Lesley Van Schoubroeck


Lesley has many years experience in social policy in the public sector and is passionate about seeing good ideas become policy and make a difference to our most vulnerable people. She was appointed on 1 July 2013 as Queensland’s first Mental Health Commissioner.

Lesley’s aim is to lead a Commission that brings together the wisdom that arises from life experience and professional expertise in order to drive reform to enhance the lives of people living with mental illness or substance misuse.

Prior to taking up her role as Commissioner, Dr van Schoubroeck was the Director of Organisational Reform in Western Australia’s Mental Health Commission where she led system wide reform.

She also has extensive experience in the Western Australian public sector in education, training, child protection and justice as well as central agencies.

Lesley was born and raised on the Darling Downs in Queensland and taught mathematics and science there prior to moving to Western Australia. She completed her PhD at Griffith University in 2010.


Success in social policy must be measured in longer term improvements in the lives of people, particularly the most vulnerable. The best policies are ineffective if they do not translate to changes in practice. Getting and maintaining attention is crucial as evidence alone is rarely sufficient to drive policy change.

Evidence is also often contradictory – what solves one problem may exacerbate another – this requires compromise.

The impetus for policy change comes from many directions, often from personal experiences that resonate with a larger public. Both agility and persistence are required to get and maintain political attention in an environment of competing agendas and media scrutiny.

Both the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Their Children have a strong focus on early intervention through families and addressing risks including the impact of mental health and alcohol and other drugs on the wellbeing of children. Each acknowledges that change takes time.

The challenge is to continually refresh the sense of urgency and actions to maintain momentum.

Participants in this policy think tank will have an opportunity to reflect on opportunities for Advancing children’s development and wellbeing in the first 1000 days through a policy development lens. In doing so, it will build on the lessons learnt by the Queensland Mental Health Commission in its first three years of operation in driving reform at a whole of government level.

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