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NSW Carers Advisory Council

The Council provides advice to the NSW Government on legislation, policy and other matters relating to carers

NSW Carers Advisory Council - Biographies

On this page:

Ms Prudence Warrilow

Ms Warrilow had caring responsibilities for her elderly parent with dementia/frail age. She is currently the CEO of Families At Work, which works with organisations throughout Australia and New Zealand in the specialised area of work/life well-being strategies, working with employers to identify and implement suitable work arrangements for employees, including those with caring responsibilities.

Prudence does voluntary work focussing on the needs of families through her roles as Chair of Families Australia and National Convenor of Australian Community Children’s Services. Through this work Ms Warrilow has an excellent understanding of issues facing a broad range of carers, particularly regarding employment.

Ms Pam Webster

Ms Webster has had over 30 years’ experience caring for family members who have had a disability, frail age and chronic health conditions. Her first experience in caring was as a teenager caring for her sister who had severe chronic asthma.

Pam is now retired from paid work and took up a voluntary position as a board member of Carers NSW where she was a member of the research and policy committee and Vice-President. She also served on the board of Carers Australia as Vice President and then President.

In 2007 Pam was invited to become a member of the Australian Government’s National Disability and Carer Council where she served two terms until it was disbanded in 2014. In 2008 she was a founding member of the National Disability and Carers Alliance which was instrumental in the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Ms Catherine Bourke

Ms Bourke lives in Mudgee and cares for her ten year old daughter who has autism. She brings experience in dealing with rural issues affecting carers. She is passionate about advocacy and access to therapeutic and information services as well as flexibility around working arrangements for carers.

Ms Bourke works part-time as a Social Worker and has experience working with and supporting carers of all ages in a professional context, and of balancing the role of caring whilst maintaining a career. She facilitates a monthly education and support group for parents/carers of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Ms Bourke has recently completed research about autism diagnosis in rural communities and has presented the findings at national and international conferences.

Ms Dianne Brookes

Dianne Brookes is a Yorta Yorta woman who prides herself on her ability to assist communities to achieve positive outcomes through planning, caring and sharing.

Dianne has lived in the Nepean region for most of her life and started caring at a young age, for her mother who lives with a mental illness. This was great preparation for the birth of her first child living on the autism spectrum. Dianne has facilitated small groups in support of other carers so their voices could be heard.

Dianne has been invited to sit on the autism spectrum disorder diagnoses guideline project currently being researched nationally. As a carer she has supported members of her family to reach their full potential in many areas of diversity.

Dianne is currently employed by First People Disability Network the national peak organisation for First People living with Disability their carers across Australia.

Ms Mary-Jane Clark

Mary-Jane has over thirty years’ experience in social policy development and service reform, primarily in the NSW public sector. Her work has focused on improving services for people who need them most, particularly carers, people with a disability, the aged, those in need of social housing, victims of child abuse, and people with a mental illness.

Through the carers she has known in both her professional and personal life, Mary-Jane has developed enormous admiration for the extraordinary work undertaken by carers in our community, and an excellent understanding of the issues facing carers.

Mary-Jane's mum provided loving care for her six children, four of whom were born with cystic fibrosis, and her maternal grandparents cared for their son with a severe intellectual disability until they were too ill and frail to do so.

Mary-Jane looks forward to working with her colleagues on the Council and others to improve the well-being of carers and help bring them the recognition they so richly deserve.

Mr Philip Coller

Mr Coller is currently caring for his 24 year old son who has significant mental health issues. He was also the primary carer for his father after his stroke. He is the CEO of The Ella Centre located in Haberfield in Sydney, a service provider with a focus on people with disability, dementia, older people and carers.

Mr Coller has been involved in the non-government sector supporting carers (including older parent carers) for over 30 years. Mr Coller identifies as Aboriginal and is building ties with Aboriginal communities. He is passionate about ensuring that carers receive support and recognition. He established a voluntary carer support group for carers with a disability in the Inner West (Sydney).

Ms Rose Cox

Ms Cox is a young carer (17 years old) who, along with her younger sister, cares for her mother who was diagnosed over eight years ago with transverse myelitis, resulting in her becoming a C2-T11 incomplete quadriplegic.

Rose has also had experience caring for another family member who has mental illness and drug and alcohol dependencies. Her passion is awareness-raising, and giving hidden carers a voice. She believes the Council would benefit from an array of different voices and perspectives.

Young carers have a “current day” perspective that would complement those carers that have had to navigate the system for decades. Rose was a highly commended NSW Carers Award recipient in 2014. She is already an experienced spokesperson for young carers – with Carers NSW and Kookaburra Kids.

Rose is the first young ambassador for the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation. In membership of the Council, Rose will be supported by her family, her school and the Carers NSW Young Carer project staff.

Mrs Anne Funke

Anne is a working carer and provides full time care for her 20 year old intellectually disabled son, Mitchell, who has Angelman Syndrome – a rare genetic disorder.

