Welcoming Our New Board Members to Strengthen and Lead the Counselling Profession in Australia

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We are thrilled to announce the appointment of three new ACA Board members, who will play a pivotal role in strengthening, accelerating, and leading the counselling profession across Australia. This significant step forward is part of our commitment to spreading leadership Australia-wide, with representatives spanning Queensland, Western Australia, and Victoria.

The role of a Board is to govern the organisation and is responsible for the financial management, legislative compliance, strategic direction and policy.  The experience and diversity of our new board brings together a skillset, knowledge and experience that will transition and transform ACA on its next phase. Our Board now represents government policy experience, accreditation, allied health workplace leadership in various settings and business models, entrepreneurship in addition to counselling, NGO’s and mental health sector.

Our New Board Members

Dr Stephen O’Kane

Master of Counselling
ACA Level 4 Member
ACA College of Supervisors Member
ACA Ethics & Professional Standards Committee Member

Dr. Stephen O’Kane is a specialist in family violence and relationships counselling and a Counselling Supervisor in private practice with expertise in trauma and violence-related issues. He has extensive experience working with crisis and homelessness clients, assisting men with intervention orders, and supporting women and children fleeing violence. Stephen has chaired the board of a disability services organisation and holds a Company Directors Diploma. With over two decades of experience in government policy and allied health workforce planning, his expertise will be instrumental in advocating for the counselling profession at the national level.

Ms Georgina Akers

Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy
ACA Level 4 Member
ACA College of Supervisors
ACA Accreditation Committee Member

Georgina Akers has a rich background in accreditation and education. With her extensive experience in academic leadership and accreditation processes, she will ensure that our profession maintains the highest standards of practice and continuous professional development. Georgina has worked in diverse settings including Bandyup Women’s Prison, schools, and private practice. Georgina is currently completing a PhD in Counselling. As a counselling academic since 2017, she designed an online Master of Counselling program, earning the 2023 Vice-Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. Georgina is committed to advancing education and advocating for inclusive policies and ethical standards in the counselling profession.

Ms Sara Edwards

Master of Counselling
ACA Level 4 Member
ACA College of Supervisors
ACA Accreditation Committee Member

Sara Edwards is a seasoned professional in allied health workforce management, bringing over 22 years of expertise in the non-profit sector, strategic planning, and stakeholder engagement. She has guided multidisciplinary teams and crafted impactful initiatives, thriving on cultivating relationships and pioneering solutions to complex challenges. With a Master of Counselling, her deep knowledge of healthcare ensures compliance and robust risk management. Sara’s strategic vision and hands-on experience in workforce development will be key in addressing the evolving needs of our profession and enhancing our service delivery across diverse communities. A staunch advocate for the counselling profession, she is dedicated to supporting counsellors at all career stages and is excited to contribute to the ACA’s mission and objectives.

Our Existing Board Members

Our three new Board Members join our existing Board as appointed in the 2023 Annual General Meeting. The ACA Board represents our diverse membership with perspectives spanning student, Indigenous, regional and remote, supervision, and collectively their experience in private practice, employed roles, and policy.

Dee Hardy, President

Dee Hardy is a seasoned entrepreneur with extensive experience in setting up and managing businesses. As an expert in interpersonal dynamics and business management, Dee has a strong background in all essential aspects of business development, including branding, marketing, and strategic planning. In her role as a private practitioner, she is dedicated to advancing the growth and recognition of the counselling profession. Dee shares ACA’s mission to advocate for, support, and uphold the highest standards for counsellors in Australia, promoting quality care, accountability, and continuous education.

Amaya Iriondo, Board Member & Secretary

With many years of experience working within the broader healthcare industry, Amaya holds a Master of Counselling and is currently the secretary of the ACA. Approachable and empathetic by nature Amaya is a counsellor who prioritises a strong therapeutic foundation as the cornerstone of her sessions. Incorporating many years of professional knowledge and lived experience, she takes a strengths-based approach to counselling which includes looking at a client’s interests, abilities and supports to help them realise their ability to tackle life’s challenges. Amaya has a passion to advance the standing of the counselling profession within society to help ensure that communities and families across Australia are supported with the highest level of care. 

Katherine Nelson, Board Member

Katherine Nelson is experienced in business building, marketing, education, curriculum development, and implementation. With expertise in registration and compliance for RTO development, she excels in guidance, career counselling, supervision, and training. Demonstrating a proficiency in governance, innovation, and strategy, Katherine’s skills extend to emergent enterprise and leadership, both in the international public and private sectors.

Di Wilson, Treasurer

Di Wilson has been the Treasurer of ACA since 2010 and is a qualified CPA. She brings extensive experience developed across a wide range of industries including Private Education, Community Services, Engineering/Public Safety and Allied Health. With a deep understanding of financial management and strategic planning, Di has been instrumental in ensuring the financial stability and growth of ACA. Di’s long-term service and dedication to the role of Treasurer reflects her unwavering commitment to the ACA’s mission and values.

Adam McIlvanie, Student Representative

Adam McIlvanie contributes a unique student perspective in his role as ACA Student Representative. Currently the Acting CEO for an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, Adam oversees counselling programs funded by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, focusing on social and emotional wellbeing and alcohol and other drugs services. Adam holds a Certificate IV in Mental Health and a Diploma in Management & Leadership, and he is currently pursuing a Diploma in Counselling.


Strengthening Our Governance

With this dynamic and experienced team at the helm, we are confident that the counselling profession in Australia will continue to thrive and evolve. Their collective wealth of knowledge and passion for advancing our field will guide us in moving the profession in the right direction, fostering growth, and enhancing the impact of counselling services nationwide.

We look forward to their contributions and the positive changes they will bring to our profession.

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