Our Board And CEO

Emily Ryder (Chair)

Director since 2019. Appointed Chair July 2021.

Emily is a mum to four grown children, and an experienced information and technology leader with over 20 years’ experience within health and government across the UK and Australia. She holds degrees in Nursing and Law and is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Emily has held roles in operational leadership and management consultancy for EY and KPMG and is an experienced program and business change manager for large complex projects. She has a passion for data and analytics to drive performance improvement and to help the organisation make well-informed evidence-based decisions. Emily leads analytics at Medibank – focussing on the clinical outcomes and value of health service delivery.  

Raymond Burnett (Deputy Chair)

Director since 2018. Appointed Deputy Chair July 2021.

Raymond is a dynamic executive consultant with significant senior experience in all levels of government, the community sector, private sector and academia. Raymond's experiences include sitting on national decision-making panels and senior evidence advisory bodies; leading major service and organisational redevelopment; strategic plan facilitation and overseeing national and statewide training initiatives. Raymond holds a range of qualifications including a Masters in Leadership and Management, a Masters of Public Health, and a Bachelor of Social Work. Raymond is a Graduate of the AICD and the International Partnership Brokers Association Programs. Raymond is Past President of the Doncare Board, a member of the Deakin University Health Academic Advisory Board, a member of the AICD, and sits on the Opening Doors Community Leadership Management Committee.  

Kerrie McMahon (Treasurer)

Director since 2018. Appointed Treasurer March 2021.


Kerrie has over 30 years’ experience in finance and quality system management in the government, private, and community sectors. Kerrie is committed to developing systems within organisations to improve the quality of service delivery and outcomes for clients. Kerrie is a Certified Practising Accountant, holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting), and a Diploma in Quality Auditing and has extensive experience and knowledge of risk management and policy.


An enthusiastic supporter of the not-for-profit sector, Kerrie has extended her work philosophy through her volunteering roles for several not-for-profit organisations. 

Professor Karen Smith (Secretary)

Director since 2020. Appointed Secretary March 2021.


Professor Karen Smith is the Director of the Ambulance Victoria Centre for Research and Evaluation. She is an epidemiologist with extensive experience in public health research. Her relevant expertise includes governance, research, development of KPIs, performance measurement and quality improvement. Karen also holds adjunct Professorial positions with Monash University in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and the Department of Paramedicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science with Honours and multiple post-graduate qualifications including a PhD.  Karen is passionate about social justice and helping marginalised populations and also sits on several international boards. 

Bernadette Dobeli (Director)

Bernadette joined the wider collective of Brenda House in 1990.


Having served continuously since then, her family violence committee and governance experience now extends to over 30 years.  Brenda House was one of the four refuges that amalgamated during 2012-2014 to form Safe Futures Foundation. The Board of these refuges worked tirelessly over many years to combine their strengths, collective energies and creativity and recognised the opportunities for systemic and programmatic reform through merging.


Bernadette has enjoyed her career as a radiographer and continues in this role part-time.  She has served on various school and church committees over the years and is dedicated to the eradication of violence in all settings and fostering respectful relationships in every interaction.

Pradeepa Jayawardena York (Director)

Director since 2018.


Pradeepa is a solicitor and provides legal services in Victoria, Queensland, Northern Territory and elsewhere through her law practice. Pradeepa has an extensive career in law, management and government and a deep interest in community and justice issues.


Pradeepa was Chief Legal Counsel of a large local government in Queensland, the Toowoomba Regional Council. Pradeepa was the lawyer responsible for human rights law, criminal law, administrative law, government law, and constitutional law at the Law Council of Australia in Canberra. Pradeepa worked in senior tax advisory and management positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers and at the Australian Taxation Office.

Kerryn McLean (Director)

Director since 2020.


Kerryn is a senior digital and marketing leader with extensive experience across omni-channel digital, digital and marketing strategies, and the delivery of complex business outcomes across the not-for-profit and commercial sectors. Kerryn is the current Digital Lead for Be You, a federally funded national education initiative delivered by Beyond Blue. Kerryn has expertise across new and emerging marketing technologies and their enablement within business operations. She has a passion for data and customer centric outcomes and specialises in delivering projects that integrate technology and human environments. 

Paula Piccinini (Chief Executive Officer)

Paula is a lawyer with extensive experience in the practice of family law, governance and the family violence sector. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Laws from the Australian National University as well as a Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution.  She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


Paula practised as a barrister in family law for many years and she served as a Non-Executive Director of the RACV for nine years. She has worked in a managerial capacity at both InTouch, the Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence and EDVOS before joining Safe Futures Foundation in the role of CEO in November 2019.  

Paula was an elected councillor of the City of Manningham from 2016 until 2020 and served as Mayor of Manningham in 2018/19.


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Safe Steps
on 1800 015 188