Former PM Julia Gillard has been named the new Chair of beyondblue, taking over from Jeff Kennett at the end of June
Ms Gillard was elected unanimously for the role by the beyondblue Board of Directors.
She is the first former Prime Minister to run a not-for-profit organisation since Malcolm Fraser launched CARE Australia in 1987, says beyondblue.
Jeff Kennett, who was the premier of Victoria from 1992 to 1999, founded beyondblue in 2000 with a goal to raise awareness of depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
“beyondblue is part of my DNA,” Mr Kennett said in an announcement about his intention to step down. “Outside my family, it has been my most important role.
“I’ll miss it, but I’ll miss it less knowing that in Julia’s hands the organisation will go from strength to strength.
“Julia Gillard’s influence as a former leader of this country, her warmth and her commitment to the cause make her the ideal person to lead beyondblue when I step down on July 1.
“In her we have found a person who is emotionally committed to the cause and has the ability to cut through the clutter and drive change for the wellbeing of all Australians.”
Ms Gillard said she has an understanding of mental health issues through her family.
“My father was a psychiatric nurse so I grew up with an awareness of and commitment to mental health causes,” she said.
“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.”
Mr Kennett said Ms Gillard’s appointment reinforces beyondblue’s fierce bipartisanship.
“beyondblue’s work is motivated by something bigger than politics; it’s about a bipartisan commitment to enhancing the welfare of others and that is an extraordinarily powerful force,” he said.
“Nobody owns beyondblue. It is owned by the community, in particular those living with mental health conditions, their families, friends and colleagues.”