Chatter Matters is a young, charitable organisation based in Tasmania. Our focus is on building communication skills in those who need it most and sharing the success stories that follow.

Who we are

Our patron

HE_Warner_(2)Many thanks are extended to our patron Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC Governor of Tasmania.


Our Founder

Rosie Martin

This is what we say about Rosie:

Founder and passionate speech pathologist who keenly feels the privilege of having been trusted in therapy by vulnerable children, their families, and other individuals over many years; but who has lamented inequity in access to service.

Speech pathologist Rosalie Martin, is the founder of Chatter Matters and was awarded Tasmanian Australian of the Year for 2017 for her work in helping prisoners crack the code of reading.

For three years, Rosie visited Tasmania’s Risdon Prison as a volunteer to deliver Just Sentences, a Chatter Matters pilot project that has been achieving astounding results. With specialist knowledge in the acquisition of language, and in the processing and production of speech sounds, Rosie was able to uncover hidden literacy problems and tackle them head on. As a result, many of the people in her program learned to read in a matter of months, and Rosie showed how many lives, currently on hold in prison, can be transformed.

Her work with inmates led Rosie to complete Criminology Honours in 2016; and she has current plans to complete a PhD in Criminology.

Rosie also runs her own private practice, specialising in services for children with autism spectrum disorder and language-literacy disorders. Her 33 years of experience as a speech pathologist have included one-to-one intervention, establishment of school-based programs, liaison with health and education practitioners, and innovative design of therapeutic responses which combine evidenced interventions and individual nuance.

In 2015, Rosie completed accreditation as a Facilitator for the Centre for Courage & Renewal. She now runs retreats and other events to bring this wholehearted work of courage development to leaders and others.

Rosie has loved her own family life and raising her two sons, and has a passion for valuing human communication and kind interaction at all levels of ability. She is a winger of everything that might be fun and a lover of beauty in all its forms.

Our Board

Robin Banks

It is with much delight that we welcome Robin as the new Chair of Chatter Matters! Here is what we have to say about Robin:

Bringing keen and expert knowledge of the law, and valuing all people in their human worth, Robin is a generous, warm, kind advocate filled with the passion that arises from deep integrity.

Robin has recently completed over six years as Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from the University of New South Wales in 1999, and was admitted as a legal practitioner in the Supreme Court of NSW in 2000. While undertaking her studies in law, Robin worked full-time as the Project Officer to establish the Disability Advocacy Service in Alice Springs and then as the co-ordinator of that service, before moving to Sydney to take up the role of Co-ordinator of the NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre.

Shortly after completing her degree, Robin spent a year in Canada where she worked as a legal researcher with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Returning to Australia in 2000, Robin worked temporarily as a solicitor for the Northern Aboriginal Legal Aid Service acting for the family of a young Aboriginal man who died at Don Dale Detention Centre. She then returned to Sydney where she was employed initially as a Lawyer and then as a Senior Associate at Henry Davis York. In 2004, Robin became CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), Australia’s largest public interest legal practice, and Director of the Public Interest Law Clearing House.

Robin is a graduate of the 2006 Sydney Leadership Program (now Social Leadership Australia) and an accredited Mediator with the Resolution Institute. Robin was a member of the Women’s Advisory Council to the NSW Department of Corrections for several years while CEO of PIAC. Robin is a member of the Advisory Board to the Melbourne Social Equity Institute at the University of Melbourne and in her paid and voluntary work Robin continues to focus on human rights and equal opportunity, the development and implementation of proactive social and social justice policy and programs.

Rikki Mawad

Us, talking about Rikki:

Vivacious, energetic, incisively-thinking lawyer and advisor who juggles complexity with grace, while warmly progressing it toward freedom and abundance. An asset on the Board as both Secretary and kind human being.

Rikki is an Arts/Law/Hons graduate of the University of Tasmania. She holds a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and was admitted as a Legal Practitioner in the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 2009.

In 2012, Rikki completed her Masters in Conflict and Dispute Resolution at James Cook University, and in 2013 graduated from the Tasmanian Leaders Program – all while working as an Adviser in the Federal Parliament, the Senate and the Tasmanian Parliament (2010 – 2014)

Rikki is passionate about education. The recipient of numerous awards for the furtherance of education, she has continued to make contribution on the Boards of organisations which support equity of access: the former Tasmanian Academy, the Colony 47 Partnership Brokers Scheme, the Link Youth Health Service – and now Chatter Matters.

Rikki is currently a Sessional Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, and is also working across a range of projects within the Tasmania Law Reform Institute. Her primary work relates to measures to improve access to justice for people with disability and complex communication needs in the criminal justice system.

An experienced traveller, Rikki has been through close to 50 Countries, including working and volunteering in Eastern Africa and South America.

Emma Sells

What we say about Emma:

Warm and generous accountant with abounding curiosity and desire to both contribute and enjoy. We welcome Emma to the Board as our new Treasurer.

Moving to Tasmania in 2010, Emma joined Chatter Matters as Treasurer in November 2017 and will be assisted by, and help mentor, fellow Board Member and graduate accountant, Tracy.

Although Emma has been a partner in her own Hobart accountancy and business advisory firm, Halys and Sells, for the past 5½  years, her early career was in a very different field.  After growing up in NSW and moving to Queensland in her teens, Emma studied for a Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in wine science, at Charles Sturt University and it was there that she met her husband.

For 10 years, Emma and her husband lived on a big commercial vineyard on the Darling River in Far Southwest NSW. However Emma’s fascination with numbers overtook her interest in wine making, and from 2004-2007 she studied by distance for a Masters of Professional Accounting with the University of Southern Queensland whilst working as a trainee accountant.

Those early years working in a rural community brought home to Emma the issue of illiteracy and poor language skills for many people working on the land. As more and more important documents such as WHS forms have to be filled in online, a lack of reading and writing skills becomes increasingly disadvantageous.

Emma is therefore delighted to assist on the Chatter Matters board;  not just as Treasurer, but drawing on a wide range of experiences and skills to make a difference in her adopted and beloved new home State.

Tracy Zhou

We say this about Tracy:

Incredibly professional and extremely hard-working, with sharp eyes and keen insights, Tracy is a truly dynamic individual who is an asset to this Board and all her friends and colleagues. She also makes the best dumplings we’ve ever eaten!

After working for 10 years in human resources and project management in Shanghai, Tracy yearned for change.

In 2014, she gained a place with the University of Tasmania (UTAS) studying for an MBA majoring in professional accounting and fell in love with the natural environment and friendly people of Tasmania. Once graduated, her application for Australian permanent residence was successful and she gained a position as a part-time Financial Officer with Polkadot, Tasmania’s largest liquor wholesaler.

Tracy also spent two semesters as a casual lecturer at UTAS teaching Master of Accounting students, while commencing full-time in her current position as a graduate accountant at WLF Accounting & Advisory in Hobart.

Tracy looks forward to helping Chatter Matters with its accounting needs and believes it will be beneficial for her to experience the world of accounting from a client’s perspective. Tracy also has a personal interest in the work of Chatter Matters, knowing all too well the struggles of understanding and acceptance associated with language and communication barriers.

Isabelle Bartkowiak-Theron:

This is what we say about Isa:

Vibrant, fun, clear- and wide-thinking academic with a contagious abundance of joie de vivre (to borrow a beautiful phrase from her mother tongue)!

Dr Isabelle Bartkowiak-Théron specialises in socio-legal studies, with a particular interest in police interaction with vulnerable people. She is the lead senior researcher on the vulnerability, police education, and law enforcement and public health research themes at the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies, University of Tasmania.

In her teaching capacity, she coordinates the Tasmania Police Recruit Course for the University, within which she teaches on police interactions with vulnerable people and related legislation and policy.

Isabelle sits on various international and Australian professional and research governance boards, such as the Australian Institute of Police Management Ethical Review and Research Governance Advisory Committee. She sits on the Australian Crime Prevention Council as the executive member for Tasmania, and on the Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council.

Isabelle is passionate about issues of social justice, particularly how vulnerabilities should be better addressed in policing and criminal justice. Specifically, she is looking at the intersection of health, justice and policing in policy matters, for the purpose of facilitating access to justice for those who need it the most.

Isabelle dedicates most of her work to her children, for whom she wants to create a better, kinder world, even in some small capacity. As an obsessive knitter, she is often seen with knitting needles in hand, and is always on the look out for some good yarn and new fibers.

Polly McGee

We say this about Polly:

Energetic wonder of change, growth and wholeness – straight from the heart!

Welcome to the board Polly! Delighted to have you amongst us!

Dr Polly McGee is an author, educator, digital strategist, CEO of early learning edtech startup SciGround and 21st Century Skills advisor to global edtech business Prosper Education. With over a decade working in innovation and commercialization in public, university and private sector roles, and leadership program design and delivery for diverse businesses, Polly has a strong background in combining coaching, facilitating, teaching, curriculum design and content authoring with fast growth businesses. Polly is a sought after speaker and MC, bringing her skills in interviewing and listening with empathy and humour to stages large and small. Polly is passionate about inspiring curious, resilient, well rounded humans through incorporating growth mindset, 21C skills and social, ethical and emotional learning into all her outputs and the technology interfaces that enable us.

Richard Martin

We say this about Richard:

Kind, visionary, ideas-man and serial volunteer with a small-business and investment background – wholly motivated by compassion and supporting others to support themselves.

Richard (Rich) Martin has a background in business, training and mentoring. He is an accredited facilitator with the Center for Courage & Renewal and has particular interests in mindful personal-development for men and others who have experienced disadvantage and loss. He works in his own businesses, which include property, storage and IT support, and volunteers other time in a wide range of local community-development projects.