I am delighted to be nominated for the Skylight Board. I have a longstanding interest in Mental Health policy and practice which started in 1996 when I commenced 13 years as a Deputy President of the Guardianship Board. My work over 8 years in the Appeals Division of the Board first introduced me to the challenges faced by those of us who live with mental ill-health, and the courage and persistence that is needed to manage, every day. As a result of that work, I developed a passion for good policy and treatment.
In 2010 I was elected a Senator for South Australia and was the Greens Shadow Minister for Mental Health until I retired due to illness in my family in 2015. My parliamentary work gave me the opportunity to campaign for better Mental Health funding and treatment options through speeches, events, legislation and questions in committees. One of the highlights of my parliamentary work was a campaign to highlight gaps in rural mental health services that took me all over Australia and introduced me to hundreds of consumers, carers and service providers. I also established the Parliamentary Friends of Youth Mental Health, to increase the awareness of my fellow MPs about the issues affecting young Australians.
My parliamentary work has given me insights into policy development and the political process that I hope to bring to my Board role. In addition, my recent role as a carer has deepened my understanding of the challenges of those experiencing mental ill-health and their loved ones and supporters. I have great admiration for the work of Skylight and it will be a privilege to participate in that work.
I am a member of the executive team at Health Partners, South Australia’s largest open health fund, and bring a strong business and operational management background. I have 20 years’ experience in senior management and project management type roles across finance, retail and service sectors. I bring significant expertise across numerous disciplines including business improvement, stakeholder management, quality and risk control, relationship building, personnel and budget management.
Within the community, there is a continued misunderstanding of mental illness and I am a strong advocate in promoting acceptance of mental illness and support to those suffering and dealing with it day in and day out. Having been exposed to those challenged by mental illness, I understand the importance of the work and support that Skylight offers, and it is an honour to be a member of the Skylight board.