Our Team

Families Australia’s staff team, based in Canberra, are as follows:

Executive Team

Dr Brian Babington: Chief Executive Officer. Brian also serves as the Co-Chair of the National Forum for Protecting Australia’s Children, and Coordinator of the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing.
Stella Conroy: Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Policy Team

Dr Marian Esler: Senior Policy Officer
Andrew McCallum AM: Policy Advisor
Eileen O’Brien: Policy Officer

Communications and Events Team

Elizabeth Hunter: Communications Manager
Margaret Fisher: Conference, Event and Communications Officer

Administration Team

Jennifer Horsfield: Office Manager and Manager of National Families Week
Fiona Langford: Accounts Manager

 

Dr Brian Babington—Chief Executive Officer

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.

Since 2007 he has been the Convenor of the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing, a 200-organisation NGO and academic coalition that works with Australian Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to implement the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, Australia’s first-ever plan to tackle child abuse and neglect.

His international leadership work focuses on child rights. He is a Director of an international children’s charity, Plan International Australia, author of For the benefit of children alone? The story of Indonesia’s orphanages, and the founding Editor of the Indonesian Orphanages Research Hub which draws attention to the situation of around 500,000 children in 8,000 in orphanages in Indonesia and explores the entrenched barriers to deinstitutionalisation policy reform.

Brian was educated at Newington College, Sydney University, and the Australian National University. He is a Sir Winston Churchill Fellow on national child protection policymaking and studied public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. He has served on numerous international, national and local child, family and community development boards. A former diplomat, he represented Australia in South East Asia and at the United Nations in New York. Among other career achievements, he established an innovative social venture firm to advance Indigenous leadership and authored a book on managing personal adversity. Read more.

Stella Conroy—Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Stella is the Deputy CEO of Families Australia and has a long history of employment in human services including early childhood and family services, disability housing and aged care. Stella has held leadership and management positions in organisations that support families across the life course, including Forgotten Australians, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander children and families, sole parents and culturally diverse families and children.

Stella’s employment has taken her to many locations around Australia including major capitals and remote localities. Currently, Stella is working on a range of national policy initiatives including the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009 – 2020, providing secretariat support for the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing and on national policy relating to work and family. She has completed various post-graduate studies and holds a Masters in Human Services.

Dr Marian Esler—Senior Policy Officer

Dr Marian Esler is a social worker who has worked with and for Australian families for over 30 years, in practice, policy, program management and research and evaluation roles. Most recently, she was responsible for the research and data development activities under the National Plan for Reducing Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, before leaving the Department of Social Services in October 2018.

Andrew McCallum AM—Policy Advisor

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 was 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. Andrew retired from ACWA in 2018 and is now a Communities Services Consultant.

Eileen O’Brien— Policy Officer

Now retired from full time employment, Eileen began her human services career in the USA, developing a strong commitment to social justice and to the importance of sound social policy development. After migrating to Australia, Eileen pursued her career in the community sector, holding leadership positions in a range of areas such as juvenile justice, youth work, disability services, child care and aged care. Eileen often held key roles in establishing new and innovative community services, in urban, rural and remote locations throughout Australia. She also worked in State and Commonwealth government agencies in social policy development as well as program design and evaluation.

Elizabeth Hunter—Events and Communications Manager

Elizabeth has been a teacher and administrator in early childhood, Montessori primary and adult education. Interspersed with teaching, she has worked in the non-government and private sectors, principally in communications, marketing and event management. Inspired by social policy, Elizabeth enjoys sharing the projects and achievements of Families Australia with our members and the wider community.

 

Margaret Fisher—Events and Communications Manager

Margaret started her career in allied health, working in hospital, rehabilitation and community settings before moving into health management roles.  She has also worked in Commonwealth Government agencies in service delivery, program policy and social policy roles.

Jennifer Horsfield—Office Manager and National Families Week Manager

Jennifer is the Office Manager and Manager of National Families Week. She has had a long career in office work, being employed by organisations throughout Australia and overseas. She enjoys being part of the team at Families Australia and working to promote the interests of families.

 

Fiona Langford—Accounts Manager

Fiona joined Families Australia in October 2010 as part time bookkeeper.  Fiona is a qualified accountant and tax agent and has been previously employed in finance and administrative roles with the Playgroups Council of Australia, a couple of local schools and a local church. She is also currently employed with Canberra’s oldest amateur theatre company. Outside of paid employment, Fiona is an active Girl Guide leader and is on the Board of Girl Guides NSW and the ACT.