Our Executive

Cheryl Vardon

Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner

Cheryl Vardon is the Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner of the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC). She has held the role since October 2015. 

Cheryl was awarded an honorary doctorate (Doctor of the University) from Griffith University in 2018. 

She has a distinguished career as an educator and is recognised for her leadership in the protection of vulnerable children and young people. 

Since 2016 Cheryl has led a series of reviews for the Queensland Government leading to practical systems reform measures to keep vulnerable children more than safe. Reviews into system reforms still continue under Cheryl’s leadership. 

She is an experienced reviewer of systems using case studies and stories to influence policy and establish reforms.

Cheryl’s work in Indigenous education and services for Indigenous children and young people has received a Prime Minister’s Reconciliation Award. 

She has held many leadership, board and statutory roles, as a Director-General, Chief Executive, Commissioner and Adjunct Professor, in private, public and not-for-profit organisations, including education departments, children’s services departments, consumer affairs, a national charity, universities, and tribunals. 

Cheryl is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Managers and Leaders, a Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a member of the Women's Leadership Institute Australia. 

Cheryl is an experienced public speaker, having delivered a number of keynotes across Australia and internationally throughout her career. 

To request Cheryl as a speaker or panellist at your next event, contact us.

Natalie Lewis

Commissioner

Natalie Lewis is a descendant of the Gamilaraay Nation and was appointed the Commissioner of the QFCC in May 2020. Natalie works to bring the rights of children to life and drive changes that improve the safety, wellbeing and interests of children and young people.

Natalie’s career spans more than 25 years across youth justice, child and family services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, providing direct service, program and policy development, and organisational leadership both in Australia and the United States.

Previously, Natalie was the Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak (QATSICPP) and held appointments on the Queensland First Children and Families Board and the Joint Ministerial Council for Closing the Gap. She also served for more than 8 years on the National Executive of SNAICC – National Voice for our Children, and co-chairs Family Matters: Strong communities, Strong culture, Stronger children, the national campaign to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in statutory child protection systems. In these roles, Natalie’s leadership has led to significant reform in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child protection and family services sectors.

Natalie is an adjunct research fellow at Griffith University, a member of the Australian Child Rights Task Force and a member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Group for the successor plan to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

Natalie remains fiercely committed to progressing a transformational reform agenda to ensure the rights of children are upheld in Queensland and nationally.

Jaime Blackburn

Executive Director - Child Death Prevention

Jaime is a senior executive and qualified accountant with extensive experience in both the public and private sector, having spent a significant period of her career delivering professional services within a ‘Big 4’ environment in Queensland and in the UK.  

Jaime previously worked for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and held roles in corporate governance, risk management and internal audit services. Jaime has also acted as a risk management advisor to other government Audit and Risk Management Committees.

Jaime leads the teams that delivers on the QFCC’s legislated child death prevention functions.  This includes maintaining Queensland’s child death register and identifying patterns and trends, with a focus on external causes of death which are avoidable and represent the greatest opportunity to prevent future deaths.

Jaime also led the design and implementation of the Child Death Review Board and now oversees the CDRB Secretariat activities.  The Secretariat supports the Board to undertake systemic reviews relating to the child protection system following relevant child deaths.

Penny Creamer

Executive Director - Oversight 

Penny Creamer is the Executive Director - Oversight has been with the QFCC since June 2018.

Penny brings a wealth of knowledge to the QFCC, having worked in child and youth services and the education sector for more than two decades. 

Penny has extensive experience working in Indigenous education, setting up early childhood programs in remote areas of Queensland including Cape York, Torres Strait Islands and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Further to this work, Penny led the implementation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child and family centres across 10 Queensland communities.

Working both internationally and here in Queensland, Penny has led a variety of policy and programs, including her work setting up the partnership agreement between child safety and education departments to improve educational outcomes for children in out-of-home care and the Bullying. No Way! campaign which provides information and ideas for students, parents and teachers to combat bullying.