Ambassadors

Each National Families Week a number of prominent Australians are designated as National Families Week Ambassadors. They promote the Week through their networks, by issuing media statements and attending events.

Families Australia greatly values the role played by our fabulous Ambassadors!

The National Families Week 2017 Ambassadors will be announced in April.


The National Families Week 2016 Ambassadors were:


Dr Brian Babington – Families Australia

A social change proponent, diplomat and author, Dr Brian Babington has worked for over three decades for stronger communities, families and individuals in Australia and developing countries, particularly in Asia.

Since 2005, he has been the CEO of Families Australia, a national, not-for-profit peak body that advises the Australian Parliament and Government on ways to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged families and children. He plays leadership roles in numerous national and international bodies, particularly as convenor of the National Coalition on Protecting Australia’s Children and as a director of a major international child-centred community development agency, Plan International Australia.

He established an innovative social venture firm to advance Indigenous leadership, authored a book on managing personal adversity, and directed Australia’s aid program in rural and remote parts of Burma. He represented Australia at four UN General Assemblies on development and economic issues, and was awarded a PhD by the Australian National University for his research into Indonesian Government policymaking with regard to children in orphanages.Families are society’s most important building block.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Stronger families equate to stronger communities because they embody caring for others, connectedness with people, and providing hope, support and comfort.

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 Dr Roslyn Baxter – Department of Social Services

Ros Baxter is Group Manager of Families Group in the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services.  Her group leads the Government’s work on the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children; manages significant programmes to support children, parents and families; takes the lead on birth, adoption and care policy; and manages federal income management and financial wellbeing interventions.
Ros has worked in social and welfare policy and practice in both Australia and the United Kingdom, and in local, state and federal government.  She has been a presiding member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, and has also worked as a consultant, providing advice to public and private sector organisations in developing regulation and prosecuting strategic policy.
She has degrees in government, social work and law from the University of Queensland, and a PhD in law (welfare reform) from the University of Sydney.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Strong families foster environments that promote respectful relationships, positive parenting and support individuals. Equipping families with skills to lead meaningful and productive lives lays important foundations that underpin strong communities.

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Ms Barbara Biggins OAM – Australian Council on Children and the Media

Barbara is Honorary CEO of the Australian Council on Children and the Media, and a longtime advocate for children’s right to quality media, and healthy use of screens.
She has served as Convenor of the Classification Review Board, Chair of the ABC’s Advisory Council, and on the Children’s Program Committee (Australian Broadcasting Tribunal).  Her work has received recognition with an Order of Australia, a Churchill Fellowship and as South Australia’s Senior Australian of the Year 2004.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Families are places where children feel loved, their development nurtured, they learn interpersonal skills, develop empathy and care for others, absorb their family’s values, and are enabled to utilise all this in their interactions with their community.

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Ms Alison Brook – Relationships Australia

Alison has been the National Executive Officer for Relationships Australia for the past six years. In that role, she is responsible for leading a small team in developing national policy in a broad range of social policy areas, representing Relationships Australia’s interests to Government, advocating on issues of importance to the Relationships Australia federation and to promoting the work of the organisation. She also liaises frequently with other peak bodies, such as Families Australia, in her role. Prior to her move Canberra in early 2010, Alison had 20 years’ experience in the NSW Senior Executive Service in the area of law enforcement. She also worked for a number of years in a regional university in NSW as well as a range of different roles in the private sector. Alison holds a Masters degree in Management (UTS) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is a Justice of the Peace in NSW. Alison’s current role is well suited to her personal interests in the Australian political process, social policy and social justice.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

When families function well they are a potent predictor of excellent health and wellbeing for family members. The opposite outcome occurs in families that do not or cannot function well. Families Week gives us an opportunity to celebrate when families are loving, supportive and safe and to remind ourselves of the need to support families who do not provide a nurturing environment for their children.

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Ms Deirdre Cheers – Barnardos Australia

Barnardos Australia CEO Deirdre Cheers is a well-known and respected leader in the child welfare sector. Prior to her appointment with Barnardos in July 2015, Deirdre was the Executive Director of CatholicCare in the Diocese of Broken Bay and Chair of the industry body, the Association of Child Welfare Agencies (ACWA ) for the last 9 years. During her tenure at CatholicCare Broken Bay, she grew the organisation by almost 2½ times. Deirdre has Masters Degrees in both Social Work and Public Administration and has published extensively on welfare research and policy issues.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Everyday families doing their best to care for and nurture children form the backbone of our community. When families are in crisis due to violence, mental illness, poverty, homelessness and substance abuse, it’s often the children who suffer most. It is crucial that families are supported to keep children safe at home – this in turn strengthens communities and gives all Australian children the chance of a better future.

