Updates - Brave Foundation


Leading with lived experience

4 October 2022 

Brave Foundation has announced the appointment of its new senior leadership team. This marks a significant milestone as Brave embarks on a journey of growth. 

CEO Jill Roche welcomed the appointments and reaffirmed Brave’s pride as an organisation founded, designed, and led by women with lived experience. 

“At Brave, we have always been informed by lived experience and it is encouraging to know that every woman in our Senior Leadership Team, myself included, either has direct lived experience or a connection to someone significant in their life with lived experience of teen pregnancy and parenting,” she said. 

“The Senior Leadership Team and everyone at Brave has a genuine and personal belief in the boundless potential of young parents. We are focused on building a village of support and acceptance around expecting and parenting teens. We know that passion for our purpose is a strong motivator to deliver great results!” 

The new senior leadership team includes:  

Head of Program, Catherine Cooney, joined Brave in April 2022 and was previously an Advanced Practice Lead and Social Work Coach at the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare. Catherine is passionate about improving opportunities for women who are parenting and experiencing adverse circumstances, as she is acutely aware of the barriers that young parents face having started her own parenting journey at 20. 

Micaela Drieberg, as Head of Government Relations & Partnerships, brings overs 20 years’ experience across multiple for-purpose sectors including working with all levels of government, including as a former Ministerial Adviser and Mayor of the City of Monash. She has also taught undergraduate and postgraduate courses with a number of years lecturing in health policy at Monash University.  

Head of Transformation, Sue Wilson brings a wealth of knowledge in child and family services, recently working as Program Manager for a new Victorian reform for the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare. Sue has experience in child protection, intensive family services, Coroner’s Court and Court Support Services, early parenting centres and development of Best Start and Communities for Children, and specialist family violence programs.  

Kate Derrick has been appointed Operations Manager and has been working with Brave since February 2022, working closely with the CEO. Prior to joining Brave, Kate supported the World Vision Australia Board and assisted the Company Secretary with the governance function at World Vision Australia in addition to extensive experience in executive administration. 

“These appointments reflect Brave’s deep commitment to seeing future generations thrive and we are invigorated for the Senior Leadership Team to lead us bravely into the next chapter,” Jill said. 

Since 2018, Brave Foundation’s Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens program has supported young parents to achieve goals in the areas of education, workforce participation, health, and wellbeing, as well as providing support for those requiring financial or housing assistance. 


Brave Foundation launches new systemic advocacy initiative

31st May 2022

Brave Foundation today launches its new systemic advocacy initiative, the Social Economic Empowerment Division (SEED), to re-envision how we tackle disadvantage and poverty in young people and families.

Social and Economic Ambassador and Brave Foundation founder Bernadette Black AM says now is an ideal time to completely rethink how Australia deals with at-risk youth and provides an opportunity to reverse generational disadvantage.  Ms Black said one is six young people grapples with poverty each year in Australia, but the model to address that poverty had not changed in almost 75 years, despite it becoming an increasingly complex problem.

“Through two decades of working with some of Australia’s most at-risk young people that have created bright futures – including my own experience of early parenthood – I have had many engaging conversations with young people and families, governments, community, private and public sectors about how together we might reverse generational disadvantage,” Ms Black says.

“As SEA, I have a bold exploratory five-year end game, to establish a central primary prevention mechanism, where lived experience, sectors and governments advise each other, in the creation of policy and funding architecture that meets the need when it matters most,” Ms Black says.

“What has been clear through our work, from the numerous young people and families we have consulted and from so many policy-makers, practitioners and scholars, is that we must re-envision our institutional arrangements to ensure we meet the health and wellbeing outcomes we want for our youth and our families. It is non-controversial that, if at all possible, prevention is better, more effective and more health-giving than remediation. We also have much more work to do to capitalise on our research thus far to provide the evidence for the sorts of preventions that work best and for whom. To do that we need to work with the wisdom of many – particularly those who have lived the experience of disadvantage.” Says Board Chairperson Professor Maria Harries AM.

This new early intervention collaboration will develop policies that connect young families and people to their purpose and potential at crucial life stage moments, while also contributing to a reduction in future economic costs to governments and society.

SEED’s innovative proposal comes as the not-for-profit convenes a symposium attracting 25 influential leaders (including Tim Costello AO) nationwide, alongside young people with lived experience, to consider how to better achieve cross-department collaboration among governments and the sector, to help solve the problems of youth poverty before they happen.

