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Ambassadors

  • Mary K. Pershall
    Mary K. Pershall
    Author
Mary K. Pershall
Author

I was born in Iowa, in the centre of the United States, where the corn belt runs parallel to the Bible belt for endless flat miles. Though I loved my family and my good farm neighbours, I felt like an alien in the small town where I went to school. As a passionate reader, who as a teenager set my alarm for 5 a.m. so I could fit more books into my day, I immersed myself in vibrant worlds where people spoke diverse languages, held different beliefs and worshipped other gods from us white Baptists. I longed to live amongst such people, to sample their flavours and hear their voices. I found all this and more when I landed in Melbourne as a newly minted teacher in 1974.

Since then I have had a bumpy but wonderful career in education, publishing and writing. I taught English to newly arrived migrants, attempted to subdue and interest classrooms full of Lebanese and Turkish boys, and spent several years as a roving assistant principal. More recently and most satisfying, I tutored through the Children’s Hospital, helping kids with chronic illnesses and serious injuries to return to school.

On the literary front, I spent many years writing and editing for the children’s magazine published by the Victorian Education Department. This led to the writing of 17 books, two of them co-authored with my older daughter, Katie, and a trilogy for tweens with my younger girl, Anna. Most of these books were published by Penguin.

My latest book, Gorgeous Girl, was published last year. It’s the story of my greatest journey, of me and John trying to understand how raising our second beloved daughter, our smart and funny little girl, ended in tragedy. As a child, Anna literally would not hurt a fly. She would rather talk to it and tell us long stories about it. With the terrible clarity of hindsight, we know now that Anna suffered with mental illness from a very young age. It nearly claimed her life as a teenager, when it took the form of anorexia. She recovered from that, and managed to make it through university with a degree in psychology, but no matter how desperately her father and I her older sister Katie tried to help her and make her happy, life was hard for Anna.

After she finished uni, everyone expected Anna to begin life as an adult. She couldn’t. She began to self-medicate, with endless hours of cat videos and PlayStation games and random guys she met on the train or in the streets. And drugs. When she discovered ice, her always fragile mental state morphed into psychosis. I’ve written 90,000 words about the exhausting struggle of trying to get help for Anna and how we finally did get the call we dreaded from the police, but it wasn’t her who had died … off her prescribed medication, pregnant and hearing the voices of demons, she fatally stabbed an innocent man.

Anna was convicted of murder and is serving a 17-year sentence at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Victoria’s maximum security prison for women.

 

 

  • Katie Horneshaw
    Katie Horneshaw
    Journalist
Katie Horneshaw
Journalist

Katie Horneshaw writes about mental illness, addiction and women’s issues for publications including Ten Daily, Whimm and Mamamia. She is also a member of AOD Media Watch, an organisation dedicated to calling out stigmatising attitudes within the Australian media.

Katie is passionate about reducing the stigma that surrounds addiction.

@KatieElatey

  • Mick Palmer AO, APM
    Mick Palmer AO, APM
    Drug Law Reform Advocate / Former Federal Police Commissioner
Mick Palmer AO, APM
Drug Law Reform Advocate / Former Federal Police Commissioner

Michael John (Mick) Palmer AO, APM is a barrister and 33 year career police officer with extensive experience in police leadership and corporate governance, reform in community, national and international policing and security. He has had an active interest in human rights and illicit drug reform for many years.Mick joined the Northern Territory Police in 1963 and having progressed through the ranks, was appointed Commissioner of the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services agency in 1988. He served in that position until 1994 when he was appointed Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), a position he held for 7 years until his retirement in March 2001.In 1982 and 1983, during a five years break in his police service,  Mick practiced as a barrister at law on the Gold Coast  in Queensland.Between 1997 and 2000 he was a member of the Executive Committee of Interpol having become the first Australian elected to the position. He was also the inaugural Deputy Chair of the National Council against Drugs (NCAD) a position he occupied until his retirement from policing in 2001.

Since retiring from policing in 2001 Mick has conducted a range of inquiries and reviews for the Australian Federal and State Governments, both within Australia and overseas.

In 2004/5 he conducted the Inquiry into the Circumstances of the Immigration Detention of Cornelia RAU and more recently conducted a prison related inquiry for the Tasmanian Government into conditions in the maximum security prison at Risdon in Hobart, Tasmania and a benchmark review of Victoria’s correction system for the Victorian Government, following the death of Carl Williams at Barwon Prison on 19 April 2010.

Between 2004 and 2012 he was the Federal Government’s Inspector of Transport Security, a position created after the 9/11 and Bali bombing terrorist incidents to review air, sea and land transport and off shore critical infrastructure and advise government of the efficiency and effectiveness of  existing security arrangements.

Mick is a recipient of the Australian Police Medal and in 1998 was admitted to the Order of Australia (AO) for his work in “advancing the professionalization of policing through the introduction of far-reaching anti-corruption processes and management practice reform”.

In 1999 the Board of Governors of Charles Sturt University conferred upon him the award of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) for his contribution to advancing policing in Australia.

He is currently a member of the Board of Australia 21 and a member of the Foundation Board of the Queensland Mind and Neuroscience Institute (University of the Sunshine Coast).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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