Leader for Regional Client Service Officers. Charmain has previously held roles at the Department of Justice – Koori Justice Unit as the LAJAC worker for Loddon Mallee Region, MDAS – Manager Child and Family Services (Swan Hill), VACCA – Manager Child and Family Services (Swan Hill), and Goolum Goolum Aboriginal Services – Team Leader Family Services/ Cultural Support Planner. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy from La Trobe University, a Certificate IV in Community Services (Specialising in Child Protection), and is currently completing her Diploma in Community Services at RMIT.

 

Principal Managing Lawyers

AG Headshot
Anna Gibson

Principal Managing Lawyer, Balit Ngulu

Anna joined VALS as Principal Managing Lawyer Balit Ngulu in October 2022 on secondment from Victoria Legal Aid where Anna was the Deputy Managing Lawyer Child Protection. Prior to that Anna was a Senior Legal Policy Officer at the Children’s Court of Victoria, providing legal research and advice to the Office of the President and before that held various roles at the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) including establishing its In-house Legal Service to enable representation in Children’s Court proceedings.

K Leong
Kin Leong

Principal Managing Lawyer, Criminal Lawyer

Kin joined the VALS Criminal Law team from private practice in 2014 and has been the Principal Managing Lawyer since 2017.  Prior to legal practice Kin was a youth worker and theatre arts professional in Darwin, Northern Territory.  He has extensive experience working in local government and community-based organisations. Kin holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Laws, and is a Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Criminal Law Specialist.

 

Juergen Kaehne
Juergen Kaehne

Principal Managing Lawyer, Aboriginal Families Law

Juergen is the Principal Managing Lawyer for VALS Aboriginal Families Law. He was previously the State Manager for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community Legal Service. It has been a privilege for him to provide legal service exclusively to Aboriginal people over the past 15 years. This service included complex child-related matters in both State and Commonwealth jurisdictions, and 10 years of remote circuit work through Cape York Peninsula. He holds a Masters degree in Family Law and is a registered Independent Children’s Lawyer, as well as a member of the Law Council of Australia and the Governance Institute of Australia

 

SS Headshot
Sarah Schwartz

Principal Managing Lawyer, Wirraway

Sarah manages the Wirraway Practice and represents clients in the areas of police accountability, the rights of people in prison and coronial inquests into Aboriginal deaths in custody. At VALS, Sarah has acted in the Inquest into the passing of Veronica Nelson and the Victorian Court of Appeal prison rights case, Thompson v Minogue. Sarah completed a Master of Laws at Harvard University on a John Monash Scholarship. Sarah is also a Lecturer and Honorary Fellow at Melbourne Law School. Sarah has previously worked at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Legal Aid NSW, and for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW. 

 

Web_22_08_VALS2IMG_5800
Alex Walters

Principal Managing Lawyer, Civil and Human Rights

Alex has been the manager of the Civil and Human Rights team at VALS since 2020. Before then, he was the Civil Lawyer at the UK law reform and human rights charity, JUSTICE. He was admitted in Western Australia in 2013 and from 2014 worked for three and a half years as a lawyer in
the Civil and Human Rights practice at the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia, before moving overseas. He has a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Laws.