Under the Families Australia Constitution, the Board is comprised of up to 12 members. The Board’s current composition is as follows:
Simon Schrapel AM: Chair and nominee of UnitingCare Australia
Melinda Crole: Deputy Chair and nominee of YMCA Australia
Naomi Nicholson: Secretary and nominee of Australian Foster Care Association
Dr Marilyn Casley: nominee of the School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University
Fiona May: nominee of Playgroup Australia
Professor Morag McArthur: nominee of Australian Foster Care Association
Annette Michaux: Co-opted member
Tricia Murray AM: nominee of the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia
Dr Sue Packer AM FRACP : Public Officer and nominee of the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect
Kathleen Pinkerton: nominee of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children
Richard Weston: nominee of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children
The Board has established the Reconciliation Working Group, the Corporate Governance Sub-committee and the Finance and Financial Audit Sub-committee.
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.
Melinda is currently the CEO of YMCA Australia. Prior to this, she was Executive Manager, Licensing and Development for YMCA Australia; a role which had grown over her 10-plus-year career with YMCA Australia. Previously, Melinda was the CEO of a local YMCA for 4 years which specialised in the delivery of children’s programs, and she held key roles nationally for the YMCA in the area of children’s services development and child protection practice development.
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. Naomi has been a foster carer for 10 years and until recently, was the Chair of the ACT Carer Consultation Group which liaised with the Children, Youth and Families branch of the ACT Community Services Directorate, providing feedback and advice on the design and implementation of the new strategy, A Step Up for our Kids. This strategy provides support for at-risk families, children and young people who need new homes and the carers who provide them. She is a member of a number of reference groups and committees examining better ways of delivering services to children and young people at risk. Naomi has volunteered with the Create Foundation, particularly in the ACT to encourage young people to speak up about their experiences and to support carers. She has also worked closely with the ACT Children and Young People Commissioner on a range of issues related to education and out of home care. In 2015, Naomi was a specialist author assisting the Expert Panel on Students with Complex Needs and Challenging Behaviour. The resulting report to Government identified a range of unique issues that relate to the broad diversity of children and young people and the ways in which schools are responding to their needs. An Executive member of the Australian Foster Care Association (AFCA) for the past 6 years, she has served from time to time as acting President of AFCA, contributing to the national debate around child safety and protection.
Marilyn is a Lecturer in Child and Family Studies in the School of Human Services and Social Work at Griffith University. Marilyn has several years experience teaching into the Bachelor of Child and Family Studies and extensive practice working in children’s services, and providing professional development for practitioners. Marilyn’s research interests focus around listening children’s voice for the purpose of increasing their opportunities for participation on matters that affect them. Marilyn is also known for the development of pedagogical leadership and integrated practice in children’s and human services using the Circle of Change Revisited model of critical thinking.
Fiona is CEO of Playgroup Australia and is an experienced community sector leader with a passion for making a difference in the community. She has a values based approach to her work and collaborates with others to achieve common goals. At Playgroup Australia she is focusing on achieving the vision of creating a village through play. In our modern society we need to ensure all families can connect to community to sustain them and support them to give children the best start. Fiona has a strong personal commitment to full social inclusion for people with diverse backgrounds and needs and values the opportunity to contribute her skills to building social capital for families and children in need. Her experience and expertise is in public policy enabling her to make a strong strategic contribution to tackling the big issues. Fiona has past experience as a CEO, Director and/or Chair of community organisations or community boards in the ACT.
Morag has spent the past 30 years conducting research, teaching social workers and consulting on issues related to vulnerable children, young people and their families. Her extensive research in the area has included studies on; 1) child protection 2) juvenile justice 3) homelessness 4) families experiencing multiple disadvantages and their service use 5) family relationships 6) substance misuse in families and 7) the development and implementation of integrated services systems for children, young people and their families.
As a Director at the Parenting Research Centre, Annette leads significant, evidence informed policy and practice initiatives that help PRC clients achieve their intended outcomes. Annette directs a number of government funded, national and multiyear initiatives including the PRC’s contribution to Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health and the Reframing Parenting Initiative. Annette drives a number of major practice design and implementation projects in NSW, including the trial of the Quality Assurance Framework for children in out-of-home care, SafeCare and Practice Framework development with Wesley Mission, SDN Children’s Services and Key Assets. Annette has over 20 years of experience in child and family practice, policy and research management, including having served as General Manager of Social Policy and Research at The Benevolent Society, as CEO of the NSW Child Protection Council, and as a senior policy staffer at the NSW Commission for Children and Young People. She has also worked in frontline child welfare and community development in the UK and Australia. She has served on numerous boards and committees over the last two decades and delivered many keynote addresses on topics such as knowledge translation and exchange, evidence informed child and family practice, organisational and social change and improving service delivery.
Tricia was appointed to the position of Chief Executive Officer Wanslea WA in 2004. She has worked in the community not for profit sector in NSW and Western Australia for over thirty years, primarily in management positions, with a focus on child protection, homelessness, family violence and children’s services. Tricia is also the Chair of the Children and Family Welfare Agencies Association; a member of the boards of Community Employers of WA and Families Australia; a member of the General Council of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA and the Ministerial Advisory Committee for Child Protection. She has a degree in Social Work and a Master of Service Administration, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors; a Justice of the Peace and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. Tricia was awarded an Order of Australia for significant service to the community through family social welfare associations in January 2020.
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. She retired from clinical work at CARHU in December 2016 but has a continuing position there as Honorary Paediatric Consultant and continues her teaching and mentoring roles. Sue is a member of the ACT Child Death Review Committee. She is no longer an appointed member of the ACT Domestic Violence Prevention Committee, but continues to contribute as a member of a small advisory committee considering the impact of family violence on infants and children. 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 of this helps inform her contemporary knowledge of children and families. Another commitment is as a committee member of 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 October 2018, Sue was named ACT Senior Australian of the Year. In January 2019, Sue was named as Senior Australian of the Year in the Australian of the Year Awards.
Kathleen is a proud Widi woman from the Yamatji Nation in Western Australia. She is a Chairperson of Yorganop Association Incorporated and a graduate of Edith Cowan University with a Bachelor of Social Science in Indigenous Services. Kathleen’s background includes having worked in child protection, early childhood and training sector where she developed extensive experience in facilitating, coordinating and delivering programs, particularly in rural and remote communities. Kathleen sees her role as a cultural ambassador and she is passionate about the rights of children in out-of-home care to cultural knowledge.
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. He was the CEO of The Healing Foundation from 2010-2019. Richard is now the CEO of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children the national non-governmental peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children that works for the fulfilment of the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, in particular to ensure their safety, development and well-being.