Lead Ombudsman

Geoff Browne - Small Business

Geoff Browne Profile picturePrior to joining AFCA in 2019, Geoff Browne has held several high profile senior roles supporting the small business sector. Geoff was the Victorian Small Business Commissioner from 2011 to 2016, where he successfully decreased the number of disputes between landlords and commercial tenants, expanded engagement with small and medium businesses, and increased awareness of the dispute resolution services offered by the Commission with customer satisfaction ratings of 95 per cent.

Prior to this Geoff was Deputy Director at Consumer Affairs Victoria, and has had senior management experience in both the public and private sectors, working in telecommunications, finance, and e-commerce. He has also run his own small business, and offers a wealth of experience in this area.

Mr Browne holds a Master’s Degree and First Class Honours Degree in Economics, and a Graduate Diploma in Company Secretarial Practice.

Philip Field – Banking & Finance

Philip FieldPrior to the establishment of the AFCA, Philip was Lead Ombudsman – Banking & Finance at the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia. Philip was previously General Manager – Corporate and Legal Counsel at the Banking and Financial Services Ombudsman (BFSO). He joined the BFSO as Legal Counsel in February 2002 and was appointed General Manager – Corporate in March 2006.

Before BFSO, Philip worked in private practice and as an in-house solicitor in the financial services sector. Philip was also a volunteer solicitor at the Springvale Legal Service.

Philip holds a Bachelor of Economics, a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) and a Master of Laws (Commercial Law) all from Monash University and was admitted to legal practice in March 1986.

Philip is Secretary/Treasurer of ANZOA, the peak body in Australia and New Zealand for industry-based, parliamentary and statutory ombudsman office

John Price – General Insurance

John PriceJohn has over 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Prior to AFCA, John was Lead Ombudsman – General Insurance at the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia, having previously acted as Referee, Adjudicator and a Panel Chair there too.

John was until recently also a Director of State Trustees Limited and STL Financial Service Limited and Chair of the State Trustees Limited Australia Foundation and member of the Audit, Investment and Remuneration Committees.

John is also a Code of Conduct Commissioner for Cricket Australia and Chair of the Pennant Cricket Appeals Board for Cricket Victoria.

John’s industry knowledge has been built through his experience as a solicitor at Maurice Blackburn & Co from 1978, becoming a partner in 1984. He headed up the industrial personal injuries practice until retiring from the firm in 2004.

John also brings his experience as a member of the Accident Compensation Committee for more than 20 years, a member of the Victorian WorkCover Authority Legal Liaison Committee and numerous Victorian Government working parties and advisory groups.

John is a member of ANZOA, the peak body in Australia and New Zealand for industry-based, parliamentary and statutory ombudsman offices.

June Smith – Investments and Advice & Superannuation

June SmithDr June Smith has a wealth of experience in the financial planning and related sectors, well-developed relationships with regulators, industry and consumer groups and a significant track record as an independent decision maker.

June is well recognised for her work developing the role of codes of practice to improve customer service, along with her efforts in promoting professional standards and business ethics in the financial advice industry.

Prior to AFCA, June was Lead Ombudsman Investments & Advice at the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) Australia. June was also previously CEO of the Code Compliance Monitoring Committee for the Code of Banking Practice and General Manager of Code Compliance and Monitoring at FOS.

June has a PhD in Law from Victoria University, specialising in professional and business ethics and organisational decision–making within financial services organisations. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Melbourne.

June’s external appointments have included Member, Racing Victoria Appeals and Disciplinary Board; Independent Chair, Conduct Review Commission, Financial Planning Association of Australia; Independent Chair, Code Compliance and Monitoring Committee, Australian Travel Agents Scheme; Advisory Member, Member Compliance Committee, Financial and Consumer Rights Council of Victoria; and Victoria University Alumni Ambassador.

June is a member of ANZOA, the peak body in Australia and New Zealand for industry-based, parliamentary and statutory ombudsman offices.

 

Ombudsman

Geoff Bant

Before AFCA, Geoff was with FOS since 2008 as a case manager and Legal Counsel. He became a team manager in Banking and Finance in 2014 at FOS, leading a highly successful team of case workers.

Geoff has worked as a solicitor in major law firms in Australia and London, specialising in banking litigation and business risk management.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of Western Australia, and a Master of Laws (Commercial Law) from the University of London (King’s College). He also has a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance from the Securities Institute of Australia.

Evelyn Halls

Evelyn was formerly a partner in the Corporate Group at global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. Evelyn's practice at Herbert Smith Freehills involved advising companies, managed funds and statutory bodies on a range of transactional and corporate governance issues. Evelyn also spent several years in Herbert Smith Freehills' revenue law group, advising on tax and stamp duty issues.

