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 2018 Ambassadors are:
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.
Stronger families equate to stronger communities because they embody caring for others, connectedness with people, and providing hope, support and comfort. Dr Brian Babington, has written about the Week here.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation (DMF) was established in 2005 by parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe after their son Daniel was abducted and murdered in December 2003 on the Sunshine Coast. The Foundation was established as a lasting legacy to Daniel and has two main aims: educating children on how to stay safe in physical and online environments and supporting young survivors of violent crime.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation believes families come in a variety of shapes, sizes and configurations. We believe that families can be part of the building block of communities and that community wellbeing can be enhanced by family wellbeing. We support the rights of everyone to live in safe, healthy, informed, caring and loving families and communities.
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.
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.
Ms Halbert is the Group Manager of Families and Communities Policy and Programs Group at the Department of Social Services (DSS), which is responsible for developing policies and implementing programs that support families and improve the wellbeing of children and young people. Before joining DSS in 2014, Ms Halbert held senior executive positions at the National Disability Insurance Agency and the Department of Families Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Between 2003 and 2010, Ms Halbert was the Head of Population Health Division at the Department of Health and Ageing and from 1999 to 2003 she contributed to a range of social policy issues within the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet. Prior to joining the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ms Halbert worked in a range of positions including as a Disability Support Officer at the Department of Social Security and Family and Community Services. Ms Halbert has an Arts Degree, majoring in law and history.
Strong families are more able to participate and contribute to their communities. The Department invests in families and communities by funding services that support current and future generations to reach their potential and contribute to society. Australia has a rich diversity of families from different cultures who enhance the fabric of our communities. Not all children have the benefit of strong and cohesive families or communities. We continue to strive to do more for families who experience vulnerabilities, especially Indigenous families and their children.
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.
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.
In February 2017, Daryl was appointed Professor and Director, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University. His research focuses on public health approaches to protecting children, and child-safe organisational strategies. A registered psychologist, he has been researching child abuse impacts and prevention, family violence, and family functioning since 1993.
Prior to joining ACU, Prof Higgins was the Deputy Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, where he had responsibility for its research program and knowledge translation and exchange functions focusing on policy- and practice-relevant issues affecting families in Australia.
He has extensive experience in managing and supervising research, and has led projects looking at child abuse and neglect, child protection, children in out-of-home care, child-safe organisations, family law and allegations of child abuse, disability and family care, welfare reform, family and interpersonal violence, jobless families, past adoption and forced family separation practices, and community development approaches to child and family welfare issues. He has considerable experience in qualitative and quantitative evaluation methodology and frameworks, and has a sound knowledge of state and territory policy and service delivery contexts across Australia.
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.
Anne Hollonds is one of Australia’s leading voices on child and family wellbeing. She commenced as Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies in September 2015. Anne has extensive experience in policy and practice, and over 20 years’ experience as a Senior Executive, including 17 years as Chief Executive of two large non-government organisations providing complex health, education and social services focussed on the wellbeing of children, youths, adults, families, and communities.
As CEO of Relationships Australia NSW and the Benevolent Society, and in national sector leadership roles, Anne has built effective collaborations with Australian and international researchers, governments, business and philanthropy to support evidence-informed innovation, system reform and service improvements. Her commitment to building bridges between research, policy and practice has facilitated new cross-sector collaborations and impact investment in prevention and early intervention, and in sector reform, including in family law, child protection and domestic violence prevention.
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.
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’.
Claerwen Little has over 35 years of experience in the not for profit sector. She has held a number of senior executive roles in service delivery, advocacy and innovation. She was responsible for establishing the research and advocacy functions of Uniting and led a large and complex suite of programs for vulnerable children, families, young people, disadvantaged communities and people with disability across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
Claerwen was the driving force and vision in establishing the Aboriginal services and development arm of Uniting, and also the inaugural role of Uniting Children’s Advocate, promoting the rights of vulnerable children and young people at state, territory and national level. Claerwen’s commitment to innovation led to the development of the highly successful Newpin Social Benefit Bond, returning children in care to their families of origin. This was the first program of its type internationally. Claerwen holds a Masters of Policy (Social Policy), is a Stanford Graduate of the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders and a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Most importantly though, Claerwen is a mother, a grandmother and is passionate about family and domestic life.
