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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 graduated in social work from the University of New South Wales in 1983 and holds also Masters’ degrees in social policy, research and management. She has extensive 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 is currently National Clinical Director for 1800RESPECT, the telephone and online counselling service for people impacted by sexual assault and domestic and family violence. She is also national board director for Melanoma Patients Australia. Marie-Claire has previously served the AASW as Chair of the National Social Policy Committee (2006–2008), Chair of the 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 United States, Canada, England and Denmark. Email Marie-Claire Cheron-Sauer

Christine Craik

Christine Craik has over 25 years’ experience as a social worker in family support, housing, community health and hospitals where she has focused on domestic violence, sexual abuse and refugees. Christine is currently the program manager of the Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) and the Bachelor of Social Work (Hons)/Psychology at RMIT University in Melbourne where she also lectures in the Masters of Social Work. She is currently completing her PhD and exploring routine domestic violence screening for women in emergency departments of Australian public hospitals. Christine has been National Vice President of the AASW since 2011. 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, and Chair of the AASW’s Education and Standards Committee. She has been a Director of the AASW since 2012. 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

Josephine Lee

Josephine Lee is an Aboriginal woman with nearly 30 years’ experience as a social worker. She currently works in Darwin in Aboriginal and CALD communities providing services in Aboriginal emotional and social wellbeing, family and relationship counselling, group work, community development and program development. Josephine is particularly interested in anti-oppressive, anti-racist, therapeutic and relationship-based practices as well as creative and hope-focused practices. She is a committed voluntary worker, which includes being on the AASW Board, and is currently employed as a senior school counsellor with the Department of Education. Josephine has been a Director (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) since 2013. Email Josephine Lee

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 24 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 has also worked in brain injury rehabilitation in Sydney and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is currently Discipline Head for Social Work at the Tasmanian Health Service South. Barbara has been a Director of the AASW since 2012. 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

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