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 2021 Champions are:
Dr Brian Babington has worked for stronger communities and families in Australia and overseas since the 1980s. He is Chief Executive Officer of Families Australia, an independent national peak body that advises the Australian Government on ways to advance family and child wellbeing. As Convenor of the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing, he helped to develop the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, the first-ever national plan to improve child protection. His international work focuses on child rights. He is the author of For the benefit of children alone? The story of Indonesia’s orphanages, and founder of the Indonesian Orphanages Research Centre. In a career spanning diplomatic, private and community sectors, Brian also represented Australia at four UN General Assemblies in New York as well as in South-east Asia. He has held leadership positions in many international, national and local community developments and allied professional organisations.
Bernadette Black is CEO and Founder of Brave Foundation and a Member of the Order of Australia for her work with young people, communities and local governments nationally.
Bernadette turns the tables on social and economic disadvantage in Australia. Instead of helping our most vulnerable ‘at the top of the cliff rather than at the bottom of the cliff with an ambulance,’ she believes our young people can be supported before the cliff is even in sight. Bernadette advises governments, private and public spheres to understand their roles in this by conveying specialist groups on the importance of ‘lived expertise’ tool kits, collaboration and ‘offramps to disadvantage mapping.’ She is a social Economic Empowerment Specialist, having demonstrated success alongside her team, with hundreds of our nations most at risk young people.
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.
As the Secretary for the Department of Social Services, every day I see the vital role that families play in Australian society. I have also observed there is a strong connection between family wellbeing and community wellbeing.
Over this past year, the enduring theme of National Families Week – Stronger Families, Stronger Communities – has never been more relevant. Staying connected with one another has played a critical role in how we have supported each other during the bushfires, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and now the floods.
Technology has played an important role in this. It was critical to how we navigated through the past year and will continue to be important as we move forward. Technology enabled us to remain present and connected with our families and friends via phone calls, video calls and social media. It helped us remain resilient in the face of challenges and provide support to each other virtually.
As we move through the early stages of pandemic recovery, our reliance on technology is changing. One of the National Families Week 2021 ‘Ten Top Tips’ is to take time out from technology, and when you can, I encourage you to connect with people around you in person.
This could mean sitting down to a board game or enjoying dinner at the table with the television off and your phone away. It could also be joining others for a walk outside, providing an opportunity to reconnect and appreciate nature together. I know I have been enjoying many of the beautiful walks available to us in Canberra.
I am honoured to be a National Families Week Champion and encourage everyone to take the time during the week to connect with your family, and one another.
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.
Penny is a change maker and systems thinker with a sophisticated and innovative approach to collaboration and coalition. Penny was appointed as ARACY CEO in January 2019 having acted in the role from mid-2018. She was previously General Manager for Policy and Strategic Engagement with ARACY and has held senior roles in organisations including the Australian Government Department of Health, Insight Consulting, and A Village for Every Child. Penny’s solid grounding in public health informs her approach to child wellbeing and systems transformation.
Since Penny’s appointment as CEO, ARACY has grown in its mission to bring people and knowledge together and catalyse systemic change for children. Penny’s deep connections across sectors and ability to forge powerful collaborations have seen ARACY deliver major achievements including the 500-delegate National Early Years Summit (March 2020) and the subsequent formation of the cross-sector Early Years Catalysing Group; ARACY’s highly successful COVID-19 partnership with UNICEF Australia, the Knowledge Acceleration Hub; and the Thriving Queensland Kids Partnership.
Professor Hayes is the the Director of the Family Action Centre at the University of Newcastle. He was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012 for service to the social sciences through the Australian Institute of Family Studies, as a contributor to policy research, and as an academic and author. He has a distinguished national and international academic research and publishing record in the life pathways of children and the role of families in sustaining development, fostering resilience and reducing vulnerabilities across life. He has had a particular focus on prevention and early intervention and effective policies to support families through the life-course.
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.
Anne Hollonds commenced as National Children’s Commissioner in November 2020. Before her appointment to the role, Anne was the Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, an independent statutory authority of the Australian Government responsible for conducting research and providing advice on child and family wellbeing. In over five years in this role she was also Director of the Australian Gambling Research Centre. For more than 23 years Anne has been a Chief Executive Officer of government and non-government organisations focussed on policy, service delivery and research in health, education and social services, including the Benevolent Society and Relationships Australia NSW.
Jennie has been the CEO of Big Fat Smile since 2017. She leads the implementation of the Strategic Plan with the outcomes of enriching the lives and minds of our children and families in their communities.
Dianne is the CEO for Key Assets Australia. Dr Jackson has more than 30 years’ experience in the government, community and philanthropy sectors and brings with her a wealth of experience in executive leadership, policy, research and advocacy for the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable Australians.
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.
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 joined the Board of Families Australia in 2019.
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.
Claire is Chief Executive at Life Without Barriers, one of Australia’s largest national charitable organisations with services across the country, including remote areas. Claire is a highly skilled strategist with more than 20 years’ experience in the human services and community sector that began in front line service delivery. Claire has extensive experience working in disability, mental health, aged care and out-of-home care services. Since becoming Chief Executive in 2011, Claire has successfully developed Life Without Barriers to become one of Australia’s largest disability providers and one of Australia’s few national providers of services for children in out-of-home care.
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.
Lyndall is a Professor and Director of the Research School of Population Health at the Australian National University. She is a recognised leader in the field of work, family and wellbeing. Her research focuses on contemporary predicaments of work and care and their health and equity consequences, viewing health as inter-linked within families. More recently, she has been leading theory and evidence on time as a social determinant of health, viewing time as a resource, like money, which underpins inequality and is fundamental for peoples capacity to be healthy. Lyndall’s formal qualifications include a PhD (Psychology) and Masters of Clinical Psychology, Graduate Diploma (Psychology), and Bachelor of Fine Arts.