Member biographies

Find out about the backgrounds and personal experiences of the NSW Carers Advisory Council's members.

Prudence Warrilow (Chair)

Prue is currently the CEO of Families At Work, a consulting firm that partners with organisations throughout Australia and New Zealand in the specialised area of work / life well-being strategies. Prue works with employers to identify and implement suitable workplace flexibility and employee benefit arrangements for employees, including those with caring responsibilities. Previously Prue had caring responsibilities for her elderly parents both of whom were frail, and her mother had dementia.

Prue does voluntary work focusing on the needs of families through her roles as Chair of YNSW, board member of Y Safeguarding and Y Services, and National Convenor of Australian Community Children’s Services. Through this work Prue has an extensive understanding of the complexities of caring and the issues facing a broad range of carers, particularly regarding employment, young carers, and kinship carers.

Pam Webster (Deputy Chair)

Ms Webster has had many years of experience caring for family members and neighbours who have had a disability, frail age and chronic health conditions. Her first experience in caring was as a teenager caring for her sister who had severe chronic asthma. On retiring from paid work Pam took up a voluntary position as a Board member of Carers NSW where she was a member of the research and policy committee and Vice-President. She also served on the Board of Carers Australia as Vice President and then President.

In 2007 Pam was invited to become a member of the Australian Government’s National Disability and Carer Council where she served two terms until it was disbanded in 2014. In 2008 she was a founding member of the National Disability and Carers Alliance which was instrumental in the development of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

She was appointed to the NSW Carers Advisory Council in January 2015 and has served as Deputy Chair since January 2018.

Dianne Brookes

Dianne Brookes is a Yorta Yorta woman who prides herself on her ability to assist communities to achieve positive outcomes through planning, education, and advocating.

She has lived in the Nepean region for most of her life and started caring at a young age, for her mother who lives with a psychosocial disability. This was great preparation for the birth of her first child living with autism.

Dianne has facilitated small groups in support of other carers so their voices could be heard. She has been invited to participate in various tables to support sharing of information through research. As a carer she has supported members of her family to reach their full potential in many areas of diversity.

Mary-Jane Clark

Mary-Jane has over thirty years’ experience in social policy development and service reform, primarily in the NSW public sector. Her work has focused on improving services for people who need them most, particularly carers, people with a disability, the aged, those in need of social housing, victims of child abuse, and people living with mental health issues.

Through the carers she has known in both her professional and personal life, Mary-Jane has developed enormous admiration for the extraordinary work undertaken by carers in our community, and an excellent understanding of the issues facing carers. Mary-Jane's mum provided loving care for her six children, four of whom were born with cystic fibrosis, and her maternal grandparents cared for their son with a severe intellectual disability until they were too ill and frail to do so.

Mary-Jane is committed to continuing to work with her Council colleagues and others, to improve carers’ wellbeing and access to support, whilst helping to bring them the recognition they so richly deserve.

Phillip Coller

Mr Coller is currently caring for his 30 year old son who has mental health issues. He was also the primary carer for his father after his stroke. He has set up and managed a range of Carer services during his career with his latest role as the CEO of The Ella Centre located in Haberfield in Sydney, a service provider with a focus on people with disability, dementia, older people and carers.

Mr Coller has been involved in the non-government sector supporting carers (including older parent carers) for over 35 years. Mr Coller identifies as Aboriginal as his mother was a member of the stolen generation. He is passionate about ensuring that carers receive support and recognition. He established a voluntary carer support group for carers with a disability in the Inner West (Sydney).

Rose Cox

Ms Cox is a young carer (22 years old) and has been a young carer since she was 8 years old. Alongside her younger sister, Rose provides care for her mother who is diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis resulting in her becoming a C2-T11 incomplete quadriplegic and is therefore wheelchair dependent.

Growing up, Rose also has an insightful understanding of mental illness and addiction as she had previously provided care for another family member who suffered from anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol dependencies.

Throughout her life Rose has also battled with her own mental health. She understands first hand both the complexities and joy of caring for someone. As a young person Rose believes that the Council will benefit from her perspective as she aims to represent young carers across NSW but also give those who are unable to speak up a voice. Rose has a particular passion for women, education and health particularly in areas such as mental health. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Health Science at University.

Rose was the first Young Ambassador of the Australian Kookaburra Kids Foundation and was a highly commended NSW Carers Award recipient in 2014. She is an advocate and avid spokesperson for Young People particularly, Young Carers. When she is not studying or caring Rose is the Director of a Charity, a VET Ambassador and works closely with the community on issues she is passionate about.

Michael Fine

Michael Fine (PhD) is an Honorary Professor at Macquarie University and has over 40 years research and teaching experience in the fields of ageing, care, social policy and community development.

Michael’s current research addresses local, national and international developments in aged care; links between formal and informal support; the experience of informal carers; changing approaches to service delivery, including issues of funding, planning and consumer engagement; social change and care including migration, demography, individualisation and community.

