Farewell Helene - Muscular Dystrophy Queensland

Farewell Helene

It is with some sadness that I am announcing my retirement, effective on 26 May, after 8.5 years leading this much-loved organisation. Muscular Dystrophy Queensland will continue in strong and capable hands with Penny Deavin following me as the General Manager/Acting Chief Executive Officer, and a new position, General Manager of Client Services, will be created. During 8.5 years as CEO, Penny’s support and loyalty have been beyond invaluable.

penny and helene modified Muscular Dystrophy Queensland

                (Penny and Helene)

I am grateful for my time as CEO at Muscular Dystrophy Queensland, having the opportunity to grow and build the organisation so that it can assist our community members to live the lives they choose. I started with a simple goal to influence a positive change for at least one person every week. Upon reflection, I am satisfied that this – and more – has been achieved. Early on, I took over the client services management role in addition to that of CEO. I have loved this role.

As you know, Muscular Dystrophy Queensland fundraises to support our charitable services.

I have been able to leave this function in Penny’s capable hands, however, I have had the opportunity to be involved in events, including overcoming my fear of motorbikes, to ride pillion on a Harley.

I have also met many generous donors and supporters.

helene small Muscular Dystrophy Queensland

I am proud that our organisation has been able to retain our charitable services, despite the NDIS requiring the organisation to transition to a business.  For me, the InfoLine is the jewel in our crown with Suzi Zahnow doing great work in providing information and support for people who have just been diagnosed; refused eligibility for an NDIS Plan; or who are experiencing a crisis and their first instinct is to call Muscular Dystrophy Queensland.

In my early days, you told me you needed an allied health team who understood your unique needs. The NDIS was the opportunity, and I was so lucky to have Lynne Borgert with me, creating what is now a team of seven physiotherapists, occupational therapists and allied health assistants, who are known by you and members of the sector for their expertise, commitment and empathy.

With the NDIS, we transitioned case management services to Support Coordination, and I think it’s because of the team’s knowledge and dogged determination to get the best outcomes for their participants, that there is constant pressure to grow this team. For those who could not imagine having to deal with paying invoices etc, we also offer a Plan Management service.

It’s exciting to see the NDIS transform the lives of our community members and to know that I have been a part of that change.

Advocacy has long been my passion.

The NDIS was not designed with a person with a progressive condition in mind, nor did it consider the higher costs incurred by small, specialist organisations, however, no matter how long and hard we advocate, change does not happen.

helene helen lynne Muscular Dystrophy Queensland

I have had more success with advocacy at state level, with Qld Health seeing that my proposal for a cough assist loan machine service would benefit your health and well-being when you most needed it. Yesterday, someone also reminded me of our successful advocacy to re-instate the neuromuscular allied health team at the Princess Alexandra hospital. That was exciting!

The last three years have been difficult, mainly with COVID affecting the safety of my staff and our community, and also generating other challenges which continue to this day. Working in a COVID environment challenged my resilience in leadership and imposed yet another set of transformational change on our wonderful staff and community. Some of the changes have been positive though, including transition to a home-based working model.

So, after a career which began as a speech pathologist, it is time to retire. I have four children who live in three Australian states and the UK, and six grandchildren who are wanting extended visits from grandma. I am looking forward to having more time to garden, cook, and read. More time for long walks and catch ups with friends.

Thank you everyone for everything. Of course, I will still be interested in Muscular Dystrophy Queensland, and I will miss you all.  Hopefully there will be some catch ups from time to time.

Helene Frayne

CEO, Helene Frayne