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Conference Session: Tricky Issues for Child Representatives

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  • Magistrate Whelan, Local Court NSW
  • Alex Wearne, Special Counsel, Accredited Specialist in Family Law, Reid Family Lawyers
  • Elanor Canning, Senior Solicitor, Accredited Specialist in Children’s Law, Legal Aid NSW
  • Simone Wimalaratne, Principal Solicitor at SVW Legal 

About the presenters

Magistrate Whelan

Magistrate Whelan was appointed to the Local Court bench in March 2022. He currently sits for half the time in Burwood and the other half in North-western NSW as the Local and Children’s Court including in care and protection cases,

Prior to appointment he practised exclusively in care & protection and family law with a focus on child representation and was on the various panels for legal aid and for DCJ. He was the inaugural Chair of the Care & Protection Lawyers Association.

Mark was an Accredited Specialist in Family Law from 1994 to 2022 and in Children’s Law (Care & Protection stream) from 2006 to 2022. He has served as an assessor and committee member with the Law Society.

He became a nationally accredited mediator and an Accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner with the Attorney General’s Department in 2016.  In 2018 he became an Accredited Arbitrator in Family law. He conducted family law mediations through Legal Aid NSW, the Law Society and in private practice from 2017 – 2022 primarily in parenting disputes.

He holds a Masters of Law and a Masters of Applied Law in Family Law.

Alex Wearne

Alexandra Wearne is a solicitor in private practice with Reid Family Lawyers.  She has been practising as a solicitor since 1991, always in family law and has been an accredited specialist in family law since 1996.  She is an experienced Solicitor Advocate, having appeared in numerous complex interim, interlocutory and final hearings in the Family Court of Australia, the Federal Circuit Court and in the NSW Supreme, District and Children’s Courts.  Alex has also acted in all aspects of Full Court family law appeals, from their inception to final argument, for appellants, respondents and on behalf of children.  Alex has practised as an Independent Children’s Lawyer since 1994.  Since 2003, she has assisted with programme development and training for the national ICL training scheme.  Alex is a member of the Family Law Courts’ Children’s Committee.

Eleanor Canning

Elanor Canning has been a solicitor in the Family Litigation team at Legal Aid for twenty years, specialising in care and protection. Elanor spent three years as a solicitor advocate and also conducts matters as an ICL in the FCFC. 

Elanor is the chair of the Children’s Law Specialist Accreditation Advisory Committee, having obtained specialist accreditation in 2009. Elanor is a Director and Deputy Chair of the Penrith City Council Children’s Services Co-operative Board.  

Elanor has an interest in the provision of trauma informed legal representation to children and families in the care and protection and family law systems and in managing the exposure of staff to vicarious trauma. Elanor is a Legal Aid Vicarious Trauma Champion. 

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