Each National Families Week a number of prominent Australians are designated as National Families Week Champions. They promote the Week through their networks, by issuing media statements and attending events. Families Australia greatly values the role played by our fabulous Champions!
The National Families Week@HOME Champions 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.
Kathryn Campbell AO, CSC joined the Department of Social Services (the department) as Secretary on 18 September 2017. The department works in partnership with other government and non-government organisations to ensure the effective development, management and delivery of payments, policies, programs, and services focused on improving the wellbeing of individuals and families in Australian communities. Prior to her current appointment, Kathryn was the Secretary of the Department of Human Services from 2011 to 2017. Kathryn also held Deputy Secretary positions in the Department of Finance (Finance) and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) from 2005 to 2011.
Kathryn holds a Master of Business Administration, a Master of Information Science, and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Applied Mathematics). In 1994, she completed the Royal Australian Air Force Command and Staff College course, and in 2008 the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. Kathryn is a Fellow of Certified Practising Accountants (CPA) Australia and a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Kathryn is also an Army Reserve Officer.
This year has been a particularly challenging time for Australian families. We have seen our landscape change dramatically through years of drought, followed by devastating bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic, impacting on a huge number of Australian families. With this in mind, it is a particularly important time to embrace the enduring theme of National Families Week – ‘Stronger Families, Stronger Communities’ – and the role families play by working together to support each other and care for those in the broader community. More
Deirdre Cheers is an experienced CEO of Barnardos Australia and well-known and respected leader in Australian child protection and child welfare. With an extensive professional social work career, she has a broad range of skills and experience in management as well as direct service delivery of child protective services, family preservation and early intervention, and the full continuum of out-of-home care in Australian and international contexts.
With qualifications including Masters Degrees in Social Work and Public Administration, Deirdre has an extensive publication and presentation record across a range of areas concerning vulnerable children, young people and families, and including policy, practice and research. Deirdre is a former Chair and Deputy Chair of the NSW child welfare peak body ACWA (Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies), and current Board Director. She continues to participate in a variety of Advisory Committees and Ministerial Councils at both State and Australian government levels from 1994 to date, is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a long-standing member of the Australian Association of Social Workers.
Melinda is the National CEO of the YMCA in Australia. The YMCA has a long and proud history, being founded in Australia in 1851. Today the YMCA in Australia serves in over 700 communities driven by a shared belief in the power of inspired young people as the pathway to improved community outcomes for all. A passionate advocate for the rights of children and young people, Melinda is working to implement significant organisational reform to ensure a YMCA Movement that is fit for purpose ensuring relevance, sustainability, safety for all children and young people and is able to benefit more people in more communities. Throughout her career, Melinda has had the opportunity to work across many general areas of operational and strategic management including direct business planning, human resource management, financial management and risk management. Working closely with boards and directors in developing strategic objectives and good governance protocols and then translating these into operational management initiatives has been a major part of Melinda’s role.
Melinda’s formal qualifications include a Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology), Graduate Certificate in Management, a Diploma of Social Science and Melinda is a graduate and member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
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.
Dr. Cathy Kezelman AM is a medical practitioner, mental health consumer advocate, President of Blue Knot Foundation National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma. She is a current member of NSW Child Safety Standing Committee for Survivor and Faith Groups. Cathy worked in medical practice for 20 years, mostly as a GP. Under her stewardship Blue Knot Foundation has grown from a peer support organisation to a national centre of excellence combining a prominent consumer voice with that of researchers, academics and clinicians advocating for socio-political trauma-informed change and informed responsiveness to complex trauma. She is a prominent voice in the media and at conferences, as well as author of a memoir chronicling her journey of recovery from child sexual abuse: Innocence Revisited- a tale in parts. She is co-author of multiple seminal Blue Knot Foundation documents.
Fiona May has an extensive background as a leader in the community sector. As the CEO of ACT’s largest disability and older persons advocacy service, Fiona demonstrated her commitment to ensuring positive outcomes for people in our community who are not able to speak up for themselves and in 2017 she received the ACT Chief Ministers Inclusion Award for Championing Human Rights in recognition of this work. In addition Fiona has held a range of positions as Director on Boards of key community organisations and held appointments on several Ministerial Advisory Councils in the ACT. In July 2018 Fiona commenced as CEO of Playgroup Australia, the peak body for the state and territory playgroup organisations. Playgroup Australia’s vision is ‘creating a village through play’ which recognises the fundamental importance of supporting and engaging families in our communities. Playgroup Australia supports and connects the playgroup community and is the leading voice for families with children learning through play.
Annette leads significant, evidence-informed practice and policy initiatives at the Parenting Research Centre that help our clients achieve their intended outcomes. She directs a number of government-funded, national and multi-year initiatives – including MyTime – and is responsible for leading a talented team of researchers and specialists in implementation, communication and knowledge translation and exchange. Annette drives a number of our implementation projects in NSW, including trials of SafeCare and the Quality Assurance Framework for children and young people in out-of-home care.
Under her directorship we have completed projects for: The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; The NSW Department of Family and Community Services; and the Department of Education and Training in Victoria.
Annette also leads our work on influencing policy pertaining to parenting support. She has more than 16 years of executive level experience in helping governments and organisations improve outcomes for children. She has previously served as General Manager, Social Policy and Research, and General Manager, Operations (East and Central) at The Benevolent Society; and as CEO of the NSW Child Protection Council. She recently joined the Board of Families Australia.
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”. In 2019, Sue was named Senior Australian of the Year in recognition of a lifetime’s work to improve outcomes for children.
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. 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. Simon became Chair of Families Australia in 2019.