Our Secretariat Staff
Helen comes to ERA from the community legal sector, where she spent 10 years as a solicitor specialising in disability discrimination law, tenancy law and social security law. Helen has experience working in both front line legal service provision and law reform advocacy. She also worked on the NSW Law Reform Commission’s report into the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 as a paralegal and represented the National Association of Community Legal Centres in negotiations regarding the drafting of the Disability Rights Convention at the United Nations in Bangkok and New York in 2003.
Era project coordinator
Toni Hassan coordinates projects and policy for ERA. She brings to the role years of advocacy, communications management and multimedia journalism. Toni is committed to harvesting evidence and stories for social change and has won awards for her writing and her practice in visual arts.
Kayte Flanagan is the administration officer at ERA. Kayte comes to ERA from a trade union background, where she developed a passion for collective action and how industrial bargaining can change women’s lives. Kayte has just completed her bachelor’s degree in ancient history and gender studies, with a keen interest where they overlap.
Our Steering Group
Our Steering Group is elected annually from the ERA membership. It oversees the work of the secretariat and helps to develop our strategic direction.
National Foundation for Australian Women
Erin is a public servant in the ACT Government and is a volunteer member of the National Foundation for Australian Women’s Social Policy Committee (including contributing to the annual Gender Lens on the Budget). She has experience in a range of policy areas including social, education, multicultural and migration policy. Her work has had a strong focus on gender equality and the role of the Federal Government in enacting policy reform to progress towards this goal. She is a former member of ERA’s Young Women’s Advisory Group and holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from the Australian National University.
Sharyl is a former Governor of Zonta International District 24 (NSW & ACT) and was elected to the international Nominating Committee 2020-2022. She is the District 24 Centurion (Mentor) 2022-2024. Professionally she is a NSW Primary School Principal with post graduate qualifications in education and professional mentoring. Sharyl has extensive experience as a member representative to ERA and to our former sister-Alliance, ES4W. She was also a board member of the one of the original alliances, the Australian Women’s Coalition, for 10 years. She was AWC president for 4 years, leading national inquiries on research for victims of sexual violence, trafficking and slavery with UTS, research on women in prison and projects on young women in leadership in diverse communities. In 2018 she was a delegate for Zonta International to CSW62.
Menaka Iyengar Cooke
Women’s Electoral Lobby
Menaka Iyengar Cooke M.Com, M.App.Psych. came to Australia fifty years ago and built a 30-year career in HR Management, including as Human Resources Director for ASX-listed companies and multinationals, and CEO of a Disability Services organisation. In retirement, she has owned and operated two businesses, taught at tertiary level and currently runs an HR consulting and psychotherapy practice. Menaka is on the Executive of the Women’s Electoral Lobby and is a Director of the Older Women’s Network and of the Indian Crisis & Support Agency. She advocates for women’s rights (incl. older women and women of colour), lobbying to stop Elder abuse and Domestic violence, Human Slavery & Dowry Abuse and provide culturally appropriate mental health support to sub-continent women. Her passion for broadening feminism in Australia has led her to lobby for greater CALD women’s representation, removal of the multiple sources of oppression and systemic racism faced by women of colour. She wrote a book about her own experiences with discrimination (Monsoon Woman as Laxmi Lall) and writes and speaks widely on women’s issues.
Women with Disabilities Australia
Margherita is a queer and migrant young person with a disability, who is the Youth Development Officer for WWDA, where she works on a wide range of projects that advocate for young women and non-binary people with disability. Furthermore, using her lived experience and sector experience, she represents young people in policy, government, and international spaces.
She has worked on a variety of different areas but is especially passionate about empowering young women and non-binary people with intersecting identities through a multitude of ways including education, community, support and more. She has worked with various organisations including Children and Young People with Disabilities (CYDA) and the Commonwealth Children and Youth Disability Network Executive (CCYDN). She was recently a Youth Delegate to the United Nations Conference of State Parties to the CRPD in New York where she aims to make international processes more accessible to young people, the CALD community and those with a disability.
Women in Vocational and Adult Education
Linda is the National Convenor of WAVE. She has been a teacher in schools, TAFE and now at university. She currently teaches in adult education at Charles Sturt University. She was Secretary of the TAFE Teachers Association for over fifteen years, and Federal TAFE President of the Australian Education Union for six years. She is currently Vice-President of AVETRA. She has served on the Board of NCVER and on BVET in NSW, and is an educationalist and researcher committed to equity and public education.
National Older Women’s Network
Beverly has spent her adult life working with, for and in the not-for-profit sector. She has worked as an administrator, an arbitrator and an advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those with disability, mobility issues, public school students and their parents and women as they age. Beverly is the current President of the National Older Women’s Network (NOWN), advocating for the rights and dignity of older women in all issues they may face. Previously, Beverly was President of the Parent and Citizens Association NSW, where she advocated for strengthening public education as a key equality measure. She worked as Community Liaison Officer for Macquarie Bank where she supported grassroots organisations to establish formal structures to ensure their sustainability. Beverly is also the CEO of the Aboriginal Education Council, a position she has held for the past 11 years. The AEC was established in 1963 and was the first charity established to support First Nations people access all levels of education.
YWCA Australia (Standing Member)
Michelle is the CEO of YWCA Australia, which is the auspicing body for ERA. Michelle has almost 20 years’ senior executive leadership in I/NGO and commercial organisations with the advancement of women as the common thread. She has extensive international and local business experience in national strategy, change management, community engagement, funding and commercial partnerships. Michelle’s professional career has included Country Director roles delivering and advocating for lifesaving women’s health services in Asia and Africa, establishing the highly successful national Westfield W-League and CEO roles with the Hyundai A-League football clubs. Michelle is dedicated to improving social impact and financial performance.