Michael is bi-monthly columnist in the industry journal Aged Care Insite, Co-editor of the International Journal of Care and Caring (IJCC). He has been a member of the Carers Advisory Council since 2015 and a member of the NSW Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing (MACA) from 2014 to 2021.

Anne Funke

Anne Funke is a working carer and provides care for her 25 year old intellectually disabled son, Mitchell, who has Angelman Syndrome – a rare genetic disorder. Anne currently works as a Disability Pathway Navigator and disability advocate in a NSW Local Health District. Anne completed the “Supporting Staff who are Working Carers” project in 2014-2015 and is a passionate advocate for working carers.

Anne does voluntary work as a parent advocate for the Angelman Syndrome Association of Australia and was a committee member for 20 years, previously holding positions of National President, and NSW Vice President. Anne has presented at and organised multiple workshops, seminars and conferences on Angelman Syndrome and carer specific issues to raise awareness.

Anne is a community representative on a School Council Committee for a local school for specific purposes (SSP) in the Bankstown area. Anne was awarded the 2014 NSW Carer of the Year Award.

Amanda Sharma

Amanda has been the sole carer to her mother who has mental health illness since the age of 13, when her father passed away. But she took on a caring role at a much younger age 8, helping her grandmother who suffered from chronic illnesses. She had to sacrifice many things to care for her mother while completing her university studies and struggling to maintain paid employment. Amanda has understood barriers to clients accessing services and researched appropriate strategies and suitable providers within the Community Services sector to refer people to.

Amanda is an advocate, mentor and a role model for young carers. As a Community Services Worker, she believes that it is important to make a difference in people’s lives and that training can change any person’s life. Amanda is encouraging to those she works with, is an accomplished communicator and has a strong commitment to the principles of social justice.

She is very passionate about young carers and the unique challenges they face. Amanda is determined to help other young carers navigate the sometimes complex systems and support services out there to help them. She sits on the Quality & Control Committee and Carer Reference Group with One Door Mental Health. She is a Carer Representative for Carers NSW and is also on the Mental Health Consumer, Carer and Community Committee for NSW Health. Amanda is involved in local area carer support groups as well as volunteered previously for Green Gym.

Anne Napoli

Anne is a leader in her Local Community, having spent more than 18 years as a Councillor and Deputy Mayor on Griffith City Council. Currently she has been elected as an Executive Member of the N.S.W. Australian Local Government Women’s Association.

Anne has been a Carer for over 46 years, for both her ageing parents and currently for her son who suffered brain damage following a reaction to a medication. She is a passionate advocate for Carers and for people with a disability at a local, State and Federal level.

Anne is a committee member of the NSW Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association and former Board Member. This has allowed her to gain invaluable knowledge and exposure to the everyday issues and challenges faced by other Carers of all backgrounds. She is a former employee of the Disability Advocacy Network, advocating for people with a disability their families and Carers.

Anne is passionate about lobbying for Carers' rights and making sure that the hard work of Carers is recognised.

Gladyss Panoncillo

Gladyss cares for her 12 year old son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is very passionate about supporting carers and people in the community, focusing on those from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Gladyss, who is a registered nurse, received the NSW Carers Award in 2017.  She was also a finalist for Blacktown City Woman of the Year in 2017 for the International Women’s Day Celebration. In 2017, she was also awarded for the Volunteer Award presented by the Local MP, Ed Husic.

Gladyss is a volunteer facilitator of a network of carers of children with disabilities in Western Sydney. She established the Rooty Hill Multicultural Carer Support Group, a not-for-profit group that seeks to improve the emotional wellbeing of carers and empower women who care for children with a physical or intellectual disabilities.

Jenny Tran

Jenny has been a carer since 2010 for her mother who suffered a stroke that resulted in cognitive and physical impairments. She is familiar with the many hurdles faced by young carers who also study and work full time to provide financial support to their families. Jenny has experience working in the commercial finance sector, not for profit sector and public sector while juggling caring responsibilities. She wants to help make being a young carer a more recognised and acknowledged role in our society and to promote more flexible working environments.

Jenny comes from a Vietnamese and Chinese background, which has meant that her family has needed Vietnamese speaking support services, translation and advocacy to ensure that her mother’s needs are well represented. She wants to help raise awareness of the resources available to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) carers and help improve accessibility of multilingual resources.

Rachael Sowden

Rachael has four children who are Aboriginal, two who have autism and three who have mental health diagnoses. She is determined that all people in NSW regardless of postcode have access to supports required to live a full life with choice and voice.

Having lived the past 23 years in rural and remote locations across NSW, Rachael is familiar with the challenges of obtaining equitable access to services and supports outside of metropolitan locations.

Rachael has long held advocacy roles in education and mental health particularly in rural settings, and has a focus on young people and people with invisible disabilities.

Rachael has previously been the State media spokesperson for Parents & Citizens.

She has spoken at many educational conferences over the past few years and owns a bespoke parental engagement business offering teachers nationally accredited professional development.

Last updated:

25 Nov 2022

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Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

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