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Member Biographies

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Michelle Scott

Ms Scott was appointed the inaugural Director of the McCusker Centre for Citizenship at UWA in October 2015. The Centre is focused on building greater capacity in the community to understand, contribute and positively impact on social issues. Ms Scott has over 30 years’ experience leading and influencing government and community organisations to address and reduce contemporary, complex social challenges. She has also been an independent statutory officer, including as WA’s first Commissioner for Children and Young People (6 years), and Public Advocate for WA (5 years).

Helen Creed

Ms Creed recently stepped down from her role as the Executive Director of the Community Legal Centres Association, having previously worked at the WA Council of Social Service. Originally a social worker, Ms Creed was the WA Secretary of the Miscellaneous Workers Union during the 1990s and went on to represent working people at both the national and international level. She has held a number of senior State government positions including Director of the Office for Women’s Policy and Executive Director, Children and Families in the Department for Communities.

Pip Brennan

Ms Brennan began working in the community services sector in 1999 as a maternity advocate volunteer, and progressed to paid advocacy work at the Health Consumers’ Council in 2006. She returned to the Health Consumers’ Council in 2015 to take up the role of Executive Director. In the intervening decade Ms Brennan worked at the Office of Health Review conciliating health complaints, Reclaiming Voices advocating in the victim services sector, Community Midwifery WA providing childbirth education services, and at the WA Council of Social Service on the Better Health Outcomes project.

Suzi Cowcher

Ms Cowcher is a respected leader within the community services sector with particular expertise and passion in disability, aged and social services. Until early 2018, she was CEO at Ability Centre Australasia Ltd. She has over 30 years’ experience leading not-for-profit organisations to become sustainable and resilient in a changing world. Prior to joining Ability Centre, Ms Cowcher was Chief Operating Officer and deputising CEO at Amana Living, Principal Consultant at Absolute Efficiency, and Donor Services Manager (WA/NT) Australian Red Cross Blood Service. She also held key roles at Silver Chain.

Jonathan Ford

Jonathan is a Noongar man, and CEO of Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre since 2012. He was previously Programs Manager of Aboriginal Health with the Rockingham Kwinana Division of General Practice, and held senior positions with the South Metropolitan Public Health Unit and Department of Housing. Mr Ford has experience in justice, housing, natural resource management, education, employment and Aboriginal economic development. He is a member of the Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Service Board and Chairperson of the national Aboriginal Young Leaders Council.

Kate George

Ms George is a Martu woman who resides in Perth but maintains connections to and works in the Pilbara. Her work focuses on community development, including Indigenous investment and business initiatives and working with Pilbara communities. Ms George has been involved in Aboriginal affairs for over 35 years and has held senior public service positions, including Ministerial Advisor at a State and Federal level. She has worked in the private, public and non-government sectors.

Louise Giolitto

Ms Giolitto is CEO of the WA Council of Social Service, leading the organisation’s policy and advocacy work. She has been part of the community services sector for over 22 years. Her experience includes management of homelessness programs, housing, youth services, Aboriginal support programs, employment, education, training, mentoring, drug education, seniors, and emergency relief.

Neil Guard

Mr Guard was appointed CEO of the Richmond Wellbeing in 2016, following a career that includes more than 15 years in the corporate sector in the UK and 18 years in human services in both the government and, more recently, not-for-profit sectors in WA. His previous roles include Executive Director of the WA Drug and Alcohol Office (during which period he was seconded to lead the establishment of the Mental Health Commission); Executive Director of Healthway; Director of Accommodation Services in the Disability Services Commission; and Executive Director Professional Services at Communicare.

Dan Minchin

Mr Minchin is the CEO of Chorus, an organisation which builds on the legacies of Volunteer Task Force, Community First International and Care Options. Previously, he was Silver Chain’s Head of Strategy and General Manager, East Coast where he led the expansion of Silver Chain beyond WA. He has also worked as a strategy advisor and consultant to a number of organisations in WA. Mr Minchin is a member of the Volunteering Community Reference Group established by the Minister for Volunteering.

Tricia Murray

Ms Murray was appointed to the position of CEO of Wanslea in 2004. She has worked in the community not-for-profit sector in NSW and WA for over 30 years, primarily in management positions, with a focus on child protection, homelessness, family violence and children’s services. Ms Murray is 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; and a director of SHINE Community Services.

Vicki O'Donnell

Ms O’Donnell is a Nyikina Mangala Aboriginal woman from Derby, where she grew up. She has significant experience as a strategic leader in the Aboriginal community controlled health sector, focusing on the delivery and ongoing support of Aboriginal programs at a regional, state and national level. She brings extensive expertise and understanding of Aboriginal health, and multiple perspectives on Indigenous. Ms O’Donnell currently holds the position of CEO for the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service in Broome, and was CEO of the Derby Aboriginal Health Service for 12 years.

Maria Osman

Ms Osman has over 30 years' experience as a senior policy adviser on the intersections of gender equality, multiculturalism and human rights. She has previously held the role of Executive Director of WA's Office of Multicultural Interests and Office for Women's Policy and led the development of equity and access policies and programs in partnership with diverse communities for over 20 years. In 2015 Ms Osman was an Australian delegate to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She is currently a director on the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Peoples Trust, the Humanitarian Group, the National Harmony Alliance for Migrant and Refugee Women and the WA Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests' Multicultural Advisory Group.

Carol Pettersen JP

Ms Pettersen was born at Gnowangerup Mission and raised in the bush at Jerramungup in a family of 17, but has lived most of her life in her traditional country of Albany. She has worked across many government agencies dealing with and advocating for Aboriginal issues at State and Federal levels, and implementing programs at local level. Ms Pettersen currently sits on the Aboriginal Advisory Board to the WA Attorney General and WA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. She is a former President of the Women's Advisory Committee to the Premier of Western Australia on women's issues, and was named National NAIDOC Female Elder of the Year 2008/09.

Julie Waylen

Ms Waylen is the State Manager of National Disability Services (NDS) Western Australia. She began her career as a Social Trainer working with people with disability with complex needs. She has worked for over 30 years in a range of senior executive roles with both the State government and community services sectors, encompassing disability services, child protection, family support, homelessness, domestic violence, community services and health.

Ross Wortham

Mr Wortham is CEO of the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia, the peak body representing young people and all those who support young people in WA. His career has primarily been in leadership positions with not-for-profit organisations, both in Australia and overseas, focusing on community development, human rights, child protection services, youth work and community relations.

Debra Zanella

Ms Zanella is the CEO of Ruah Community Services which provides services principally in the areas of mental health, homelessness and housing, family, justice and domestic violence services. Ms Zanella brings over 30 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in health and community services, particularly in complex areas of service delivery. Her previous leadership experience includes senior roles in specialised Drug and Alcohol Services, not-for-profit private hospital executive management, and other related health and community services. Other key roles include President of the WA Council of Social Service and Board member for the Australian Council of Social Service.