Details of the key members of the Polio Australia Team are given here. All are knowledgeable about polio and its late effects and demonstrate the ability to think analytically and strategically in steering Polio Australia as it achieves its goals on behalf of Australia’s many thousands of polio survivors. The key members have a range of career backgrounds and bring a diverse set of skills to Polio Australia.

Gillian Thomas OAM

President & Business Manager


Gillian Thomas OAM

President & Business Manager


Responsible for: Governance, business management, website and IT training and support, mentoring.

Based: Sydney, NSW

Working at Polio Australia since: 2007

Professional Experience: • 25 years experience in federal government agencies, including 20 years at management level, with expertise in logistics and in community operations
• 30 years governance, managerial, financial management and accounting experience with statewide and national community organisations, including 11 years to date in these roles with Polio Australia
• 23 years to date as a company director of a small business, particularly undertaking financial management
• 40 years experience in computer operations, including 17 years to date experience in web design and maintenance

Personal Experience/Interest: I passionately believe in the need for a national voice for polio survivors and my efforts culminated in the highly successful meeting of all Australian State Polio Networks in May 2007 and the unanimous agreement to form Polio Australia.

Awards: 2002: an inaugural recipient of David Bodian Memorial Award from the International Post-Polio Task Force in recognition of my work for polio survivors.
2009: Australia Day Community Service Award from Randwick Council For outstanding service to the community of the City of Randwick.
2020: Order of Australia Medal awarded For service to community health, particularly to people with polio.

A fun fact / what I like to do in my spare time: I am a puzzle tragic. I also enjoy reading, and volunteering as an admin on various internet forums.

Darlene Felsch

Resource Manager


Darlene Felsch

Resource Manager


Responsible for: Finance, Administration and Governance

Based: Melbourne, Victoria

Working at Polio Australia since: August 2019

Qualifications: CPA (Certified Practising Accountant)

Professional Experience: I have 30 years broad-based accounting and business management experience in Not for Profit, Government and Commercial organisations. I love working at NFP organisations as they are values-based. I joined Polio Australia because of the inspiration of a friend who is a polio survivor. I am constantly amazed at all she has achieved in her life.

Personal Experience/Interest: I am passionate about personal growth and mental health and wellbeing.

A fun fact / what I like to do in my spare time: Adventure Activities, reading, watching a good movie, any excuse to Eat Out

Steph Cantrill

Community Programs Manager


Steph Cantrill

Community Programs Manager


Responsible for: Information for the post-polio community; communicating with state organisations; grant-writing; advocacy

Based: Melbourne, Victoria

Working at Polio Australia since: May 2018

Qualifications: Bachelor of Occupational Therapy; Master of Public Health

Professional Experience: Many years’ experience as an OT, mainly in rehabilitation hospitals; managed a community development project in India

Personal Experience/Interest: Worked on a research project exploring exclusion for people with psychosocial disability

A fun fact / what I like to do in my spare time: I have been knitting a scarf since 2015 – I really hope to finish it soon…

Michael Jackson

Clinical Health Educator


Michael Jackson

Clinical Health Educator


Responsible for: Clinical Practice Workshops, liaising with Clinical Advisory Group, developing and promoting professional materials, finding and providing answers.

Based: South East QLD

Working at Polio Australia since: November 2019

Qualifications: Master of Physical Therapy, Bachelor of Education

Professional Experience: Taught in QLD primary schools 1995-2002, then moved to US to travel and study. Obtained masters in California, then worked in a Colorado rehabilitation hospital for 9 years.

Personal Experience/Interest: Because I didn’t want to be a classroom teacher forever, I rode my mountain bike for 100 days from Healesville VIC, to Brisbane, QLD in 2001. I like to push the boundaries of my comfort zone, and to help others become better versions of themselves.

A fun fact / what I like to do in my spare time: Since abandoning TV in 1993 I have had much more time for my hobbies - this being significant enough that I have an ‘alternative resume’.

Paulette Jackson

Administrative Officer


Paulette Jackson

Administrative Officer


Responsible for: Providing administrative support to the Clinical Health Educator

Based: South East QLD

Qualifications: Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, Associate of Nursing, and Master of Nursing Leadership

Working at Polio Australia since: March 2020

Professional Experience: 15+ years of healthcare experience working as an exercise physiologist, registered nurse, and healthcare leader in the United States.

