We support better justice through research, education and grants

Victoria Law Foundation is committed to making a significant contribution to raising awareness of our law, and to provide evidence and insight to improve justice for all Victorians.

Our vision

Fair, equitable and accessible justice for all Victorians

Established under the Victorian Law Foundation Act, Victoria Law Foundation has served the Victorian community for over 50 years. While our role has evolved, our vision remains the same.

Meet the team

Our small but dedicated team is made up of people from diverse fields, including media, research and the law.

Lynne Haultain
Executive Director

Lynne leads the Victoria Law Foundation team. She brings with her a wealth of experience in the fields of communications, journalism and management.

Hugh M. McDonald
Acting Research Director

Hugh joined the Foundation in September 2019 as Principal Researcher. He previously worked at the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW, on several landmark access to justice and legal need projects. Throughout his career, he has worked closely with legal aid commissions, community legal centres, state and federal governments, giving him a deep understanding of legal institutions and access to justice issues throughout Australia.

Kate Sedgwick
Education and Events Director

As the head of the VLF’s education and events team, Kate oversees the myriad of education and event activities offered by the VLF. With over 8 years of practical experience working as a litigation solicitor for Australia’s leading social justice law firm and several years working in education and events at one of the world’s top-ranking law schools, UNSW Law, Kate relishes the responsibility of successfully delivering the VLF's events program to the community and legal sector. As someone who was inspired to pursue a career in the law after attending a regional VLF event as a high school student, Kate feels privileged to now be able to oversee and provide strategic support for the schools programs offered by the VLF.

Melanie Rygl
Grants Manager

Melanie has worked within our Grants Program for over ten years and oversees all of the VLF grant activities. With a focus on community and the for-purpose sector, she has previously worked in local and state government, philanthropy and a university centre. Melanie has recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact enhancing her understanding of the ecosystem creating positive social change to address complex social problems.

Justice Greg Garde AO RFD
Chair

Justice Garde is a Reserve Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria, capping a long and distinguished career in the law, starting in 1974. Beyond his career as a barrister and on the bench, Justice Garde has been highly influential in many aspects of our justice system.

He is Victoria’s longest serving President of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, having held that post for six years and overseeing key reforms to support better access to justice.

He is currently Chair of the Law Library of Victoria Committee and the Supreme Court Library Committee; was a founding member of the Courts Council of Courts Services Victoria, and of the Judicial Commission of Victoria; as well as many other leadership roles. In addition to his work in the law, Justice Garde was a Major General in the Australian Army, serving till 2004 as Assistant Chief of the Defence Force (Reserves) and Head Reserve Policy. He has chaired the Foundation since October 2020.

Gerry Bean
Nominee of the Law Institute of Victoria (2021)

Dr Gerry Bean is a partner in DLA Piper’s corporate team. With more than 25 years' experience, he advises on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, commercial transactions, and corporate governance.

Key to his role is advising not-for-profit entities and charities on governance issues. Gerry has been a board member of DLA Piper International and a Council Member of the LIV. Gerry is the Chair of Wallumatta Legal, a start-up charity that aims to provide family law services to disadvantaged people.

He is also an active contributor to DLA Piper’s pro bono program. He is especially interested in projects that make legal information more accessible to the wider community and the Foundation’s support of empirical research, in particular, how it can assist in better understanding community legal needs, identify developing legal issues, and the potential of big data to answer such questions.

Belinda Lo
Nominee of the Federation of Community Legal Centres Vic Inc. (2021)

Belinda Lo is the Director of Legal Services and Principal Lawyer at the Eastern Community Legal Centre.

Belinda has worked across the legal assistance sector for over 20 years, primarily advocating for the rights of victim survivors of family violence and sexual assault in legal representation, law reform and wider policy and sector reform areas.

Belinda has a served on a number of boards, including the Federation of Community Legal Centres, Domestic Violence Resource Centre and DV Vic (transition board). Apart from practising as a lawyer, Belinda also was seconded to the Federation of Community Legal Centres in 2018 to serve as the CEO.

Stephen Roche
Reappointed by the Victorian Attorney-General (2021)

Stephen was formerly a Partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Asia Pacific.

