Our Executive

Cheryl Vardon

Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner

Cheryl Vardon has held the role of Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner since October 2015.

Cheryl has had a distinguished career as an educator and is recognised for her leadership in the protection of vulnerable children and young people and for Indigenous education. She is an experienced leader of policy implementation and system reform.

As the Principal Commissioner, Cheryl is committed to working with families and children, government agencies, and community organisations to make Queensland a safer place to raise a family. As a leader with extensive experience, Cheryl is well positioned to play a key role in the reform of Queensland’s child protection and family support system and to champion the needs of all children and families, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

One of Cheryl’s first priorities and achievements was to establish the QFCC Advisory Council which helps her to deliver on the QFCC’s mandate through collaborative partnerships across the sector.

Cheryl is currently also a member of the Women’s Leadership Institute, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, Fellow of the Australian College of Education and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Previous positions:

  • Director-General of Education for Western Australia
  • Chief Executive of the ACT Department of Education and Children's Services
  • Vice Principal of the University of Melbourne • Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra
  • Chief Executive of the Department of Public and Consumer Affairs
  • Commissioner for Consumer Affairs for South Australia
  • Regional Director of Education in Victoria
  • Statutory roles for:
    • Social Security Appeals Tribunal
    • Commonwealth Safety and Rehabilitation Compensation Commission
    • Teachers Disciplinary Appeals Board, Victorian Government.

Major projects and recognition

  • Led the review of child protection services and management, Territory as Parent and The Territory’s Children, (2004)
  • Consulted on the establishment of a secondary school for Indigenous Fijian children on Turtle Island in Fiji (2003-05)
  • Consultation to philanthropic leaders in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia to develop programs and services for disadvantaged young people (2001-03)
  • Commonwealth Government Reconciliation Council Award for her work on Indigenous education (Western Australia, 1998). 

To find out more about Cheryl’s previous work and to stay connected to her work at the QFCC, follow Cheryl Vardon on LinkedIn.

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Phillip Brooks


Phillip Brooks is the Commissioner at the QFCC and joined in October 2017. Phillip has held an esteemed career in the child, youth and family support portfolio in Queensland and began working for the Queensland Government 17 years ago as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Police trainee in Innisfail with the Queensland Police Service.

Phillip is a descendant of the Bidjara Tribe (Great Grandfather), the Kairi Tribe (Great Grandmother), and the Ducabrook Clan located at Springsure Central Queensland. Although, growing up he spent the majority of his time living in Townsville North Queensland. As a result, Phillip is deeply invested to responding in ways that support and enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to exercise their responsibilities and to heal, grow and prosper.

Previous positions

  • North Queensland Regional Director, Child Family and Community Service, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services
  • Executive Director, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Families, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services
  • Director, Child and Family Reform, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services
  • Director, Regional Operations Centre, Department of Communities
  • Officer in Charge, Charleville District, Queensland Police Service
  • Manager, Child Safety Service Centre
  • Manager, Youth Justice Service Centre

Major projects and recognition

  • Led and designed Our Way: A generational strategy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families (PDF, 4.99MB). Reflected in the strategy are the views and voices of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, community members and non-government organisations. (2016)
  • Co-designed the $150m state-wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander integrated services under the Child Safety reforms. This procurement was targeted to only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisations. (2014)
  • As Director, Government Coordination Queensland Government formed the Regional Operations Centre in conjunction with federal government under the Closing the Gap strategy. (2010)

Follow Phillip Brooks on LinkedIn.

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Cheryl Leavy

Deputy Commissioner

Cheryl Leavy is the Deputy Commissioner of Research and Child Death Prevention and joined the QFCC in June 2017. She is passionate about promoting and advocating for safe, caring and connected communities and reducing the over-representation of First Australian children in the child protection system.

Cheryl has enjoyed a notable career working with both the private sector and across state and federal governments in the health, taxation, education and transport portfolios. She has served on several boards including as a representative of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

Cheryl has deep experience and expertise engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations.

A Kooma Traditional Owner, Cheryl’s country is in southern inland Queensland between Cunnamulla and St George.

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Dr Leanne Gill

Deputy Commissioner

Leanne has been the Deputy Commissioner for Programs since September 2017 and is responsible for the QFCC’s oversight and evaluation of the sector. Leanne has a depth of experience as a public sector executive and leader that can build teams and work with stakeholders to deliver innovative solutions to meet government priorities. She has worked in strategic change roles across the Queensland public service and tertiary education sectors drawing on her background in organisational development, talent management, capability development, performance management, applied research and performance evaluation; and has worked as a university lecturer in the field.

Some of Leanne’s achievements include the sector’s Gender Pay Equity Review, the effectiveness review of the Queensland Mental Health Commission and the design of Government wide reforms in human capital management at the Queensland Public Service Commission. Leanne undertook a 3 month placement with the United Kingdom Civil Service, hosted by Civil Service Learning in 2015.

Leanne holds a Doctorate in Education (thesis on building organisational capability), and Masters and Undergraduate Degrees in Business Management from Queensland University of Technology and has been a member of the QUT Graduate School of Business Advisory Board since 2012.

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Natalie Conner

Deputy Commissioner

Natalie Conner has held the position of Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Services at the QFCC since October 2016.

Natalie has worked as a Senior Executive in the Queensland public service for over a decade and came to the QFCC with broad experience gained in regional and head office environments. Her industry experiences include working with sectors as diverse as transport to as specialised as parks, sport and racing. Prior to coming to QFCC, she worked in the social policy team responsible for child protection and domestic and family violence prevention in the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

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Tracy Fogarty


Tracy Fogarty is the Director to the Principal Commissioner. She joined the QFCC in April 2016.

Tracy has worked in a range of governance and program management roles in the Queensland public service for over a decade. She has worked in a diverse range of portfolios including environment and natural resources, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and multicultural affairs. Tracy has provided professional executive support to a number of Chief Executives. Prior to joining the QFCC, Tracy worked in the Department of the Premier and Cabinet on Queensland’s child protection and domestic and family violence reforms.

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11 July 2018