Who we are

Social Security Rights Victoria (SSRV) is an independent state-wide community legal centre that specialises in social security and related law, policy and procedure. Our vision is for a fair and just society in which all people are able to receive a guaranteed adequate income in order to enjoy a decent standard of living.

The values that underpin our work are:

  • Respect
  • Empowerment
  • Quality
  • Integrity
  • Courage

Governance

Social Security Rights Victoria Board

SSRV has an experienced, skills-based board drawn from its membership.

Current SSRV Board Members are:

Tom Cobban (President)

Tom is a lawyer and partner at Berrill & Watson Lawyers. He practices mainly in superannuation and insurance law, helping sick and injured people access insurance entitlements. He developed his passion for assisting people to access social security benefits as a volunteer at SSRV.

Jacinta Lewin (Vice-President)

Jacinta has extensive litigation and business experience as the previous National Practice Manager of the Maurice Blackburn’s Comcare Practice, an area in which she worked exclusively for over seven years.

Jacinta was also a Senior Legal Adviser at the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) where she worked on cases and projects under the Equal Opportunity Act and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act.

Her recent legal cases include numerous cases involving the transfer of sicking children and adults off Nauru for urgent medical care and supporting women’s reproductive rights when acting for the Fertility Control Clinic in a recent High Court Challenge to Safe Access Zone Laws.

Jacinta passionately believes lawyers have a responsibility to service their community through their work. Jacinta holds a BCA and LLB (Hons) from the University of Melbourne.

Kirsty Gregory (Treasurer)

Over the last 20 years Kirsty has raised a family, cared for a brother who was on a permanent disability pension, and worked as a business manager.  She is now in a position where she can use her experience from both a personal and business perspective to assist Social Security Rights Victoria.  Kirsty holds a Graduate Diploma of Industrial Relations (La Trobe University) and a 

Bachelor of Arts Degree (Monash University). In  2015 Kirsty began working part time with Windana Drug and Alcohol Recovery, a not-for-profit, as the Business Development Co-ordinator obtaining funds for building up-grades and promoting Windana’s excellent work helping individuals who are trying to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.

Prior to that Kirsty was the Business Manager/ Group Co-ordinator for the Sustainable Engineering and Work Place Health & Safety teams in the Victorian office of Coffey Environments Australia Pty Ltd.

In this role she was responsible for the management of a Business Unit, including the development of, and ongoing review of the 5 year strategic plan; achievement against budget; review of, and introduction of improved business processes; and contract reviews across all business units to ensure the company was able to comply with contractual conditions in line with its corporate governance. 

Kirsty has also worked on a unique range of engineering projects for a range of private sector industries and public sector departments and agencies.

Heather Bruer (Membership Officer)

Heather Bruer is an industry-leading fundraising professional with a background in campaigning and community organising. At Environment Victoria, she coordinates growing regular giving, appeal and direct mail acquisition programs with a current annual return of over $1.2 million. Currently working towards her CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive), Heather holds a Bachelor of Economics at the University of Adelaide and Graduate Certificate of Studies (Climate Change) at the Australian National University. She is on the Board and Fundraising Subcommittee of Social Security Rights Victoria and Fundraising Subcommittee of Climate for Change.

Trevor Carroll

Trevor is a trained musician and former Secondary College Principal. He has a Master of Education degree and completed a thesis focussing on intellectual disability and music education. Trevor acquired an incomplete spinal cord injury in the mid 1990’s and has since experienced disability discrimination first hand.

Trevor is passionate about protecting and enhancing the human rights of people with disabilities. As CEO at Disability Justice Australia (DJA) since 2009, he leads a team of 14 staff funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services (DSS) to provide advocacy to people with disabilities in 28 LGA’s in Metropolitan Melbourne and NDIS Appeals support to Participants in the North East Melbourne Area (NEMA).

In addition to Social Security Rights Victoria, Trevor currently serves on the following Boards and Advisory Groups: Chairperson, Asia Pacific Region, Disabled Peoples International, Member AEC Disability Advisory Committee, Member Victorian Disability Advocacy Network, Co-Chair Victoria Police Disability Portfolio Reference Group and Vice President of the Australian Federation of Disability Organisations.

Jacob Erlandsen

Jacob currently works as a Manager in KPMG’s Policy, Programs and Evaluations practice, and previously at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Communications. Jacob brings experience in public policy, strategy and economic analysis.

Through his time working with and for Government, he has developed Cabinet Submissions, governance frameworks, business cases, organisational design, evaluations and financial and economic analysis.

Mark Kreuzer

Mark is an Account Director and Marketing Strategist.  For over 25 years, Mark has been helping guide a wide spectrum of companies and organisations with their marketing, branding and digital communication needs. His strategic input into projects as complex as the merger of industry superannuation funds, as insightful as the renaming and repositioning of businesses, and as heartfelt as the development of community charity websites, has delivered award winning success.

Mark combines his economics background with 20 years of frontline communications practice to provide business leaders with strategic guidance of the highest quality.

Ben Zika

Ben has over 10 years’ experience in the Community Legal Sector in Victoria as a project worker, Solicitor and Manager. Through this work, he developed particular expertise in consumer and consumer credit law and social security law. Prior to working in the legal sector, Ben worked in vocational training, assisting newly arrived migrants into employment. He currently works as a Senior Investigator with the Victorian Ombudsman focussing on protected disclosure and own motion investigations.

Ben’s passion for Social Security Victoria’s work comes from witnessing the vital role the social security safety net plays for members of the community experiencing disadvantage and the serious issues that arise for people when the system does not operate effectively. The social security system impacts people on an immediate level. It also can trigger (and be triggered by) a number of other areas of legal need. For this reason it’s vital that the community has strong social security law advocacy and also that other advocates for individuals experiencing disadvantage have a strong understanding of the impacts of the social security system.

Senior Staff

SSRV’s senior staff have extensive experience in the legal assistance sector.

Gillian Wilks (Director)

Gillian has been SSRV’s Director since January 2017. Her previous sector experience includes roles as the Deputy CEO at Peninsula Community Legal Centre, in the leadership position at the Federation of Community Legal Centres and as a community legal education worker.

In these roles she has had the opportunity to work at local, state and national levels and take on a wide range of responsibilities. Gillian is the author of resources relating to design and delivery of community legal education and of volunteer programs. She has taught in TAFE community service and justice courses and has recently completed a Masters of Evaluation.

Bryn Overend (Principal Lawyer)

Bryn is the Principal Lawyer at SSRV.  Before starting with SSRV in 2018, Bryn worked mainly in criminal law at Victoria Legal Aid in Melbourne.  Prior to this, Bryn worked in criminal law and legal education at the Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (now NAAJA) in Alice Springs. 

Bryn has a wealth of experience working with and advocating for vulnerable community members and brings a passion for social justice to the Principal Lawyer role.  Bryn holds a Masters in Human Rights Law from the University of London, and a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts from Monash University.