We could say that a strong family was one which had the motivation and the means to meet the needs of its members. From Bronfenbrenner we know we need to think of families as located within a series of interlocking environments – neighbourhood, local community, region, nation state and beyond. A strong family is able to meet challenges by drawing on the resources of its members, and, where necessary on the resources of its network of interpersonal relationships in the community (eg extended family, friends and other connections) or on the resources of the state. A strong family is able to leverage the strength of its members to establish networks across the community. A community in which there are interlocking networks of individuals, is one which draws on such networks as a source of energy, innovation and security.
Kathryn is a senior executive in the Department of Social Services (DSS) responsible for children’s policy. She previously managed central policy systems for DSS including international relations, policy planning, performance, evaluation and research. Kathryn has also managed the Australian Government’s housing and homelessness programs. Kathryn is elected Chair of the OECD Working Party on Social Policy and represents the Australian Government on that committee. Prior to joining DSS, Kathryn worked for the Queensland State Government. Her roles included Executive Director for child protection policy and programs, and leading the Office for Women. Kathryn also worked in departments of the Premier and Cabinet, Emergency Services, Police, Education and the Commission for Children and Young People. Kathryn has a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Queensland.
Kathryn has four sons and knows parenting is hard work. She is forever thankful for the support she gets from her husband, family, friends and community and encourages families to seek help whenever they need it.
When families are strong and safe, children reach their full potential and thrive into adulthood. Strong families also forge resilient and safe communities that prosper socially and economically. Sadly during my time in child protection, I saw the long term effects of child abuse and neglect and learnt that we can never intervene or offer support too early to change life outcomes for children and their families and help them live happy and prosperous lives. I am proud of the contribution we make through the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children and our family and children programs to strengthen families’ capacity to care for their children and help them get the support they need.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Naomi is an educator who has worked in the central west of NSW with Indigenous communities, in Sydney with migrants and in Canberra with socially-disadvantaged children and young people. Working both within schools and through a variety of policy arenas, Naomi has specialised in assisting traumatised children and young people, especially those with out of home care experiences. In addition Naomi has worked at a high level in government policy, statutory authorities and intergovernmental councils and committees.
Dr Lisa O’Brien is CEO of The Smith Family, Australia’s largest children’s education charity. Over the past five years Dr O’Brien has led a successful strategic plan to significantly increase the effectiveness and the reach of the organisation’s educational programs, currently supporting over 120,000 disadvantaged Australian children and young people annually. Dr O’Brien has worked in leadership roles across the public, not-for-profit and commercial sectors over the last two decades. She is a non-executive director of the Community Council for Australia and BUPA ANZ.
The Smith Family recognises the central role parents play in supporting their child’s education. Working in highly disadvantaged communities, we build strong relationships with parents and carers, helping them to be more involved in their child’s learning. This enables families to grow stronger and participate more actively in their community.
Sue has been a paediatrician since 1972 and has worked as a Community Paediatrician with a special interest in child abuse and abuse prevention since 1990. Sue has worked in the ACT Health funded Child At Risk Health Unit in ACT over this time. Since her retirement in December 2011, she continued part time work at CARHU, where she follows up a number of children she has been seeing for years, as well as providing back-up for the regular team of doctors when needed and continuing her teaching and mentoring roles. Sue is a member of the ACT Child Death Review Committee, the ACT Domestic Violence Prevention Committee. Sue is currently Vice-President on the NAPCAN (National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) National Board. She is also on the Boards of Canberra Mothercraft Society (QE2 Family Centre), Families Australia, Kidsafe, Lyons Early Childhood School and Medical Women’s Society of ACT and Region, all helping inform her contemporary knowledge of children. Other commitments are the steering committee of the ACT Family Law Pathways Network and the ARACY. (Australian Research Alliance of Children and Youth) Early Years Chapter. Sue also chairs the Community Expert Reference Group of the ACT Asbestos Taskforce currently. In 1999 Sue was awarded an Order of Australia for services to Paediatrics, Child Protection and the Community. In 2013, the Canberra Centenary, Sue was ACT Citizen of the Year “in recognition of her personal efforts and significant contributions to the ACT community, particularly as an advocate for the safety and wellbeing of children”.
Families are the first experience for all of us of being loved, considered and kept safe. Families themselves need similar recognition and safety and this is best achieved by families working together to develop and support a community where all those in it can thrive.
Paul is the Director of Territory Perspectives a consultancy with a long history of program, organisation and people management projects in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and nationally. Until 2016, he was the Executive Director Transport Services Northern Territory Department of Transport. He previously held senior positions in the NT Departments of the Chief Minister, Education and Local Government. Paul has worked in both government and community sector human services agencies since 1975. As Principal Policy Officer and later Assistant Director, Young Offender Services in the W.A. Department of Community Services, as General Manager of Creative LINKS Foundation and Chair of state and national youth services peak organisations, he has significant experience in policy development and analysis and in the practical application of policy in the development and operation of community programs.
