We are delighted to announce that this year’s COAT NSW Conference will be held on Friday, 26 November 2021, with the theme Accessible and inclusive justice – What can tribunals do better?

We had hoped that this year we would be meeting up face to face but, sadly, it is not to be.  Instead, the Conference will be live-streamed from a professional studio using the same purpose built online conference platform which was so successful in 2020.

We have an exciting half-day program planned with speakers and panel discussions covering topics such as:

  • Practical strategies for making tribunals accessible for people with disability
  • The dos and don’ts of fact finding for tribunals
  • Safe workplaces: bullying and harassment in legal environments
  • Working effectively with people with challenging behaviours

Registration is now open and the full program can be viewed here on this webpage.  We hope you can join us ONLINE, on Friday 26 November for another stimulating COAT NSW Conference.



COAT NSW Conference Registration includes:

Access to all conference sessions.
Access to all online networking events.
Access to the online networking lounge to send messages and take video calls with other attendees.
Access to an online poster and resource gallery.
Access to recorded sessions post-event.

COAT NSW Membership

To be eligilble for member rates you must be a current financial individual member of COAT NSW.

Please note that COAT National tribunal/organisational membership is different to COAT NSW, which are separate legal entities (although closely affiliated).

To join COAT NSW please complete the membership form and email to or follow the instructions on the website

Early Member

Early Bird Registration Closes 27 October

Early Non-Member

Early Bird Registration Closes 27 October

Early Student

Early Bird Registration Closes 27 October

Group Registration

Early Bird Registration Closes 27 October
$125 starting from



This program is designed to meet the compulsory CPD needs of NSW legal practitioners who sit as Tribunal members.

Please note all times listed below are in Australian Easter Standard Daylight Savings Time
0845 – 0900

Conference Welcome
Anina Johnson, Deputy President, Mental Health Review Tribunal
Convenor COAT NSW
Welcome to Country
Aunty Donna Ingram, Wiradjuri Woman

0900 – 1010

Access for people with disabilities – practical strategies

Session Chair: 
Deputy President Fiona Meagher, Division Head, National Disability Insurance Scheme Division, Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Graeme Innes AM, Former Disability Discrimination Commissioner

Fiona Given, General Member, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal | Board Member Assistive Technology Australia and Side by Side Advocacy

Dr Kate Anderson, Associate Head of School, Teaching and Learning (Health, Disability & Inclusion, Faculty of Health, Deakin University

1010 – 1020 Break
1020 – 1110

Fact-finding – dos and don’ts

Session Chair:
Kay Ransome, Senior Member, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Judge Paul Lakatos SC, President, NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal

Theresa Simon, Principal Member, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Change over break
1115 – 1200

Creating safe workplaces – managing bullying and harassment in a Tribunal

Session Chair:
Judge Gerard Phillips, NSW Personal Injury Commission

Kylie Nomchong SC, Barrister

1200 – 1210 Break
1210 – 1300

Working effectively with people with challenging behaviours

Session Chair:
Anina Johnson, Deputy President, NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal

Dr Peter Santangelo, Member NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal

Jim Simpson, Member, Guardianship Division, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal | Senior Advocate, NSW Council for Intellectual Disability

Michael Hampton, Community Voice Manager, Synapse Australia Ltd

1300 – 1305

Closing Remarks

Chris Matthies – Chief Legal Officer, Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Conference Organiser



Fiona Given

2021 COAT NSW - Fiona Given Photo

Fiona has an Arts/Law degree from Macquarie University. She has been a General Member of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal since its inception. Previously, Fiona was a community member of the NSW Guardianship Tribunal. She sits on the boards of Assistive Technology Australia and Side by Side Advocacy.

Fiona lives with cerebral palsy including communication disability. She is a Research Assistant with the University of Technology Sydney.

Michael Hampton

2021 COAT NSW - Michael Hampton Photo

Michael Hampton has been the Advocacy Program Manager at Synapse for 10 years. In this role, he has regularly assisted members in judicial and quasi-judicial proceedings.  He has focused primarily on assisting people with a cognitive disability arising from Brain Injury.

Prior to this, he worked with the Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association and a Tenancy Advocacy service.  Michael practiced as a Solicitor in NSW  from 1989 to 2001 and worked with Legal Aid practicing in the Criminal jurisdiction.

Aunty Donna Ingram

2021 COAT NSW - Donna Ingram Photo

Donna’s Aboriginal family connections are the Wiradjuri of Central West New South Wales.   She is the Mother of 4 adult children and Grandmother of 5 (so far) and was born and raised in Sydney on Gadigal land.

Donna is proud to be a Cultural Representative for the local Aboriginal community in Sydney.  Donna has worked in Aboriginal affairs, Government and community organisations in Sydney for the past 35 years (mostly in education).  She was also elected to represent her community as a Councillor on the former Sydney Regional Council of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC).

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Donna holds a Diploma in Aboriginal Community Development and is a Graduate of the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Development Program.  Donna is involved in several community consultation groups especially in regards to women’s issues and NAIDOC week in the Redfern/inner city area.   She is often called upon for advisory panels and community consultation groups.  Donna was recently nominated as Chairperson to the Board of Moogahlin Performing Arts, a role she is very much looking forward to.

Donna has presented Welcome to Country at many conferences and major events in Sydney for the past 11 years.  Donna also runs ‘Redfern, Then and Now’ Aboriginal history walks of the Redfern area, which highlights the political and social history of Aboriginal people in Redfern and their deep connections to the area.

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Dr Graeme Innes AM

2021 COAT NSW - Graeme Innes Photo

Graeme Innes AM is a lawyer, author and company director. He has been a human rights practitioner for more than thirty years.

Graeme was a Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission for nine years, responsible for issues relating to disability, race and human rights. He led work on the ratification by Australia of a UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities and in the areas of accessible buildings and transport, TV and movie captions and accessible banking standards.

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Graeme led the merger of four blindness agencies to form Vision Australia, and chaired the board of that agency. He is currently the chair of the Attitude Foundation, a start-up aimed at using media to change attitudes towards Australians with disabilities. He is also a Director of Life Without Barriers and the State Insurance Regulatory Authority.

Graeme was awarded an AM for his work on the development of the Disability Discrimination Act and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Canberra, RMIT University, University of New South Wales and Edith Cowan University, in recognition of his work as a human rights activist.

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Anina Johnson

2021 COAT NSW - Anina Johnson Photo

Anina has degrees in law and sociology from Murdoch University and a Masters (Research) in Law from the Australian National University.   She was appointed as the Deputy President (Forensic) of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal in November 2012, where she sits on Tribunal hearings in both its Forensic and Civil jurisdiction.  Prior to her appointment to the Tribunal, Anina worked as a solicitor and advocate in the public sector for more than 15 years in the areas of administrative law, criminal law, constitutional law, child protection and coronial inquiries.

Anina has published and presented in the areas of mental health, criminal law and administrative law.

Judge Paul Lakatos

Judge Paul Lakatos 300x300

Judge Paul Lakatos SC (LLB, Dip Crim, LLM (Hons) Sydney University) commenced his professional career working as a solicitor for the Aboriginal Legal Service in 1977. He continued his work in the Sydney metropolitan area representing indigent clients with the Public Solicitor’s Office from 1978.

In 1982 Judge Lakatos SC led a team of investigators including the AFP, ATO investigators and forensic accountants, investigating bottom of the harbour tax schemes at the Special Prosecutors Office.

In 1984 he was admitted as a Barrister, practicing in Criminal Law; Administrative Law: Coronial inquiries and before ICAC, Police Integrity Commission; counsel assisting ICAC and State Coroner and Appellate Law.

In 2005 Judge Lakatos was appointed as senior counsel and in 2008, was appointed as a Judge of the District Court of NSW.

Most recently, Judge Paul Lakatos SC commenced as the President of the Mental Health Review Tribunal in 2019, where he oversees its functions. He also sits on Tribunal hearings in both forensic and civil jurisdictions.

Fiona Meagher

2021 COAT NSW - Finoa Meagher Photo

Fiona Meagher was admitted as a solicitor in 1989. She practiced in commercial litigation and corporate law before working in house as General Counsel and Company Secretary for Telecom New Zealand Australia, a joint venture between Bell Atlantic and Telecom New Zealand during the deregulation of the telecommunications industry in Australia. She also worked as the Chief Operating officer of McCullough Robertson for a number of years. Fiona has worked in Tribunals since 2014 – for the Queensland Mental Health Review Tribunal between 2014 and 2018 and was appointed as a part time member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Migration and Refugee Division) in 2015 and assigned to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Division at the AAT in 2017. She was appointed a full time Senior Member of the AAT in 2018 and has had management responsibilities for the NDIS Division since that time.  She was recently appointed a Deputy President and Division Head of the NDIS Division at the AAT.

Judge Gerard Phillips

2021 COAT NSW - Judge Gerard Phillips Photo

Judge Phillips is the inaugural President of the Personal Injury Commission of NSW, Australia’s newest tribunal. Prior to his appointment to the District Court bench in 2019, Judge Phillips was a solicitor in private practice for over 30 years. He specialised in employment and industrial law and was a partner in the global law firm K & L Gates and served on its global management committee. While in practice, Judge Phillips was a frequent author in the Australian Financial Review on a range of legal and industrial relations topics. He is currently a council fellow at St John’s College within the University of Sydney.

Kay Ransome

2021 COAT NSW - Kay Ransome Photo

Kay Ransome is a Senior Member of the New South Wales Civil and Administrative Tribunal and a Member of the Torture Claims Appeals Board/Non-refoulement Claims Petition Office (Hong Kong). She was the Principal Member of the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal in Australia from 2012 to 2015. Prior to that appointment, Kay was the Chairperson of the New South Wales Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for ten years.  She was previously Principal Registrar of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and was a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal from 1993 to 1995. Kay has had a lengthy career in tribunals against a background of government policy experience.

Jim Simpson

2021 COAT NSW - Jim Simpson

Jim Simpson is a lawyer who has worked in the disability field for 35 years. He is a Senior Member on the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and does systemic advocacy work for the Council for Intellectual Disability.

Jim took a central role in establishing the Intellectual Disability Rights Service in Sydney. He was formerly Deputy President of the Community Services Appeals Tribunal NSW and a member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal. He is a recipient of the Justice Medal of the NSW Law and Justice Foundation.

Dr Peter Santangelo

2021 COAT NSW - Peter Santangelo Photo

Peter is a credentialed mental health nurse with the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN), a Fellow and past President. He has worked as a registered mental health nurse for over 40 years in community mental health, health service and project management.

Following his hospital based nursing training, Peter completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Graduate Diploma in Health Services Management, a research Master of Nursing degree and a PhD. He holds Conjoint/Adjunct appointments as Senior Lecturer with the Universities of Newcastle and Tasmania, is a member of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal and provides clinical supervision as an independent practitioner.

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