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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 graduated in social work from UNSW in 1983 and holds a 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, within the government, university and non-profit sectors. Marie-Claire is currently Clinical Director for 1800RESPECT, the national 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 with the AASW as Chair of the 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. Marie-Claire has been a director of the AASW Board since November 2016. Email Marie-Claire Cheron-Sauer

Christine Craik

Christine has over 25 years’ experience as a social worker in family support, housing, community health and hospitals where she has focused on the areas of 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. 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

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers