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Meeting with Children and Participation Skills Session:

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  • Sue Foley, Director of the Children’s Court Clinic, SCHN
  • Donna Smith, Solicitor-in-Charge, Central Sydney Family Law, Legal Aid NSW
  • Kate Batha, Mental Health Worker, DVU, Legal Aid NSW
  • Simone Wimalaratne, Principal Solicitor at SVW Legal 

About the presenters

Sue Foley



Sue Foley is a social worker who graduated in 1975 from Sydney University with the then degree of Bachelor of Social Studies (social Work), and in 1993 with a Master of Social Work. Additional qualifications have included MA in Childhood Studies and Social Policy from Macquarie University and MEd in Adult Education from UTS (2003), Sydney. Additional relevant studies have included family therapy, play therapy, art therapy, trauma- focused therapies, and assisting people with conflict resolution. I have studied some units of law and nearly finished two PHDs. I have been an Authorised Clinician at the Children’s Court Clinic since its inception in 2001. I have worked in non-government out of home services, in DCJ / FACS/ YACA and other health and mental health services since 1975. 

I am proud to be a Social Worker by profession and am particularly interested in the rights of children, ensuring we hear their voices and represent them clinically, forensically, and legally. I am keen to ensure social justice is a driving force in all my work and was awarded the NSW AASW award in 2018 for prevention work for children’s safety. I have been a board member of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) from 2010 – 2018.  

I strongly believe in cross-disciplinary work in Child Protection and enjoy attending local and international conferences to ensure that I can take on new knowledge, skills, and relationships with profession.  

I am a proud grandmother of gorgeous Hayden (born January 2023) and he is also teaching me much about how we can know about children, their needs, and personalities, even from a very young age, by seeing and being with them. Parenting in 2023 is also very different to parenting 36 years ago.  

I am a traveler, cook and singer and enjoy collaboration and respectful challenges to ways of doing what we do in the field of children’s Safety, Welfare and Wellbeing.   

Donna Smith

Donna was admitted to the Supreme Court and High Court of Australia in 1991. Donna was in private practice in regional NSW and later Sydney, practicing mainly in family law. Donna undertook training as a child separate representative, as it was then known, in 1995 and attained her Specialist Accreditation in family law in 1996.   Donna joined Legal Aid in 2008 with the Central Sydney Family Litigation team and has recently been appointed ongoing Solicitor in Charge of that team.

Kate Batha

Kate is a registered psychologist currently working as a Mental Health Worker in the Domestic Violence Unit. Kate has extensive experience working with children, young people, and their families, including over 10 years working as a Court Child Expert conducting child focused assessments and in a variety of roles in child protection settings in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Simone Wimalaratne

Simone has been admitted to practice since 2005. Her interest in representing children was sparked at University when she learned about separate representation for children in Family Courts which sounded way more interesting than drafting contracts or corporate law.

In 2005 Simone jumped at the chance to do a pro bono secondment from Blake Dawson Waldron to the Aboriginal Legal Service where she fulfilled the role of juvenile liaison officer, visiting Indigenous young persons on remand and in detention at Keelong, Reiby, Yasmar, Cobham, Baxter and Kariong Juvenile Justice Centres to take instructions and provide legal advice to indigenous young persons, assisting with preparation and conduct of litigation matters at Bidura Children’s Court.

Simone then worked in private practice giving criminal law, care and protection law and family law advice and conducting litigation in the Local, Children’s, District, Supreme Court and Family Courts.

In 2013 Simone opened her own practice and is on the summary, indictable and Children’s Criminal Law Panels, the Family Law panel, the ICL panel, the Care and Protection Panel for adults and children, the External Legal Panel for the Department of Communities and Justice and the domestic violence panel. The majority of her practice is now in the Children’s Court in the Care and protection jurisdiction and she regularly appears in Parramatta and Surry Hills Children’s Courts.