Anne Funke works part time as a Social Worker and disability carer advocate in two NSW Local Health Districts.  Anne completed the “Supporting Staff who are Working Carers” project in 2014-2015 and is a passionate advocate for working carers.

Anne does voluntary work as a parent advocate for the Angelman Syndrome Association of Australia and is currently a national committee member and a past National President.  Anne has presented at and organised multiple workshops, seminars and conferences on Angelman Syndrome and carer specific issues to raise awareness. Anne was awarded the 2014 NSW Carer of the Year Award.

Ms Kirsty McIvor

Kirsty lives in Exeter in the Southern Highlands and is mother to Jack who is severely intellectually disabled. She is also mother to Tom and believes siblings often get overlooked both as carers and family members. Kirsty is a communication specialist and runs her own media consultancy.

Kirsty is passionate about giving carers a voice and using her experience as a journalist and communication adviser to help raise awareness of the role carers play in our community. She wants to give carers a 'seat at the table' when they speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Professor Michael Fine

Michael (PhD) is an Honorary Professor at Macquarie University. He resides on the Central Coast. and has over 40 years research and teaching experience in the fields of ageing, care, social policy and community development.

Michael’s current research concerns the sociology of care. It addresses theories of care; local, national and international developments in aged care; links between formal and informal support; emergent patterns of service delivery, including issues of funding, planning and consumer engagement; social change and care including migration, demography, individualisation and community.

Michael is columnist in the industry journal Aged Care Insite, Co-editor of the International Journal of Care and Caring (IJCC) and is a member of the NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on Ageing (MACA).

Ms Amanda Sharma

Amanda has been the sole carer to her mother who has mental health illness since the age of 13, when her father passed away. But she took on a caring role at a much younger age, helping her grandmother who suffered from chronic illnesses.

Amanda is very passionate about young carers and the unique challenges they face. She is determined to help other young carers navigate the sometimes complex systems and support services out there to help them. She has also volunteered with Carers NSW, One Door Mental Health and Green Gym.

Ms Anne Napoli

Anne is a leader in her Local Community, having spent more than 15 years as a Councillor and Deputy Mayor on Griffith City Council. Currently she has been elected as an Executive Member of the N.S.W. Australian Local Government Women’s Association.

Anne has been a Carer for over 40 years, for both her ageing parents and currently for her son who suffered brain damage following a reaction to a medication. She is a passionate advocate for Carers and for people with a disability at a local, State and Federal level.

Anne is a committee member of the NSW Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association and former Board Member. This has allowed her to gain invaluable knowledge and exposure to the everyday issues and challenges faced by other Carers of all backgrounds. She is a former employee of the Disability Advocacy Network, advocating for people with a disability their families and Carers.

Anne is passionate about lobbying for Carers rights and making sure that the hard work of Carers is recognised.

Gladyss Panoncillo

Gladyss cares for her 12 year old son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is very passionate about supporting carers and people in the community, focusing on those from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Gladyss, who is a registered nurse, received the NSW Carers Award in 2017.  She was also a finalist for Blacktown City Woman of the Year in 2017 for the International Women’s Day Celebration. In 2017, she was also awarded for the Volunteer Award presented by the Local MP, Ed Husic.

Gladyss is a volunteer facilitator of a network of carers of children with disabilities in Western Sydney. She established the Rooty Hill Multicultural Carer Support Group, a not-for-profit group that seeks to improve the emotional wellbeing of carers and empower women who care for children with a physical or intellectual disabilities.

Ms Jenny Tran

Jenny has been a carer from the age of 20 (since 2010) when her mother suffered a stroke that resulted in brain and physical impairments. She is familiar with the many hurdles faced by young carers who also study, work full time to provide financial support to their families and want to further their career. Jenny has experience working in the commercial finance sector, while juggling caring responsibilities. She wants to help make being a young carer a more recognised and acknowledged role in our society and to promote more flexible working environments.

Jenny comes from a Vietnamese and Chinese background, which has meant that her family has needed Vietnamese speaking support services, translation and advocacy to ensure that her mother’s needs are well represented. She wants to help raise awareness of the resources available to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) carers and help improve accessibility of multilingual resources.

Rachael Sowden

Rachael has four children who are Aboriginal, two who have autism and three who have mental health diagnoses. She is determined that all people in NSW regardless of postcode have access to supports required to live a full life with choice and voice.

Having lived the past 23 years in rural and remote locations across NSW, Rachael is familiar with the challenges of obtaining equitable access to services and supports outside of metropolitan locations.

Rachael has long held advocacy roles in education and mental health particularly in rural settings, and has a focus on young people and people with invisible disabilities.

Rachael has previously been the State media spokesperson for Parents & Citizens.

She has spoken at many educational conferences over the past few years and owns a bespoke parental engagement business offering teachers nationally accredited professional development.

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Last updated: 19 Feb 2020