Julia Gillard will take over as chair of mental health advocacy organisation beyondblue in July.
The former prime minister has served on the board of the depression and anxiety initiative since 2014. She will replace the organisation’s founder, former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.
The not-for-profit service offers counselling and support for people suffering mental illness, including a help line.
Ms Gillard said she had a “lifetime passion” for mental health issues, formed growing up with her father, who worked as a psychiatric nurse.
“Through my father and his window on the world, I got to know something about mental health and mental health care facilities,” she said.
“That was in the days when mental health wasn’t talked about, when people who were being treated were in hospitals behind high walls, and people didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t want to think about it.
“Now we are prepared to talk about our own mental health, we are prepared to talk about anxiety and depression and suicide in our community, we are prepared to face up to the fact that people that need assistance don’t get the help they require when they most need it.”
When Ms Gillard joined the board, Mr Kennett praised her appointment and emphasised the need for the organisation to remain bipartisan.
He said the organisation was “part of his DNA” and had been preparing for leadership change for the past three years.
“For beyondblue to have a former prime minister as its leader will ensure we can continue to open doors politically, commercially and with the community,” Mr Kennett said.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and transgender and gender diverse people are much more likely to experience depression and anxiety than the broader population. They are also at a greater risk of suicide and self-harm.
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Lifeline on 13 11 14, or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.
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