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Session Speakers & Moderators

Dr Rachel Birnbaum | King’s University College | UK

Rachel Birnbaum, Ph.D., RSW, LL.M, is a Professor at King’s University College at Western University in London, Ontario. Her primary areas of teaching focus on children and families post separation and divorce, ethics and the law, and research methods. Dr. Birnbaum has extensive clinical practice and research experience in working with children and families of separation and divorce. She has presented and published with interdisciplinary colleagues both nationally and internationally on parenting assessments, access to justice, child legal representation, children’s participation in family disputes, and on the intersection between law and social work.

Dr. Birnbaum is a Member of The Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists, and Scientists. She is the recipient of the Crowe Soberman Award of Excellence in Family Dispute Resolution, Hugh Mellon Distinguished Research Award, the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts-Ontario Excellence in Family Justice. She was the President of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW) from 2005-2009; the President of the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators (CCSWR) from 2012-2014; the President of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts-Ontario (AFCC-O) from 2014-2015; and, a former board member of the Canadian Research Institute for Law & The Family, in Calgary, Alberta, from 2017-2018.

Fiona Darroch | Australian Psychological Society | AUSTRALIA

Fiona Darroch is a Clinical Psychologist who has worked with children and families in a variety of settings for 30 years. She is a member of the Australian Psychological Society and a Fellow of the APS College of Clinical Psychologists.
Fiona began her career as a Registered Nurse. After completing a Masters in Clinical Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Psychology & Education, she spent 10 years working as a clinician and School Psychologist before developing an interest in Psychology and Family Law.
Commencing initially as a Regulation 7 Family Consultant, Fiona spent the next 10 years working as a Family Consultant attached to the Newcastle Registry of the Family & Federal Circuit Courts of Australia. She has completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Advanced Forensic Interviewing of Children and has written well over 800 reports, including reports for the Magellan Program, both as a Family Consultant and as a Single Expert Witness.
An accomplished speaker, Fiona has presented at conferences both nationally and internationally and has had many papers published, including in the APS InPsych journal and in the Family Court Review. She lectures to Post Graduate Psychology Students at the University of Newcastle on the topic of Psychology and Family Law.
Fiona is a member of the Australian & New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law as well as the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and sits on the Board of Directors of the Australian Chapter of the AFCC.
She has excellent clinical skills, including extensive experience in psychometric assessment and in assessing and treating children and adolescents who are experiencing difficulties with behaviour, attention, sleep, diet, toileting, sensory issues or problems related to parental separation. Fiona offers Post Separation Parenting Planning as well as Court Ordered Family Therapy and Single Expert Reports


Professor Marilyn Freeman, PhD | International Centre for Family Law | UK

Marilyn Freeman is Co-Director of the International Centre for Family Law, Policy and Practice (ICFLPP), Principal Research Fellow at The Westminster Law School, London, and chairperson of the International Association of Child Law Researchers (IACLaR). She is widely acknowledged as a leading expert in the area of international child abduction and international children’s law, and publishes widely in her areas of expertise. Her current research focuses on children’s participation in proceedings affecting their lives including those relating to child abduction under the 1980 Hague Convention. She has undertaken several key research projects including those investigating: The Long-Term Effects of International Child Abduction, and The Outcomes for Children who Object to Return under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention. She holds a door tenancy at 4 Paper Buildings, a specialist Family Law set of barristers’ chambers in London, and qualified as a Family Mediator, trained to undertake direct consultation with children, cases involving international child abduction and other international family disputes.

Catherine Giles | Nicholes Family Law Lawyers | AUSTRALIA

Catherine is a Senior Associate at Nicholes Family Lawyers and began at Nicholes in September 2017 shortly following her relocation to Melbourne from Darwin, Northern Territory. Catherine’s experience is in family and criminal law, and Intervention Order matters. Her specialist Family Law experience is in complex property, parenting matters and child support matters.
Prior to working in private practice in 2013, Catherine spent 12 months working as an Associate for a Supreme Court Justice following her graduation from Flinders University in South Australia.
Catherine relishes in the opportunity to assist her clients resolving their parenting and property matters post separation, placing a significant emphasis on a negotiated resolution however is experienced in litigation.

