CMHA Board

Independent– Cathy O’Toole CMHA Chair                         

Cathy has four decades of experience leading people, managing organisations and projects, many as a Chief Executive Officer.
She has a Masters in Metaphysical Science, a Bachelor of Education, and a Diploma of Teaching TAFE, as well as Diplomas in Community Welfare, Frontline Management, Training and Assessment, and Business Management. She is currently a Board Member: Carers Australia, Community Mental Health Australia, Qld Alliance for Mental Health, President: Glasser Australia, Townsville Multicultural Support Group (TMSG), and Committee Member: Centre for Brain Research in the Tropics Board Member and Connecting End of Life Care Palliative Care Qld.

As the former Federal Member for Herbert,  (2016 -2019) Cathy’s work involved navigating social and economic policy, driving strategic direction, and serving on various committees. Cathy has extensive experience relating to the challenges that face people living with mental ill health both in her private life and professional work as a leader.

Western Australia – Kerry Hawkins, CMHA Deputy Chair

Kerry has been a carer representative on the WA Association for Mental Health (WAAMH) board for four years and was appointed President of WAAMH in November 2016. Kerry has previously worked as a senior program manager for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Mental Health Commission, and as a Carer Consultant for North Metro Adult Health Service. Her other board appointments include vice president of Helping Minds and WA director for Emerging Minds. A graduate of Boston University’s Global Leadership Institute’s Recovery Class of 2013, Kerry is also able to draw on her lived experience as a family member.

ACT – Yvonne Luxford

Queensland – Melanie Sennett  


NSW – Judi Higgin

Judi is currently interim Chief Executive Officer at Breakthru and Chair of the NSW Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) and also sits on a several for-purpose boards. Judi has worked in the not-for-profit and mental health sectors for more than 30 years. During her career she has worked in a variety of executive positions, including for many years as Chief Executive Officer of New Horizons Ltd. Judi holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from Charles Sturt University and an Executive Masters Business Administration (EMBA) from the University of Technology Sydney.


Northern Territory – Anne Gawen-GAICD

Anne is the Chief Executive Officer of TeamHEALTH. Anne commenced in September 2019, returning to the Territory (where she was born) after an extended period working in NSW and SA. Anne is an established CEO and Board Director and has completed her MBA with over 26 years’ experience in the Non-Government sector and a strong background in both grassroots service delivery, strategic business development, financial performance and human resources management. Anne has worked extensively in the Community Services Sector, including children services, family carers, disability, ageing and mental health services across South Australia. Anne is a passionate leader within the community sector and places great value on relationships to deliver outcomes and furthering standards of excellence.


South Australia – Denise Cumming

Denise has over 20 years’ experience working within the mental health and complex needs sector in non-government, government and private services, both in the UK and Australia. This experience, supported by her qualifications in social work and leadership, human rights and social justice continue to serve as the primary motivation and her continued commitment to the mental health and human services sector.

Denise has held leadership roles in both government and non-government sectors and has a strong reputation for the delivery of high quality, safe, integrated, holistic health and social care services.

Denise truly values services that are underpinned by strong clinical governance, delivered in integrated partnerships, and that are strongly evidenced based and outcome focused. Denise is passionate about delivering contemporary services that are person centred, human rights focused, and underpinned by recovery and strengths based practice.

Denise is driven by her belief in working with clients across a range of support needs to ensure our services meet their aspirational wishes, goals and needs, to enhance quality of life and health and wellbeing. 


Tasmania – John Kirwan

John has over 40 years’ experience in the Health and Community services sector. In 2022 John retired as the inaugural the CEO of Royal Flying Doctors Service Tasmania, that included the development of new state wide adult and youth mental health services. John has been CEO of the Launceston General Hospital and Northern Area Health Service. John has worked as full time Union official in WA, and for the WA and NT Governments. Having been born in Kalgoorlie, and having worked in the NW of WA, NT and northern Tasmania, John has a deep commitment to our rural and remote communities.

John is the current Chair of the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, and is a board member of Migrant Resource Centre North and of the Victorian/Tasmania branch of the Australasian College of Health Service Management.


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