About us

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council provides independent research and advice, seeks public views and promotes community understanding of sentencing matters.

Role
Council membership
Council Secretariat
Governance

Role

The Council’s role is to:

  • inform the community about sentencing in Queensland through research and education
  • engage with Queenslanders to gather their views on sentencing
  • advise on sentencing matters.

For details of our principal focus and objectives, view our strategic plan 2017-2019

Council membership

The Council comprises up to 12 independent members, appointed by the Governor in Council on recommendation by the Attorney-General. Members apply for their positions through an open-merit based process and are appointed for 3 years.

Members include legal experts and community advocates with extensive experience in criminal law, domestic and family violence, victims of crime, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice issues and youth justice.

The members of the current Council are:

Judge John Robertson (Retired) - Chair

Judge Robertson retired from the District Court in 2018, after being the first solicitor to be appointed to that court in 1994. He initially served as the first resident judge in Ipswich, moving to Maroochydore in 2001. He was a judge of the Childrens Court of Queensland throughout his judicial career and President of that court between 1999 and 2002. He was Deputy President of the Queensland Community Corrections Board between 1991 and 1994. Judge Robertson was regional convenor (Queensland) of the National Judicial College of Australia between 2002 and 2007. As a solicitor, he established the Brisbane-based firm JM Robertson & Co in 1978, which changed its name to Robertson O'Gorman in 1981. Throughout his legal career he has lectured and written extensively on criminal law issues including sentencing, juries, restorative justice and advocacy. In 2003 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of QUT for services to the law and legal education. Judge Robertson is the author of the Queensland Sentencing Manual, a practical resource designed for practitioners and students relating to sentencing principles in Queensland.

Professor Elena Marchetti - Deputy Chair

Elena is a Professor of Law at Griffith University, where she researches in the areas of criminal law, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the justice system and domestic and family violence (DFV). Elena has received two large Australian Research Council Fellowship grants to conduct research into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples sentencing courts and partner violence, and more appropriate ways to evaluate Indigenous-focused criminal justice processes.  She is a peer assessor for Australia's National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety and is on the editorial board of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology.

John Allen QC

John is the public defender with Legal Aid Queensland where he regularly advises on the merit of appeals against sentence. Previously, he spent more than 20 years in private practice, mainly in criminal law, working with clients being sentenced and appealing against sentences in the Magistrates, District and Supreme Courts. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2014. John was on the previous Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council.

Jo Bryant

Jo is the CEO of Protect All Children Today (PACT), a not-for-profit organisation providing practical support to children aged 3–17 who have to give evidence in court as victims or witnesses to crime. As an advocate of children’s rights, she took on her role at PACT in 2004. She is a Board Director of Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia, which advocates for aged and disability rights. Previously she was an executive officer in the Queensland Government. She became a Commissioner of Declarations for the Community Justice Association in 2007.

Bevan Costello

Bevan is a Waka Waka man and inspirational figure within the Cherbourg community. He is the Deputy Principal of Cherbourg Sate School, which has increasingly become successful under his influence and vision due to his community ties. He is Chair of the Barambah Justice Group, a member of the Cherbourg Community Council and committee member of the Ration Shed Museum, which depicts the history and vibrancy of the Cherbourg Aboriginal community. In his earlier life he played rugby league at profession level, representing Queensland. He studied teaching at Griffith University.

Debbie Kilroy OAM

Debbie is one of the founders and CEO of Sisters Inside, which advocates for the human rights of women and girls in the criminal justice system. Debbie is the first person with a criminal record to have been admitted to the Supreme Court of Queensland. She is currently principal criminal defence lawyer with Kilroy & Callaghan Lawyers and was a social worker prior to entering the legal profession. Debbie has won many awards in recognition of her commitment to crime prevention and work with women and girl prisoners (and their children), including an Order of Australia Medal.

Vicki Loury QC

Vicki was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 1995 and joined the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions a year later. In 2001, she was admitted to the bar and was appointed a Crown Prosecutor shortly afterwards. In 2011, Vicki was appointed a Consultant Crown Prosecutor. Her work since has primarily involved prosecuting homicide trials in the Supreme Court and appearing for the respondent in criminal appeals in the Court of Appeal. In December 2016 Vicki was appointed Queen’s Counsel.

Kathleen Payne

Kathleen is a defence barrister specialising in criminal law, domestic and family violence, and institutional child sexual and other abuse. She has wide-ranging experience as a crown prosecutor in the UK and Australia. Kathleen has had extensive involvement in issues relating to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, focusing on working with religious institutions. Recently, Kathleen has been a member of the Central and Northern Queensland, and Southern Queensland Regional Parole Boards. Kathleen gained a Master of Philosophy (Criminology) at Cambridge University, UK. The focus of her thesis was mandatory sentencing.

Dan Rogers

Dan is a legal director of private criminal firm Robertson O’Gorman. He is a Queensland Law Society accredited criminal law specialist and represents clients as a solicitor-advocate in all court levels across Queensland. He is published in various legal texts and journals on criminal law. For the past decade, Dan has been voluntary secretary of the Caxton Community Legal Centre, an organisation that supports vulnerable people facing the criminal justice system. Dan is a member of the Queensland Law Society Ethics Committee and the current chair of the Queensland Law Society Human Rights Working Group.

Cheryl Scanlon APM

Detective Chief Superintendent Scanlon is currently Executive Director, Operations Support, at the Crime and Corruption Commission. She was previously Operations Commander, Child Safety and Sexual Crime Group at Queensland Police Service where she was instrumental in driving significant government reforms in the area of child protection and social services. In 2015, Cheryl was awarded a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International for her services to the North Queensland community, where she served in various high-level police roles prior to her return to Brisbane. She is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy in the USA.

Warren Strange

Warren is the Executive Officer of knowmore—a national community legal service assisting people engaging with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Over one fifth of knowmore’s clients identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In this and other previous roles, including as the Director of Criminal Law at Legal Aid Queensland from 2004 to 2010, Warren has considerable experience working with vulnerable and disadvantaged client groups, including youth and homeless people. Prior to joining knowmore Warren was the Assistant Commissioner, Misconduct at the Crime and Misconduct Commission (as it was then known).

Helen Watkins

Helen is a criminologist and psychologist dedicated to excellence in forensic and clinical assessment and treatment. She was a member of the Parole Board Queensland, and a member of the former Queensland Regional Parole Boards and the Mental Health Review Tribunal. Helen operates a private practice offering criminological and psychological services in Australia and internationally. Helen previously worked as a psychologist in maximum- and high-security correctional centres in South East Queensland where she conducted intensive risk assessment and treatment of offenders in custody.

Council Secretariat

The Council is supported by a small Secretariat administered by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General.

The Secretariat carries out the Council’s policy analysis and day-to-day work including administrative support, community engagement and education, and research and statistical analysis.

Governance

The Council was re-established in 2016 following an amendment to the Penalties and Sentencing Act 1992 (part 12). The previous Sentencing Advisory Council operated from 2010 to 2012.

The Council reports to the Attorney-General. To maintain its independence the Council has the ability to develop its own work plan and is required to report annually to the Attorney-General, including about:

  • performance of the Council’s functions, in particular about the provision of information to the community to enhance knowledge and understanding of matters related to sentencing
  • work to be undertaken by the Council in the future in the performance of the Council’s functions.

The following publications provide further explanation about the Council’s governance framework: