About Us

Women and Mentoring (WAM) offer a unique, early intervention program that supports women and non-binary people charged with a criminal offence by matching them individually with a supportive 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 recurrent philanthropic funding over the past four years, we have been able to expand our service area to provide support to criminalised and vulnerable women across most of metropolitan Melbourne.  We can now receive referrals for women presenting at Melbourne, Heidelberg, Broadmeadows, Sunshine, Moorabbin, and Frankston Magistrates Courts.  Referrals from other areas can also be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on the location of our available mentors.   Remote-mentoring may also be offered to women in regional locations.

Our 2021 Evaluation Report demonstrates that engagement with a mentor 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.

WAM has been fortunate to rely on strong connections and partnerships to deliver this unique and gender-responsive initiative. We welcome interest and support from the community in mentoring and skilled volunteer roles.  We work collaboratively with many partners in the health justice and community services sector for 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

Chair
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.

Tracy Baylis

Director & Company Secretary
Tracy brings strong knowledge and many years of governance and strategic planning experience.  A values-driven leader, Tracy is currently the Strategic Planning and Implementation Manager at the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network, an organisation aiming to increase liveability and resilience in our cities and communities and thereby improve the lives of every Australian.  Tracy has supported WAM as a volunteer for several years.

Anne Rudd

Director
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.

Emily Porter

Director
Emily is an experienced barrister practising in the areas of administrative, planning and environmental law.  She has prior experience as a member of the Victorian Bar Council and the Eastern Community Legal Centre Committee of Management.  She is passionate about maximising opportunities for women to participate fully in society, including through mentoring.

Trevor Irwin

Director
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

Director
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

Director
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

Director
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.

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

Intake 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.