Over more than 26 years in accounting, Stephen provided assurance, financial due diligence and accounting advisory services to a wide range of organisations including listed companies, major multinational corporations, not-for-profit entities and government bodies. In addition to his client-facing roles, he has held several leadership roles within Deloitte Asia Pacific and Australia.

As the Chair of our Audit, Finance and Risk Subgroup, ‍Stephen applies his extensive experience to oversee VLF’s financial process, including investments, audit processes and risk.

Professor Melissa Castan
Reappointed by the Victorian Attorney-General (2021)

Dr Castan is a Professor and Associate Dean (Staffing) in the Law Faculty at Monash University. She has over 25 years’ experience teaching, researching and publishing in Australian Public Law, Constitutional law, Human Rights Law, Indigenous Legal Issues and Legal Education. She is the National Editorial Convenor of the Alternative Law Journal.

She is also Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, and sits on a number of university and faculty committees and she has a number of publications in these areas. Her most recent book is Time to Listen - An Indigenous Voice to Parliament with Professor Lynette Russell (2023, Monash University Press).

Melissa is the Chair of our Research Subgroup providing invaluable support on research methodologies and practice.

Rowan McRae
Nominee of Victoria Legal Aid (2021)

Rowan McRae is Executive Director of Legal Practice, Civil Justice, Access and Equity at Victoria Legal Aid, and has had a wide-ranging career in the Australian and international legal sector.

Rowan joined Victoria Legal Aid in 2016 as Program Manager of the Equality Law Program before taking her current role. Previously, she worked at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, the International Finance Corporation in Washington DC, and as associate to former High Court judge, Justice Hayne AC QC.

She has also practised in the private profession and on legal development projects in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Rowan holds a Masters of Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Peter Caillard
Nominee of the Victorian Bar Council (2019)

Peter Caillard is a barrister with a broad commercial practice. He is also a director of Down Syndrome Victoria and former Director of PILCH (now known as Justice Connect) as well as the Law Institute of Victoria. He served on the Ethics Committee of the Law Institute for a number of years and is regularly invited to lecture on the subject of ethics to law graduates at Leo Cussen. Peter was Chairman of the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association and Chairman of the School of Hard Knocks and Youth Empowerment Against AIDS and HIV (YEAH).

Prior to becoming a barrister, Peter was a senior executive in a major ASX listed company, which included the operational role of Chief Executive Media and Head of Strategy and International Operations. His academic qualifications include Honours and Masters in Law as well as being a graduate of Harvard Business School and Nanjing Normal University. He is a Fellow of Leadership Victoria; Governance Institute of Australia and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Therese McCarthy
Courts Council nominee (2021)

In February 2017, Therese McCarthy was appointed a Magistrate of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. She was appointed by the Chief Magistrate in 2022 to the role of Supervising Magistrate of Family Violence and Personal Safety Intervention Orders. Magistrate McCarthy also provides leadership to Magistrates within the family violence and personal safety practice areas.

Magistrate McCarthy has worked with the United Nations at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands; the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs in Syria; with AUSAID and the Director of Public Prosecutions in Papua New Guinea and with Action Aid International in Pakistan.

Prior to being called to the Victorian Bar in 2010, she was a prosecutor at the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and a legal associate to The Hon Justices Sally Brown and Victoria Bennett in the Family Court of Australia.

In 2021 Magistrate McCarthy was appointed to the Board of the Victoria Law Foundation as the representative of Victorian Courts’ Council.

Work with us

Whether we're helping people engage with the law, undertaking research to support planning and reform, or funding community organisations -- everything we do strengthens the relationship between Victorians and their justice system.

Our small team is made up of lawyers, educators, researchers, communications specialists and volunteers -- we are a small organisation that makes a big impact.

Internship 2024-25

Kick start your career in the legal sector with an internship at Victoria Law Foundation (VLF).

Victoria Law Foundation's internship program aims to give current law students an understanding of our work to improve legal literacy and access to legal services in Victoria.

Get experience working for a not-for-profit legal body, grow your networks and get behind the scenes exposure to a range of alternative legal careers. The internship is for 20 days (2024/25 financial year)

Interns will be paired with a VLF Manager or supervisor and will work across the teams depending on capacity of staff and the interests of the intern.

Hybrid
Internship

VLF internship program

Get experience working for a not-for-profit legal organisation, grow your networks and get behind-the-scenes exposure to a range of alternative legal careers with our internship program.

Our interns get exposure to all areas of the VLF's work -- research, education, grants and communications -- and have the opportunity to visit some of Victoria's most prestigious legal institutions and meet the people who work in them.

Applications for our 2024/25 Internship program are now open.

Apply here

Diversity and inclusion

We encourage people from all backgrounds, abilities and identities to apply for our vacancies.

We are committed to a workforce that represents many different cultures, backgrounds and viewpoints. The more diversity we have in our team, the more perspectives we have, and the more bright ideas we can share and develop. We strive to foster a professional and inclusive environment where everyone is respected, valued and feels safe.

Victoria Law Foundation will employ appropriate, effective and flexible strategies to improve opportunities, and will make reasonable adjustments to policies, practices and requirements where necessary to provide equal opportunity. We understand that balance between work and other parts of our lives is important, and we support flexible work across all our roles.

Our history

Victoria Law Foundation has supported better justice for over fifty years, changing the landscape of Victoria’s legal system along the way.
1967

Established

Victoria Law Foundation is established by Law Institute of Victoria presidents Tom Molomby and John Cain. Cain goes on to become Victoria's 41st premier from 1982 to 1990.

1974

Practical Legal Education

We provide establishment funding for Leo Cussen’s Practical Legal Education program, which will go on to provide training to generations of lawyers, including former Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Julia Gillard.

1978

The Victoria Law Foundation Act

The Victoria Law Foundation Act 1978(Vic.) is implemented, providing explicit guidance for our work.

1980

Law Week begins

Law Week kicks off for the first time, giving Victorians an unprecedented opportunity to engage with the justice system.

1986

Community legal sector funding

We help the community legal sector prepare for the future by providing funding for computers and new technology.

1994

Public Interest Law Clearing House

Seed funding from the Foundation leads to the creation of the Public Interest Law Clearing House, now known as Justice Connect. Justice Connect continues to provide legal assistance to thousands of people and not-for-profit organisations each year.

1998

Plain English publishing program

Our plain English publishing program is established and we begin helping legal professionals to better communicate their work. We still facilitate plain English training today.

2005

Law Handbook online

We provide funding to Fitzroy Legal Service to develop the Law Handbook Online, an initiative which continues today.

2009

Victoria Law Foundation Act 2009

The Victoria Law Foundation Act 2009 (Vic.) takes effect, replacing the previous Act.

2013

Everyday-Law launch

Everyday-Law, a website explaining Victoria’s legal system and featuring information on common legal issues facing Victorians, is launched. It runs until 2019.

2016

Access to Justice Review

The Access to Justice Review is handed down, leading to changes in the Foundation’s role within the Victorian justice system.

2017

LGBTIQ Legal Service funding

We provide seed funding to the LGBTIQ Legal Service, the first legal-health partnership of its kind in Victoria. The Service goes on to win Community Legal Service of the Year at the 2019 Victorian Legal Awards.

2018

Research Director appointed

Our inaugural research director is appointed, marking the beginning of our new research function.

2019

Law Week expands

Victoria Law Foundation is established by Law Institute of Victoria presidents Tom Molomby and John Cain. Cain goes on to become Victoria's 41st premier from 1982 to 1990.

2020

Navigating COVID

Despite COVID disruptions, staff continue to work remotely and planning for our flagship research project PULS continues. Our Education and Event teams adapt to changing needs, pivoting to online resources and solutions.  

2021

PULS fieldwork begins

PULS hits the field, with six-thousand Victorians to be interviewed face-to-face. Our Grants program strengthens as Knowledge Grants and Community Legal Grants are awarded for a second year. Victorian Law Week commences with a new community-focused strategy to engage on everyday legal issues.

2022

International collaboration

Our first International Online Forum on Access to Justice is hosted in collaboration with University of California Irvine. Several key reports from our Research Team are considered and cited by decision makers. The Law Oration is re-imagined as In Conversation featuring interesting public legal figures.

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PULS Volume 2: Understanding and Capability is now available

Explore the knowledge, skills and attributes that are required to effectively understand and use the law.