About Us

What we do

We make a difference in women’s lives.

Women and Mentoring (WAM) offers a unique, early intervention program that supports women charged with a criminal offence by matching them individually with a supportive female mentor. The volunteer mentors are trained and resourced to provide appropriate support to the program participants, to share their skills and to contribute to the wider community.

WAM began operating in the City of Yarra (in Melbourne) working with the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in 2009, and in 2015 received funding from the Melbourne Women’s Fund to replicate the program in the Sunshine Magistrates Court precinct.

With recent funding from the Victorian Legal Services Board we aim to support over 200 women over the next three years to get their life back on track, navigate the overwhelming criminal justice system, and build their capacity and skills to improve their life outcomes. As such, we now also receive referrals for women presenting at Melbourne, Heidelberg & Broadmeadows Magistrates Courts.

Additional philanthropic support has enabled us to expand the program to Frankston Magistrates Court in 2018.

The program has made a significant positive difference to the participants’ confidence, coping mechanisms and capacity to respond to their legal matters and address the issues that underlie their offending. The vast majority of the participants have avoided a prison sentence and have not re-offended.

The WAM program has always been strongly community-based. We rely on relationships within the community to support the program and for participant referrals.

“Our mission is to assist women in their early interaction with the justice system through the provision of a formal mentoring relationship. This will provide them with a pathway to develop and use positive life skills.”

– Ann Polis (Founding Chair)

Our board

Sam Payne

Sam Payne retired from a long career in Business Administration in 2005. She joined the WAM pilot program as a Volunteer Mentor in 2010, one of the first volunteers. Sam has mentored three women participants in WAM and continues as a Volunteer. She joined the WAM Board in 2014.

Keren Murray

Director & Company Secretary
Keren is an experienced lawyer, policy advisor, and non-executive director. She is Principal of K Murray Consulting, a legal policy advisory service. Previously, Keren was Principal Lawyer at the Law Institute of Victoria and worked in criminal law reform at the Department of Justice, Victoria, and law reform commissions in England and Victoria. Keren is currently a Board member and Secretary of The Stella Prize and was previously a board member of the YWCA Victoria.

Anne Rudd

Anne is a serving member of Victoria Police and over the past 17 years she has performed duties within the Bayside area, Prosecutions Division, Family Violence Command and more recently, the North West Metro Region in Melbourne and Yarra. Anne is a lawyer and an experienced prosecutor within the Magistrates’ Court and Children’s Court where she specialised in prosecuting sexual offences and family violence matters. Anne was previously a member of the Therapeutic Treatment Board and is a current Director of Court Network.

Virginia Murdoch

Currently, Product Manager at Culture Amp, Virginia works with a cross-functional team of engineers and designers, focused on turning large amounts of data into actionable insights. Virginia has previously worked in professional development, learning and distribution platforms, both in Australia and overseas. Virginia has previously been the Deputy Chair of the Writers Victoria board.

Trevor Irwin

Trevor Irwin is an experienced accountant with a background in media, not-for-profit, the university sector, Victorian Government agencies, recycling/waste management, telecommunications and oil and gas sectors in senior finance roles.  Trevor is currently Chief Financial Officer with Surf Coast News Australia based in Torquay Victoria.  He is a CPA and holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and has an MBA from RMIT University.

Amanda Thornton

Amanda leads the National Partnerships team at Stroke Foundation and Co-chairs the Melbourne Women's Fund Grants Committee. She is experienced in fundraising, philanthropy, and non-profit administration in the charitable and arts sectors, and holds a Master of Social Investment and Philanthropy.

Su Robertson

Su is a social justice lawyer, academic and community radio broadcaster. She has previously worked as a community legal centre lawyer and university law lecturer, and is currently completing her PhD at the Australian National University. She has researched, published and presented on a variety of issues associated with poverty law, clinical legal education, feminism and the legal system, and her work has been tabled in Parliament

Tamsin Mildenhall

Tamsin is an experienced criminal defence lawyer having worked in both the private and Government sectors. Currently, she is the Manager of the Summary Crime team at Victoria Legal Aid, working with sector partners to ensure the delivery of high-quality legal services as well as a fair and efficient justice system. She is a Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) Accredited Criminal Law and Children's Law Specialist and a member of the LIV Children's Law Specialisation advisory Committee. She also is currently undertaking a Masters of Business Administration (Executive) at RMIT

Our team

Tricia Ciampa

Executive Officer
With over twenty years in the not-for-profit sector, Tricia has expertise in program design, social impact evaluation and forging collaborative partnerships to deliver positive and life-changing outcomes for vulnerable people in our community. Tricia has very relevant experience in mentoring and the Victorian criminal justice system, including volunteering as an Independent Person providing support to young people during police interviews under the Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program.

Mary Latham

Operations Manager
Mary has been with WAM since 2014. She is a chartered accountant who has experience in both corporate and not-for-profit roles; including professional accounting firms, financial services, disability and youth mental health. Mary has strong experience in finance, governance, project management, reporting and budget control.

Susan Orr

Intake Coordinator
Susan is an experienced counsellor and facilitator of family violence recovery groups, working within a feminist framework and trauma-informed practice. She understands the challenges and barriers vulnerable women face. With previous experience in a mentoring program, Susan knows the amazing power of women mentoring women and the changes it can bring to their lives.

Joyce Sedunary

Mentor Coordinator
The majority of Joyce’s employment has been with not-for-profit and community organisations, with previous roles working in youth mentoring, and volunteer recruitment and training. Joyce is a qualified counsellor and has a strong administrative background. Joyce has also enjoyed being a volunteer in her community. She has founded and operated two children’s theatre companies.

Sarah Nyssen

Frankston Coordinator
Sarah has a strong background of working in the early intervention and prevention space, with extensive experience including working in the women’s health sector and coordinating a youth mentoring program in the south east. Sarah is driven to create supportive relationships to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable people in our community.

Phaedra Thain

Resource & Care Coordinator
Phaedra has experience in the youth justice space and has qualifications in family violence and is currently undertaking a Master of Justice and Criminology. This has informed her understanding of advocacy, empowerment and preventing violence against women. Phaedra is passionate about building inclusive and sustainable programs that promote equality.