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Julie Hassard (Chair)


As a public health and health promotion professional, Julie encourages people to find the information, support and connections they need to improve their health and wellbeing.

She trained as a nurse in the 1980s and worked in hospitals, aged care and in women’s health and the disability sector. Julie managed state-wide and national public education programs including SunSmart and PapScreen for the Cancer Council Victoria. She led information and support programs for Breast Cancer Network Australia and Ovarian Cancer Australia which informed, supported and connected women and families affected by cancer. She is particularly interested in helping people navigate the end phase of life, a time which is so often feared, misunderstood and hidden in our society.
Julie is very familiar with living without a mum. She became a motherless daughter in her mid-twenties, when her mum Barbara died. Two of her nieces lost their mum, Jacquie, when they were pre-schoolers, and two of her other nieces lost their mum, Selina, when they were in primary school.

“I’m proud to be involved in Motherless Daughters Australia. This unique organisation offers daughters the chance to connect with others in the same boat. There’s nothing as powerful and comforting as connecting with someone who truly understands what it’s like, living without your mum."

Rita Marigliani



Rita has a passion for bringing corporate and community together. With a career that has spanned both the not for profit and corporate sector, she is driven by the potential of collaborations which connect social needs to those with the resources and skills to address them. Her most recent work at Medibank has been focused on developing and executing its Corporate Social Responsibility and Wellbeing strategy which recognises the impact that connecting with communities and each other has on individual wellbeing.

A former Chair and continuing member of the London Benchmarking Group Australia and New Zealand Steering Group, Rita has enjoyed volunteering in Indigenous communities, breast cancer peer support and advocacy and mentoring disadvantaged students.

Rita was 22 when she lost her mother Maria to breast cancer and has a lived experience of life milestones without a mother’s support and guidance, and the opportunity to share life’s achievements and joys. She has seen firsthand the value of bringing together those with a shared experience to provide a listening ear and support to navigate difficult times.



Sally Browne

Sally Browne has had a diverse life…
As a teenager she played the washboard with the Red Onion Jazz band. In the late 60’s she became a Fashion Designer, started her own business and won a myriad of awards for excellence in fashion design and business leadership.  
Concurrent with raising four children and running her fashion business, she worked with scientists in Finland developing the first heart rate monitor to measure and identify stress. Eager for more challenges and adventures she moved from high fashion to high altitude adventures in the Everest region and went on to summit Mt Kilimanjaro. She is always planning a new adventure or business venture, more recently she has been studying 3D printing.
Sally is an Australia Day Ambassador and serves on a number of committees and boards. She is also involved with philanthropic activities through her Charitable Foundations. Sally’s mum died of Motor Neurone Disease when Sally was a young mother herself.
Over a decade ago she started a group for young women who had lost their mothers, sweetly known as ‘Girls without Mummies’. She has always had a real soft spot for young women who lose their mums and is honoured to be involved with Motherless Daughters Australia.

Maureen Miles


Maureen trained as a Nurse in the 1970’s. This training opened doors to many prospects to pursue positions where she was able to address social justice, equality and equity issues such as working in Community health, Women’s health, Family planning and Maternal and Child Health.
She has been an advocate for vulnerable populations in all these roles but one of her greatest passions, Midwifery practice presented her with the opportunity to work in partnership with birthing women who did not always fit the social norms.
She carried her goal for safe care for childbearing women into her academic career gaining positions at Monash University, Federation University and the last three years at Deakin University to teach and support the next generation of highly competent nurses and midwives. A proud achievement was attaining her PhD in 2013.

More recently, Maureen has qualified as a marriage and funeral celebrant, her goal is to motivate individuals, couples and families, with courage and confidence to co-create their own meaningful ceremony, whatever the occasion. Birth and Death, are intrinsically linked and Maureen has been very fortunate to have participated in these events, which can be poorly understood, strike fear in many and the affects can last a lifetime, but Maureen believes that support and information are powerful healers.
Maureen was in her mid-twenties and three months pregnant with her second child, when her mum, Joan, died from cancer. She was 50 years old, strong, independent and a funny woman who hated cooking. Missing her is part of Maureen's life. Maureen believes that we all need to have a safe place to share with others who get it and a support network that is vital in the journey without mum.



Kellie Curtain


Kellie has a passion for telling other people's stories. A former broadcast journalist, she has more than 15 years experience covering News and Current Affairs for Australia's major television networks. The mother of four recently returned from six years living in the Middle East with a futher developed skill set in online journalism and writing for corporate events. Her move to expat life came when she was 42, a year after losing her mother Pamela to breast cancer, who was 71.  

For the self confessed 'home body', leaving Australia and her close network of family and friends was a big step, but no bigger then the prospect of life without her mum who had been her best friend and part of her day, everyday. She didn't know it at the time, but life in the sands provided an opportunity to heal and to write the book she didn't know she had in her. 'What will I wear to your funeral?' is a memoir about final conversations before dying. It's raw, funny, heart breaking and depicts the unique bond between mother and daughter.

Kellie is currently Media Manager for Breast Cancer Network Australia and an ambassador for Advanced Care Planning Australia. She also has a website, Indelible Marks that celebrates the 'Sistergood'.

You can read about Kellie's book here.



Vanessa Marven


From hosting media at New York Fashion Week to running international campaign photo shoots in remote Outback Australia, Vanessa has enjoyed some ridiculously good perks and a highly rewarding marketing career spanning more than two decades, with some of the world’s most recognised brands including HUGO BOSS, R.M.Williams and Universal Pictures.

She has also applied her expertise and personal passion to the not for profit sector, developing and promoting campaigns for the National Breast Cancer Foundation including Global Illumination, Pink Ribbon Day and Fashion Targets Breast Cancer; a campaign created to generate public awareness and research funding for breast cancer in young women.

Currently the Regional Head of Marketing & Communications South East Asia and Pacific at HUGO BOSS, Vanessa oversees multiple markets including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Singapore.

Vanessa was 18 when her mum, Rosemary, died from breast cancer. She was just 46 and a single mum to three kids; the youngest being nine. It was decades before social media and there was very little support available in any form.

“I desperately wanted to connect with others who shared my experience. I remember going to the local library and finding just one book which I struggled to relate to anyway. I strongly believe that if a support network for women and girls who had lost their mums had existed back then, it would have helped to ease the loneliness and isolation that I, and many others I’m sure, felt in being a motherless daughter“.