NSW Carers Advisory Council - Biographies

Ms Prudence Warrilow, Chair

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. She 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, Deputy Chair

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. She 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 she 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.

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 Elizabeth Wall

Ms Wall is an Aboriginal carer from Tamworth caring for her three sons who each have a disability. She also has a background in social work. She was appointed by Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) as a Living Life My Way Ambassador. This role has given Ms Wall the opportunity to share her personal experience, interact with other carers and help to raise community awareness about disability reforms and what they may mean for carers. She is very knowledgeable about individualised funding packages, is passionate about ensuring carers have a place within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and is a strong advocate for her three sons.

Ms Maria Heaton

Ms Heaton from Sydney migrated to Australia in 1991 from India and works as a paediatric nurse in the NSW Public Health System. Even with her health background, navigating the health system and other services as a carer of two children with severe disabilities and multiple health problems was not easy. She is a strong advocate for families speaking about her family’s experience in various forms and in particular health. She is passionate about becoming a representative for all carers who have difficulties accessing and understanding information to assist them in their caring duties. Maria participated as a carer representative in the development of the Carers Strategy. She was NSW Carer of the Year in 2012, is the co-chair of the ACI Intellectual Disability Network, is a board member of the NSW Council for People with Intellectual Disability and is a member of the City of Botany Bay Access Committee.

Adjunct Professor Michael Fine

Michael Fine, who resides on the Central Coast, has over 30 years research and teaching experience in the fields of ageing, care, social policy and community development. Adj Prof Fine’s current research concerns the sociology of care. It addresses theories of care and international developments in care provision; the issue of migration, demography and care; links between formal and informal support; individualisation, social housing, isolation and social support; and emergent patterns of service delivery, including issues of funding, planning and consumer engagement. He is international co-editor of the International Journal of Care and Caring (IJCC) (the academic and professional journal) and is a member of the NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on Ageing (MACA).

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.

Mr Jonothan Bewick

Mr Bewick is a young carer (19 years old) who has personal experience caring for his older sister who has severe autism and various other intellectual and behavioural disabilities. He has had nearly five years experience in the disability sector, both as a volunteer and as a support worker. He is also a member of the NSW Youth Advisory Council. Jonothan was awarded the Black Opal Award, the highest award for volunteering in the NSW Premier’s Student Volunteering Challenge. He has been actively involved in several young carer initiatives both locally and state wide. Jonothan lives in Newcastle.

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. She 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.

Ms Mary-Jane Clark

Ms Clark 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. Her 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.

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. She 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 Rajni Chandran

Rajni migrated with her family 30 years ago from India.  Rajni is a working carer with the NSW public service and also provides care for her son Hem who has autism and is non verbal.  Rajni has a number of years of experience in the social services area in both the non governmental and governmental sector. With her extensive experience as a carer, Rajni set out to form a support group for families of South Asian background caring for a person with a developmental disability. She is the founding member and first president of Samarpan Inc. The organisation won the NSW carer’s award in 2013. Rajni is experienced in working cross culturally in mainstream organisations as well as having worked in multicultural services such as community advocacy services for migrant and refugee communities, and in agencies providing services to families such as family violence and multicultural counselling agencies. She is specifically interested in the issues faced by people of CALD background in accessing information and services relating to disability and caring as well as the NDIS. Her interests include understanding cultural constructs of disability specifically within her culture.