Board of Directors
CHAIR – Ms Fleur McDonald
Fleur McDonald is a bestselling Australian author, farmer and women’s rights advocate often referred to as ‘the Voice of the Outback’. Fleur has been within the Agriculture industry since studying Agribusiness at College and subsequently meeting her future husband in 1996. She has been a single mother for the last 3 years to her two children and is an active and devoted local community leader in her home town of Esperance including the Committee of Farming Champions, the Bay of Isles Community Outreach Committee (BOICO) and the Esperance & Districts Agricultural Show. Fleur is an active member with the Rotary Club of Esperance Bay and was the first female Co-Director of Prickle Farm. A champion for the voice of rural people, particularly women, Fleur has always strived to positively promote and celebrate women in Agriculture. She was State finalist for the prestigious RDRIC Rural Women’s Award in 2017 and now the founder and Chair of Breaking the Silence. It’s a project close to her heart, as she wants to lift the lid on domestic violence – it’s not always physical – and connect women in remote Australia who may not have the resources to find the help they need.
Treasurer – Mr Tom Murray
Tom is 68 years old, has been married to Jenny for 44 years and they have four adult children and seven grandchildren. His occupation has been farming and wine production and they are now semi-retired. Tom has lived his whole life in Esperance and has a deep attachment to both the town and its people. Apart from involvement in the local fire brigade and farming industry committees he has been a member Rotary for over 20 years; holding a number of directorships and serving as club treasurer and president. “I have been very fortunate that domestic violence has not been an issue in either my life or those close to me, so my perspective is based predominantly on media reporting”. “Breaking the Silence is a positive initiative to make it easier for those affected to get professional help which can prevent further harm and facilitate healing, and I look forward to being able to support Fleur in her endeavours.”
Secretary – Mrs Michaela White
Michaela has worked and lived in agriculture for over 20 years alongside her husband. When circumstances led them to move to Perth she worked in Administration for Government, Juvenile Justice and Private Enterprise. She has been President and/or Secretary for many community organisations over the years for both educational and sporting clubs. In 2016 she moved to Condingup so that her husband could return to his love of working on the land and she commenced as PA to Fleur McDonald in 2017. “I am very passionate about ensuring that Family & Domestic Violence issues are heard and shared in rural areas, there is a lot of hardship in the country – having a safe home should not be one of them”.
Board Member – Mrs Heather James
Heather James is the owner and director of Esperance Funeral Services, which she has successfully managed for the last 20 years. Kindness, compassion and empathy are skills required within this industry. Heather is an active member/Secretary of Rotary Club of Esperance Bay and only recently stepped down from Esperance Chamber of Commerce. Having seen many forms of domestic violence within her line of work, Heather is dedicated to using her skills to make a difference, while on the board of directors of Breaking the Silence. Heather is married to Kevin for twenty-nine years and together they have one daughter.
Dr Mike Mears – Board Member
Born and raised in rural south west of England, went to University in London, qualified in medicine 1985 and Migrated to WA in 1995 initially to work for the RFDS in Kalgoorlie. Has been a GP in Esperance since 1999 providing Obstetric and Emergency services in addition to partnership in a group practice. Was a Senior Lecturer, latterly Associate Professor, with the Rural Clinical School of WA from 2002-2015 instrumental in setting up and teaching at the Esperance site and spent several years as a board member of the Eastern Goldfields Division of General Practice. Has been married to Dorothy for 25 years and has 2 sons. “My professional life has exposed me to human cost of abuse and domestic violence and I have often been frustrated by the lack of concrete resources available to help empower people to transition from victim to survivor”.
Mrs Shelley Smith – Board Member
Shelley moved to Esperance in 1981 to farm in the area with her husband and two sons, followed by a daughter born in Esperance. Shelley returned to teaching part time in 1985 and continued studying then working full time whilst raising their family. She completed her B.ED, M.Ed & Prof Doc and retired in 2010 whilst Principal of Condingup Primary school in the Esperance Shire. Shelley is currently a Justice of the peace and is Chairman of Bay of Isles Community Outreach (BOICO) – a local mental health support organisation. Her children are now all married with their own families and live away from the district.
Jan Creedon – Board Member
Jan is a Pharmacist Manager who, before that was a Bank Officer. A woman with a large heart, runs her own Meal-on-Wheels and spends a lot of time with the elderly members of the Esperance community. She currently lives in Esperance WA. She is married to Peter and have two adult children and three grandchildren.
Mr Paul Wennagel – Board Member
After growing up on a dairy farm in rural Victoria, Paul studied agricultural science at Dookie College. Life’s travels saw Paul visiting Esperance in his twenties, and he eventually made Esperance home, with his family in 1994. He started and operated a successful computing business over more than 20 years, immersing himself in the local community – as a Board or Committee member for numerous community and business organisations. He is an active member of the Rotary Club of Esperance Bay and has held the position of President for two terms. Paul has seen first-hand the heartbreaking impact of non-physical domestic abuse, and has joined the Breaking the Silence board of directors to help those in need access support services, many of which are not readily available in our rural areas. Together with his gifted and inspiring wife Lee, Paul shares three daughters and two grandchildren.
Mr Ian Gardner – Board Member
Ian Gardner is the Co-founder of D|cifa, an analysis company to help improve the results of businesses; and Squares that look Round, a consultant company which has a heavy focus on finance and strategic management. With business interests all over the world, he is an entrepreneur with vision. He lives in Esperance.