Robyn Renton

Manager/Advocate/NDIS Appeals Support


Qualifications and Membership

  • Bachelor of Business
  • Diploma of Teaching (Technical & Adult Education)
  • Justice of the Peace (Qualified)
  • Board member – Cairns Community Legal Centre

Knowledge and Expertise

  •  Governance & Risk Management
  • Operational & Strategic Planning
  • Quality Assurance and Internal Auditing
  • Workplace Assessor & Supported Wage Assessor





Robyn is the Manager of Rights In Action Incorporated (RIA) with over 14 years’ experience in managing the independent advocacy agency and protecting the rights of people with disability.

Robyn Renton grow up in Western Sydney and moved to Broken Hill, NSW as a TAFE teacher in 1982, travelling to work in the remote and aboriginal communities such as Menindee, Wilcannia and Cobar.

In 1996, her family relocated to Cairns and she was employed in the position of Assistance Manager of Direct Employment Services (DES). DES was a specialist employment service for people with disabilities.

Robyn is active member in the Combined Advocacy Group Queensland, and a Cairns Community Legal Centre Board member. She is committed to her role(s) and supported by a proactive team of Advocates and a strong Board of Management.

Robyn has an extensive background in community services and business management and a vivacious attitude towards social justice and the rights of people with disability.

Previous Experience:

  • Disability Advocacy Network Australia – Board Member
  • Direct Employment Service – Assistant Manager, Disability Employment Officer, Supported Wage Assessor
  • Broken Hill Institute of TAFE – Head of Studies, Teacher, Open Learning Coordinator




 Bob Paten

Senior Advocate/NDIS Appeals Support  

Qualifications and Membership

  • Bachelor of Science University of QLD (Majors Zoology and Botany
  • Certificate IV Workplace Assessor
  • Certificate IV Workplace Trainer

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Employment Rights
  • Campaigning around Systems Advocacy
  • Board Processes and Governance
  • Anti-Discrimination Matters
  • Worker’s Rights





Bob joined Rights In Action in 2005 employed as a Part Time Advocate. Since then the organisation has grown with additional government funding and now he is employed as the Senior Advocate.

This role involves advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, being a mentor to our advocacy team and educating the local community. He has led systemic advocacy campaigns around issues affecting people with disabilities in Queensland.

Previous Employment:

  • Commonwealth Employment Service – Disability Jobseeker Adviser
  • Centrelink – Disability Officer
  • Community and Public Sector Union – NQ OrganiserCurrent Trade Union Positions:
  • The Services Union (ASU) -Social and Community Services Industry Committee Rep.(FNQ), -Branch Councillor (QLD), -National Conference Delegate
  • Cairns Council of Unions – Treasurer

Bushwalking, Fishing. Current Affairs




 Dianne Wellington

Advocate/NDIS Appeals Support  

Qualifications and Membership

  • Bachelor of Science in Education, Honours
  • Diploma of Social Housing
  • Justice of the Peace (Qualified)

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Human rights and social justice
  • Organisational & management skills
  • Research and analytical skills





Dianne joined Rights In Action in 2014. As an advocate, she promotes and protects the human rights of vulnerable people in the community and works on a wide range of issues with a diverse group of clients.

Previous Experience:

• Community Housing Tenancy and Property Management
• Primary School Teacher, Papua New Guinea and Queensland

‘My previous work experience includes community housing management on the Atherton Tablelands and primary school teaching in Papua New Guinea and Queensland. Working in social housing for 12½ years helped prepare me for my advocacy role. I was fortunate to be able to assist people with disabilities in the community to secure long term, safe and affordable housing and referrals to local support networks. I was also involved in securing a Nation Building Grant to increase the accessible, universal design housing stock in Atherton. “





  Marlene Levasseur  

Advocate/NDIS Appeals Support

Qualifications and Membership

  • Bachelor of Laws LL. B
  • Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice
  • Cert IV in Financial Services
  • Advanced Certificate in Management D
  • Diploma in Adult Education
  • Certificate IV Workplace Assessor
  • Certificate IV Workplace Trainer

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Legal research and analysis
  • Board processes
  • Complex file and case management
  • Facilitation and stakeholder consultation
  • High organisational and writing skills





Marlene has acquired a diverse skill set over the years across a range of industries, including legal, accounting, building and construction. These skills include: office administration, bookkeeping, paralegal, taxation and legal.