Dr Gérardine Goh Escolar | Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH)

Dr Gérardine Goh Escolar is First Secretary at the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Her portfolios span family law and child protection, and international commercial and financial law. In family law and child protection, she has primary responsibility over the 1980 Child Abduction Convention, the 1996 Child Protection Convention, and the project on Family Agreements involving Children, as well as joint primary responsibility over the International Hague Network of Judges.

Maria Laarni Sheila S Guico | Prosecution Development team, International Justice Mission | PHILIPPINES

Maria Laarni Sheila S. Guico  is a Senior Lead of the Prosecution Development team for International Justice Mission in Cebu, Philippines.  After being admitted to the Philippine Bar, she worked as court attorney at the Court of Appeals assisting the late Justice Michael P. Elbinias. She then became a public attorney at the Public Attorney’s Office providing legal service to indigent litigants in the Philippines. Heeding the call to become an advocate for children’s rights, she joined the International Justice Mission in 2013. Sheila is passionate about strategic innovations that ensure child protection. She believes that collaboration is crucial in combatting Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC). Her work at IJM includes prosecuting and providing consultative support to public prosecutors and law enforcement in OSEC cases. In 2019, Sheila helped secure the conviction of Europol’s Most Wanted criminal, Raheli who sexually abused young children and uploaded the photos and videos of the abuse via the dark web. To her, pursuing justice for OSEC survivors is an affirmation of their God-endowed dignity and value. In 2021, she received an award from the Philippine Internet Crimes Against Children Center (PICACC) in recognition of her efforts in securing convictions of OSEC perpetrators in the Philippines as a source-side country and facilitating perpetrator accountability in demand-side countries.

On her free time, Sheila teaches Sunday school for children. She loves nature and enjoys brisk walking by the beach.

Paul Grant | Magistrate | AUSTRALIA

Paul has an Arts degree and a Law degree from Monash University.
He was appointed a Magistrate in Victoria in August 1988, after 10 years working as a barrister and solicitor.
He was the State Coordinating Magistrate from 2001 to 2003, and a Deputy Chief Magistrate and the Supervising Magistrate for Koori Courts from 2003 until his appointment as a Judge of the County Court in April 2006.
On 1 May 2006, he was also appointed President of the Children’s Court of Victoria.
In June 2006, he was the recipient of an Aboriginal Community Justice Award for “his outstanding contribution to improving justice outcomes for the Koori community in Victoria.”
In 2007 and 2008, he was a member of the Reference Group that established the County Koori Court. He conducted the first sittings of that Court in 2009.
In May 2013, he completed his assignment at the Children’s Court.
He was the Judge in Charge of the County Koori Court from March 2016 until his retirement in 2019.
Between 2000 and 2019, he regularly attended meetings of the Aboriginal Justice Forum representing the various courts for which he has worked.
In June 2020, he was appointed the Alternate Chair of Victoria’s Youth Parole Board.


Prof David Hodson OBE MCIArb | The International Family Law Group | UK

Prof David Hodson OBE MCIArb is a co-founder partner of The International Family Law Group (, a specialist law firm representing international families.  He is an English solicitor, mediator, arbitrator, Australian (NSW) solicitor and a deputy (part time) family court judge at the Central Family Court (DDJ in the FRC at the CFC) in London.