Evelyn is a two-time Olympian in the sport of fencing and has been actively involved in the administration of the sport at club and state level.

Alison Maynard

From the inception of the Financial Ombudsman Service until December 2012, Alison was Lead Ombudsman, Investment, Life Insurance and Superannuation (ILIS). At AFCA, Alison now holds a valuable role as one of our decision makers in the ILIS space. Prior to the establishment of FOS on 1 July 2008, Alison had been Chief Executive of the Financial Industry Complaints Services (FICS) since January 2001. Prior to that she was the National Operations Manager at Insurance Enquiries & Complaints Ltd.

Alison has also worked as a Director of the SIO Consumer Appeals Centre, Supervisor of Clinical Training at Leo Cussen Institute (Solicitor Training) and as a solicitor at the Coburg and St Kilda Community Legal Centres. Alison holds a Bachelor of Jurisprudence and a Bachelor of Law from Monash University and was admitted to legal practice in April 1982.

Christine McCarthy

Christine has several decades of experience in the insurance industry and in legal practice. She has a Masters of Law from Melbourne University, specialising in insurance law, and is an accredited mediator.

Since 2007, Christine has worked as an Adjudicator with the Insurance Ombudsman Service and previously as an Ombudsman with the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Christine's industry knowledge derives from extensive experience as a partner in a law firm and a senior executive at a statutory authority.

Nicole McCutcheon

Nicole was previously an Ombudsman at the Financial Ombudsman Service. Before FOS, she was Litigation Counsel at ASIC, where she worked in Enforcement since 2001.

During her time at ASIC, Nicole was seconded to the Financial Services Authority in London. Nicole commenced her career at Minter Ellison. Nicole has an LLB (Hons) and B Com from the University of Melbourne. She has a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from the Mount Eliza Business School/University of Queensland.

Helen Moye

Before AFCA, Helen previously worked as an Ombudsman with the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia and FOS UK. Helen's diverse professional career developed from her initial years in private legal practice in Australia as a commercial lawyer. This was followed by a period based abroad in the role of head international legal counsel for a private investment group with interests across the Middle East, Europe and the UK. She has also held trustee/board (including chair) positions on several professional and not-for-profit organisations.

Helen has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from Queensland University of Technology, and was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland and the High Court of Australia. Helen also has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England and a Graduate Diploma in Education from Charles Sturt University.

She is a past president of the Women Lawyers’ Association of Queensland and contributed several chapters to a book of biographies of prominent female lawyers in that State.

Don O'Halloran

Don was an Ombudsman at FOS before joining AFCA. Prior to coming to FOS, he was a full-time Member at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). During his four years at VCAT, he sat in the Civil, Occupation and Business Regulation and Guardianship lists. Before working at VCAT, he was a specialist insurance litigation partner in a large Melbourne legal firm for 21 years.

Don has a Masters of Law from the University of Melbourne and he is the former Legal Member of the Chiropractors Regulation Board and former Treasurer of Headway Victoria.

Andrew Weinmann

Andrew joined FOS as a Panel Member in 2017 after fifteen years in private practice, working at Australia’s major plaintiff law firms. Andrew was previously the national head of superannuation and insurance at Slater and Gordon, where he grew and led a busy practice helping clients across Australia.

Andrew has served as director with several not-for-profit and community organisations, and has a long record of service as a volunteer at community legal centres in Melbourne and Geelong. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor Laws (Hons) from Flinders University.

Chris Liamos

Chris Liamos has been with AFCA and its predecessor schemes since 2007. During this time he has held roles in case management, jurisdictional, and legal counsel roles. He has also served as a Fast Track Adjudicator, a role he had held since its creation in October 2014.

Having graduated with a double degree in law and science, majoring in mathematics, Chris has worked extensively in the insurance sector, handling recoveries, public liabilities, insolvencies, and VCAT hearings since 2000.

Michael Brett Young

Michael Brett Young has over 40 years of experience in the legal industry. He recently completed twelve months as the interim Chief Executive Officer of the Law Council of Australia.

In 2015, he was appointed by the Victorian Attorney General to undertake a review of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, and report on his findings to Parliament. Between 2006 and 2014 he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Law Institute of Victoria.

Previously, he was the Managing Partner of a large national firm which specialises in work injury compensation, transport accident compensation, medical negligence and class actions and business law.

He has extensive experience in Legal Education, having been a member of the Monash University Law Faculty Board, and on advisory groups for both La Trobe University and RMIT. He is currently a member of the College of Law Victoria Chapter Board and is a previous chair of the Estate Agents Council and a former member of the Chiropractors Registration Board.