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Ms Sandie de Wolf AM – Berry Street

Sandie’s career in the child and family welfare field commenced in the early 1970’s with the Department of Human Services, where she worked as a case worker and then in senior positions in management and policy development, both in regions and Head Office. Since 1989, Sandie has worked in the community sector, in both policy and management roles.

Sandie was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Berry Street 1994 when it merged with Sutherland Homes for Children and lead the successful amalgamation and expansion of Berry Street into new regional and practice areas. Berry Street is now the largest independent child and family welfare organisation in Victoria, providing services across the State, employing over 1000 staff and with an annual turnover of over $80 million.
In all her roles, Sandie has always demonstrated a strong commitment to working collaboratively and a passion for improving life opportunities and choices for vulnerable children, young people and families.

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Dr John Falzon OAM – St Vincent de Paul Society National Council

Dr John Falzon is an advocate for social justice. He is the author of The language of the unheard (2012) and has worked in academia, in community development and in social analysis and research. He has been the Chief Executive of the St Vincent Paul Society National Council of Australia since 2006 and a poet since 1973. He has written and spoken widely in the public arena on the structural causes of inequality in Australia.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

If we want a society in which all families are cherished and supported we could begin by making sure that everyone has a place to call home, that a well-funded and equitably resourced education system is strengthened for all, that there are jobs for those who can work and adequate income support for those who cannot, and that health is enjoyed as a human right for all rather than a commodity that can only be afforded by some.

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Ms Lin Hatfield Dodds – UnitingCare Australia

Lin Hatfield Dodds is one of Australia’s leading social justice advocates.  Lin is the National Director of UnitingCare Australia and is a recognised expert on social policy and community services. She has served on a wide range of boards and government advisory bodies, and is a frequent media commentator and respected conference speaker.

Lin chairs the boards of The Australia Institute and is a Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. She is past Chair of the Australian Social Inclusion Board and UnitingCare Kippax, and a past President of the Australian Council of Social Service. Lin is a member of the Australian Government’s Aged Care Sector Committee, providing advice to the Minister. She was a leading participant to the Prime Minister’s 2020 Summit (2007) and the Australian Government Tax Forum (2011). Lin was a member of the national Community Response Task Force advising the Deputy Prime Minister during the global financial crisis.

UnitingCare is Australia’s largest social service provider, with over 1600 service delivery sites. UnitingCare employs 40,000 staff whose work is supported by 30,000 volunteers and provides services to children, young people and families, people with disabilities and older Australians right across the country in urban, rural and remote locations.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Strong, secure families are vital to the wellbeing of Australians and of our communities. UnitingCare Australia’s vision is for all families to have access to the support and opportunities they need to be safe, healthy, happy, and actively contributing citizens in our society. This means children living free from poverty, and with the care and protection to which they are fundamentally entitled.

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Distinguished Professor  Alan Hayes AM- Family Action Centre, Faculty of Health and Medicine, the University of Newcastle

Alan Hayes AM is the Inaugural Distinguished Professor of Family Studies and Director of the Family Action Centre, within the Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Australia. From 2004-15 he was Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Alan has longstanding interests in addressing disadvantage and facilitating social mobility, health and wellbeing. His research addresses prevention, early intervention and the role of opportunity. His current work explores better targeting of investments in community support for families with complex needs, especially through community-focused collective impact approaches. Professor Hayes was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2012 Honours List.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

The assets and diverse resources of families and communities underpin vibrant, cohesive and resilient societies. Strong families are vital to the health, wellbeing, and life outcomes of their members, particularly for those challenged by increasingly complex vulnerabilities. They also strengthen and are strengthened by the communities in which they live.

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Associate Professor Daryl Higgins – Australian Institute of Family Studies

Associate Professor Daryl Higgins is the Deputy Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, where he has responsibility for the Institute’s research program and its knowledge translation and exchange functions. The Institute undertakes a wide range of research, evaluation and dissemination projects focusing on policy- and practice-relevant issues affecting families in Australia. Daryl is also an Honorary Principal Fellow at the Melbourne School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, the University of Melbourne.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

My research has explored some of the complexities that confront both those who frame social policy and those involved in the legal systems that intersect with child and family issues. I have analysed both historical perspectives and current views, identifying challenges for future directions in policy and law relating to the protection and wellbeing of children and their families in Australia. Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies highlights the value of positive family functioning and connection to community for the wellbeing of all Australians.

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Ms Sue-Anne Hunter – Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency / Secretariat of National Child and Islander Child Care

Sue-Anne Hunter is a Wurundjeri woman and has worked at VACCA for sixtreen years, undertaking senior roles within a number of programs from policy and project work to service delivery. Sue-Anne is also the deputy chair of SNAICC Executive. Currently Sue-Anne is the Manager of the Aboriginal Children’s Healing Team at VACCA. The Healing Team is the central point for the development across VACCA of an integrated culturally appropriate and trauma informed approach to working with Aboriginal children and families.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

The Kinship system is the cornerstone of Aboriginal culture; it’s what binds us together as Aboriginal families. Kinship defines our relationships and responsibilities to one another within our families and the broader community. Strong Aboriginal families are the best foundations for strong Aboriginal communities.

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Mrs Hetty Johnston AM – Bravehearts

Hetty Johnston AM is Founder & Chair of Bravehearts Foundation, Australia’s leading child protection advocate. A born lobbyist, Hetty is a woman of passion and determination who has succeeded in highlighting the crime of paedophilia and child sexual assault to media, families, schools and the general community both nationally and internationally. Hetty established Bravehearts in 1997, an organisation with a Vision to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child by 2020 through Bravehearts ‘3 Piers to Prevention, Educate, Empower, Protect’.

Hetty’s most recent accolades include:

2016 Inducted into Australian Businesswomen’s ‘Hall of Fame’,
2015 Queensland Australian of the Year,
2015 Inducted into Logan’s Wall of Acclaim,
2014 Awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Hetty is author of national awareness campaign, ‘White Balloon Day’, ‘Sexual Assault Disclosure Scheme (SADS)’, ‘Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure’ child protection CD-Rom and her autobiography, ‘In the Best Interests of the Child’ (2004). Hetty has been a contributing author to various books including, ‘Crime on my Mind’, and ‘Women on Top’. Hetty has been recognised for her outstanding contributions to child protection with numerous awards and nominations over her career since 1997.

Hetty’s responsibilities include:

Sits on the Federal Governments working party on Cyber-Safety;
Sits on the Queensland Family and Child Commission Advisory Council;
Advisory to the Qld Child Protection Commission of Inquiry;
Works with the Federal Governments’ Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Hetty is a much sought after speaker at Local, State, Federal and International levels including the International Virtual Global Taskforce Conference hosted by the Australian Federal Police. Hetty is consistently sought after by media for commentary on issues pertaining to child protection and has been the subject of personal profile in many print media, talk back radio and television documentaries such as Australian Story. Hetty works with government and non-government agencies on legislative reform, submissions, lobbying and research to improve child protection and political accountability in Australia.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

The foundation for strong and healthy communities is strong and healthy families. Families and Communities that support each other, respect each other and encourage each other.  Families and Communities that respect each others aspirations, beliefs, hopes, dreams, differences and who understand they equally share a desire for the health, safety and happiness of their children.

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Dr Cathy Kezelman AM – Blue Knot Foundation

Dr Cathy Kezelman AM is a medical practitioner, President of Blue Knot Foundation (formerly ASCA) , member of the Mental Health Community Advisory Council (NSW), on the Advisory Panel of Tzedek and Jewish child protection taskforce (NSW). Under her stewardship Blue Knot Foundation  has grown into the leading national organisation working to improve the lives of adults who have experienced childhood trauma in all its forms.

She is a prominent voice in the media and at conferences, author of a memoir: Innocence Revisited- a tale in parts; co-author of nationally and internationally acclaimed Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Deliver and co-author of the 2015 Economic Report into the Cost of Unresolved Childhood Trauma and Abuse in Adults in Australia.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Healthy attachments are critical across the life cycle both for the health and wellbeing of individuals but also in fostering cohesive robust communities.   Many adults who have experienced childhood trauma have fractured family bonds. Healthy interpersonal relationships of trust and mutual support can replace traditional blood ties and build ‘de facto families’.

