The CEO of Gurriny Yealamucka Aboriginal community-controlled health service has won the 2015 McCarthy Mentoring Not for Profit Executive Scholarship which seeks to support and inspire a leader in the sector and help them achieve their goals.

Suzanne Connolly-Andrews has led Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services in Yarrabah, Northern Queensland since 2012 following the transition from government to community-controlled management of the service.

With 70 staff, the majority of which are local Yarrabah residents, Connolly-Andrews oversees the provision of Primary Health Care and Wellbeing services including women and men’s health, child and maternal health, social emotional and wellbeing, home medication review and chronic disease management. The key focus is preventative health care and early intervention.

Within the past year the service has seen significant improvements in the health of the community such as 87% immunisation rate and has succeeded in meeting and exceeding national health targets as it embeds the new model.

“It has been an exciting yet challenging time so it’s wonderful to have been given this mentoring opportunity. It will be invaluable to have an advisor, outside of my community, to offer new perspectives and help me reflect and build on my leadership skills.”

McCarthy Mentoring’s Executive Director, Sophie McCarthy said that they were delighted to offer this scholarship to Ms Connolly-Andrews.

“Sue is a passionate, talented leader who is keen to gain insights from someone who has extensive executive experience and can act as a sounding board to test ideas, guide through challenges and build further confidence in her role,” said Sophie McCarthy.

“We see the difference mentoring can make in the corporate and government sector – both personally and for the organisations – so we wanted to extend these benefits to a leader facing tough challenges and high demands in the NFP sector.”

Ms Connolly-Andrews’ mentor, Marg O’Donnell AO, will draw on her experience as an executive, board director and advisor to the State and Federal Government to support Ms Connolly-Andrews in her role as a CEO and offer insights into leadership and board dynamics in a confidential, independent forum.

Marg O’Donnell AO is currently Chair of Breast Cancer Network of Australia and the Visiting Committee, Griffith University Law School. She has been the Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Division in the QLD Department of Justice and Attorney General and the Director-General of three QLD Government Departments including Aboriginal Affairs and the Office for Women.

McCarthy Mentoring received the highest number of applicants since launching the scholarship three years ago. The applications were from small to large social services, disability services, media, health, youth affairs and education organisations and demonstrated the high calibre of leadership in this sector.

“Yet, the executive face significant challenges and stress in creating sustainable funding models and responding to increasing stakeholder demand with limited resources while seeking to improve their own leadership and board management skills,” said Sophie McCarthy.

2013 scholarship winner, Karen Bevan received the scholarship for her work in advocacy for disadvantaged children and families at UnitingCare. Since then she has lead the submissions team on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has become the CEO of Playgroups NSW and is the Vice President and a Non Executive Director of the NSW Council of Social Service.

2014 scholarship winner, Brett Macdonald is the Co-Founder and Executive Director for national charity, Dry July Foundation and a Director at Clear Heads International. Brett has been instrumental in Dry July’s year-on-year success and growth. It has collectively raised more than $15 million, helping support 37 cancer services across Australia and NZ.

Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services – www.gyhsac.org.au


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