Rights in Action

Independent Advocacy for people with disabilities

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Board of Management

James Alexander Barnes

President, Board of Management 

Qualifications and Membership

  • Bachelor of Nursing
  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice Current – Master of Business Administration/Master of Public Health

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Rights and Social justice
  • Corporate & Legal Governance
  • Executive organisational management





James graduated from St Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill in 1994. During his nursing degree he worked in various group homes in Sydney working with people who had various disabilities, and then moved to assisting people with greater disabilities to learn skills of daily living so they could transition from extend care facilities to assisted living in group homes in the community. As a Registered Nurse, James performed mostly in emergency departments and rural & remote nursing.

In his years in legal practice he worked in numerous areas of law in both NSW, the NT & QLD, covering Corporate, Criminal, Family, Employment, Native Title and other areas of law. James was previously the Principal Solicitor at the Cairns Community Legal Centre.

Currently James works as a rural & remote Director of Nursing in the western district of the Cairns Hospital and Hinterland Health Service and has served in various roles on the Rights in Action Board for several years. He is dedicated to seeing people with disabilities receiving fair treatment and support to maximise their potential and brings a broad set of skills to the Board, of which he has been President of for 3 years.

Gwion Cain

Treasurer, Board of Management

Qualifications and Membership

  • Diploma of Work Health & Safety
  • Diploma of Business (Governance)
  • Cert IV in Training and Assessment
  • Cert IV in Property Services
  • Justice of the Peace (Qualified)
  • ACWA Member

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Community Governance
  • Community Business Development
  • Vet Training and Management
  • Project Management
  • Stakeholder Relationship Management and Developing Collaborative Programs





For the last 10 years I have specialised in managing programs in the Cairns region and Indigenous communities within Queensland (Cape York and Torres Strait) and the Northern Territory.

My senior management experience covers a wide section of the NGO and corporate sectors. I am presently the General Manager for The MaraWay Qld an Indigenous not for profit organisation based in Cairns and the Mareeba Tablelands.

During this time, I have worked as a manager and trainer developing the skills and capacity of people within Indigenous communities, creating, developing and monitoring culturally responsive programs and services.

The broad spectrum of experience I have accumulated has given me the adaptable skills necessary to work effectively in remote and constantly changing environments, along with the ability to identify changing needs, opportunities and developments necessary to deliver the outcomes required in these challenging environments.


Bernadette Dimla

Secretary, Board of Management

Qualifications and Membership

  • PhD Candidate
  • Bachelor of Social Work (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Commerce (Banking and Finance)
  • Diploma in Human Resources Management
  • Diploma in Community Services Coordination
  • Diploma in Disability Employment Services
  • Member, Australian Association of Social Workers & Australian Association of Gerontology

Knowledge and Expertise

  •  Community education and development
  • Public health
  • Gerontology
  • Frontline Management




Bernadette is an experienced social worker with a demonstrated history of working in public health, child protection and disability employment. Bernadette has strong exposure to negotiation, conflict resolution, leadership, care coordination, community education, individual counselling, quality assurance audits, change management, staff and community training, public speaking and human resources.

Bernadette has been involved in developing work instructions, organizational policies and procedures and quality improvement activity project. Bernadette presented her Honours dissertation at conferences and symposium. Bernadette is also part of the Statewide Social Work Leadership Group – Working with Older People research project. Bernadette is also a conscientious environmentalist and animal rights advocate.

Bernadette currently works as Senior Social Worker at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Services and has been on the Rights in Action Board since 2012. Bernadette remains committed to the pursuit of social justice, human rights and equitable treatment of every person.

Janet Corcoran A.M

General Member, Board of Management

Qualifications and Membership

  • Order of Australia (AM)

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Consumer representative on hospital clinical Board
  • Strong campaigner
  • Fundraising for Charitable organisation





Formerly one of the original committee members for the development of Rights In Action and initially secretary on the Board of Management for the first 7 years.

A life member of RIA.

I have a disability and always have had a passion for human rights, social justice and advocacy for people who are disabled.

Ground Floor, Professional House, 88 Abbott Street Cairns


Monday to Friday 9.00am – 4.30pm