Pamela Rutledge

Pamela Rutledge is a visionary leader and an influential advocate in the mental health sector. Passionate about the rights of people who experience discrimination and social injustice, Pamela has led pivotal reforms in social policy, human and disability rights. Until the end of 2017, Pamela was Flourish Australia’s CEO.
Pamela Rutledge

A leading light of far-reaching reforms in Australia’s community service and mental health sectors

Pamela Rutledge is a visionary leader and an influential advocate in the mental health sector.  Passionate about the rights of people who experience discrimination and social injustice, Pamela has led pivotal reforms in social policy, human and disability rights. Until the end of 2017, Pamela was Flourish Australia’s CEO.

In the course of a long and distinguished public service career, Pamela championed equality and employment opportunity for those with a lived experience of a mental health issue and those efforts were recognised with an “Exceptional Contribution Award” at the 2017 Australasian Mental Health Service Awards.

Among Pamela’s many career achievements, was bringing together almost 70 community service organisations of the Manly-Warringah area to establish an effective regional planning and service development vehicle. She learned Italian to become the first Grant-in-Aid social worker employed in the Italian community.

Pamela’s appointment as one of the first social workers to lead a community mental health team demonstrate the effectiveness of approaching mental health from a holistic, person-centred, family-oriented perspective. She has also been instrumental in key reforms including the introduction of sexual assault services to major public hospitals.

Throughout her career, Pamela has taken every opportunity to model the way forward for women everywhere.

She advocates a pro-active and assertive approach to pushing for gender equality.

A brave and motivational leader, Pamela knows that change is not always popular or comfortable.  She has always understood the importance of communication to dispel myths that are counterproductive to positive change. Providing channels for people with lived experience of a mental health issue to tell their own stories has been a priority for her professionally.

A highlight of her time in the health system, was being appointed Executive Officer of the Inquiry into Health services for the Psychiatrically Ill and Developmentally Disabled (Richmond Report in 1982).

In 2011/12, Pamela led and managed the successful merger of two of Australia’s most established community-managed mental health organisations, to become Flourish Australia.  Under Pamela’s direction, the organisation has grown to become Australia’s number one employer of the mental health peer workforce.  Pamela has always been committed to creating opportunities for people with a lived experience of a mental health issue to live, learn and work in the community.

In-line with her commitment to pioneering change, Pamela led transformation efforts that secured access to the NDIS for people with a lived experience of a mental health issue and advocated for Flourish Australia’s participation in the first Social Benefit Bond related to mental health in Australia.

Pamela’s advice to women seeking to #PressforProgress and make their mark is to “first, be clear about your values, second, look for opportunities to build your skills (particularly lateral transfers, acting opportunities, projects) and third, find a mentor who can give you advice and feedback”.

For Pamela, life and career have always been about empowering the marginalised to realise their individual potential. She has been a trail blazer for women in the workforce and an inspiration to many as she mentored and supported other women to achieve.

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