Our board generously donate their time to assist in the governance and strategic direction of Fortem Australia and are dedicated to supporting the mental fitness and wellbeing of first responders families.
Graham Ashton


Board Chair - Fortem Australia | Former Chief Commissioner Victoria Police

Graham Ashton AM APM is the Chair of Fortem Australia’s Board. Graham has a unique combination of management and leadership skills having served over 40 years in law enforcement, including as Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police from 2015 – 2020 and Deputy Commissioner of Australian Federal Police. 

Graham has been involved in internationally significant counter-terrorism operations including leading the Australian investigation into the 2002 Bali bombings for the joint Australian/Indonesian Taskforce, in Bali. Graham’s role as Police Forward Commander of this investigation resulted in him being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in October 2003.  Graham also established the Victoria Police Family Violence Training Centre – an Australian first, to train police officers in providing nuanced responses to family violence incidents and has an international reputation as an advisor on matters of integrity.

In addition to a graduate qualification in management obtained from Queensland University of Technology, Graham has completed numerous leadership programs including attending the prestigious London Business School in 2009. Graham also initiated and led the development of a graduate program in integrity studies as a Visiting Fellow at Wollongong University. Graham is also a Non-Executive Director of ‘Male Champions of Change Institute’ and a member of the Salvation Army (Victoria) Advisory Board.



Managing Director & Co-Founder - Fortem Australia | Co-Founder - Soldier On Australia

John Bale is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Fortem Australia.  He is also the Co-Founder and former CEO of Soldier On Australia, a charity that works side by side with veterans who have served, and continue to serve our nation.  John was the CEO of Soldier On from its inception in April 2012 until November 2018.

John is a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Royal Military College – Duntroon. He has deployed to Afghanistan twice; once in 2008 and then again in 2010.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honours and a Masters of Arts and Management.  John is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Anthony Court - Fortem Australia Board


Lead Partner, National Security and Justice at KPMG

Anthony is the Lead Partner for the National Security & Justice Sector within KPMG. Anthony has 14 years as a commissioned officer in the Royal Australian Army followed by 25 years as a management consultant across Federal Government, Defence and National Security Agencies.

Anthony commenced his career learning the fundamentals as a project manager in the information technology arena and grew his experience into wider capability development and implementation through to the designing and implementing organisational reform programs.

Anthony has a BSc(Hons) in Physics and a Masters in Military Electronic Systems Engineering. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds a post graduate in accounting as well as a range of certifications in project, programme and portfolio management. 


Partner, HWL Ebsworth

Bede is a Partner in the Canberra Workplace Relations Group, specialising in workplace relations, discrimination and work health and safety law. Bede often supports large and sophisticated employers that operate in complex regulatory environments, such as the Commonwealth public service, and the education, health and community services industries.  Bede holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) and Bachelor of Economics.  

Karen Gee - Fortem Australia Board


Technology Business Partner, Melbourne Water

Karen Gee is an executive leader in technology in ICT Services across local, region and global industries. Karen has experience in leading large and complex business change programs, including service delivery and program management in diverse and changing environments. Her background has included working across various sectors including IT, telecommunications, engineering, mining, health, education, financial, manufacturing and logistics.   

Karen is a passionate and dedicated advocate for improving inclusion and diversity.  She volunteers her time to several ICT industry initiatives and is an advocate for the Soldier On Program (education & employment pathways for national defence and security service personnel and families).   Karen is a Board Director for Fortem Australia, motivated by a purpose to serve our community, Karen has joined us with a commitment to help improve the health and wellbeing of our national security and first responders.  She is also a Board Director, Membership Advisory Board for ACS (professional association of Australia’s ICT sector). 

Brett Lightfoot - Fortem Australia


National Director for Industry – State Director Queensland / NT, Public Sector, Microsoft Australia
As the National Director for Industry – Public Sector, Brett works with a wide range of government agencies, digital platform companies and start-ups in planning and implementing innovative technology solutions that improve the quality and efficiency of citizen digital services. Brett’s passion is improving the quality of healthcare, helping save our environment and protecting our citizens through data collaboration, business intelligence and artificial intelligence. Digital transformation brings the opportunity to completely transform how governments deliver services creating new citizen experiences and helping Australia be a world leading digital first country.

Brett is also a Non-Executive Director of StandByU Foundation supporting families who have been affected by early and more severe forms of domestic abuse, giving them the support they need to see a brighter future.


Company Secretary | Co-Founder | General Manager Fortem Australia

Lauren is a co-founder and the General Manager of Capability at Fortem Australia. She is also the co-founder and driving force behind Thank a First Responder Day – a national day that gives Australians a chance to show appreciation for the work first responders do every day.

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Business, Bachelor of Communications and a Graduate Diploma in Marketing and has worked in communications and marketing across a variety of sectors including retail, manufacturing, hospitality and non-profit, including veteran charity Soldier On.

Lauren oversees a diverse Shared Services portfolio in her current role as General Manager of Capability and enjoys ensuring that Fortem can continually meet its operational objectives through the provision of the support Lauren and her team provides.

In her personal life, Lauren is passionate about giving back to the Community and is actively involved in volunteering with a number of non-profits, including being a non-Executive Director at Roundabout Canberra.

Tara Taubenschlag - Board Member Fortem Australia


Managing Director, CMAX Advisory

Tara is the Managing Director of CMAX Advisory. She has worked in government relations, communications and journalism for 20 years. Tara worked as a print and television journalist both nationally and internationally, producing and presenting news and current affairs programs for Sky News and Channel Ten. During her time at CMAX Advisory, Tara has counselled clients in reputation management, strategic communications, issue and crisis management and corporate social responsibility.  

Tara is passionate about giving back to the community both personally and professionally. She assists a number of non-profit and community organisations with their public affairs and communications needs on a pro bono basis. Tara helped establish the East Timor Free Press Foundation following the independence referendum in 2000, receiving an Australian Government Award in recognition for her volunteer work.