He is a member of the English Law Society Family Law Committee, a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, a member of LawAsia, the Asian Institute of ADR Professionals, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia and a similar contributor to many family law organisations around the world.  He is a regular speaker at international family or conferences around the world.  He was awarded the OBE for services to international family law.  He is the editor and primary author of the LexisNexis textbook ‘The International Family Law Practice’ (6th ed).  He is Visiting Professor at the University of Law and Honorary Professor of Law at Leicester University.  He is an Anglican lay preacher.  He can be contacted on


Dr Eamonn Kelly, Australian Barrister | AUSTRALIA

Dr Eamonn Kelly is an Australian barrister, with a broad practise encompassing public and administrative law, commercial and common law disputes, and criminal and quasi-criminal matters. He is regularly briefed in respect of proceedings in the Victorian Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Victoria, and the County Court of Victoria. He has appeared in a wide range of other courts, tribunals and jurisdictions, including the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, the Family Court of Australia, the Children’s Court of Victoria, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia.

He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne, where he completed a Juris Doctor and a Master of Laws. Alongside his legal qualifications, he holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford, as well as management and research masters qualifications and first class honours bachelor degrees in Arts and Music.

Damon Martin | International Social Service (ISS) | AUSTRALIA

Damon Martin is the Deputy CEO, International Social Service (ISS) Australia.

Damon has worked for ISS Australia since 2008, managing the NSW Government funded services as well as ISS Australia’s previous Commonwealth funded Intercountry Adoption Services.

Damon is a qualified social worker who graduated in 1998 and became an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner in 2012.

Before working for ISS Australia, Damon worked in statutory child protection and adoption services for 10 years in NSW, England and New Zealand.

Damon is deeply committed to supporting and connecting vulnerable children, adults and families affected by cross border issues.

ISS Australia is a national, not-for-profit organisation. They view that all people have an inalienable right to belong and to know who they are. For the past 80 years, ISS Australia has been dedicated to supporting and providing services to children, families and individuals impacted by a range of cross border issues, including post adoption tracing and reunification services.


Sally Nicholes | Nicholes Family Lawyers | AUSTRALIA

Sally is the founder and Managing Partner at Nicholes Family Lawyers. She has practised exclusively in Family Law since 1995 and is recognised within Australia and internationally as a leading family lawyer.

Sally is the Deputy Chair of the Board of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights. She is also a member of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV), the LIV Children and Youth Issues Committee, the Collaborative Law Section, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

Whilst Sally has extensive experience in all areas of Family Law, she has particular expertise in international Family Law disputes, and financial settlements including complex property matters.

As well as acting for a range of corporate, institutional and private clients, Sally and her firm have a strong and active commitment to pro bono work, both at home and abroad.

Sally’s specialties include:

  • Family law disputes dealing with complex corporate and trust structures and financial restructuring combining succession planning/estate planning with corporate restructures – both within Australia and internationally
  • Complex property settlements and litigation
  • Same-sex relationship, parenting or financial agreements
  • De facto cohabitation and pre-nuptial agreements
  • Complex parenting arrangements, including multi-party or high conflict disputes
  • Child support matters
  • International child abduction
  • Inter-country adoption
  • International and domestic relocation disputes
  • Complex child welfare issues including special medical procedures such as gender reassignment or body tissue donations
  • Collaborative law

Sally has extensive involvement in international child abduction matters and was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation by the United States National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the Australian Federal Police for her work on an operation that resulted in the successful location of an abducted child. Sally also has extensive involvement in special medical procedure applications, handling out-of-court settlements of both financial and children’s Family Law matters and handling contested hearing and appeal cases.


Sarah Phillimore | Family Team, St Johns Chambers | UK

Sarah was called to the Bar in 1994 and began to specialise in public law child protection proceedings in 1999 after working at the Law Commission and City University in London. She has been a member of the Family Team at St Johns Chambers in Bristol since 2010. In 2014 Sarah founded the website ‘Child Protection Resource’ which aims to provide up to date information and discussion about the child protection system in England and Wales, for all of those involved. In 2015, 2016 and 2018 she organised three multi disciplinary conferences to examine the aims and purpose of the child protection system. In 2020 Sarah was named ‘Family Law Commentator of the Year’ for her work. Sarah has a keen interest in issues of child protection and how to balance the tension between a need to keep children safe yet respect and promote their growing autonomy.

