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Changemaker- Jane Burns

Monday, 3rd June 2013 at 11:01 am
Staff Reporter
This week we profile Jane in Changemakers – a weekly column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.

Monday, 3rd June 2013
at 11:01 am
Staff Reporter



Changemaker- Jane Burns
Monday, 3rd June 2013 at 11:01 am

Associate Professor Jane Burns is the founder and CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, having established the $100m initiative in 2010.

The organisation brings together the youth and mental health sector in a partnership with young people and many of Australia’s outstanding researchers.

The Young and Well CRC’s research explores young people's use of technology and its impact on mental health and wellbeing.


This week we profile Jane in Changemakers – a weekly column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.

Jane holds a VicHealth Principal Research Fellowship at Orygen Youth Health Research Centre, Centre for Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and an Honorary Fellowship at the Brain & Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney. 

She was a Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco. She joined beyondblue: the national depression initiative in its start up phase and established and managed the youth agenda.

Jane completed her PhD in Medicine as a National Health and Medical Research Council Scholar at the University of Adelaide.
She was a Victorian Finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women's Awards and was listed in the Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence in 2012.

What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
I was on a career fast track with NHMRC (the National Health and Medical Research Council) as a scholar and then fellow and felt horribly frustrated as an Academic at my limited ability to really have an impact.

At the end of 1999 Professor Ian Hickie was appointed as the Inaugural CEO of beyondblue: the national depression initiative and I had a coffee with him to talk about what role I might play. I took on the Youth and Public Health Agenda and spent 4 years with the organisation from 2000 to 2004 before I headed to the US on a Harkness Fellowship.

On return I briefly went into the commercial world but it took me about 2 minutes to realise that I loved working in the Not-For-Profit sector and that my true passion was working with young people.

What do you like best about working in your current organisation?
Everything! I have an exceptional team who work hard but enjoy a good time and make me laugh, a visionary Board who allow the team to fly (while keeping us grounded), a group of young people who make up our Youth Brains Trust (advisory groups) who inspire me with their stories and their belief that young people can make the world a better place and 75 partner organisations with some of smartest, funniest, hard working and interesting people that I have the benefit of working with. I am never ever bored and while the job is tough I feel completely blessed to have the opportunity to lead an organisation like this.

I consider my greatest achievement to be…
Setting up the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre and having my third baby, Harry, at the same time. Harry came to practice interviews with the team at KordaMentha, made the trek to Canberra for our interview with the Department of Innovation and screamed his lungs out as we negotiated with 13 lawyers to get them to sign the Commonwealth Agreement. I’m convinced the partners in the Young and Well CRC took pity on me because I had a 6 month old, was on maternity leave and was literally working without pay.

Favourite saying …
Don’t get even. Get better.

I’m very bad at …

People interested in leading research and new practice in the field of young people, technology and wellbeing can be involved in and contribute to the work of the Young and Well CRC by joining the Young and Well Network.

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