Our Board

Dr Rachel Richardson

Chairperson

Dr Rachel Richardson (she/her)

Dr Rachel Richardson is a retired academic living in regional Victoria where she raised her three – now adult – children. Rachel’s career in education spanned over 35 years across a range of settings from early years teaching to university leadership and management.

Rachel’s doctoral studies explored the lived experience of children socially rejected in early childhood. Her research and publications focussed on young children’s psychosocial development and early childhood teacher education.

Today as the Chair of the Board for the national charity, Transcend Australia, Rachel advocates for the human rights of Trans, Gender Diverse, and Non-Binary children and young people across Australia. When she’s not working for the Board of  Transcend Australia, she is taming her wayward garden, cooking, reading and – in the quieter moments – writing.

Margaret Polacska

Director

Margaret Polacska (she/her)

Margaret has a background in business development, fundraising, health promotion, peer support and NFP management.  Margaret began her career in design and engineering and then worked in business development in construction and managed services before moving into fundraising and program management in the NFP sector.

Margaret served as Chair of CDH Australia between 2014 and 2017 where she gained insight into peer support and navigation working with specialists from maternity and children’s hospitals around Australia. She is a passionate consumer advocate and was a faculty member of Safer Care Victoria’s Safer Baby Collaborative. Her work has culminated in the delivery of a $1.3mil pilot called Hospital to Home that is testing peer support through an outreach service model at Red Nose.

Margaret provides personal insight as a carer and member of the Eastern Health Rainbow eQuality and TGDNB working groups, and the United Colours of Us Diversity and Inclusion working group at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to promote improvements in healthcare.

Michele Lark

Director/Company Treasurer

Michele Lark (she/her)

Michele Lark is a Chartered Accountant who has 30 years of experience working across a variety of industries in Australia, England, Eastern Europe and North America.  For the last ten years she has worked for a Not for Profit organisation in Brisbane providing support, training and financial audits to members.

Michele is the mother of three children, one of whom is transgender.  Her involvement with Transcend Australia as a Director and Treasurer has allowed her to make invaluable connections with other parents of transgender children.

Naomi McNamara

Director

Naomi McNamara she/her

Naomi has advocated for the rights of transgender, gender diverse and non binary children and young people for over 8 years.

Naomi’s eldest daughter, Isabelle, is transgender and socially transitioned at 10 years of age.  Isabelle, Naomi and their family first told their story on ABC’s ground-breaking Four Corners program ’Being Me’. The story had a profound impact and begun a wider public discussion about transgender children and the legal obstacles they face.

Naomi and Isabelle spoke at Parliament House, Canberra in 2016 about their experiences, their fears around the Family Court process required to access medical transition and their plea for understanding and action. They have continued to advocate on other legal barriers including birth certificate reform in Victoria and speak at a range of conferences and events to raise awareness and of the needs of children and young people.

Naomi holds a Bachelor of Behavioural Science and a Bachelor of Social work.  Naomi has over 25 years’ experience in working in State and Local Government and the not-for-profit community sector.  She is currently the CEO for a not-for-profit organisation providing aged and disability services.

Joanne Foster

Director

Jo Foster she/her

Jo is an Employee Relations specialist with a significant history working in the NFP health sector.

Jo has seen the rise in need for resources for TGDNB youth while supporting her own child who transitioned in 2012 and was able to access support through the RCH in early 2013 until 2016 when her young adult moved to other services.

Since 2013, when she started a blog Parenting Jeremy, Jo has spoken out on the need for acceptance, advocating for services and equitable access to treatment for TGDNB youth. She believes that every conversation has the power to sway hearts and build acceptance.

Jo was based in Melbourne but relocated to Brisbane in 2017.

Peter Dortmans

Director

Peter Dortmans he/him

Dr Peter Dortmans is a Senior Researcher in the Canberra Office of the U.S.based RAND Corporation, a Global Think Tank.

In this role, Peter undertakes policy analysis and research in support of a number of Commonwealth Government departments. Peter has extensive experience working within and for the Commonwealth, particularly in the areas of Defence and National Security, and has been Canberra based for over a decade.

Prior to joining the Public Service, Peter undertook academic research in Australia and Italy. Peter has a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Melbourne and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the Australian National University.

Peter is a very proud father of a beautiful transgender daughter.