Our journey began in 2017 when our founder, Esperance-based author Fleur McDonald, established an online information directory of family and domestic violence services called Breaking the Silence. During her frequent travels she had many conversations with people which demonstrated a need for a service that specifically provided people living in regional, rural and remote communities information about the options available to them when seeking advice and practical support.
Now, thanks to a Commonwealth Government grant we have launched a comprehensive information hub initially focusing on 16 regional areas of Western Australia covering the East and West Kimberley, Pilbara, Wheatbelt, Goldfields-Esperance, Great Southern, Geraldton and some parts of the South West. This will be followed by the establishment of a regional, rural and remote focused telephone counselling and online web chat service.
Click here to view the Breaking the Silence Ltd (trading as DVassist) constitution.
Jane Cutler – Chair
Jane is a dynamic and respected leader who brings more than 30 years of board level and senior executive experience to her role as Chair of DVassist.
Formerly the CEO of the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environment Management Authority, she is recognised for her ability to drive transformational change through transparent stakeholder engagement, ethical governance, and robust decision making.
Jane‘s diverse leadership roles have seen her at the helm of public, private, and non-profit organisations in the oil and gas, financial services, maritime, environment, and technology industries.
Having managed projects and workforces with extensive national footprints, she has come to know many of Australia’s regional, remote and rural communities and the specific issues they face.
As a WA Division Councilor for the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Jane upholds the belief that society can be strengthened through world-class governance.
It has led her to serve on a broad range of boards, including her current position as a Non-Executive Director with the Southern Ports Authority and ChemCentre, and as the Institution of Chemical Engineers’ Deputy President.
As Chair of DVassist, Jane is committed to building the organisation’s profile and capacity to make a significant difference in the lives of Australians impacted by family and domestic violence.
Jenny Bloom PGDipBA, GAICD – Company Secretary
Jenny has an extensive business background with experience in Western Australia and Victoria’s public and private sectors. She is a business owner as well as a Non-Executive Director of the Australian-based resource company, BCI Minerals Ltd and is Chair of the Nomination and Remuneration Committee. Jenny was most recently a member and Deputy Chair of the Waste Authority of Western Australia for eight years.
Living for 25 years in Broome, Jenny was a former Councillor and Deputy Shire President for the Shire of Broome and an independent director of a Broome-based Aboriginal Corporation. Jenny has first-hand knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing communities in rural, regional and remote areas of Western Australia. Having witnessed the impact of domestic violence and the limited access to services that cater for the unique circumstances of living in the regional WA , Jenny is committed to contributing to improving the help available to victims and perpetrators and achieving tangible outcomes.
Lachlan Hunter – Non-Executive Director
Lachlan Hunter hails from a mixed cropping and livestock farm near Bruce Rock in Western Australia’s Central Wheatbelt region.
He has extensive experience within politics and government having worked as a Senior Policy Adviser for a number of State and Commonwealth government Ministers. Mr Hunter studied a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a major in Political Science and International relations at The University of Western Australia.
He has also worked in the private sector within the agricultural industry holding mid-tier management roles. Mr Hunter has a long history of volunteering within agriculture, community and mental health organisations. He is passionate about the future development of Regional and Rural Australia particularly in education, agriculture and technology.
Wanting to ensure social change within rural regions has seen him join DVassist as a non-executive director.
Shelley Smith – Non-Executive Director
Shelley moved to Esperance in the Great Southern in 1981 to farm with her husband and two sons. After her daughter was born, Shelley returned to teaching, juggling the demands of working, raising a young family, and studying. Shelley went on to attain a Bachelor of Education, Masters of Education and Professional Doctorate Transdisciplinary Studies and retired in 2010 while Principal of Condingup Primary School.
Shelley is currently a Justice of the Peace. She is also Chair of Bay of Isles Community Outreach, a non-profit organisation providing recovery-focused, community-managed mental health and well-being services for people affected by mental illness, carers, and families.
Dr Kate Ferguson – Non-Executive Director
BSc (St Andrews), MBChB (Manchester)
Kate works at the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) in the specialised area of Clinical Forensic Medicine, where she provides forensic and medical care to sexual assault victims and assistance to health professionals and police throughout rural, remote and regional WA. Kate is an Associate Member of the Faculty of Clinical Forensic Medicine of the Royal College of Pathologists (Australasia) and is due to finish her Masters in Clinical Forensic Medicine in 2021. Kate is a director and co-founder of Forensic Clinical Care, a clinical forensic medicine consultancy service. Kate provides education to the WA Police, emergency staff, social workers and the judiciary on the topic of non-fatal strangulation (NFS). She has co-authored the NFS e-learning package to support the implementation of legislation in WA for the Department of Justice and sits on the NFS working group for the Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services (WA). Kate is passionate about identifying and implementing the systematic and social change required to help those most vulnerable in our community. Kate hails from rural Scotland and moved to WA in 2011.