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Kerryn Pennell

Kerryn Pennell - Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2021 - Change Agent inductee
Change Agent

Kerryn Pennell is a highly experienced leader and executive who brings her skills as a strategist, analytic thinker and an ability to sit with professionals and organisations to work through tricky problems and identify solutions. She has been working in the mental health and human services industry for 30 years.

Kerryn is the Director, Strategy and Policy at Orygen, and a Senior Fellow in the Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, based in Melbourne, Australia. Kerryn has many years of expertise in working alongside consumers as key stakeholders to design and develop policy responses, services and facilities that are truly informed and created in partnership with them. She has played a pivotal role in developing responses to youth mental health in Australia and globally, and been a practice innovator – developing new models at Orygen (and its earlier iteration EPPIC).

Driven by passion and authenticity, her career has focused on transformational change to the health sector, locally and internationally. As a founding member of some of Australia’s and the world’s leading health organisations, Kerryn has excelled in driving mental health and wellbeing strategies and policies to inform the development of sector-wide operating models and best practice standards. She has achieved this by leveraging evidence-based research to influence policy reform and regulation across Australia to ensure robust outcomes for organisational models.

At Orygen, she works to position the organisation as Australia’s and the world's key Centre of Excellence and expert in youth mental health. Kerryn leads a policy think tank, a government relations and advocacy team and a strategic initiatives program. She is also responsible for key stakeholder relationships and partnerships, and other initiatives, that work to design and advocate to see evidence-based programs and policy recommendations enacted to make sure that everyone can enjoy optimal mental health.

She has, over the years, held several clinical and leadership roles. Kerryn also continues to contribute professionally through roles on national and international committees and boards aimed at promoting excellence in practice and system change. This includes international and national board, committee and volunteer experience. She has served on the boards of the Early Intervention into Mental Health (IEPA) and International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH). She was co-founder of the International Early Psychosis Association and secretary and treasurer for 10 years, and also co-founder of IAYMH and its treasurer for 9 years, the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) National Ethics Panel for 11 years, the Medical Radiation Practitioners Board of Victoria for 6 years, and was an honorary bail justice for the Victorian Department of Justice and Community Safety for 6 years. She was also a recognised scholar in the Leadership Enhancement in Health Care and Social Work Management Program at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in NYC, a recipient of a Creswick Foundation Fellowship and the Ramsey Healthcare Scholarship, and she was appointed by her peers as a foundation fellow of the Australian College of Social Work.