Our board

Decades of extensive experience 

The Board of Emerging Minds is responsible for setting the strategic vision and direction of the organisation, and for overseeing organisational planning, management and performance. It is comprised of a mix of representatives from each state of Australia. Each individual has a passion for and is committed to advancing the mental health of infants, children, adolescents and families.

Meet the Emerging Minds board members below.

Philip Robinson PSM

South Australian Director and Chair, Emerging Minds Board of Directors

Phil is the inaugural Chair of the Board of Directors of the Australian Infant Child and Adolescent Mental Health Association (AICAFMHA) which was formed as a company in June 2000. Phil led the process for the formation of AICAFMHA from the original conference held in Adelaide in February 1995.

Phil is actively involved in AICAFMHA's national Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) initiative together with ongoing advocacy for child and adolescent mental health with a stronger emphasis on the importance of interventions commencing in the early years of life. A clinical psychologist by training, Phil also has extensive management experience in both community and hospital settings. For many years, he held the position of Chief of Mental Health at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide and currently holds an Executive position within the Women's and Children's Health Network. In 2004, Phil was awarded the Public Service Medal (PSM) for his services to child and adolescent mental health.  


Dr Nick Kowalenko

New South Wales Director and founding Deputy Chair, Emerging Minds Board of Directors

Nick Kowalenko is the Chair, Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. He chairs the Tresilian Family Care Centres Council in New South Wales and is Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Sydney and Head of Perinatal and Infant Mental Health Studies at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry.

He co-edited the Medical Journal of Australia's (MJA's) supplement 'Children of Parents with a Mental Illness' and champions mental health early intervention and illness prevention in young people.  


Associate Professor Richard O'Kearney

Australian Capital Territory Director, Emerging Minds Board of Directors

Associate Professor Richard O'Kearney worked as a clinical psychologist at Westmead Hospital and Royal Price Alfred Hospital in Sydney before completing his PhD in adolescent mental health. He is currently a senior research fellow and Associate Director (Research) in the Research School of Psychology at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Richard's clinical and research interests include paediatric Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), disruptive behaviour problems in children and the relationship between children's language development and the development of emotion and behavioural difficulties. He has links with the Australian Capital Territory CAMHS services, evaluating the effectiveness of early intervention for conduct problems in the first years of school. He is also involved with the ACT Directorate of Education and Training. He continues to work clinically, mainly treating children, adolescents and adults with OCD and related disorders.  


Kerry Hawkins

Western Australian Director, Emerging Minds Board of Directors

Ms Hawkins is the partner of a parent who experienced many years of extreme and enduring psychosis. They have three children together. Prior to giving up work in 2010 to focus on her husband's and family's recovery she was a project management consultant in the private sector and a strategic advisor for a federal government agency. She is a Graduate of Boston University's Global Leadership Institute's Recovery Class of 2013.

Currently, she is a Director of the Western Australian Association for Mental Health, Vice-President of HelpingMinds (formerly Arafmi WA), and a board member of Recovery Rocks, a community of peers in recovery. Other working group involvements include a Recovery College, national practice guide for carers of people with a mental illness, and COPMI initiatives. Her interest in trauma-informed, family-inclusive understandings of mental health drives a passion for implementing system reform through genuine co-production between lived experience expertise and service delivery expertise. She works for the National Disability Insurance Scheme as a project director on mental health/psychosocial disability projects.


Dr Mary Jessop

Queensland Director, Emerging Minds Board of Directors

Dr Mary Jessop is a child and adolescent psychiatrist working in the private and public sector. She has been involved in a number of initiatives to improve access to services for children of parents with a mental illness and their families. This has included developing a service framework, providing training in family-focused interventions, and resource development.

Dr Jessop is a therapist in the online training course 'Family Focus' developed by the COPMI national initiative. She is also a certified trainer in 'Let'sTalk About Children', a brief family-focused intervention developed by Professor Tytti Solantaus.


Dr Angela Josephs

Tasmanian Director, Emerging Minds Board of Directors

Dr Josephs has worked in several areas of psychology over 25 years: Intellectual Disability Services/ Community Services Victoria; Albury Community Health Centre; Marriage Guidance Tasmania; Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Hobart; and now in private practice.

Her post-graduate qualifications include a Graduate Diploma in Applied Child Psychology, a Master's Degree in Education (Research Thesis in Psychology), and a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Angela's PhD research thesis topic was "Risk and Protective Factors for Adolescent of Parents with a Mental Illness".

Dr Josephs considers herself a scientist-practitioner, predominantly the latter, particularly in the COPMI area. Angela is a member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), the APS College of Clinical Psychologists, and the Australian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy (AACBT), and is a registered practitioner with AHPRA.


Vicki Cowling OAM

Victorian Director, Emerging Minds Board of Directors

Ms Cowling (OAM) works as an independent practitioner in child and family mental health. She has worked with children and families in government and non-government settings, including public child and adolescent mental health services in Victoria and New South Wales. She has also held positions in the field of mental health promotion, and has conducted research concerning children of parents with mental illness and their families, leading to publication of books and articles. She has been a Reference Group member of the national Children of Parents with a Mental Illness (COPMI) initiative since 2002.

Ms Cowling is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, and member of the National Mental Health Committee of the Australian Association of Social Workers, a member of the Australian Psychological Society, and registered psychologist with the Psychology Board of Australia.


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