Taskforce members

Mr Robert (Bob) Atkinson AO, APM

Bob was the Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service for 12 years from 2000 until his retirement in October 2012. In a 44 year career, with the Queensland Police Service, Bob served from Goondiwindi to Cairns.

Bob oversaw reforms after the Fitzgerald inquiry from 1990 as well as the Public Sector Management Commission Review and Report Recommendations of the Queensland Police Service in 1993.

Following his retirement from the Queensland Police Service, Bob was appointed as one of 6 Commissioners of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In 2019, Bob’s contribution to the Queensland community was recognised through a Queensland Great Award.

Joan Isaacs

Joan is a wife, mother and doting grandmother. At the age of 14 she was groomed and sexually abused by the chaplain at her school. Despite her abuse, Joan went on to be a teacher.

Silenced by her abuser and later by the Catholic Church through their Towards Healing program, Joan was finally able to speak in 2013 when she gave evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In 2016, Joan released her book–To Prey and To Silence–to expose the truth and to encourage others who have experienced similar challenges. In 2017, her book was a finalist in the Queensland Literary Awards–People’s Choice.

Diane Carpenter

Diane is a proud Aboriginal woman, mother and grandmother from the Mitakoodi people, who lives in Brisbane with her husband and 2 blue cattle dogs. Diane grew up in St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol. Diane courageously provided evidence to the 1999 Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Queensland Institutions (the Forde Inquiry) and in 2004 to the Senate Inquiry into children in institutional care, later known as the Forgotten Australians Report.

Many years later in 2015, Diane again provided evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about her experiences in Neerkol.

On leaving Neerkol, Diane spent many years working as a nurse. Diane has coordinated a shelter for women experiencing domestic and family violence in Mornington Island and was a community health facilitator at the Townsville Migrant Resource Centre. Here she supported people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to access mainstream health services. With the other community facilitators, one of her achievements at the Migrant Resource was the introduction of the interpreter’s card.

Mike Wragge

Mike is a proud Wakka South West Queensland man, born in Cherbourg Aboriginal community. Mike was institutionalised at the age of 5 and placed with his 4 brothers and 1 sister in the Cherbourg Boys home. Mike left the Cherbourg Boys Dormitory in 1973 and stayed with his mother and various other family members around South East and Western Queensland.

Mike began his working career in Cherbourg before moving to Brisbane in 1983 to take up a position as a community worker with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services. It was around this time that Mike started his affiliation with many of the Indigenous organisations and the Murri community in the Brisbane region.

Mike has had the opportunity and privilege to work closely with many good community workers, such as the Brisbane Council of Elders, which has given him great insight into their experiences and knowledge. Mike has been an active member of the Indigenous community in Brisbane since 1983.

In 1988, Mike commenced work with the federal Department of Social Security which is now the Department of Human Services, where he is still employed.

Mary E Adams

Mary was a resident of Queensland institutions for over 16 years. Mary became a qualified Enrolled Nurse in 1972 prior to completing a number of post-graduate courses. Mary has spent time travelling overseas and working in third world countries as a nurse, nanny, English teacher and within a non-government organisation in the area of community services.

Mary has long been a strong advocate for people with lived experience of institutional abuse. In 1997, Mary held the role of Secretary and Treasurer of the Neerkol Action Group, the first support group established in Queensland to recognise the needs of former residents of institutional care. In 1998, Mary advocated to the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions (the Forde Inquiry) about issues that needed to be addressed for former resident. Following the Forde Inquiry, Mary was appointed by the Honourable Anna Bligh, the then Minister for Families, Youth and Community Care and Minister for Disability Services as a member of the Forde Monitoring Committee.

Mary has provided her personal account of living in St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol as evidence to the Forde Inquiry, the 2004 Senate Inquiry into children in institutional care, later known as the Forgotten Australians Report, and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Helena Holdaway

Helena has more than 20 years of experience in the social and community services sector and has held a range of senior roles in Australian and UK not for profit organisations as well as government.

In her current role as the State Director for Queensland, Life Without Barriers, Helena has responsibility for a wide range of service provision, including services specific to children and young people in care.

Helena is passionate about ensuring that children and young people that access services are well cared for, supported, protected from abuse and respected as they should be.

Julie Pemberton

Julie works as a Specialist Support Counsellor for Link-Up (Queensland) Aboriginal Corporation. Julie provides counselling and ongoing support for people applying to the National Redress Scheme. 

Julie has specialised in areas such as trauma, addiction recovery and relationships including families and children and individuals. Julie’s philosophy is to walk with someone while they are on their healing journey. Julie aims to be a co-traveller while providing a safe and secure environment while the person is discovering who they are.

Julie has worked as an educator in the adult education sector with Counselling, Youth and Community Services. As an educator the first step is for a learner to believe in themselves because once that happens anything is possible. Julie holds a Masters in Education (Counselling).

Karyn Walsh

Karyn Walsh is the Chief Executive Officer of Micah Projects, a not-for-profit organisation in Brisbane committed to social justice. Since the mid-1990s, Karyn has been supporting people with lived experience of institutional abuse.

Karyn has supported people through the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions (the Forde Inquiry), Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiries including Lost Innocents: Righting the Record – Report on child migration and Forgotten Australians and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

For over 20 years Karyn has advocated alongside the Historical Abuse Network to recognise the needs of people with lived experience of institutional child abuse. Achievements include: the establishment of Lotus Place–the first peer support and resource centre with Forgotten Australians and former Child Migrants; the 2007-2010 redress scheme; and the establishment of the Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Taskforce.

In 2016, Karyn was awarded a Doctor of Social Work and Nursing honoris causa by the University of Queensland. In 2017, Karyn was awarded a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

David Baker

Since October 2014, David has held the position of Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia. David has served in regional oversight roles in the Uniting Church, and as a congregational minister. Before being in ordained ministry in 1991, David was a property valuer for the Queensland Government.

David is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a Bachelor of Theology from Brisbane College of Theology and a Diploma in Business Management from Queensland Agricultural College.

Under David’s leadership, the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia set up an Interim Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional sexual misconduct, consistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. David has also overseen improved training of Uniting Church in Australia congregations to ensure that ministry within the life of the church is safe for children.