Our skilled volunteer board oversees our strategic direction.

Ingrid Svendsen

Board chair and co-founder

In 2010, I had just returned from a holiday to Timor-Leste when I read a news story about a cardiologist who undertook pro bono work there. The story was about the plight of two teenage girls whose lives were at risk because of a lack of funds to bring them to Australia for heart surgery.

It seemed unconscionable to me that a kid the same age as my own son could die from an eminently fixable heart condition, so I tracked down Dr Noel Bayley to send him money. It turned out, I was one of many, many donors that week. With my background in media and communications, it became clear that my skills would be worth more than my money. Along with Glyn Palmer, the then CEO of St John of God Warrnambool, Noel and I established East Timor Hearts Fund.

As the organisation has grown and moved to a more professional footing, my role has changed. In the early days, I was involved in recruiting sponsors to assist with travel and other costs and communications activities such as creating a website and social media properties, and securing media attention for our patients. Now, I am the inaugural board chair, so my role is a broad one of oversight of the governance of the organisation. We are growing rapidly and I’m excited to see where the future will take us.

Bill Appleby

Board director

I was inspired to offer my services to this organisation for three mains reasons: the compelling charter to improve the health outcomes of the people of Timor-Leste; the challenges and opportunities presented in working across international borders; and lastly the opportunity to assist a relatively embryonic organisation with a mountain of goodwill and terrific aspirations.

I am driven by a personal objective to care more than others think is wise, to risk more than others think is safe, to dream more than others think is practical, and to expect more than others think is possible. I believe organisations can create enormous value through change and I am passionate about value-based leadership and how to influence a “good society.”

With an extensive 33 year executive, and 15 year non-executive career in health, aged-care, disability and community services sectors, I have a deep commitment to community welfare and believe healthy individuals and families build stronger, more cohesive and capable communities.

Read more about Bill in this profile in Third Sector.

Nick Oats

Board director

I’ve been involved in programs with the government of Timor-Leste over recent years, through which I’ve met many wonderful Timorese people, and have seen a small part of the country. There are so many services we take for granted here in Australia, that are inaccessible to our near neighbours. Getting involved in East Timor Hearts Fund allows me to contribute to work that truly changes the lives of deserving people.

I joined the board in May 2017. I’m particularly keen to explore opportunities to connect into Timorese and Australian government policies and programs.

Katrina Thurston
Board director and chair of finance and audit committee

Working in the aged care sector for the majority of my career, I knew that I wanted to volunteer in the health sector. Wanting to expand my horizons and try something new, I wanted to combine my passion for anything around health or children and work on a board which helped both. Of course, volunteering in a finance space was very important to me as I feel it is in this area that I can add the most value to the organisation.

I have also been inspired by my eldest daughter, who recently spent two weeks during year 12 volunteering overseas in the Philippines, where she taught children at local and Indigenous schools. Her passion for social justice has made me want to follow in her footsteps, and carry on this work for change in a developing organisation such as East Timor Hearts Fund.

Having only very recently been appointed, I have taken on the role of Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, which is a space where I feel that I can add value and enhance the processes and reporting capability of the executive to the board. With time, I hope to flourish in my role and expand it as East Timor Hearts Fund too progresses and evolves.

Vijaya Joshi
Board director and chair of development committee

I have had a long association with Timor-Leste, since living there between 2001- 2003. After returning to Australia I have travelled to Timor-Leste annually, for personal and professional reasons. I am passionate about building the capacity of the health system in Timor-Leste, and contributing to better wellbeing outcomes for Timorese people.

Through work on the prevalence of rheumatic heart disease in Indigenous communities, I realised how debilitating heart disease can be, especially in resource poor or remote environments. When an opportunity to join the board came up, I thought it would be a good way to support Timorese people in a very constructive and tangible way.

I joined the board in May 2017 and have since become the chair of the development committee, where I use my professional experience in business development to support the organisation in achieving its fundraising goals.

Nicki Patten
Board director, nomination and remuneration committee chair and company secretary

I have always been struck by the injustice that a random quirk of fate allowed me to be born in a country of means with opportunities abounding, while other countries around me suffer appalling deficits. In a small way, the ethos of East Timor Hearts Fund seeks to address this imbalance.

I was elected to the board in April 2016.  I am interested in continuing to develop the clinical governance over our operations, working to increase capability in Timor-Leste to build medical services and knowhow and continuing to build a sense of reciprocity in what we do.

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