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Mr Paul Linossier – Wesley Mission Victoria

Paul Linossier is a highly regarded public sector and community services professional, with thirty years’ experience in leading organizational change and systems reform whilst maintaining a strong commitment to marginalized and vulnerable people.  Paul first trained in Social Work at Monash University followed by appointments including Director, Harrison Youth Services, Executive Director, Kildonan Child and Family Services, Acting Executive Director with Moreland Hall & Orana Family Services and CEO of MacKillop Family Services. He was later appointed as a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Vulnerable Children and Families and then Co-Chair of the Family Support & Placement Sector Development Plan.

Paul was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to the welfare sector and, in September 2007, the Robin Clark Memorial Award for Inspirational Leadership. In October, 2009 Paul was appointed to the position of Executive Director, Early Childhood Development with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development followed by two extended periods as Acting Deputy Secretary, Office for Children & Portfolio Coordination and more recently as Acting Deputy Secretary, Early Childhood Development Group. During 2012/13 Paul as, the DEECD Executive Director, Vulnerable Children’s Strategy Paul co-led the whole of government team responsible for the development of the same strategy, released in May 2013.
Paul was asked to establish the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children as joint venture by the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments in April 2013, as the inaugural CEO of the Foundation, now known as Our Watch.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Australian society is only as strong as its communities. When we provide the right support systems and enable families to fully participate in community life, everyone benefits. Each child that is raised in an environment of inclusion and empowerment will one day build their own strong family on these values.

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Mr Andrew McCallum AM – Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies

Andrew commenced his working life as a primary school teacher after completing a Diploma of Teaching at Ballarat Teachers’ College. After studying in the United Kingdom he moved into the welfare sector as an Education Officer/Supervisor of Residential Services at Orana Children’s Homes in Melbourne. In 1981 he took up the position of inaugural Director of Wimmera Community Care (Uniting Church agency) based in Horsham; a position he held for five years before taking up the position of Chief Executive Officer of St Luke’s Anglicare in the Loddon Mallee region of Victoria. A position he held until January 2006.

Andrew has held many board positions on state and national bodies including five years as President of the Children’s Welfare Association of Victoria (CWAV) and Chairperson of the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia.  In 1999 Andrew was awarded life membership of CWAV. Andrew is a past President and life member of the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), and during 1999 – 2001 Board and Executive Member of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS).  Andrew McCallum was elected President of ACOSS in 2001 a position he held until December 2005. Andrew has worked as a consultant in the community services sector and is currently CEO of the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies [ACWA] based in Sydney. In 2011 Andrew was made a Member of the Order of Australia for leadership in Social Advocacy especially in relation to children and families.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Families in all their many and varied forms provide the critical foundations of a caring and cohesive society. They face tremendous pressure and expectations in our ever changing world and it is incumbent on all of us to nurture the values that families imbue and ensure they are supported. So often we forget the vulnerable, alienated and marginalised when we speak of “family Life” and the tremendous support it can provide. We must however ensure that when we speak of families it is inclusive of those who too often are spectators to what so many of us take for granted. Families week is a time to generously embrace all in our community with a view to the future.

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Ms Anne McLeish OAM – Grandparents Australia

Anne is currently National Director of Grandparents Australia and state director of Grandparents Victoria. Recent national work includes a national survey of grandparents from every state and territory and all walks of life to determine their views about the future for their grandchildren and the conduct of a campaign to highlight the need for better childcare provision as an issue of national significance. Anne was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community through Grandparents Australia in the 2009 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

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Ms Tricia Murray – Wanslea

CEO of Wanslea for 12 years. My background is in child protection – particularly out of home care, families, homelessness, family violence, child care, and a range of community based programs. I am also the Chair of the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia and Deputy Chair of Families Australia.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Families, in whatever their form, are the backbone of our community. They provide the basis for being and belonging; the structure of our society and the place for children to grow and be nurtured.

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Mr Finn Pratt AO PSM – Department of Social Services

Secretary of the Department of Social Services

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Strong families support each other to have respectful relationships and to build skills.  Importantly, they nuture resilient children. These strong families are able to work alongside their neighbours to build healthy, connected communities, and to contribute to our society.