Tristan is the Branch Manager of Family Policy and Programs Branch at the Department of Social Services.
Families are the fundamental building block for strong communities. Strong families and communities are productive, independent and socially cohesive. The Department funds a variety of programs that invest in families, in particular children. These programs support families to improve the wellbeing of children and young people to enhance family and community functioning, as well as increasing the participation of vulnerable people in community life.
Rob is the CEO for Key Assets in the Asia-Pacific region and is responsible for operations in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Before commencing his role with Key Assets Rob was the Assistant Regional Director of the South East Region, Child Safety in State Government, Queensland. Rob has worked in the children’s services and out of home care area for over 25 years in frontline child protection, policy and programs, training and in senior leadership roles in the Government and the Non-Government. In 2009 Rob was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study child protection across the United Kingdom, USA and Canada. During a three month period he travelled to a range of Child Protection Services across the world to explore various services and programs to support the development of people who work/volunteer in the area of child protection. Rob has previously held appointments as Deputy Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Advisory Council and is currently the Chair of the Forde Foundation Board of Advice for Queensland.
As a parent I know how important it is to have the support of a community to provide the best network possible for my family. There are many types of families in our society but the key to making them stronger is connected communities. It is the capacity for people to know what is happening around them and ask a very simple question “is there anything I can do to help”. If everyone offered that support to the families in their neighbourhood them we would undoubtedly have stronger communities.
Simon Schrapel has enjoyed a 30+ year career of working in the Social and Community Services field in Australia and abroad in a range of policy, planning and management positions, principally focused on the funding and delivery of services by the non-government community services sector. He is currently the Chief Executive of Uniting Communities, a South Australia based community service agency committed to social justice and inclusion. Throughout his career Simon has undertaken a number of leadership positions in sector peak bodies, advocacy groups and advisory boards, including his leadership as President of the Australian Council of Social Services from 2009-2013 and of the South Australian Council of Social Services and Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia. Simon is currently the Chair of Foodbank SA and a Board member of Foodbank Australia, the Chair of the South Australian Council for the Care of Children and has been a Board member of Families Australia since 2008. Simon’s work and commitment in the area of child protection and family support has seen his active involvement in the National Forum for Protecting Australia’s Children, the National Family Matters campaign and in various other State and National bodies and advisory Boards focused on children and families. Simon was awarded an Order of Australia for significant service to the community, particularly to children and families through social welfare organisations, programs and initiatives in 2017.
Families in all their shapes and guises remain the essential building block of our society. Relationships formed in families offer levels of informal care, connection, nurture and affirmation that are fundamental to wellbeing and a healthy life. Strong and functional community is predicated on positive family relationships – something we must all protect and promote.
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.
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.
Liz Walker is an accredited sexuality educator, speaker, and author. In addition to her role as Chair of eChildhood, Liz is consultant Director of Health Education at Culture Reframed: the global lead in solving the public health crisis of the digital age. Well connected internationally, Liz regularly provides consultancy to government, non-profit, and professional organizations. Educators throughout Australia and internationally utilise the Youth Wellbeing Project BODY IQ and RELATIONSHIP IQ programs, authored by Liz and underpinned by holistic sexuality education principles. Her work includes the children’s book: Not for Kids!
When families are supported with services, resources, education and strategies, children gain tools to develop into thriving members of community. Modern parenting presents unique challenges, particularly with children’s easy accessibility to harmful online pornography. To counteract disconnection, families need more support than ever to provide positive alternatives and a safe haven for kids.
Prue has more than 30 years extensive knowledge and understanding of children’s services through her work including:
Families in their broadest sense, are the glue of a community.
Richard is a descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait. Over the last 20 years he has worked in Indigenous affairs in both the government and non-government sector. He led the successful regional Aboriginal health service – Maari Ma Health – in the Murdi Paaki Region of far west NSW from 2000 to 2009 where he established a range of health and workforce development strategies that delivered tangible health outcomes and created a highly skilled Indigenous health workforce. Since 2010 he has been the CEO of The Healing Foundation. The work of The Healing Foundation to date has supported locally designed, developed and delivered solutions by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities that have delivered measurable outcomes. It is also building the knowledge and evidence for effective Indigenous healing practice in Australia.