The organisation is governed by a voluntary council made up of business and health care experts who work alongside the organisation’s CEO to provide strategic direction, financial management and practical support to the organisation’s teams. The Council meets regularly, while individual members mentor staff and help promote the organisation at community events.

The Council is made up of a maximum of ten members including the posts of Chairperson, Deputy-Chairperson and Honorary Treasurer. Sharing a common desire to promote the health and wellbeing of children and families living in Queensland’s regional, rural and remote communities, BUSHkids Council members give their time freely without recompense.

Our current Council Charter can be viewed here.


Dr Neil Bartels


Dr Neil Bartels OAM

Dr Neil Bartels has been a member of the Royal Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme council since 1991 and served as the organisation’s Deputy-Chairperson before becoming Chairperson in 2007.  Neil is a medical practitioner with a keen interest in children’s health issues. He is a fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and also holds a Masters Degree in Law.  Neil’s family has a long and auspicious association with the organisation: Neil’s father joined the organisation’s council in 1966, became Deputy–Chairperson in 1970, and served as Chairperson from 1973 until 1991.

Carolyn Searle


Ms Carolyn Searle

Carolyn has been a council member since 2012. Having grown up in Regional Queensland, she understands firsthand the needs of children and their families in regional and remote communities. With degrees in both Commerce and Law from The University of Queensland, Carolyn worked in the accounting and legal professions before managing her own Queensland based Human Resources and Recruitment Company which has provided valuable support to the BUSHkids. Carolyn provides business advice to the organisation and continues to work to raise BUSHkids’ profile amongst Queensland’s business community. She has a particular interest in the development of facilities for the organisation and is currently working on a telehealth building at head office in Brisbane to better service the remote communities of Queensland.

Honorary Treasurer

Ms Allison McLean 

Allison has been a council member since 2005 and the organisation’s Honorary Treasurer since 2007. From a farming family, Allison has a particular affinity with rural communities, first becoming involved with the Royal Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme as a volunteer at the Redcliffe Home in the 1980s. Allison has a Bachelor of Business from QUT, a Post Graduate Diploma in Professional Accounting and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Allison supports the Scheme’s accountant and provides expert advice on all financial matters.

Julian Martin


Mr Julian Martin 

Julian has been a council member since 2009. Having grown up in the bush, he is very aware of the contribution BUSHkids makes to the health of rural communities. A graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors with over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, Julian provides expert advice on BUSHkids’ IT infrastructure and the increasing use of technology and communications in the organisation’s service provision.

Gail Huggins


Mrs Gail Huggins 

Gail has been a council member since 2012. With a degree in Speech Pathology from The University of Queensland, Gail has a wealth of experience gained from a range of positions in government and non-government health and education organisations throughout Australia. Prior to retirement, Gail was Director of Speech Pathology, Paediatric Services for Queensland Health on the Gold Coast. With expert clinical knowledge, Gail provides invaluable advice to BUSHkids on the provision of its services.


Ms Judy Peters

Judy joins as a council member having been involved with Friends of BUSHkids for a number of years and seeing first-hand the important contribution BUSHkids makes to regional and rural communities. Having been raised in Central Queensland Judy embraces the ethos of quality support and services  to promote the health and well-being of all families. Judy has a Diploma of Local Government, a Diploma of Business and an Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management as well as a wealth of experience in local government, private enterprise and the not for profit sector.


Emeritus Prof Deborah Theodoros

Deborah is a speech pathologist with 45 years of clinical and research experience. She grew up in Mackay before completing her Bachelor’s degree and PhD at the University of Queensland. Deborah was Head of Speech Pathology for 11 years at UQ and is now an Emeritus Professor at the University. She has previously chaired the Board of the Speech Pathology Australia and brings a wealth of experience in the allied health sector. Deborah has a special interest in new models of service delivery.