Meet the Board

Our Team

The team at Pacifica Congress includes our board members and committee members

Our team at Pacific Congress is responsible for meeting legal requirements and being accountable to our members, donors, and sponsors.

As a registered Not-for-Profit with deductible gift recipient status, our board ensures Pacifica Congress acts according to its mission and purpose.

Meet The Board

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The Honourable Steven Strickland QC


Steve ia a recently retired Family Court Judge having been on the bench for 22 years.  He has returned to practice in the field of Family Law as a Barrister, Arbitrator, Mediator and Consultant.
 As a Judge Steve made innumerable decisions resolving a myriad of family disputes including attempting to provide a better future for the children.  As a practitioner he has continued to look to assist children and their families to overcome the harm that family conflict causes. 
Pacifica Congress provides a vehicle for him to advocate for and to improve the lives of children and their families. 

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Mr Timothy McMichael


As with many in the sector, Timothy wears a number of hats; he’s a Family Law writer for Lexus Nexus, a busy FDRP and he works in a model akin to Judicially ordered parenting coordination in Aotearoa New Zealand.  He’s also the Resolution Expert Oceana/Pacifica for OurFamilyWizard.  He also works as a coach and assessor for Resolution Institute and in practice as a therapist.  He sits on a number of Boards on both sides of the Tasman.
 In these differing roles, Timothy is always able  to connect with tamariki children, to help keep him grounded, and to remind him why he does what he does.
 He’s stoked that Pacifica Congress can now take the lead across the sector, not just in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand but into other Pacific Nations of Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.

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Ms Kirstie Colls


Kirstie is a Director and Head of Family Law at Michael Lynch Family Lawyers in Brisbane.   Kirstie  gained Specialist Accreditation in 2009, certification as a Collaborative Practitioner in 2017 and certification as an accredited Mediator in 2020. She is recognised  as a Leading Parenting & Children’s Matters Lawyer and in Best Lawyers since 2020.

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Mr Darren Mort

I have been a Family Law Barrister over 30 years. In that time I have realized there is more than just being a lawyer, a psychologist, a Judge or social scientist. For me it is about using my skill set to accomplish something special that will advance the best interests of children; its about resisting any apathy which may result in kids  being labelled as silent victims  between warring parents. The imperative is  about making a real positive difference for children, giving them a voice and therefore impacting upon future generations, by effecting change. This is something at the core of Pacifica Congress (‘PC’) and something that aligns with my professional goals and ideals. For me PC is a place of hope, where experienced minds from various fields gather so as to make a visible and practical difference to the lives of kids.

Pacifica Meet the Board Circle photos-Steve Middleton

Judge Steve Middleton

His Honour was appointed as a Judge of the Federal Circuit Court on the 9th day of November 2015.

Prior to that he had been admitted in NSW, Queensland and in the High Court since 1995.

He worked as a solicitor in NSW for approximately 4 years before moving to live on the Sunshine Coast in QLD where he continued to work as a solicitor and partner of a law firm until 2007.

In 2007 he went to the bar and his main areas of practice were, Family, Crime, Civil litigation and Alternate dispute resolution.

Away from the Law he volunteered in Cambodia for approximately 4 years as a teacher in the far North West of Cambodia. He also lectured and was a tutor in Business and Law at the Sunshine Coast University.

Pacifica Meet the Board Circle photos-Rachel Oakeley

Rachel Oakeley

Rachel Oakeley is a barrister practising primarily in Family Law matters

Rachel appears in the Family Court of Western Australia, Family Court of Australia, Children’s Court of Western Australia in relation to Care and Protection Matters and in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia for Violence Restraining Order matters. Rachel has worked exclusively in Family Law since 2006 and receives briefs in all areas of Family Law. Rachel is experienced in difficult children’s matters (including where sexual abuse and family and domestic violence is alleged); international and inter-state relocation applications; complex property matters, (including where there are multiple entity interests, third party interests or litigants, taxation issues and where tracing exercises are required). Rachel is experienced in drafting and advising on Binding Financial Agreements and Binding Child Support Agreements.