Personal Experience/Interest: Early on in my education I became interested in the cardiac population and spent the majority of my career working in the cardiac rehabilitation setting. I find it rewarding to help others achieve their health goals.

A fun fact/what I like to do in my spare time: In my spare time I enjoy baking, hiking, running and yoga. Fun fact - My family and I traveled continuously for 13 months visiting 25 different countries.

Shylie Little

Finance Officer


Shylie Little

Finance Officer


Responsible for: Bookkeeping including payroll and superannuation processing, accounts receivable and payable, referring polio survivors to State Networks.

Based: Sydney, NSW

Working at Polio Australia since: 2013

Professional Experience: 20 years experience in the general insurance industry.

A fun fact / what I like to do in my spare time: Lawn bowls and fishing.

Michael Lynch AO CBE

National Patron


Michael Lynch AO CBE

National Patron


Michael Lynch grew up in Maroubra, New South Wales, and contracted polio in 1953 when he was three.

Michael has enjoyed a long and highly successful career, including being the General Manager of the Sydney Theatre Company from 1989-94. He went on to become General Manager of the Australia Council, the Federal Government's arts funding and advisory body from 1994-98. In 1998, he became Director of the Sydney Opera House.

From 2002 to 2009, Michael was Chief Executive of the South Bank Centre in London. He oversaw the successful rehabilitation of the Royal Festival Hall, which was re-opened in October 2007 by The Queen (King George VI having opened the original building in 1951).

In March 2009, Michael returned to Australia and was appointed a Director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. He is also a member of the Board of Film Victoria.

In 2011, Michael travelled abroad again to take up the Hong Kong Government appointment of CEO of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Michael returned to Sydney in 2015, and has since taken up a range of activities including becoming the Chair of the Sydney Community Foundation, working in Brisbane for Circa (a human circus company), and in the Northern Territory setting up an indigenous art gallery.

In 2001, Michael was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia For service to arts administration, particularly through implementing transparent and effective processes for grants funding, and as an advocate for Australian cultural life; while in 2017 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia For distinguished service to arts administration, to leadership of international cultural institutions and nationally recognised art organisations, and through contributions to Australian public life.

In 2018, Michael became a Co-Patron of Polio NSW. In 2020, Michael accepted our invitation to concurrently become National Patron of Polio Australia, taking over from Dr John Tierney AM who had been our National Patron since 2010. In deciding to step down from the role, John believed the time was right to appoint a new Patron with a different set of skills, profile, knowledge, influence and contacts, to represent Polio Australia into the future.

Jill Pickering

Volunteer


Jill Pickering

Volunteer


Jill was born in England in 1946, contracted polio in 1955 and qualified in Occupational therapy during 1968. After working for 2 years in England as an OT she immigrated to Melbourne, Australia and worked in several different areas using her Occupational Therapy skills before retiring in 2000 due to limitations from Post-Polio Syndrome.

After a few months adjusting to her new situation Jill found a satisfying life style mixing voluntary work with other interests. She came to Polio Australia in February 2011 as a volunteer after volunteering one day a week for 10 years at Polio Network Victoria (a service of Independence Australia). In addition to volunteering with Polio Australia, Jill is also a member of Post Polio Victoria.

Jill has been passionate about horses since learning to horse ride as part of her polio rehabilitation and enjoys providing voluntary support as President of the Australian Brumby Alliance (ABA). The ABA is made up of dedicated volunteer groups across Australia who take on gentling and re-homing Australia’s brumbies (wild horses). Jill's additional hobbies include horse riding, gardening, travelling and keeping up with friends in Australia and family in England.

Maryann Liethof CF

Volunteer


Maryann Liethof CF

Volunteer


Maryann has worked with the post-polio community since 2004, and has a comprehensive understanding of the issues currently impacting on people who had the virus.

Since retiring from paid work for Polio Australia in December 2019, Maryann now volunteers as the editor of Polio Oz News, Polio Australia’s quarterly free E-zine. This was already one of her paid tasks, so this is simply ‘business as usual’ for those who have been receiving Polio Oz News over the years.

Maryann was also elected onto Polio Australia’s Board as an ‘Independent’ at the February 2020 meeting.