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Ms Jacqui Reed – CREATE Foundation

Jacqui has been Chief Executive Officer of the CREATE Foundation since December 2007. She has over 20 years experience in child protection, out-of-home care, family services and community work and has undertaken social research and held several management roles. She has written not only policy, training manuals and research papers, but also a children’s book. Jacqui is an accomplished public speaker presenting at many national and international conferences. Jacqui firmly believes that children and young people, given the right opportunities, have the capacity to transcend their adversity and reach their full potential.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Our communities are a reflection of our families, and our families a reflection of the wider community. A strong family is built on a foundation of love, care, acceptance and protection. By working to strengthen our families we are also instilling these qualities in our communities.

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Mr Paul Ronalds – Save the Children

Paul Ronalds is one of Australia’s leading voices on poverty eradication and international development. He joined Save the Children Australia as Chief Executive Officer in July 2013 and is responsible for leading the organisation to increase its impact for vulnerable children and their families. Paul is committed to ensuring Save the Children is a world leader in saving children’s lives, standing up for their rights as well as helping children everywhere fulfil their potential.

His diverse background encompasses senior executive roles in government, the private sector and domestic and international non-government organisations (NGOs). From co-founding one of Australia’s first online companies to assisting tsunami-affected people in Sri Lanka, Paul’s experience gives him unique insights into some of the world’s most significant social, economic and political challenges.

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Dr Lyndall Strazdins – National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University

I am a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor (PhD Psychology, M Clinical Psych) at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, the Australian National University. In 2011 I was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship investigating time as a resource for health. I lead the work and family component of the Federally funded Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, a study of 10,000 families, and have or currently serve as a scientific consultant to Government, including the ACT Health Promotion Branch, the Department of Veteran Affairs Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission and the Defence forces and a consultant to the Paid Parental Leave Evaluation.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

My research focuses on contemporary predicaments of work and care and their health and equity consequences for mothers, fathers and children, viewing health as inter-linked within families. More recently I have been developing theory on time as a social determinant of health and seeking to understand the significance of time as a resource, like money, which not only structures power relations and gender inequality  but also families’ capacity to be healthy.While we seek to build a strong economy, especially as global uncertainties and pressures increase, I would like our leaders to be reminded that it will always rest on having strong families. Strong families build strong communities and in this way build the foundation for a truly strong economy. I would hope that all decisions about our nation, and all future policies, weigh up what is best for families and consider how each decision or idea might affect families (or some families more than others), and bring families and communities to the political table along with the other stakeholders.

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Mr David Templeman – Families Australia Board Member

Currently Deputy President Public Health Association of Australia and Chair of Karralika Programs Inc in the ACT. CEO/Ex Dir, Australian Council of Deans of Education. Formerly CEO, Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia, 2006/13, and Director General Emergency Management Australia, 2000/06.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Recognition and understanding of and action on the many societal, financial and health impacts on families can lead to improved outcomes and better environmental circumstance for families,  When we consider the many social health determinants such as employment, housing, chronic pain, mental well being, child welfare, substance abuse, domestic violence, if we look at these in a joined up and integrated way will lead to improved consideration of family priorities and need, all in the best interests of community.

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Ms Prue Warrilow – Chair, Families Australia

Prue has more than 30 years extensive knowledge and understanding of children’s services through her work including:

  • Families At Work
  • Current member of the Commonwealth Early Childhood Ministerial Council (ECMAC) convened by Senator Birmingham, Minister for Education and Training. The ECMAC is a forum where strategic policies affecting the child care and early learning sector can be considered, and through which informative consultation can take place.
  • Current member of the NSW Carers’ Advisory Council convened by John Ajaka, the NSW Minister for Disability Services and Minister for Ageing. This Council is tasked with advancing the interest of carers through making recommendations to the Minister and Government on legislative or policy proposals that would have significant positive impacts on carers.
  • Current National Convenor of Australian Community Children’s Services (ACCS) a national advocacy group for not-for-profit children’s services.
  • Current Chair and immediate past board member of Families Australia, the national peak non-government body dedicated to promoting the needs and interests of families, focusing on children and families with additional needs and those experiencing vulnerability.
  • National Stakeholder Reference Group implementing the Council of Australian Governments’ National Quality Framework for children’s services (2010, 2012).
  • Past board member and Chair of Contact Inc. a project for Rural and Remote Children’s Services.

How do you think stronger families form the basis of stronger communities?

Families in their broadest sense, are the glue of a community.

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