Rachel is a nationally qualified mediator and provides services as a Chairperson for Mediation Style Conferences for parties engaged in Family Law negotiations. Whether considering litigation or already involved in it, parties who work with Rachel are encouraged and guided towards identifying their own solution, without the need for the expense and emotional toll which Family Court litigation can have on the parties and their wider families. 

Rachel has a special interest in surrogacy and adoption matters. Rachel is a regular speaker, including internationally, on the subject of fertility law and surrogacy.  Rachel provides services to parties who require legal assistance advice when entering into domestic altruistic surrogacy arrangements and when applying for transfers of parentage. 

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Ms Elizabeth Picker

Liz practices as a barrister, formerly a Solicitor for 12 years. She is a Mediator, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) and accredited Arbitrator.
Dispute Resolution is her specialty.

Liz’s preference is to preserve relationships wherever possible, be they personal, (family) or commercial (business).

In Family Law settings She feels privileged to be able to take on the role as an Alternate Dispute Resolution Practitioner which enables her to achieve the goal of keeping families out of court.

She is able to assist families to improve their communications which benefits the most important people in the equation in family relationship breakdowns – the children.

Pacifica Congress is close to her heart as a living example of like-minded Family Law professionals seeking to achieve the same end goal – Doing it for the Kids!!


Ms Lilia Szarski

As a Child and family psychologist, Family Report writer, Parenting Coordinator and FDRP, Lilia’s discipline and training and knowledge of the Family law sector has been important in supporting families in distress to navigate, support and resolve many of their entrenched issues though change and conflict management to build sustainable and liveable arrangements  for their children.

Being part of the Pacifica Congress Board is an exciting and wonderful opportunity to engage and support good practice, research and the connection of psychology and the law to assist the families in distress who use the Family Law process.

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Mr David Edney

David is a highly experienced Accredited Family Law Specialist and Independent Children’s Lawyer, with over 28 years of expertise. David is a Director of CE Family Lawand has a unique experience in understanding legal proceedings and the effects of separation from the perspective of children as well as parents. David consciously considers the numerous factors involved in each matter that he works on and has the view that legal consideration is just one of the numerous factors to be considered.

David tries to seek alternative ways of resolving matters without court if appropriate and his training as a collaborative family lawyer and as a mediator assists him in doing so.

David’s clients value his compassionate and knowledgeable advocacy in family law.

Pacifica Meet the Board Circle photos Billboard Square

Ms Perpetua Kish

Practicing family law for over 12 years, Perpetua (Pepe) is a family lawyer and the director of Balance Family Law in the ACT. She is trained in conflict management coaching, mediation, advanced collaborative law and collaborative coaching, parenting coordination, and has post graduate qualifications in Human Services (specialising in child welfare). She joined the board of Pacifica Congress in 2022.

She is also the creator and co-founder of The Kind Lawyers, a movement that is all about changing the conversation in law from one of combat, to kindness.

In 2022,  Pepe was invited to join the Australasian taskforce of the International Association of Collaborative Professionals and is a member of the Australian Association of Collaborative Professionals and she is also an active committee member of the ACT Law Society’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee.

Her innovative approach to law has seen her, and Balance Family Law recognised with over 23 national and international awards and accolades since 2020 including the prestigious Lawyer’s Weekly Family Law Partner of the Year 2021, Australian Law Awards Sole Practitioner of the Year 2021, Australian Law Awards Boutique Law Firm of the Year 2020 and the Gold Ausmumpreneur Award for a Service Business in 2020 and 2021.  She has also received consecutive Chief Minister’s Awards for Excellence for my work with families and children on the frontline during her time working in child protection. In 2022 and 2023, she was invited to be a Judge at the Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards, and Partner of the Year Awards, and the National Ausmumpreneur Awards.

