(image via beyondblue)
Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is set to take up the reins of beyondblue after being tapped for the role by the organisation’s founder and current Chairperson Jeff Kennett.
In its latest announcement, the organisation said that Gillard would take over when Kennett stepped down on July 1.
Gillard will become the first former Prime Minister to lead a major not-for-profit organisation since Malcolm Fraser launched CARE Australia in 1987.
“I’m very pleased to announce that the Board today has unanimously supported Julia Gillard taking over from me on July the first this year,” Kennett said in a video published on beyondblue’s web site.
Gillard’s involvement with the mental health sector dates back to her childhood, where father worked as a psychiatric nurse.
On a number of occasions, she and her family would attend Christmas parties and ward parties with children who had conditions such as down syndrome (many of whom were institutionalised back then).
Kennett said Gillard brought a number of attributes to the role.
These included a strong dedication to the area of mental health, a commitment to ending discrimination against people with disability demonstrated through her initiative with the National Disability Insurance Scheme during her time as Prime Minister and her ability to assist the organisation in its ongoing effort to grow and expand its footprint and profile.
Gillard paid tribute to Kennett, and said she was please to accept the role.
“I’m absolutely delighted that Jeff and the Board have the confidence in me to take over as Chair of an organisation that has made such a difference in the lives of so many Australians, but there is only ever going to be one founder and without Jeff Kennett there would not be a beyondblue at all,” Gillard said.
Kennett, who founded the organisation back in 2000, said beyondblue had been instrumental in raising awareness about depression and anxiety.
Whilst he would miss the organisation, he believed it was time for a change.
“I’m ready and I think the organisation is ready,” he said.
“I’ll miss it, but I’ll miss it less knowing that in Julia’s hands the organisation will go from strength to strength.”