Having achieved this skill set and wanting a more rewarding work life which could include giving back to society and helping people, Marlene, as a mature aged student, undertook and completed a law degree so she could assist members of our society experiencing disadvantage, discrimination or vulnerability. Marlene’s community-based focus lead to being offered a role as Advocate with Rights in Action and she is now able to defend the rights of people with disabilities utilising her life experience, work experience and legal skills.

Prior to working at Rights in Action, Marlene worked as a law graduate at the Homeless Persons Legal Clinic (Lawright) at Cairns and gained valuable insight into the issues surrounding people due to disadvantage, disability and vulnerability.

Previous Experience:


  • ING Australia – Executive Assistant to in House Legal Counsel Risk Management
  • Minter Ellison – Paralegal to head of mergers and acquisitions corporate
  • Law Society of NSW – Executive Assistant to President
  • Allbuild Services – Office Administrator/Bookkeeper
  • Cape York Accounting – Taxation Consultant




Zachary Tonkin


Qualifications and Membership

  • Current study: Bachelor of Social Work
  • Cert IV in Hospitality
  • Cert IV in Training and Assessment
  • 100 Hour TESOL/TEFL
  • Cert III in Transport and Distribution: Marine Operations

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Out-of-home care (Child protection)
  • Youth Homelessness
  • Vocational education
  • Management in Marine Tourism





Zachary joined the Rights in Action team early 2017 as a student on his social work placement. He is passionate about working towards a socially just and inclusive society that furthers the philosophical goals of human rights and social justice within social work practice. Being part of the RIA team, Zachary has been able to explore the issues that impact people with disability and develop the knowledge and utilise theory to achieve client outcomes. Zachary finds the work challenging, but very rewarding because of the often-complicated nature of those who present at RIA.

Zachary’s professional background and experience includes child protection, out-of-home care, vocational education and training, and management in the marine tourism industry. Zachary is finishing his social work degree and is currently is employed in the youth homelessness sector as a crisis support worker.




 Mary Klansek  

Administration Officer   

Qualifications and Membership

  • Certificate III in Business Medical Administration
  • Certificate II in Business Administration

Knowledge and Expertise

  • Administration & data collection
  • Computer technology
  • Web design and development
  • Internal auditing





I was a Medical Receptionist for 8 years before joining Rights in Action, prior to this I was a full-time mum.

Working in the medical field gave me an opportunity to deal with all kinds of people and situations. Helping people when they were unwell gave me satisfaction knowing that I made their day a little brighter. We also treated patients who had a disability and patients who had mental health issues.

After working in this field for 8 years I felt it was time for a change and that’s when I joined Rights in Action. I didn’t know what to except when I joined RIA but I was quiet surprised to see the amount of people with disabilities that needs an organisation like Rights in Action to speak up for them on their behalf.

I have been with Rights in Action for 7 years as the Administration Officer and I have enjoyed being part of an organisation that has helped so many people with disabilities resolve their issues and make their life more independent.




 Ted Barber  

Finance Officer  


Knowledge and Expertise

  • Financial and management accounting
  • Administration management
  • Payroll management




Ted assists in the preparation and maintenance of budgets for the management of the various annual funding grants. During the year, he provides reporting to monitor performance against these budgets and undertakes analysis to ensure budget integrity.

He also monitors the Fringe Benefits Tax status of the organisation resulting from employee benefits and salary sacrifice, reviews leave provisions of employees, undertakes costing exercises as required and responds to any finance related matters that occur.

Ted has extensive finance experience from finance, payroll and supply roles within state government at both operational and corporate level.