The National Board and CEO

Trish Strachan (SA)


Responsibilities: Board Chair, Governance Committee (Chair), Risk Committee, Transformation Committee
Qualifications: RN. RM. Dip. App. Sc (CHN). B. Hlth. Sc (Nsg). M. (PHC). MAICD.
Lives in: South Australia.
Represents: Playgroup SA

Trish’s clinical background in nursing and midwifery with a specific interest in primary and population health.  Trish has lived and worked in all states and territories, including PNG (except for Tassie).  She has a particular interest in the health of rural and remote communities and people and children who are disadvantaged or vulnerable.  She has led the planning and development of health services and facilities across NSW and South Australia, with the involvement of communities, staff, and service partners.  Trish has held senior executive positions for almost 20 years in the health and education sectors. In addition, she has chaired a number of system level, whole of government forums to improve outcomes for Australians.  She is also a member of Playgroup SA, and formerly Chair.

Kathryn Fordyce (TAS)


Responsibilities: Finance and Audit Committee, Risk Committee
Qualifications: B.Sp.Path (Hons), Grad. Cert. Health Services Management, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, CPSP, MAICD.
Lives in: Tasmania
Represents: Playgroup Tasmania

Kathryn is an experienced executive manager and non-executive director with demonstrated leadership skills in the not-for-profit disability, health and early childhood sectors. Kathryn is currently the CEO of Laurel House, a specialist sexual assault service in North and North West Tasmania.  Prior to this Kathryn had worked within the disability sector for more than 20 years with a particular focus on support for autistic people.  Kathryn has co-authored peer-reviewed papers on autism, early intervention and evidence-based practice. Kathryn is on the board of Playgroup Tasmania, National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence, and is Deputy Chair of Tasmanian Branch of Speech Pathology Australia. Kathryn is also actively involved in other advisory groups and committees that focus on the health and wellbeing of children and young people, and the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Kate Sowerby (ACT)


Responsibilities: Governance Committee, Transformation Committee
Qualifications: Graduate Dip. Social and Organisational Leadership; Advanced Dip. Early Childhood Education and Care; Certified Organisational Coach, IECL. 
Lives in: ACT
Represents: ACT Playgroups

Kate has worked for over 15 years in Commonwealth Government roles specialising in governance and organisational transformation, with experience in advising policy makers and senior parliamentarians. She has led gender equality networks in a number of large government agencies and has worked for the empowerment of women working in the public sector, with a focus on increasing support for mothers returning to the workforce and access to family-friendly work practices. 

Kate has held non-executive director roles with local community sector not-for-profit boards over the past 8 years and is particularly interested in perinatal mental health and suicide prevention. Kate is currently the Chair of ACT Playgroups

Annick Beyderwellen (NT)


Responsibilities: Governance Committee
Qualifications: Bachelor of Teaching. Bachelor of Education In service.
Lives in: Northern Territory
Represents: Playgroup NT

Annick is a qualified primary school teacher specialising in Early Childhood and English as an additional language or dialect (EALD). She is currently the Education Liaison Officer for the Defence Member and Family Support Branch, Department of Defence. Annick’s professional career includes being on the NAPLAN writing moderation panel, teaching new adult Australians English, Coordinator of Music & Science programs. Managing the Defence School Mentor program & supporting ADF families in the Northern Territory. Annick is dedicated to supporting community organisations within the not-for-profit sector and has been on the Veteran’s Children Education Board & Vice President ZONTA. Annick is currently on the Toy Library Committee & is Chair of Playgroup NT.

Felicity Dunn (VIC)


Responsibilities: Transformation Committee
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts/Music, Postgraduate Diploma in Public Policy & Management, Graduate Certificate in Education
Lives in: Victoria
Represents: Playgroup Victoria

Felicity’s professional background is in education policy, with a particular focus over the past decade in early childhood education and care. Felicity is currently Policy and Research Manager at Community Early Learning Australia, a peak body advocating for both education and care services and children. She is also the founder and director of eQIPd – a service which supports education and care services to use feedback from parents and staff to inform quality improvement in their settings. eQIPd clients are more likely to be rated as Exceeding the National Standards compared with other education and care services. Prior having children, Felicity worked in State Government, specialising in education regulatory policy. She has two adorable children, who, like Felicity and her husband thoroughly enjoyed the fun and friendships which have come from playgroup.

Professor the Hon Stephen Martin AO


Responsibilities: Governance Committee
Qualifications: BA (ANU), MA (Alberta), MTCP (SYD), Dip ED (UNSW), PhD (UOW), GAICD
Lives in: Victoria
Represents: Independent Director

A former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Professor Martin followed a distinguished career in the Parliament of Australia with leadership roles in the university and business sectors in Australia and abroad. He began his career as a high school teacher, before moving to the higher education sector. Professor Martin represented the NSW-based electorates of Macarthur and Cunningham in the Australian Parliament from 1984 to 2002. In Government, he served as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Parliamentary Secretary (Assistant Minister) for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Chairman of the Inquiry into the Australian Banking Industry. He currently chairs the Board of Bank of China (Australia) and the Board of the Australian Positive Psychology Learning Institute.

Amanda Walsh


Amanda began her career in advocacy and public policy 25 years ago, as a diplomat in Poland and the Czech Republic. Back in Australia, she worked as a policy and media adviser in the federal Parliament, before joining the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Since 2013, she has worked in the education and early childhood sectors, including at Early Childhood Australia, the Early Learning and Care Council of Australia and Australian Catholic University. She served on the board of ACT Playgroups for three years before taking up the role of Chief Executive of the national body, Playgroup Australia.

Amanda has a PhD in Political Science and published her thesis as a book, Globalisation, the state and regional Australia (Sydney University Press) in 2018. She is a proud product of regional Australia, growing up on the land of the Yuin people.

She has three school-aged children, and fond memories of running a community playgroup in the mid-2000s.