Helen’s first not-for-profit roles were within the organization now known as Early Childhood Australia (Late 1990s). Since then, she advised State Governments on policies to regulate child care and kindergarten (Early 2000s), and has offered policy and political advice to Federal Members of Parliament on early childhood, school education and workplace relations in both Government and Opposition (Up to 2012). Helen also worked in what was then the Vice-Chancellor’s Strategy Unit at the University of Melbourne (Late 2000s).
With 16 years’ experience in supporting governance and strategy including 10 years’ experience in early childhood policy and advocacy, she volunteered for the Society. In 2012, she became CEO of Caroline Chisholm Society.
Since joining Caroline Chisholm Society, Helen has overseen a clear strategic direction of ‘bigger but not too big’ at ‘three strong sites’ in order to support staff to empower expectant and new mothers. During her tenure, she has stabilized the asset base of the organization with the opening of a fit for purpose office in Moonee Valley in March 2017, provided financial and clinical governance for the Goulburn Valley operations with the service receiving funds from government for the first time in its history, and implemented clear measurable tools for quality practice including in the Society’s work in Melbourne’s outer west based in Caroline Springs such as the Outcome Star.
Helen is the youngest of five Cooney children who grew up in Weston Creek, ACT and, shortly after Canberra’s 2003 bushfires, moved to Melbourne to study the use of plain and stained glass windows in 19th century church architecture of William Wilkinson Wardell. It felt like home as her parents grew up in Seddon and Bentleigh. Helen has a Masters of Government and Commercial Law.
Some of Helen’s views and opinions can be found here:
- Opinion: Caroline Chisholm Society Victorian Election Statement 2018
“Caroline Chisholm Society Strategy and Plan” at Olivia’s Place Board Planning Meeting 19 Jul, 2017
Cooney, H “Speaking notes”, “Who are society’s vulnerable people in the changing environment?” – Catholic Social Services Victoria planning day, 9 December, 2016.
“Speaking notes” Caroline Chisholm Society – Moonee Valley Official Opening. 4 March 2017.
Cooney, H, “Can NGO’s Effectively Engage in the Democratic Process?” An excerpt from Davis Glyn, “Meanjiin”. The Miegunyah Press. Vol 74, No. 3 Spring 2015.
Cooney, H, “What are your biggest priorities and greatest challenges” An excerpt from “In Sight”. VCOSS. Issue 13, 2015.
“Speaking notes” Goulburn Valley Pregnancy & Support Volunteers’ Day 15 May, 2015.
A response to questions from Moonee Valley Community during 2014 Victorian Election
“After the choice: Supporting mothers who continue pregnancy through the complexities of life.” at That’s Life Week: A week where the big social issues are examined @ ACU 19 Aug, 2014
“Caroline Chisholm, the woman, the Society and the work” at International Women’s Day Breakfast @ Moonee Valley City Council 6 March, 2013
Helen’s presentations to the Annual General Meeting of Caroline Chisholm Society are here: