Our Board

MHCC’s constitution allows for  7 – 11 Directors, comprising of 7-9 Elected Directors and up to 2 Appointed Directors. Elected Directors on the Board are representatives of member organisations who are elected by the membership for a term of three years. Directors are able to renominate at the end of their term to a maximum of three successive terms. The Board meets a minimum of six times a year.

Current Board members (and the name of their organisation) are:

Judi Higgin
Chair & Chief Executive Officer New Horizons

Judi has been actively employed in the community services sector for over 30 years. Judi commenced with New Horizons Enterprises in 1999 and in 2010 was appointed as CEO. Judi’s enthusiasm and passion for the Not for Profit sector has seen her play a key role in the ongoing growth and development of New Horizons, helping the organisation forge its place as a trusted and respected community service provider.

Judi is committed to the principles of recovery, empowering individuals to achieve their potential by exercising their rights to choice and control over their own lives. She sees the biggest challenge facing the sector is achieving a balance between the changing nature of government funding and the importance of strategic partnerships and sustainability – for both the sector and individual organisations.

Judi has an Executive Masters in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Social Science (Habilitation). Judi also has Post Graduate studies in Leadership and Management.

She has strong skills, capabilities and experience in governance, strategy, finance and risk management as well as comprehensive board experience given her tenure as a Director of MHCC and Ostara Australia.

Cam Pham – B.Com, MBA, FCPA, JP

Cam has been the Finance Manager of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney since 2003 and has over 30 years’ finance experience in the government and higher education sectors. She is skillful in financial strategies and has always been at the forefront of driving the ongoing change and reform to strengthen the effectiveness of financial management and to improve efficiency.

She has held various senior management roles in leading highly complex financial management portfolios with increasing service demands and policy arrangements including acting Associate Director Finance of Faculty of Arts and Head of Finance and Administration – International Students at the University of Sydney.

Cam has genuine interest in mental health, homelessness and women’s well-being and was previously the Treasurer of B Miles Women Foundation. She enjoys jogging, listening to music, cooking and reading in her spare time.

Luke Butcher
Area Manager, Western NSW and Special Projects
Mission Australia

Luke has spent the past 12 years working with Mission Australia in Western NSW as an Area Manager, managing a range of mental health recovery programs in rural and remote communities. Luke has lived in Orange, Broken Hill & Dubbo during this time and has an acute understanding of rural health and wellbeing. Luke’s passion is understanding how evidence based practice is utilised to inform service design in the community managed sector. has undergraduate qualifications in psychology and post graduate training in clinical supervision and he also Masters’ degree in Forensic Mental Health and is a current PhD Candidate at James Cook University.

Luke’s passion is understanding how evidence based practice is utilised to inform service design and delivery in the community managed sector. Luke is also a member of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation Mental Health Network Executive and a member of the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation NDIS Clinical Advisory group.

Luke is an innovative and strategic thinker and has a strong demonstrated track record in business development and opportunity assessment, clinical and corporate governance. Luke believes that the the MHCC can take on a key role in advising government and services of the best way forward in a new funding landscape to ensure excellence in service delivery and seamless and integrated responses for the people and families who access services.

Jonathan Harms
Chief Executive Officer
Mental Health Carers ARAFMI NSW

Jonathan has a Bachelors of Arts and Laws from the University of Western Australia, and subsequently worked as a plaintiff lawyer, as well as a public servant, policy advisor and stakeholder manager for a variety of State and Federal Ministers, (Attorney General, WA and Human Services, Commonwealth), government departments (Ministry of Health), private corporations (Insurance Australia Group) and non-government organisations, including Mental Health Carers ARAFMI NSW.

In the course of his career he has gained significant experience in the development of policy, including regulatory schemes, such as the creation of the Life Time Care and Support Scheme for the NSW CTP and workers compensation schemes; and the Health Practitioners Regulatory Authority created to set up nationally applicable medical practitioner registrations.

After becoming CEO of Arafmi, which is the peak body for carers of people with lived experience of mental illness in NSW, he initiated a number of changes, including the creation of Carer Peak Advisory Committee(s) to enhance stakeholder participation in Arafmi policy development; and the Carer Support Worker Forum, meeting annually and with a weekly e-newsletter, to enhance networks for carer support workers and carers across NSW for consultation and advocacy purposes.

Arafmi is now also a key partner in the Collective Purpose collaboration with Being and Way Ahead, Jonathan has a wide range of relevant experience in community organisation management to offer the MHCC Board.

Mariam Faraj
General Manager of Clinical Services
Central and Eastern Sydney PHN

Mariam is currently employed at CESPHN as the General Manager of Clinical Services and previously held the position of Director Health Services at South Eastern Sydney Medicare Local. Mariam has a Bachelor Degree in Social Science and Policy (Economic), Graduate Diploma in Education and Diploma in Leadership and Management. She is also currently completing the AICD Company Directors course. Mariam has over 20 years’ experience in community, primary and mental health care. Her work has included strategic planning, leadership, financial, governance and management of numerous services and programs in primary health care, the community sector, mental health, suicide prevention, chronic disease, after hours, Aboriginal health and alcohol and other drugs.

Mariam is currently the Chair of the NSW/ACT PHNs Primary Mental Health Network and have previous held positions on the  Boards of the St George Youth Services and Al Zahra Muslim Women’s Association. Mariam’s strategic leadership, ability to engage a broad range of stakeholders, comprehensive understanding of health and deep caring nature has enabled her to champion innovative models of care that improve the patient journey and health outcomes of our community.

Claire Vernon
Chief Executive Officer

Claire began as Chief Executive Officer at JewishCare at the end of January 2007. Claire came to the non government sector after many years in senior executive roles in NSW Government Departments.

Claire started her career as a social worker in the 1970s and worked for ten years as a caseworker. She then moved into NSW Health to run state-wide programs and quality reviews and develop policy in diverse areas such as women’s health, funding reform, violence against women and helping victims of crime. Claire moved to the Attorney General’s Department to head up a crime prevention program and was then Director of Victims Services for five years. During her time the Approved Counselling Scheme which provided counselling to victims of crime increased significantly and granted approvals within 48 hours.

Claire is passionate about Mental Health and wellbeing and the program at JewishCare has grown significantly during her time as CEO. The program is funded by the Jewish community and supports hundreds of people living with a mental illness and their families and carers.

Margaret Bowen
Chief Executive Officer
The Disability Trust

Margaret commenced working for The Disability Trust 30 years ago with a passion for social justice and desire to make the world a little fairer and those are the values that continue to motivate her today. In 1987 as ‘Coordinator’ of The Trust she oversaw a small advocacy association with 4 staff. Today The Trust employs over 1,300 people supporting over 3,000 participants from Southern Sydney to the Victorian border and the ACT. Our growth has allowed us to work with our customers to achieve high quality individual outcomes whilst retaining our mission, based on the pursuit of human rights and positive social change.
Margaret believes in encouraging cultures that support innovation and inclusion by facilitating opportunities for those with lived experience, to shape both the landscape of service provision and alter the fabric of our communities. As leaders we need to continually reinvent ourselves individually and think creatively about new opportunities and ways to respond to new challenges.

To overcome complexities resulting from the continual roll out of the NDIS, organisations need support to redesign business models and build systems that respond to challenges and create opportunities for our client groups. We must now strive for “next practice” of systems and processes that respond to an evolving service system allowing flexibility within a contemporary policy framework.

Margaret believes she has something to offer MHCC that could assist member organisations to navigate the dramatic changes in the social sector. She understands the detail of business redesign and also the importance of a united sectoral voice in responding to some of the more challenging elements of social policy. She is committed to sectoral collaboration and partnership as a means to insist that all the current changes do not leave behind those using our services and ensure that the promise in contemporary social policy of increased choice and control is realised.

Irene Gallagher
Chief Executive Officer
Being – Mental Health & Wellbeing Consumer Advisory Group

Irene Gallagher has played an active role in the mental health sector for more than 20 years. She is passionate about using her voice as a consumer and supporting others on their recovery journey to find hope and lead purposeful and meaningful lives. Irene is a qualified psychotherapist and certified mindfulness practitioner.

She has worked as a program manager and counsellor in both government and non-government mental health services and private practice. As Peer Workforce Manager, Irene led substantial growth in the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District’s peer workforce. She also used her experience in education to set up the South Eastern Sydney Recovery College.

Irene is the founder of Peer Work Matters, a consumer-led organisation focusing on developing and expanding the peer workforce in NSW. She holds a number of advocacy positions at a local, state and national level in both board and committee capacities.

Mark Orr
Chief Executive Officer
Flourish Australia

Mark is the Chief Executive of Flourish Australia, a leading Community Managed Organisation providing community based support and employment for people living with a mental health issue in NSW and South-East Queensland, with a growing service footprint in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. He is a registered psychologist with postgraduate qualifications in health service management, health informatics, corporate governance and special education. Until 2017 Mark was Flourish Australia’s Chief Information Officer, with responsibility for organisational planning, data governance, evaluation and research, information technology, workforce development and professional practice, including the Back on Track Health physical health program.

Mark is an experienced board member, with a strong commitment to good governance and capacity building in Community Managed Organisations. He is the immediate past president of the board of ACON Health Ltd (ACON), Australia’s largest LGBTI Health and HIV Prevention organisation, and is currently Vice President on the board of the Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations, the national federation for the HIV community response.

Mark has a specific interest in service redesign, innovation and evaluation, and, in particular, the use of technology to deliver information and supports to people with lived experience, their families and carers. He is currently undertaking a Doctorate in Public Health in that area at the University of New South Wales.