Julia Gillard is taking over from Jeff Kennett as chair of Beyondblue

Julia Gillard and Jeff Kennett. Source: supplied

Former prime minister, Julia Gillard, will replace Jeff Kennett as chair of beyondblue.

Kennett leaves 17 years after he founded the national depression, anxiety and suicide prevention organisation in 2000.

The search for a new head has taken three years and today Kennett was full of praise for a political rival, pointing out that she’s the first former PM to run a not-for-profit organisation in 30 years since Malcolm Fraser launched CARE Australia.

“Julia Gillard’s influence as a former leader of this country, her warmth and her commitment to the cause make her the ideal person to lead beyondblue when I step down on July 1,” he said.

“In her we have found a person who is personally committed to the cause and has the ability to cut through the clutter and drive change for the wellbeing of all Australians.”

Kennett said the organisation’s work was motivated by something bigger than politics.

“Nobody owns beyondblue. It is owned by the community, in particular those living with mental health conditions, their families, friends and colleagues,” he said.

Gillard joined the board in 2014 and was unanimously by the directors.

She said that growing up with a father who was a psychiatric nurse gave her an awareness of and commitment to mental health causes.

“I’m absolutely delighted that Jeff and the board have the confidence in me to take over as chair of an organisation that has made such a difference in the lives of so many Australians, but there is only ever going to be one Founder and without Jeff Kennett there would not be a beyondblue at all,” she said.

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