Back: Geoff Pritchard & Bec Maerschel
Middle: Darren Hunt, Lisa Thiele & Michelle Williams
Front: Pat McLeod & David Meldrum
Absent: Mark Haddad, Penny Wright & Adam McCallum
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 Skylight and it has been a privilege to be on the Skylight board since November 2014. I identify as a consumer and therefore have had an interest in Mental Health since first receiving a diagnosis in 1993. I have been fortunate enough to have worked fulltime for various companies in different roles over the last 25 years, including the military, customer service, logistics, telecommunications, building industry and the superannuation/insurance industry. I completed Certificate 4 in Mental Health in 2014 and it was a natural progression to follow my passion and work in the mental health industry with the intention to ‘give back to society’. I have previously worked as a community educator for Skylight, and am presently working part time for ‘Central Adelaide and Hills – Partners in Recovery Program’ as a ‘Peer Specialist”. I am also a member of the Citizens Advocacy Research and Education’ (CARE) ‘Group.
In my current work role for ‘Partners in Recovery’, I work with support facilitators and service providers to help clients continually improve the process of ‘living well’ with a mental illness. I aim to help empower an individual on their recovery journey. Personally, I utilise coping strategies and skills such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and incorporate Mindfulness into my daily routine. I therefore feel a combination of my lived experience of living well with a mental illness over a number of years, plus my current relevant work experience in the industry are the particular skills I bring to the Skylight board. I have a vested interest that Skylight continues to “lead the way” in the South Australian Mental Health sector and I will do my upmost and play my part to help govern the organisation so we can continue to do this.
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.