From critical care to Board Chair

From a generation where she was told “get married, and be a nurse, or be a teacher”, Robina Bradley chose nursing and forged a successful career which finds her today as Baptcare’s first female Chair of the Board.

After graduating from university (she completed an undergraduate degree at Bundaberg Hospital and a science degree at LaTrobe), she realised just how portable nursing was and instead of following norms and expectations of a woman at the time, she set off to explore Australia, working in critical care in Alice Springs, Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria for almost a decade.

Robina remembers the two years she spent in Alice Springs fondly, “Alice Springs is probably my favourite part of Australia. I learnt a lot about the Aboriginal culture while I was there, about integration of bringing western culture and medicine to remote communities.

“There was no ambulance service when I worked there so we established the first ambulance service from the hospital emergency department, assisting road traumas, people in need of resuscitation, and mums with dehydrated babies. I really loved it.”

Policy roles ensued, and after embracing the challenge of a role as Senior Policy Officer at the Department of Health, Robina quickly gained insight into public health, policy, funding and networked with leaders across the health industry.

From there her career spanned a series of roles across health, working on major projects in change and improvement, including transitioning the state-wide integration of School Dental Services, commissioning prison health services for the Victorian Government from Pentridge Prison to Port Philip Prison Health Services (and being the first accredited prison health service in Australia within 12 months of commissioning), and later General Manager of Northern Health – Aged Care Residential.

“I guess you can call me a GEN Y when it comes to my working life. I’ve always had great opportunities, which I embraced with both hands. Apart from currently chairing Baptcare’s Board, I have also just started a role as CEO of St Mary’s House of Welcome, an organisation supporting people who are living in poverty in Melbourne.”

Robina grew up with a Uniting Church background and joined the St Kilda Baptist Church for a few years after her work and travels around Australia. She is currently an active member of the Essendon Baptist Church where she has served in various roles over the years, including leading the Children’s Ministry and the Youth Ministry and was most recently appointed the first female Chair of the Board.

“For me, the Baptist faith is a practical expression of who I am.”

It is this faith that has inspired a career change over recent years.

“I guess I’ve changed direction a bit, and this links to my Baptcare journey. It’s partly about me, partly my values and partly my faith and where I wanted to be. I decided I wanted to make difference and not just work in health. I really felt drawn to Baptcare, not just as a Baptist,” she said.

Robina joined the Baptcare Board in 2012 after being approached about the role. As a previous Board member/Past Treasurer for Doutta Galla Health Service (Ministerial appointment) and her experience with the Essendon Baptist Church, being on a Board was not new to her, as she and felt “really drawn to join as a Baptist and as someone with experience that could be contributed at Board level”.

“I really believe in everything Baptcare does and its wonderful people. The heart of Baptcare is about standing up for people that most people don’t see on a day to day basis. That’s what I love most about Baptcare. When I walk across our sites and meet the teams, they are great people who just love doing what they are doing. Baptcare is a village and there is a real sense of trust and confidence with everyone bringing a certain skill to the table. We are blessed to have a great CEO and leadership team running our organisation and it is for these reasons that I felt confident that I could apply for the position. I knew I would be in safe hands.”

Robina aims to focus her time as Baptcare Board Chair on ensuring governance, processes and teams have the skills and knowledge to support the organisation’s strategic direction.

“I want to ensure we are a healthy organisation, with the right people asking the right questions to ensure that. Ultimately, for our customers, I want to make sure our strategy is consistent with our mission to bring fullness of life, so that regardless of who you are and where you come from, that we will provide the best of care and find a place for you that is home.”

Looking ahead Robina delights in the opportunities to grow across the sector, to bring new directors into Baptcare and to continue to provide services to those from a missional perspective.