WCHM’s Board sets the strategic direction for the organisation and provides policy leadership, financial and legal oversight.

The Board Structure

The WCHM Board comprises ten elected members. At each Annual General Meeting five Board members are elected for two-year terms. Each elected Board member holds office from immediately after the Annual General Meeting at which they are elected until the second Annual General Meeting of WCHM after their election. No members of the Board may retain their position for more than three consecutive terms.

Board Role

Board members serve on a voluntary basis and do not receive remuneration. The Board is required to meet at least six times in each calendar year, but generally meets more often to conduct the business of WCHM. It is responsible for:

  • Setting the policies and strategic directions for the organisation
  • Approving and monitoring the annual budget, and establishing the overall financial delegations
  • Monitoring overall organisational performance
  • Ensuring the organisation meets its regulatory and statutory requirements

Board Committees

The Board sets up committees where necessary to conduct various aspects of organisational operation and management. There are currently three standing Sub-Committees:

  • The Governance Sub-Committee
  • The Finance Sub-Committee
  • The Stakeholder Engagement Sub-Committee.

Board Performance

Board performance is assessed on an annual basis through a Survey of Board members about the Board’s effectiveness.

Board Training

New Board members receive an induction and a comprehensive series of fact sheets, and also access to a Board members secure page on the WCHM website to access all the main WCHM documents.

Current Members

Farzana Choudhury —Chair

Farzana is the Program Manager and Solicitor of Street Law, a program of Canberra Community Law (CCL) that provides free legal assistance to people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. She has previous government legal experience, including at the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science where she provided in-house legal advice on a range of commercial and administrative law matters, and at the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department where she contributed to policy and legislative reform relating to a national domestic violence orders scheme.  Farzana has been the Co-Convenor of the National Association of Community Legal Centres Human Rights Network since 2016, and is a member of the ACT Law Society’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.    She was admitted to legal practice in 2013 and holds a Bachelor of Laws/Arts and a Master of Laws.

She is passionate about women’s human rights issues, including the right to health and reproductive rights, and has a particular interest in addressing violence against women and homelessness. She has a keen interest in supporting women’s organisations, and previously held various Board positions, including Chair of a small not for profit organisation in the women’s sector.

Farzana has been a WCHM Board member since January 2017, and WCHM Board Chair since October 2018.  As a Board member, Farzana has thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to support and contribute to WCHM’s activities, and offer her perspectives as a young woman from a culturally and linguistically diverse background.  She has been able to draw on her governance and legal background as well as her passion for supporting the community sector in this role, and hopes to continue doing so.

Renee Dockrill —Deputy Chair

Renee was born and grew up in Canberra, and after several years travelling and living in Sydney, has returned to Canberra where she is raising her young family with her husband. She has spent over 15 years working at a big 4 accountancy / consulting firm, and during this time gained a range of valuable skills that she would like to put towards the benefit of the broader community, and in particular women within the ACT.  During this time she worked with a range of not-for-profit organisations which has given her an appreciation of the important contribution that the not-for-profit sector makes, and the importance of sound governance, controls and Board arrangements. She values the opportunity to contribute to the Women’s Centre for Health Matters as improving the situation for women is of great importance to her in particular making a difference to maternal health care, and also the increasing prevalence of domestic violence and mental health are of great concern to her. She has a Bachelor Science (Psychology); Bachelor Commerce (Accounting and Management); and Masters of Commerce (Organisation and Management) .

Jo Schumann – Treasurer

Jo is a recently retired public servant who has worked in Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology, Communications, and Legal for over thirty years. Her role has included managing the Finance areas for four agencies. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has undertaken their general course plus their governance course for not for profit agencies. Jo has been involved in a community based board before for Toora Women’s Shelter. She was a member of their Board for three years and Chair for one year. Jo was also involved in the group that was responsible for successfully lobbying for Canberra’s first birth centre. Jo has always been passionate about women’s issues and in her last three agencies was the executive responsible for gender issues.

Adj Prof Gaylene Coulton – Member

As former Chief Executive of Capital Health Network (ACT PHN) until January 2020, Gaylene led the regional primary healthcare organisation whose role is to advance the way health care is delivered to Canberra. Her career has always been focused on developing better health outcomes for our community, from early days as a community palliative care nurse, through workforce education then management of community, aged care and social care services. Over the last 11 years Gaylene led regional primary healthcare organisations in Qld, Victoria and the ACT where her focus was on better integration of and access to primary care services through a social determinants of health lens.  Over the last 4 years this work has focussed particularly around mental health, AOD, chronic disease management, family and domestic violence, aged care and preventative health.

Gaylene is an Adjunct Professor with the University of Canberra, has held national and state board positions and is an experienced Company Secretary. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. The skills and experience Gaylene brings to WCHM include governance, leadership and executive management (including financial and business development), knowledge of the health system, strategic planning, commissioning and stakeholder engagement.

Melissa Hobbs – Member

Melissa is passionate about women’s health and wellbeing. She has worked in the health sector for over twenty years and has undertaken research in women’s health, most notably her PhD study, where she undertook a national survey of women in relation to unintended pregnancy and their knowledge, attitudes and experiences regarding emergency contraception. Melissa has also obtained a Master of Public Health, having undertaken a research project on cervical cancer screening in general practice. The aim of this research was to enhance the skills and communication practices of general practitioners in relation to cervical cancer screening.

In various roles, Melissa has engaged extensively with community organisations, consumers and government in the ACT with the aim of understanding the health and social care needs of the ACT population, particularly the most vulnerable populations. Domestic and family violence has been a highlighted issue as has homelessness and other social determinants of health impacting on women’s health.

Over the past two years, Melissa has been a Council member at the community-based not for profit organisation, Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT (SHFPACT), and has been a WCHM Board Director since October 2018. Melissa has thoroughly enjoyed her experience on the Board and would love to continue on the WCHM Board to assist in the oversight and management of such a valuable organisation which helps to improve the health and wellbeing of women in the ACT.

Sheena Ireland – Member

Sheena is a communication specialist with more than a decade of strategic communications experience, spanning the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She runs a communications strategy agency in Canberra which currently services the Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney regions.

Prior to running her own business, she performed in senior positions in the Federal Public Service, including the Australian Research Council, CSIRO, and Immigration and Communications departments; the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the peak industry organisation representing the manufacturers and importers of cars and motorcycles in Australia; and in a Federal Government Cabinet Minister’s office.

Throughout her career she has led and supported community engagement, media engagement and fundraising efforts to support community organisations.

She is  a passionate advocate for increasing equal opportunities and support for women, is a trained volunteer telephone crisis supporter with Lifeline, and has a passion for mental health support and prevention.

Romy Listo – Member

Romy is a feminist, a researcher and a women’s rights and gender equality advocate. She is currently Project Coordinator for the Equality Rights Alliance. Her background is in community and international development and gender studies, and she has more than six years of experience working in and with women’s organisations and women’s health, both domestically and internationally, but predominantly as a sexuality educator in a sexual and reproductive health service in Queensland. Romy is particularly passionate about intersectionality and inclusion, and advocating for young women’s voices, and has worked on a range of projects including support for migrant and refugee people’s sexual health, and LGBTIQ+ inclusive sexuality education. She has previously been a member of the Young Women’s Advisory Group (YWAG) to ERA, and contributed to the development of the 2019 ‘Let’s Talk’ survey on young women and non-binary young people’s views on sex ed. Romy is currently finishing her PhD in the fields of sociology and gender studies at the University of Queensland. She brings a diverse set of skills and lens to the table as a researcher, advocate, community practitioner and young person.

Jolene Reece – Member

Jolene is the director of the procurement and Contract Management Team at IP Australia, a Commonwealth Government agency responsible for the administration of intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks, designs and plant breeder’s right in Australia. She is a qualified legal practitioner and has over 10 years post-administration experience, having worked in various in-house government legal teams. In her current position, she delivers procurement and legal advice to IP Australia’s Executive and staff in order to provide assurance that the way the agency has acted, or proposes to act, is legally defensible and that risks are appropriately managed. She is required to apply legislation, policy, procedures and guidelines to situations involving a high level of complexity and sensitivity and regularly advise on the interpretation of Commonwealth statutes and legislative instruments – including the Privacy ACT 1988 (Cth). She is also responsible for improving procurement capability and compliance within the agency. Jolene is interested in women’s issues and empowering women. She has a particular interest in reproductive rights, mental health, law reform, health promotion and improving health outcomes for women more broadly. In recent years she has also had firsthand experience accessing a range of women’s health services in the region. She is passionate about empowering women by building capability and currently supports women through her involvement in committees/volunteer programs.

Mirjana Wilson – Member

Mirjana is the Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) which is a Community Sector organisation that provides 24/7 direct crisis intervention and case management supports to the ACT Community.   Mirjana has a long term personal and professional commitment to social justice and inclusion within a feminist framework.  She has worked in the both the government and community sectors  for 30 years including over 15 years at DVCS and has a high level of understanding around the complex issues associated with domestic violence and its impact on those who experience it.  She provides leadership to the many programs within the organisation. Prior to coming to DVCS, Mirjana worked in a number of educational settings, designing and implementing programs for children, young people and adults. Mirjana holds Bachelor and Post Graduate qualifications in Education and Counselling and a Masters in Business Administration. Mirjana comes from a proud Croatian heritage with her parents migrating to Australia in the 1960s. She is bilingual and continues to be an active member within the Croatian community volunteering within the aged care facility and various women’s groups.

Vale Jackie Fairweather

WCHM remembers elite triathlete and marathon runner, Jackie Fairweather.

Jackie was also a Board Member for WCHM from 2010 to 2013, and made a very strong contribution to the Board and the Centre, with her knowledgeable and insightful contributions, and her skills in relation to governance, finance and human resource matters. She participated actively in all Board and Sub-Committee meetings and we valued highly her contributions in our strategic planning sessions. The Board recalls that one year, after participating in an all-day strategic planning discussion, she left late to accompany her husband that evening in a 100 km overnight track run.

We remember and miss her.