Board of Directors

Meet our Board

Linda Ford

Linda Ford

National President

Linda Ford is an Aboriginal woman from the Bigambul people of South West Queensland but grew up on Kalkadoon land in the North West part of Queensland. Linda is currently National President and has been on the AASW Board since May 2017. Linda has 26 years’ experience as a Social Worker in rural, remote and urban settings mainly in the fields of child protection, health, mental health and tertiary education. Linda has previously presented to national and international conferences in the area of Aboriginal Health and Mental Health. In May 2021, Linda was appointed Senior Academic Lead, Allied Health at the Centre for Rural and Remote Health at James Cook University, Mount Isa. She is a past president of the Association’s North Queensland Branch, past Chair of the Association’s Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group and during the year, was a Member of the People and Culture Committee, and Finance, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee and the Constitutional Review Committee. In January 2021, Linda was appointed as the Australia representative for the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) Indigenous Commission.Email: Linda Ford

Brooke Kooymans

National Vice President

Brooke Kooymans is a current practising social worker with 24 years’ experience working within Australia’s leading government and non-government agencies, both in the public and private sectors. Brooke is the founder and Director of a disability social work private practice in Brisbane, Queensland, that services the disability community with a special focus on acquired disability, mental health and dual diagnosis. In addition to direct practice, Brooke holds a BA (psychology/Sociology), BSW, MSW, Grad Cert in Rehab Case Management and is currently undertaking a PhD with a research focus on “Social Work in Practice in the Community Sector”. Brooke was elected as a Director of the Association in October 2018 and is currently the Chair of the Association’s National Ethics Committee and a member of the People and Culture Committee.

Email: Brooke Kooymans


Elisha Ebdon


Elisha is an Accredited Mental Health Social worker and has devoted her life’s work to supporting survivors of trauma, mental health challenges, and the many difficult complexities of life. Elisha worked for more than 10 years in the public and not-for-profit sectors providing counselling and psychotherapy to people of all ages and circumstances, before opening her own private practice in 2017. Since then, she has worked primarily with children, adolescents, parents and families, providing clinical assessments
and therapeutic interventions for trauma and mental health related challenges. Elisha also works with survivors of family violence and sexual assault, victims of crime, and people employed in the military and emergency services experiencing post-traumatic stress. Elisha holds a Bachelor of Arts degree and Masters’ degrees in Social Work and Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Elisha is a Member of the Association’s National Ethics Committee and the People and Culture Committee.

Email: Elisha Ebdon

Ashton Hayes


Ashton is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and has been practicing for over a decade, with the last several years in private practice specialising in supporting people who have experienced trauma. Ashton is a clinical supervisor, mentor, and leadership trainer. She is passionate about promoting the skills and professionalism that social workers bring to their communities. She has spent countless hours supporting social workers navigating the process of mental health accreditation, as well as offering mentorship and guidance to new graduates and other social workers who are planning out their careers.

Email: Ashton Hayes


Dr Fotina Hardy


Dr. Fotina Hardy has over 30 years’ experience in direct practice, policy and research and as an educator, most recently nine years as Coordinator of Field Education for the BSW, MSW(Qualifying) and BHS degrees at a major Brisbane university. She has been co-convenor of the Queensland Social Policy sub-committee, Child Protection Practice Group and is a past member and convenor of the National Research Committee. Fotina holds a Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Commerce, Doctor of Social Sciences along with a Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice. Fotina is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a current affiliate member of the AICD. As a Board member, Fotina is a member of the Association’s People and Culture Committee and is Chair of the Standards and Assessment Committee.

Email: Dr Fotina Hardy


Dr Jessica Russ-Smith


Dr Jessica Russ-Smith is a Wiradyuri Wambuul woman, Senior Lecturer and Academic Developer for First Nations Curriculum at Australian Catholic University, an AASW Board Director, ACU Academic Senator and a Social Worker. Throughout her career, Jess has been committed to advancing the social work profession, decolonising higher education, and promoting social justice. Her passion and focus are on creating decolonising, critical learning and practice spaces for students, staff and practitioners which honour and are guided by First Nations sovereign knowledges. Jess’ research and teaching relates to First Nations sovereignty, embodying sovereignty, decolonisation, decolonising social work and education, decolonising curriculum and higher education, First Nations social work, ethics, activism, working with First Nations children and young people, Positive Behaviour Support Plans , AI and ethics and experiences of First Nations researchers. Jess is a former Branch President of the ACT Branch Management Committee. 


Julianne Whyte


Julianne Whyte is the CEO and founder of a not-for-profit organisation providing therapeutic interventions and psycho-social support for people living in rural and regional communities in southern New South Wales, through the NDIS, Medicare and other funded programs. Julianne has over 40 years’ experience working in health, community services, community development, policy and program development and implementation and research. She is an accredited Mental Health Social Worker and is in the final stages of her PhD developing a framework for social work practice in palliative and end-of-life care. Julianne chairs the Association’s Constitution Review Committee and holds membership of the National Ethics Committee and the Standards and Assessment Committee.

Email: Julianne Whyte


Prof. Sue Green


Susan Green is a Galari woman of the Wiradjuri nation and the Association’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Director. Sue has had an extensive history spanning 30 years in indigenous higher education across a number of roles such as student support, teaching and research. She also has sat on various committees, councils, boards, and networks including the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council and National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network. Sue’s research interests include welfare history, indigenising social work education and practice, cultural responsiveness and cultural support, colonial history, decolonisation, climate change and disaster mitigation. Her foremost interest is ensuring that Wiradjuri language and culture underpins her all aspects of her personal and professional life. Susan is Chair of the Association’s Reconciliation Action Plan Committee, a Member of the National Ethics Committee and a Member of the Constitution Review Committee.

Email: Prof. Susan Green

Muriel Wymarra

Muriel Wymarra


Muriel Wymarra is a Torres Strait Islander woman born and raised in Gimuy (Cairns, Queensland). Muriel has her own private practice and is an experienced counsellor, critical incident manager, develops and delivers training workshops, as well as Employee Assistance programs. As a practising social worker and active community member, Muriel has over twenty-five years of experience working in Federal government administration and not-for-profit organisations. Whilst at Services Australia (formerly the Department of Human Services, Centrelink), Muriel was the chairperson of the National Indigenous Social Work Group (NISWG), supporting the professional development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social workers. Muriel is also on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Board of Trinity Bay State High School, Cairns. Muriel is presently undertaking her PhD focusing her research on exploring the concept of professional helping in Torres Strait culture. Muriel is also a Jilbay Research Higher Degree Academy member in the Office of Indigenous Engagement at Central Queensland University. Muriel was appointed to the Board in January 2024.