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Proud First Nations women welcomed as acting QCAT members

The first woman to head the Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) this week swore-in four new acting tribunal members – all of them women and two who are very proud First Nations Australians.

QCAT President and Supreme Court Justice Kerri Mellifont QC and her recently appointed deputy, District Court Judge Geraldine Dann, welcomed Talitha Burson, Simone Matthews, Carol Lee and Pam Goodman to the tribunal during their swearing-in ceremonies this week.

Justice Mellifont and Judge Dann were also on hand to congratulate respected veteran solicitor and former Queensland Law Society president Peter Eardley on the extension of his appointment as a QCAT adjudicator.


Peter Eardley and Justice Kerri Mellifont QC, QCAT President.

Justice Mellifont said Talitha Burson was a proud Murrawarri First Nations woman with extensive experience in human rights and privacy law.


Justice Mellifont and Judge Geraldine Dann, with Talitha Burson (centre).

“Ms Burson has worked with government and the private sector throughout her career and has extensive experience in human rights, occupational regulation and privacy law. She was admitted (as a solicitor) in 2003 … (and has) practised in Australia and in England and Wales,” Her Honour said.

“Ms Simone Matthews was admitted in 2012 and she is a proud Kooma/Kamilaroi woman.


Simone Matthews sworn-in as an acting tribunal member.

“For the past four years she has been the Senior Principal Lawyer at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH). This is a collaborative CLCQ pro bono service. She was instrumental in the creation and implementation of the Internal Health Justice Partnership which, under her guidance, achieved accreditation and certification as a community legal centre.

“She has experience in various areas that the Tribunal deals with, including domestic violence, tenancy, debt matters, elder abuse and guardianship matters.

Justice Mellifont said Carol Lee had a very long history working in health law in Queensland’s public and private sectors in Queensland.


Judge Geraldine Dann, Carol Lee and Justice Mellifont.

“Ms Lee also holds an appointment as sessional legal member for the Queensland Mental Health Review Tribunal and has a clinical background as a nurse. Ms Lee was admitted as a barrister in December 1992 and as a solicitor in September 1993,’’ she said.

The fourth new member – Pam Goodman – has been a sessional member of QCAT since its inception in 2009.


Pam Goodman was also sworn-in this week as an acting tribunal member.

Justice Mellifont said Ms Goodman had very significant experience in guardianship, blue card and child protection work.

“In addition to stints in private practice, she has worked in the field of administrative law for 30 years, including for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Child Support Agency, the Racing Appeals Committee, the Mental Health Review Tribunal, and the Guardianship and Administrative Tribunal.’’

Justice Mellifont also welcomed the extension of the appointment of experienced and highly-respected solicitor and 2010 QLS President Peter Eardley as Tribunal adjudicator.

“Peter has had a four-decade career in private practice together with a lengthy involvement in legal policy work for the Queensland Law Society,” she said.

Mr Eardley said he was enjoying the opportunity to use his experience to give further service to the legal system through his involvement within the Tribunal.

Shortly after taking over the QCAT presidency in mid-December (2021), Justice Mellifont flagged a personal interest in seeing an increase in the number of First Nations people appointed to sit on the tribunal and working at QCAT.

“Capacity-building in our First Nations community, and the cultural competency and safety of QCAT, is important to me,” she said.

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