Michael completed a combined degree in Economics and Law at Monash University in 1975.

Ruth Talalla

Ruth joined FOS in 2007 as a senior case manager in banking and finance. She was appointed as one of the first two banking adjudicators in 2014.

Before joining FOS, Ruth was a Senior Associate at Freehills for six years and a solicitor at top tier firms in London for seven years, specialising in commercial and insurance litigation.

Ruth has a Bachelor of Laws (First Class Hons) from the University of Sheffield (UK).

Brenda Staggs

Prior to joining AFCA Brenda practiced as a lawyer for 18 years. She worked in-house, in private practice and the social justice sector, specialising in Insurance and Financial Services. 

Brenda worked in major law firms, as a director of a Legal Practice, as a senior lawyer at Redfern Legal Centre and as Disaster Response Co-ordinator at Legal Aid NSW.

Brenda also served as a member of the General Insurance Code Governance Committee.

Brenda holds a Bachelor of Law (HONS) from the University of New England  and is currently completing a Bachelor of Psychology.

Pamela McAlister

Pam is an experienced financial services lawyer and governance specialist, with particular expertise in superannuation law and practice, trust law and regulation. She is also a part-time member of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.

Pam’s past roles include senior governance consultant with Mercer, specialist superannuation partner at Hall & Wilcox, Greenfields and Freehills, Group Executive - Governance at Australian Unity and Deputy Executive Director at the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. She was a member of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal’s Advisory Board until the end of 2018.

Pam has also chaired the Superannuation Committee of the Law Council of Australia, been general editor of the Australian Superannuation Law Bulletin, lectured in superannuation, trusts and administrative law for several tertiary institutions and served as a director on trustee boards and committees for a number of superannuation funds.

Shail Singh

Shail joined the Financial Ombudsman Service in 2010 as a case manager and progressed to senior case manager in 2013.  In 2015 Shail began managing the Investments and Advice Unit 1, where his team focused on investments, traditional trustee and life insurance complaints.

In 2018 he was appointed by the Board as an Ombudsman. Shail has significant experience dealing with financial planning, investments, stockbroking, CFD and FX disputes.
 
Prior to joining FOS, Shail was a Financial Planner at ARA consultants from 2008 – 2010 and Legal Counsel for various organisations including the Medical Practitioners Board (2003 – 2005), Sara Lee (2000) and Worksafe Victoria (2005 to 2008). 

Shail has a bachelor of laws and bachelor of science from Melbourne University (1996) and a Masters in law from Melbourne university (2005) and an advanced diploma financial services (2009).

Jane Abbott

Jane was appointed as a Member at the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal in 2001 and is still working there 2 days a week. She has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) and Bachelor of Arts from Melbourne University and a Diploma of Superannuation Management. 

Jane has worked in various roles in corporate superannuation with National Mutual, Buck Consultants and NSP Buck. She has worked in Administration, as a trustee and as a consultant advising trustees, and has been part of various committees in ASFA's education program over the years. 

Jane currently serves as a director on the board of the Robert Connor Dawes foundation raising funds for paediatric brain cancer.  

Anne Marree Howley

Prior to joining AFCA, Anne Maree has had extensive experience as a financial services lawyer.  Anne Maree’s experience includes in-house legal roles in superannuation and life insurance companies and working as a solicitor with a top tier law firm. In addition, she has served on a number of trustee committees directed at complaints, claims, disclosure and risk management.

Anne Maree has a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts from Monash University.  She also holds a Graduate Diploma of Corporate and Securities Laws from the University of Melbourne.

 

Adjudicators

Teresa Willemsen

Teresa joined FOS in 2010 as a case manager in Banking and Finance. She became a team manager in Banking and Finance and then an Adjudicator in 2015.

Before joining FOS, Teresa worked in commercial and corporate law, both in private practice and as in-house legal counsel.

Teresa holds a Bachelor of Commerce / Laws (Hons) from the University of Melbourne and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance and Investment from FINSIA.

Wendi Nisbet

Wendi joined FOS in 2013, and was initially a case manager in the General Insurance team. She later moved to the “flex” team, which assists with high workloads across all departments in FOS. After a successful stint in Flex working across multiple disciplines, Wendi moved to the Fast Track area with a role as Team Manager, before being appointed as an Adjudicator in March 2017.

Wendi has an industry background and was employed in a variety of roles at one of Australia’s largest general insurers. This culminated in managing a successful internal dispute resolution team of approximately 40 staff, immediately prior to joining FOS.

