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Board of Directors

Please select the Board member's name to view their biography.

National President

Professor Karen Healy AM

Karen Healy graduated from the University of Queensland in 1986 with first class honours in social work. She also has a PhD in social work and social policy from the university. Over three decades, she has worked in social work or academic posts in four states of Australia and in a variety of fields including child protection, community work and health services. Karen is currently Professor of Social Work at the University of Queensland, National Director of The Benevolent Society, and graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. On 26 January 2016, she was named as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her significant service to community welfare in the field of social work, particularly child protection, and to higher education and research. Karen has been National President of the AASW since 2011. Email Karen Healy

National Vice Presidents

Marie-Claire Cheron-Sauer

Marie-Claire Cheron-Sauer is a social work graduate from UNSW Sydney and also holds Masters’ degrees in social policy, research and management. She has significant experience in a range of clinical, policy, research, academic and senior management roles within health and social assistance, working in government, universities and the non-profit sector. Marie-Claire has her own consultancy practice and in this capacity is senior clinical advisor for 1800RESPECT, the national telephone and online counselling service for people impacted by sexual assault and domestic and family violence. She also currently manages the Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN) at UNSW Sydney. Marie-Claire’s other honorary roles include: National Board Director and Chair of the Strategy Committee of Melanoma Patients Australia and member of the School of Social Work Advisory committee for the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. Marie-Claire has previously served the AASW as Chair, AASW National Social Policy Committee (2006-2008), Chair, 2012 ASWEAS Review (2010 – 2012) and AASW Director and National Vice-President (2008-2011). In 2012 she was awarded a Winston Churchill fellowship and undertook international research into the organisation of social work education and the profession in the US, Canada, England and Denmark. Her core areas of professional interest arising from her Churchill fellowship include the implications of new models of care for social work and other allied health professionals within the context of contemporary health, social care and economic policy. She is also currently a doctoral candidate in the school of Social Work at UNSW Sydney investigating university responses to disclosures of sexual assault. Email Marie-Claire Cheron-Sauer

Christine Craik

Christine Craik is a Social Worker, Community Worker and a Human Rights Advocate with almost 30 years’ experience in the field. Christine holds a BSW, a Masters in Social Science (Policy and Management) and is currently writing her PhD on screening practices in emergency departments for women affected by family violence. She has extensive experience in trauma work including practice with women and children affected by family violence and sexual abuse, and with refugees and asylum seekers. For the past 10 years, she lectured on these concerns in the Social Work Programs at RMIT University, where she established and facilitates the family violence courses in the social work programs. In this time, Christine has also worked weekends in a crisis debriefing role for a major trauma hospital in Victoria. Christine is currently the Vice President of the AASW, a position she has held since 2011. Christine joined the Board at a time the AASW was facing serious financial and governance challenges. Over six years she has demonstrated her commitment to turning the Association around to achieve financial stability, substantial membership growth and a strong public profile. Leadership positions held by Christine include: Chair and members of the Financial, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee (formerly finance committee). In this role, Christine has been instrumental in overseeing the restoration of the financial viability of the Association; Chair of the AASW Governance Review (2015). Christine Chaired the Governance review of 2015, overseeing the much needed reforms of the AASW Constitution and the establishment and implementation of a governance charter; Chair of the National Symposium (2013) that brought together several hundred AASW members. The first national event of its kind by the AASW in over five years; Taking over as Chair of the Australian Social Work and Education Standards Committee (2012) overseeing the timely completion of the standards and a member of the Standing Committee on ASWEAS in 2016 and 2017; Member of the Membership Committee (2012- 17) Board representative to the Australian College of Social Work (2016-17); Convenor of the Victorian Family Violence Social Work Practice Group. Christine is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is Chair of the Board of Project Respect, a Non-Profit Agency which supports and advocates for trafficked woman and other woman work in the sex industry. Christine is a strong commitment to regional and rural communities and to environment sustainability. She was involved in the early establishment of the Greens and is involved in wildlife rescue and care, Landcare activities and the CFA in the local community where she lives. Email Christine Craik


Dr Brenda Clare

Brenda Clare has over 40 years’ experience as a social worker in England and Western Australia, specialising in child protection and out-of-home care. She has been teaching social work at the University of Western Australia for 10 years and is now an Honorary Research Fellow. Brenda is also a self-employed consultant in her business which provides training, research and supervision services. She has been a Director of the AASW since 2012. As Chair of the AASW’s Education and Standards Committee, Brenda has had the privilege of leading the review of the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS). Email Brenda Clare

David Gould

David Gould is the newest member of the Board. His appointment follows two years as Vice-President of the AASW's Tasmanian Branch. After working in the NGO sector in homelessness and mental health programs, David graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Social Work from Monash University. Since then, he has practiced as a hospital social worker on acute medical wards at the Royal Hobart Hospital and is currently working in palliative care. David is now studying a Graduate Diploma in Palliative Care in Aged Care at Flinders University and is a member of Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) and the international Social Work and Palliative Care Hospice Network. He is also a social work representative on the Tasmanian Allied Health Network. David has been a Director of the AASW since 2015. Email David Gould

Maria Merle

Maria has 15 years’ experience as a social worker. She has worked in mental health, family and children services, aged care and domestic violence and post-adoption. She is a lecturer and tutor at Australian Catholic University in Sydney and an EAP counsellor. Maria chaired the AASW’s National Symposium Committee in 2015 and is also Chair of the Membership Committee. She has been a Director of the AASW since 2011. Email Maria Merle

Barbara Moerd

Barbara Moerd has been a social worker for 26 years, primarily practicing in the statutory child protection, family support and mental health fields. For 14 years in the United Kingdom, she worked for the London courts in child protection and family assessments and in Edinburgh for an after-hours crisis service in mental health and child protection referrals. Barbara was until recently Head of Social Work for the Tasmanian Health Service (south). She is currently Acting Director of Allied Health at the Tasmanian Health Service (south) based at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Barbara has been a Director of the AASW since 2012, is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is completing a Masters in Business at the University of Tasmania. Email Barbara Moerd

Anita Phillips

Since graduating from the University of Melbourne forty years ago, Anita Phillips has utilised her social work knowledge and skills in regional North Queensland, the Hunter region and in metropolitan Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra federal, state, local and non-government agencies. She has also completed a Master of Public Administration, a postgraduate Diploma in Legal Studies and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Anita is currently engaged as sessional university lecturer in the ACT and Queensland and as a public policy consultant. She has been a Director of the AASW Board since 2012. Email Anita Phillips

Alternate Director to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Director position

Linda Ford

Linda Ford is an Aboriginal woman from North West Queensland with 22 years’ experience as a social worker in rural, remote and urban areas. Linda is particularly passionate about child protection after working for seventeen years in this field and, more recently, for the seven years in the area of health. She has also been a guest lecturer and adjunct lecturer for James Cook University in north Queensland in the areas of social work theory and ethical practice. For the past five years, Linda has been the Director of Social Work at the Mount Isa Hospital, North West Hospital and Health Service. She is a past president of the AASW North Queensland Branch. Email Linda Ford

Company Secretary

Helen Hopper

Helen has been working in the social welfare field for 38 years, the last 21 as a social worker. She has practiced in the areas of disability, aged care and child protection in rural NSW as well as the city metropolitan area of Canberra and is currently working as Team Leader School Age North for the ACT Government’s Therapy ACT. Helen has a Master of Public Administration and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has been Company Secretary for the AASW since 2008. Email Helen Hopper

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers