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Chairman, Western Australia

Bernie Durkin

Bernie is the Executive Manager for the Community Engagement Division of the Western Australia Police. Part of this role encompasses the position of WA State Director for NHW.

In 1988 Bernie joined WA Police as a sworn Police Officer then switching to a Public Servant in 2008.

In his current role Bernie manages a team of crime prevention community engagement staff and is extensively involved with NHW at both a State and National level. Bernie is currently the Chairman of Neighbourhood Watch Australasia.

Company Secretary

Margaret Pearson

Throughout Margaret’s career she has made a significant contribution to the voluntary sector by being involved with numerous community organisations including ACT Neighbourhood Watch Association Inc. where she held a number of positions within that organisation and has recently retired from the role of President.

Having lived overseas for a number of years Margaret returned, with her family, to Canberra where she continues to follow her great interest in local and international politics. Margaret is currently the Company Secretary of NHWA.

Australian Federal Police

Deputy Commissioner Lesa Gale APM

Deputy Commissioner Gale’s passion for combatting all forms of human exploitation and maintaining community safety has been admirably demonstrated throughout her 35 year career, most notably in her previous role as head of the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. During her career in the AFP, Deputy Commissioner Gale has combined significant leadership expertise across serious and organised crime and national security portfolios, leading the delivery of business outcomes across AFP Commands in Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. Deputy Commissioner Gale holds a Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Management and was awarded the Australian Police Medal in 2019.

New Zealand

Inspector Brent Register

Inspector Brent Register joined Police in 1998, after graduating with a degree in Management from University. The majority of his career has been spent in operational policing, ranging from frontline Sergeant in both PST and Road Policing, Prosecutions, Sub Area Commander in a rural location to Area Commander Wairarapa.  In his current role, Manager of Prevention – Community Focus, he is responsible for the areas of Alcohol Harm Prevention, Mental Health, Community, Community Inclusion and Crowded Places at a national level.


Acting Superintendent Robert Fleischer

After joining the New South Wales Police Service in 1997, Rob moved to the Queensland Police Service in 2002. He has worked in various areas of Policing, including general duties, Drug Unit, Covert and Surveillance Operations Unit, State Intelligence Group and the Security and Counter-Terrorism Group where he was made Operations Leader. Whilst in this position Rob performed various roles and functions including the manager of the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Program and Program Manager for the establishment of the Security and Counter-Terrorism Command. Rob is currently an Inspector, Strategy and Performance Officer, in the Commissioner’s Office. Since this time Rob has performed various other roles on behalf of the Commissioner, including the Commissioner’s Chief of Staff and Ministerial Liaison Officer.


Peter Edwards BM

Peter Edwards is a former Commander in the Tasmanian Police Service. He has extensive experience across diverse policing portfolios within his home State, as well as national and international law enforcement representation. He has served as a Detective, Prosecutor, Intelligence Officer and Head of Training. Peter is currently the President of Neighbourhood Watch Tasmania.

Australian Capital Territory

Laurie Blackall

Following a 22 year career as an Officer in the Royal Australian Navy, Laurie joined the Australian Public Service working in a number of intelligence-related roles, specialising in geospatial intelligence analysis and intelligence capability development. He has extensive project and program management experience and, until recently, was a member of the Australian Institute of Project Management. He is a graduate of the UNSW Graduate School of Management and has a Degree in Resource and Environmental Management (Remote Sensing).

Laurie joined the Board of ACT NHW as Treasurer in 2018, and has been President since May 2020.

Chief Executive Officer

Maria Bennett

Maria has extensive knowledge, management skills and leadership experience in both the public and private sectors, working closely with many prominent charities and not for profit organisations. Prior to joining NHWA Maria was Director of a promotions company for 9 years and has had a successful career in corporate sales and marketing roles. Previous management roles in medical and health industries in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, have provided experience in coordination of major projects and exposure to the differing legislative and regulatory environments involved as well as an awareness of the unique physical and social challenges each location brings.

Maria brings great enthusiasm to her role, acknowledging the vital contribution NHWA makes to crime prevention and community safety, as together we deal with many changes and challenges.

Executive Assistant/Project Manager

Lizzie McGrory

Lizzie recently completed her Bachelor of Psychology and Justice (majoring in Criminology and Policing), she is passionate about helping those involved in the justice system, whether it be the treatment of victims or rehabilitation of offenders. She has a strong interest in national security and youth crime, and what can be done to prevent these in our community. Lizzie has a range of experience working in sales and customer service and is excited to be encouraging safer and more connected communities through her role at NHWA.


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