Wes Pan

Before joining FOS as legal counsel in 2010 in the financial difficulty team, Wes worked in the banking, insurance, and superannuation sectors. He worked in-house at Commonwealth Bank dealing with its retail banking disputes and being responsible for litigation involving its general insurance (CommInsure) and life insurance (Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited) businesses, and then worked in superannuation at AXA Asia Pacific Holdings (now AMP).

He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Laws from Monash University and was appointed as an adjudicator in 2017.

Neva Skilton

Neva started working at FOS in 2012 as a banking and finance case manager. In 2015, she became a team manager of one a banking and finance team. In 2018, Neva was appointed as an adjudicator in both the general insurance and banking and finance teams. Neva has significant experience investigating all different types of complex banking disputes, but has a particular interest in disputes relating to unauthorised transactions. Before joining FOS, Neva worked in private legal practice specialising in general insurance law. Neva holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from Deakin University.

Qasim Gilani

Qasim joined FOS in 2010 as a case manager and was appointed to the role of Adjudicator in 2015.

Before joining FOS, in the initial years of his professional career Qasim worked in private legal practice as well as worked with the United Nations - World Health Organisation. Qasim has worked extensively in the insurance sector handling claims, legal recoveries and dispute resolution.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Law and Political Science) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons).

Jacqueline Thompson

In 2001, Jacqueline joined the Australian Banking Industry Ombudsman as a case manager. In 2009, she was appointed legal counsel with the Banking & Financial Services Ombudsman and remained in that position when it merged with other schemes to become the Financial Ombudsman Service Australia. In May 2018, Jacqueline was appointed an Adjudicator with FOS. 

Before joining the predecessor schemes to FOS, Jacqueline worked as a lawyer and then as a senior associate in the commercial litigation division of an international law firm, and as a corporate lawyer with one of the “big four” Australian banks.

Jacqueline holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne.

Elisabeth O’Brien

Liz O’Brien is an Adjudicator in the Fast Track team at the Financial Ombudsman Service. Prior to this, she spent four years in the Financial Difficulty team as a Case Manager. She has also worked as a Senior Investigations Officer and Systemic Investigations Officer at the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and volunteered as a solicitor at several community legal centres. She has a keen interest in vulnerable consumers and accessibility. Liz is admitted to practice as a solicitor in the ACT and Victoria.

Melinda Cavalieri

Melinda Cavalieri was appointed as an Adjudicator in September 2015. She specialises in General Insurance, Life Insurance and Financial Advice disputes.

Melinda joined FOS in 2010 as a conciliator. She became a Senior Conciliator in 2012, and then in 2013 was appointed as the Team Manager of the Life Insurance team.

Prior to joining FOS Melinda was engaged in both traditional and alternative dispute resolution, as a commercial litigator at Clayton Utz, and then as a nationally accredited mediator in the civil jurisdiction of the Magistrates and County Courts of Victoria. Melinda has also mediated many community and neighbourhood disputes as a member of the Dispute Resolution Settlement Centre of Victoria.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Monash University) and a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) (Deakin University).

Brydie Cook

Brydie joined FOS in 2016 as a Case Manager and then went on to become a Team Manager. She was then appointed an Adjudicator in December 2017.

Before joining FOS, Brydie worked in private practice as a solicitor specialising in insurance law. Brydie also worked in legal policy for the ACT Government.

She holds a Juris Doctor from the Australian National University and a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Terri Gladwell

Terri joined FOS in 2011 as a banking and finance case manager. Since then she has undertaken roles as a senior case manager dealing with banking and finance and insurance disputes and as a team manager. She has experience investigating and resolving complex banking and finance disputes and insurance disputes. Terri was appointed as an adjudicator in 2018.  

Before joining FOS, Terri worked as a lawyer in both criminal and corporate law. She has worked in private practice as senior legal counsel at one of the “big four” Australian banks.

Terri holds a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Economics from Monash University.

Chris Siemers

Chris is a qualified Counsellor and has worked in private practice as a relationship and therapeutic counsellor for many years.

He later trained and worked as a Financial Counsellor. Prior to coming to FOS Chris worked over three different not-for-profit Government agencies in Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh and Geelong as a financial counsellor, assisting vulnerable and disadvantaged consumers.

Chris has also worked at NAB as a coach - assisting vulnerable and disadvantaged customers who had been through the hardship program and had not recovered from their financial difficulties.

Chris joined FOS in January 2012, starting in Financial difficulty as a Case Analyst, then Case Manager. In 2017 he joined the Systemic Issues team as a Case Manager, joining the B&F Adjudicators in February 2019.

 

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