Pepe believes the key to practicing law well is to embrace an abundance mindset, engage in daily reflective practice and always foster collaboration over competition.

Pacifica Meet the Board Circle photos Billboard Square 4

Ms Melanie Rubin

Melanie practices exclusively in family law and has done so for the better part of the last 25 years. She has developed a reputation for resolving complex financial and parenting matters in a sensitive but structured way. You can rely on her to provide you with honest and practical advice.

Whether you are in the process of separating or needing to protect yourself with a pre-nuptial agreement you can be sure that Melanie will look after your interests. She will keep you informed every step of the way and give you the tools to make sure you navigate your way through this difficult part of your life and ensure you move on with renewed energy and knowledge.

Being collaboratively trained and a Mediator assists her in being able to try resolve disputes using negotiation to work together and often avoid the need to go to court. These skills are utilised in all types of matters – property and children’s matters. It’s where you get to control the process and be in charge of writing your divorce story.

Melanie is a board member of Pacifica Congress, a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Council, the Law Society of NSW, Central Sydney Collaborative Forum, and a member of Collaborative Professionals (NSW).


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Dr Kaylene Evers

Dr Kaylene J. Evers has extensive experience, loads of common sense, broad training, skills, huge work ethic, diligence and Integrity. She is a practitioner and company director, recently becoming a member of the AICD. She has decades of experience working with individuals, children, adults and couples. She has a special interest in trauma especially sexual assault and homicide but is equally experienced in working closely with a team of providers in cases of Workover, TAC, Victims of Crime and DVA.

She is a well published researcher and conference presenter particularly in psychological aspects of multiple sclerosis, and other chronic conditions. Her PhD developed the Bio Psychosocial Model of chronic illness and a scale to measure it.
She is also an accredited Mediator and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and Justice of the Peace.
In all her roles she endeavors to treat all persons with respect and dignity.


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Dr Stella Laletas

Stella is an academic at Monash University where she lectures in child and adolescent psychology and counselling, and supervises Masters and PhD research students. Link to Monash University Profile and Activities 

Stella is registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA); a member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and a committee member of the Prato International Research Collaborative for Change in Parental & Child Mental Health (Families-Communities-Countries-World Wide).

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Ms Stephanie Reid

Stephanie is a Principal Lawyer at Ko+Reid Family Lawyers, a boutique family law firm servicing metropolitan Melbourne and Gippsland.  Family and Relationship Law is an area of law that deals with real people and real issues.
Stephanie enjoys working with her clients to assist them to navigate the legal process, to understand their situation and to achieve a just outcome.

Stephanie is passionate about the rights of children. She recognises that every child and family is different, and when the opportunity arises can assist clients to understand and navigate the family law maze in a manner that honours the needs of their children.

Conference 2024

Register now for the upcoming conference which boasts an outstanding array of guest speakers and presenters

Conference Committee

Venue & Program Co-ordination, Sponsorship, Entertainment, Media, Publishing, Presenters, Finance and Hospitality are just some of the many value-adding roles undertaken by the Conference Organising Committee at Pacifica Congress

Our Sponsors

Pacifica Congress Sponsors 2024-Camberwell Psychology
Specialists in family & children’s law evaluations, reports and court testimony
Pacifica Congress Sponsor 2024 Tree House Reaston

Providing collaborative networks for professionals &  stakeholders who provide services to those impacted by trauma.

Pacifica Congress Sponsor 2024 LEAP EV

We build tech products that power law firms and continuously innovate based on user feedback

Pacifica-Congress-Sponsor-Norman Waterhouse

Offering extensive experience in a range of legal services for individuals, business and government

Pacifica-Congress-Sponsor-Vincent Papaleo

Specialising in family law, child behaviour issues, and safety concerns related to parental separation and child mental illness

Pacifica-Congress-Sponsor-Rafton Lawyers

A specialised team that provides alternative dispute resolution for parties in a family law dispute

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