Ms Black concludes: “Our dream is simple. We want to bring young people, families, governments, and organisations together, so that we can create policy and revenue streams that empower our young people and families when it matters most. We want to intersect before generational disadvantage takes hold, redirecting towards happy, healthy, and skilled lives, ultimately benefiting our nation as a whole.

“A window of opportunity awaits, where I hope to see Australia lead the world in Social Economic Empowerment for young people and families.”



Brave Foundation to expand to include new systemic advocacy division; welcomes new appointments in CEO and Ambassador roles

31st Jan 2022

After successfully securing additional program funding to enable the continuation of their ‘Supporting Parenting and Expecting Teens’ (SEPT) program, national not-for-profit Brave Foundation is set to expand their organisational operations, appointing a new CEO and establishing a new ‘Social Economic Empowerment Division’ (SEED).  

In her new role as inaugural Social Economic Empowerment Ambassador, Brave founder and former CEO Bernadette Black AM will lead the division in its goal of developing policy and funding approaches that intersect with multiple government departments, streamlining service delivery to better assist Australia’s most at risk young families over the long term. 

“Over the next five years, our vision is to establish a ‘pre-social services sector’. By increasing the resources available to early prevention non-profits such as Brave, we will generate social and economic empowerment not only in the young families we engage, but their communities and our nation as a whole”, Bernadette says.  

“I firmly believe Australia can lead the way in transforming our traditional government systems so that assistance can be accessed easier and earlier by those that need it most, allowing for longer lasting and more meaningful impact.” 

Former World Vision Australia executive and newly appointed CEO, Jill Roche, has been a key contributor to Brave’s operations and strategic planning since joining the organisation as Chief Operating Officer in October 2019.  Her significant leadership experience in the not for profit, consulting and corporate sectors has assisted Brave’s transition from trial phase to full-service implementation and service expansion. 

“I am excited to be leading Brave as we work to increase our reach and impact nationally; this role feels like I am coming full circle after starting my own parenting journey as a single mother of twins at the age of 20.  I have a deep appreciation for the potential of teen parents, knowing they are tenacious, adaptable, and caring members of their families and communities.”  

To read the full media release, please click here.

Brave Foundation secures $6 million grant to expand Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens (SEPT) Program

22nd May 2021

National not-for-profit organisation Brave Foundation is set to receive $6 million to deliver their expanded SEPT program across Australia, under the federal Office for Women’s ‘Women’s Leadership and Development Program’. This funding will allow Brave to support over 1000 young parents over the grant period of 2020/21 – 2023-24, with a particular focus on supporting young mothers to engage with workforce and education opportunities.

CEO and Founding Director of Brave Foundation Bernadette Black AM said the new grant signifies a major commitment from the Federal Government in ensuring the futures of young parents and their families.

“We have countless young expecting and parenting women knocking on our door – this funding will allow us to open that door and empower these women so they can reach their boundless potential,” she said. “This is a watershed moment for some of the women most at risk of disadvantage in Australia and will have positive impact for generations to come.

“We are so grateful to be able to continue the momentum of our successful SEPT trial, and to move into this next chapter of growth, expansion, and learning alongside our program participants.”

To read the full media release, please click here.

From Left to Right:Brave Foundation CEO and Founder Director Bernadette Black AM, Prime Minister the Hon. Scott Morrison; Brave Foundation COO Jill Roche; Brave Foundation Chief Mentor Manager Allison Levinson; Brave Foundation Mentor Katrina Higgins, at Ravenswood Child and Family Centre, Ravenswood Tasmania, 22nd May 2021.


Brave CEO Bernadette Black appointed Member of the Order of Australia

Jan 2021

Brave Foundation CEO and Founding Director Bernadette Black has been appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia.

Her appointment is for significant service to youth, communities and local government in Australia.

Brave Foundation Chair Professor Maria Harries AM said: “Bernadette’s history of creativity and innovation, along with her determination and commitment to civic life, demonstrate the sort of attributes we should be encouraging in Australia.

Congratulations, Bernadette!

Click here to read the full press release


Dr Maria Harries announced as new Chair of Brave Foundation Board of Directors

November 2020

National not-for-profit organisation Brave Foundation has announced the appointment of Dr Maria Harries as its Chair.

Professor Harries joins the Board following the retirement of previous Chair Gary Lottering, who was Chair for two years and has been on the Board since 2014.

CEO and Founding Director of Brave Foundation Bernadette Black said Professor Harries would bring extensive and relevant experience to the Board as its newly appointed Chair and director.

Click here to read the full press release