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Governance and people

Governance and People

Seniors Rights Victoria is a significant program  of Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria and is governed by its board.

Board of Governance

The Council On The Ageing (COTA) Victoria Board is responsible for COTA Victoria’s good governance. The Board’s dedicated members have diverse backgrounds and skills and bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to COTA Victoria’s work. COTA Board of Governance

Advisory Committee

Our nine-member advisory committee has four independent members and two members from the COTA Victoria Board. It actively supports COTA Victoria’s staff and the Chief Executive Officer in their work. For example: 

  • Seniors Rights Victoria’s strategic directions, objectives and priorities, how they interact with and support COTA Victoria’s strategic directions. 
  • the extent to which SRV’s core activities and services advance and support SRV’s and COTA Victoria’s strategic directions 
  • SRV’s approach to emerging threats and opportunities. 

George Koulis (chair)

George brings 25 years of experience as a senior executive and board member to the Seniors Rights Victoria Advisory Committee. He has worked in various industries including Aged Care, Local Government and the not-for-profit sector. George is currently the General Manager – Commercial and Corporate Services at Doutta Galla Aged Services, a community based not for profit aged care provider. He brings many skills to the Council, including in strategy, governance, finance and marketing. George is passionate about looking after the vulnerable members of our community, in particular older people and children. 

Bianca Brijnath

Associate Professor Bianca Brijnath is the Divisional Director of Social Gerontology at the National Ageing Research Institute. A medical anthropologist and public health practitioner by training, she has expertise in mental health in primary care and community settings. Within these disciplinary and contextual boundaries, she has undertaken several studies exploring elder abuse prevalence, primary prevention, screening tool development, management in the context of dementia, and big-data analysis of service responses. She has authored over 100 publications, including a sole-authored book with Berghahn Books titled “Unforgotten: Love and the culture of dementia care in India” and is the lead investigator for the Moving Pictures study in Australia and in India.

Dr Peter Condliffe

Peter is a practicing Barrister and mediator, with a background in developing educational, human rights and community-based programmes.  He was formerly CEO of the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia and Director of Dispute Resolution Centres in the Department of Justice and Attorney-General, Queensland.  Prior to this Peter was Chief of Education, Training and Information with the United Nations Centre for Human Rights in Cambodia.  He has also been employed as an academic, teacher and community worker. Peter was the founding President of The Victorian Association for Restorative Justice and is a Director of the Mediator Standards Board.  He is a long-term member of the ADR Committee of the Victorian Bar.  He is also a member of the Victorian ADR Association (VADRA) and a Director of the Council of the Ageing (Vic.). Peter is one of Australia’s most experienced conflict management teachers and practitioners.

Bernadette Maheandiran

Bernadette is a qualified lawyer with a longstanding commitment to social justice.  Her passion for upholding the rights of older adults has been demonstrated through her work with SRV as a Policy Officer, and as a lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly, a community legal centre in Ontario, Canada. She is presently the Research and Legal Analyst at Market Forces, an environmental finance advocacy group. In this role, she has the opportunity to help promote the clean energy transition in Vietnam, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. Bernadette has served on various boards and committees throughout her life and is currently on the board of directors of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, a legal clinic focused on justice for indigenous communities affected by resource extraction, and on the governance committee of the Environment Victoria Board. She has a Masters of Laws from University College London and a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. She has been admitted to practice in Victoria

Minh Nguyen 

Minh has qualifications in Arts and Law, a Masters in Social Work and an Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management. She has practised as a solicitor with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Miwatj Aboriginal Legal Service. Minh has extensive experience in the management and governance of community services, and as a consultant and lecturer. Her current position is as Senior Manager, South-East Region, Centre for Multicultural Youth. Minh also brings experience in working with culturally diverse communities including both urban and remote Aboriginal communities. Minh is a Director on the Board of the Council of the Ageing Victoria. 

Lauren Adamson

Hayley Hunter

Hayley is a Senior Associate with Suzanne Lyttleton Lawyers. Since 2016, she has practised exclusively in wills, estates, guardianship and administration, with particular focus on complex litigation matters, both in the Supreme Court and VCAT. Hayley has worked for one of Victoria’s largest trustee companies giving her unique insight into the vulnerabilities of persons under a disability and their needs when under administration. Hayley is the deputy chair of the Law Institute of Victoria’s Elder Law Executive Committee. She is a passionate advocate against elder abuse and represents the Law Institute at the Elder Abuse and Safeguarding Roundtable, run by the Victorian Government’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Chief Executive Officer

Chris Potaris

With over 25+ years of CEO-level experience in over eight industry sectors, Chris has chaired and sat on numerous Boards. Chris has been founder and Chair of a Social Justice Coalition in Melbourne’s West, an Integrated Justice Precinct Advisory Group informing the State Government on the urgent need for integrated justice services in Melbourne’s West and a criminal prosecutor for over 13 years.

Chris has held the title of CEO in aged care, an international group of companies that employs over 30,000 staff, a national strategic advisory company, a regional advocacy and lobbying group in Melbourne’s West, in Consumer Affairs, in retail, and in health. He has held the title of Chairman at Community Leadership Australia and has been a capital campaign advisor to St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Melbourne.

Chris has been a strong advocate and champion for the broader communities that he has served, with a particular focus on more marginalised and vulnerable members of our community.

Manager and Principal Lawyer

Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca Edwards has worked at Seniors Rights Victoria since 2017 and is widely experienced in legal, social justice and government matters. Prior to this she spent 10 years as a lecturer and tutor in law and social justice at La Trobe University. Rebecca’s career in private practice began in rural and regional Victoria. She has also worked for Victoria Legal Aid and spent two years in Broome, working on native title cases for the Kimberley Land Council.

A unique aspect of Rebecca’s career was time spent as a volunteer legal analyst at the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania. Her community engagement includes being Deputy Chair of a local community Health Centre Board and three years as a government-appointed director of the Victorian Fisheries Authority.

Rebecca brings a passion for social justice and an obvious capacity for hard work to SRV. She has a number of priorities for her new role as Manager in 2021 starting with ensuring SRV meets all its obligations as a community legal centre.


If you, or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, help is available through our confidential helpline on 1300 368 821. If it is an emergency, call 000.
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