Our team

Penny Wright
Guardian/Training Centre Visitor
Penny became the Guardian on 10 July 2017 after a diverse career working as a lawyer, lecturer, mediator, Tribunal Member and former South Australian Senator. She has a history of working to support human rights and to reduce the number of young people in detention. She cares deeply about our community being a safe and good place for all kids, where every child and young person can reach their potential and be proud of who they are. As well as her family, Penny loves music, reading, riding her bike and whipping up desserts.
Read more about Penny
Merike Mannik
Principal Advocate
Merike joined the advocacy team in November 2018, with a strong background in out-of-home care. She has worked in non-government and the public sector, including foster care placement co-ordination and support, carer assessment and support, carer approval and review, project management and legislation implementation. Family and children are the light of Merike’s life and she lives the adage “it takes a village to raise a child”. She describes herself as ‘a people-person, who is bright and bubbly and always sees the glass as half full”. She loves movies, meditation and a great cup of coffee shared with good company.
Read more about Merike
Courtney Mostert
Assessment and Referral Officer
Courtney has completed a Bachelor in Psychology and has worked for a non-government foster care agency and for the Department for Child Protection. Within out-of-home-care, she has experience in the recruitment, assessment, approval and review of foster carers, as well as the support of foster care families. Courtney enjoys watching documentaries, going out for breakfast and spending time with her friends, family and dog, Gus.
Read more about Courtney
Joel Georgeson
Advocate
Joel has a background in residential care, both within NGOs and more recently with the Department for Child Protection. He has always been a strong advocate for the children and young people he works with and makes sure they are supported to reach their full potential. He enjoys spending time exploring the outdoors, looking for new dinner spots with his wife and hanging out with his pets.
Read more about Joel
Leila Plush
Advocate
Leila is a proud Kaurna and Narangga woman who has worked in the child protection field for over ten years. She is passionate about connection to culture for Aboriginal children and young people and has advocated for this in all of her previous positions with non-government organisations. In her spare time, Leila prefers to be performing on stage with her dance group, going to concerts or spending time with her friends and family.
Read more about Leila
Conrad Morris
Senior Advocate, Dual Involved
Conrad is an Narangga and Arrente man who has worked in youth justice for many years with a particular focus on supporting young Aboriginal people to navigate their way around the justice system. He is passionate about providing a voice for all Aboriginal young people by advocating strongly for their rights to be heard and upheld. He is a man that is committed to family and understands the importance of family to young people and their development and enjoys spending time with his own family and keeping healthy.
Read more about Conrad
Alan Fairley
Principal Policy Officer
Alan has undertaken policy, project and advocacy work in a number of sectors. He thinks that the most useful experts usually are those who are at the receiving end of discrimination or injustice. Alan doesn’t own a dog, but does have a teenage son who likes to go walkies. In his spare time he reads and looks at photographs and old movies.
Read more about Alan
Simone Deegan
Principal Training Centre Advocate
Simone has a background in law and criminology as a researcher and (legal) advocate with a particular interest in the experience of young adults in the criminal justice system. She has previously worked as a defence solicitor for young people and adults charged with a range of offences. Her research work has given rise to both systemic and individual advocacy to improve the law and the outcomes for individuals caught up in the criminal justice system. Simone is also passionate about anything fitness related. Outside of work you will often find her playing competitive tennis or out for a run.
Read more about Simone
Travis Thomas
Training Centre Advocate
Travis is an Yankunytjatjara man who has worked in Youth Justice and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services for the past 12 years where he has focused on supporting young Aboriginal people and their families to navigate their way through the youth justice and child protection systems. He is keen to provide a voice for all young people in the Adelaide Youth Training Centres by advocating strongly for their rights and ensuring they are heard. When not working he enjoys cheering on the Adelaide Crows, playing, umpiring and coaching hockey and catching up with family and friends.
Read more about Travis
Jessica Flynn
Senior Policy Officer
Jess has worked and volunteered in the local government and community legal sectors, and has an interest in systems change, social policy, and law reform. She has worked together with diverse communities to share their stories and make their voices heard. Jess believes that children and young people aren’t the citizens of tomorrow – they’re citizens right now, and are capable of making a meaningful and important contribution to our communities. Jess loves gardening, but most of all, she loves telling people about her garden, even if they didn’t ask.
Read more about Jess
Mardy McDonald
Business Manager
Since completing her Bachelor of Business, Mardy has worked in administration/finance in various industries, here and in the UK. She believes all living creatures have a right to protection, compassion and advocacy, particularly the most vulnerable; this prompted her to begin study for a Juris Doctor. Enjoying time with friends and family in her spare time, Mardy also loves to walk her dog, explore South Australia’s vibrant food and wine scene and go to gigs.
Read more about Mardy
Melissa Phoenix
Administration Officer
Mel joined the Office in December 2018, following 14 years in the public service. She has a passion for people, volunteering with organisations providing rape and sexual assault services, assisting with workgroups and communication with young people. She believes that all people have the right to a voice and for someone to speak with/for them if their own voices are not easy to hear. She is committed to spending time with her family and the innate need of everyone to feel part of a family. Mel is an avid fan of Wonder Woman, a model of strength and independence, and spends much time on the hunt for new Wonder Woman items to add to her bulging display cabinet.
Read more about Mel
Bianca Turner
Senior Communications and Liaison Officer
Bianca joined the Office in July 2019 armed with her communications skills and her belief that every child and young person has the right to tell their story. Bianca has an extensive communications career in both the government and NGOs. She has also volunteered in the mental health and youth sectors with a focus on family and community playing a pivotal role in the health and wellbeing of a person’s life. When she is not working you will find her creating recipes (and mess) with her family in the kitchen.
Read more about Bianca
Kristen Lucas
Communications & Engagement Officer
Whilst completing her Bachelor of Media and International Relations, Kristen has worked and volunteered to support children and young people in the community. With youth empowerment at the forefront of her mind, she believes in engaging young people in decision making and enjoys listening to their imaginative ideas and bringing them to life. Aside from work and study, Kristen loves being active outdoors and convincing her friends to try new food with her.
Read more about Kristen

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We acknowledge and respect Aboriginal People as the traditional owners
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