Keturah Sageman | Nicholes Family Lawyers | AUSTRALIA

Keturah is the Senior Partner at Nicholes Family Lawyers and is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and a Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Her practice covers all areas of Family Law, with expertise in complex property and financial settlements, prenuptial agreements, parenting disputes (including interstate and international relocations and abductions) and child support issues. While experienced in litigation and appearing regularly in the Family Court, she also negotiates out-of-court settlements and undertakes mediations to help clients resolve their disputes amicably.

Keturah has over 20 years of specialist experience in Family Law. She has gained admission to practice as a lawyer in NSW, WA and Victoria. Prior to joining Nicholes Family Lawyers in 2012, Keturah was based in Sydney where she held senior roles in two of Australia’s leading family law firms, representing high net worth clients. Keturah coaches and mentors junior lawyers, is an active member of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria and has presented Family Law papers at conferences.

Dr Robert A Simon, PhD | USA

Robert A. Simon, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized leader in forensic psychology consulting.  Based in San Diego, CA, and Maui, HI,  Dr Simon is retained by attorneys throughout the country to consult on custody cases and provide expert witness testimony.  Dr Simon is an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts and serves on the editorial board of the Family Court Review.  He is a member of the Board of  Directors of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Chair of the Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice.  He is the co-chair of the International Advisory Committee of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s rights and a member of the Executive Committee of the California Bar Court.  He is formerly a member of the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct of the California Bar Association  and formerly a senior member of the Ethics Committee of the California Psychological Association. Dr Simon does a great deal of international consulting, teaching and lecturing.  He has provided training to mental health professionals, attorneys and judicial officers in America, Australia, Singapore and Italy.  He was invited by the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to be a lead trainer in their 2016 national conference of the court’s Family Consultants.  He is the co-author of the book “Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation and Expert Testimony” and is widely published in scholarly journals. In the coming year in addition to a busy teaching and lecturing schedule in the United States, if international travel allows, Dr Simon will be teaching and lecturing in Germany, Australia, and South Africa.

Prof Nicola Taylor | Faculty of Law at the University of Otago | NZ

Professor Nicola Taylor, BSW (Hons), CQSW, LLB (Hons), PhD, is the Director of the Children’s Issues Centre in the Faculty of Law at the University of Otago in New Zealand. She also holds the Alexander McMillan Leading Thinker Chair in Childhood Studies. Nicola is a leading socio-legal researcher and has undertaken many studies with children, parents and professionals on family justice and children’s rights issues including post-separation care arrangements, relocation, international child abduction, children’s views and participation, child-inclusive practice, family dispute resolution, relationship property division and succession law. Her research findings have been invaluable in informing legislative, legal policy and professional practice developments within New Zealand and internationally.

David Truex | International Family Law Chambers | AUSTRALIA

Born in Washington, DC, David Truex was raised mostly on US army camps then somehow got an LL.B from Melbourne Law School. Admitted to practise 1974 in Australia, 1990 in England & Wales. In the 1980s, while working as a family lawyer at the Legal Aid Commission of Victoria, he often acted as a separate representative for children. As chair of the Family Law Section of the Law Institute of Victoria he initiated Australia’s first family law mediation service and first lawyer specialist accreditation program. After 10 years as a legal aid lawyer in Melbourne he moved to London in 1989, establishing the world’s first specialist international family law firm, International Family Law Chambers. He is the only lawyer working outside Australia who is an Australian-accredited mediator and family arbitrator. He is dual-qualified in Australia and in England &Wales and is a Resolution accredited family law specialist. David is a consultant with Expatriate Law, London, working virtually between England and Australia. The corporeal David is currently locked down in Melbourne.

David’s previous work is summarised at

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