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Key staff

Cindy Smith

Cindy Smith
Chief Executive Officer

Cindy has led the AASW since 2016 to deliver the Strategic Plan with a clear focus on promoting and advocating for the profession and members; providing a strong voice for social justice; building the professional capacity of members; upholding responsibilities for regulation of the profession; advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social work; collaborating with international colleagues; and providing responsible governance and management.

Cindy is a qualified social worker with more than 15 years’ experience in a range of positions including leadership in community health and out-of-home care, managing a counselling team, senior management of a Child, Youth and Family Directorate in community health, and Executive Director of a not-for-profit organisation.

Cindy is also a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of the Australasian College of Health Services Management, holds a Bachelor of Social Work, a Masters in Health Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Health Service Management.

Cindy served as a Board Director of the AASW from November 2011 to June 2016.

Phone: 03 9320 1022
Email: ceo@aasw.asn.au

Karen Dennien

Karen Dennien
Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Karen is a University of Queensland Social Work Honours Graduate and has over twenty-five years of experience in senior executive roles in the Queensland NFP sector.

Karen has a deep-seated passion and interest in creating service excellence in progressive and sustainable organisations, whose activities reinforce, advocate and support social, cultural and natural justice in Australian society.

Karen’s career has included CEO, Directorship and General Manager roles of both large and small not for profit organisations across multicultural, primary health care, aged care, mental health, rural and regional, and Indigenous sectors. Karen brings significant cross-sector knowledge; corporate governance; strategic and operational planning; project development and implementation, quality, and risk management, to the Association. Karen lives and works from Far North Queensland reflecting the national and regional breadth of the Association.

Phone: 03 7037 8819
Email: karen.dennien@aasw.asn.au

Nathan Watts

Nathan Watts
Chief Financial Officer

Nathan has been the CFO of AASW since November 2016. He has been a qualified Chartered Accountant since 2000.

Prior to joining the AASW, he worked both in private and publicly-listed organisations in Australia and overseas. Nathan has held a range of senior accounting positions across industries, which have enabled him to bring senior, strategic and operational financial experience to his role at AASW.

Phone: 03 9320 1009
Email: nathan.watts@aasw.asn.au

Geoff Bennett

Geoff Bennett
Company Secretary

Geoff has been the Company Secretary of AASW since 2017. He is a risk and governance professional and a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA).

Prior to joining the AASW, he had a 38-year career with the National Australian Bank (NAB), including as Director, Special Projects in the Enterprise Risk division of NAB. Other roles included Principal Advisor, Wholesale Banking; Head of Process Improvement in nabCapital; Group Manager, Financial Governance and Head of Strategy and Planning in Group Treasury.

As well as being a CPA (Fellow), he is a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

Phone: 03 9320 1017
Email: geoff.bennett@aasw.asn.au

Kate Fraser

Kate Fraser
Education and Training Manager

Kate has been the Education and Training Manager since July 2019. She brings to the AASW a wealth of experience in learning and development and program management.

Prior to joining AASW, she held senior positions at not-for-profits, associations and companies, as a key member of transformation teams and responsible for the design and delivery of digital learning academies.

Phone: 0411 122 103
Email: kate.fraser@aasw.asn.au

Robert Hilkes
Brand Strategy and Communications Manager

Robert joined the AASW in September 2021 after two decades of senior management roles leading marketing, communications, and advocacy teams across a broad range of industries, from medical research, to infrastructure, professional associations and the environment. Robert has a passion for developing and delivering on a united communications and brand identity across complex organisations and subject matter. Robert has a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Public Relations (RMIT).

Phone: 03 9070 4688
Email: robert.hilkes@aasw.asn.au

Jeanette Jarvis

Jeanette Jarvis
Membership Engagement Manager

Jeanette has been the Membership Engagement Manager since October 2019. Jeanette has held senior management roles within the health care domain across multiple disciplines, programs and funding bodies. Jeanette’s extensive experience and proven business acumen, together with her staff and stakeholder leadership qualities and change management skills make her a great asset to the Association.

Phone: 03 9320 1033
Email: jeanette.jarvis@aasw.asn.au

Rachel Reilly
Social Policy and Advocacy Manager

Rachel Reilly joined the AASW in May 2021. Prior to the AASW, Rachel provided leadership for a small not-for-profit for 5 years; has worked with a number of other NFPs supporting marginalised communities; and, has worked internationally with grass-roots women's organisations. Rachel has a deep commitment to human rights and advocating for policy reforms to better support and protect individuals and communities. Rachel has a Bachelor of International Development and is close to completing her Master of Human Rights Law from the University of Melbourne.

Phone: 03 8595 7628
Email: rachel.reilly@aasw.asn.au

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers