Helen Haines’ Bio
Helen Haines has lived and worked as a nurse, midwife, health administrator and medical researcher in North East Victoria (Chiltern, Rutherglen and Wangaratta) for more than 32 years. She has committed her working life to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of communities across the North East.
Helen is a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health, Melbourne Medical School, Director of the Rural Health Academic Network (RHAN) and Executive Director of the Education and Research Unit at Northeast Health Wangaratta.
She grew up with her four brothers on the family dairy farm at Eurack, 30 kilometres north of Colac, on the edge of Victoria’s Western Plains. Helen attended Eurack state primary school, a one-teacher school where enrolments rarely exceeded 12 students. After completing year 12 at Trinity College, Colac, where she was school captain, Helen followed in the footsteps of her aunts and trained as a registered nurse at St Vincent’s Hospital and later as a midwife at the Mercy Maternity Hospital in Melbourne. She gave the valedictory speech for both graduating classes.
On moving to North East Victoria in 1986, Helen began work as a midwife at the Wangaratta Base Hospital before being appointed as the youngest ever administrator and Director of Nursing at the Chiltern Bush Nursing Hospital. Helen continued her nurse education, obtaining a bachelor’s degree through distance study at Deakin University and later returned to Wangaratta Base Hospital as a midwife where she helped establish the Wangaratta Community Midwife Program. This pioneering program recently celebrated 20 years of service to women and families across the region.
Helen pursued an interest in epidemiology and public health through a master’s degree at the University of New South Wales which took her to Uppsala University, Sweden, in 2004. She later enrolled for her PhD at Uppsala University, completing a doctoral degree in Medical Science in 2012 and a postdoctoral fellowship at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, home of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. Her doctoral research work is now implemented in healthcare across the United Kingdom, Ireland, Europe and Scandinavia.
Helen is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership program. She is a board member of St Catherine’s Aged Care in Wangaratta and Indigo Power Community Energy Retailer. She is a former director of the Hume Medicare Local, former director, chair and now life member of Ovens and King (now Gateway) Community Health Service, and former board member and chair of Wangaratta Unlimited – Economic Advisory Board to the Rural City of Wangaratta.
Helen lives with her husband Phil on their small beef farm by the King River outside Wangaratta, where they raised their three children and for many years also ran a farmstay accommodation business.
The ‘why’ (I’m running for Indi)
It’s pretty simple.
I care. I love this region and I care very much about the communities who make this their home. My home. I have had the great privilege of standing beside many of my fellow citizens through the best of times and the worst of times in my long career as a health professional. Working in healthcare means you see the very best and worst impacts public policy can make on people’s lives and after decades of working to improve this on a local level, I am ready to take that fight to Canberra.
It’s about us. The Indi Way of doing politics – the values of respect, inclusion, diversity, listening; of recognising the power within communities. These are the values by which I’ve lived my life. This is not about the individual MP. It’s not about a party or a rigid ideology. It’s about all of us. I have not harboured lifelong political ambitions. Even just a few months ago I dismissed this idea out of hand. But regional communities like ours rely on people showing up and pitching in. So too does our way of doing politics. I’m putting my hand up to build on what our little movement started in 2013, what Cathy McGowan championed in office and then pass it on to the next community representative who will come after.
I am ready. I have spent my working life improving health outcomes for people. I am now ready to work more broadly with the people of Indi and take on the challenges of listening to them and representing them. I have the life experience, the professional expertise and the history of deep involvement with our community that will guide me through the rigours of running for public office and, if successful, being an MP our community can be proud of. I have developed analytical discipline through my work in medical research. The skills I gained as a midwife and nurse – empathy, a listening ear, compassion and
no-nonsense work ethic – are the same ones I would bring to this job. My track record demonstrates that I can stay the course and deliver for our community.
It’s time. The ‘Independent’ brand has proved itself and nowhere more than here where our member Cathy McGowan has shown Australia what doing politics differently can look like. Now, more than ever, Indi, regional Australia and federal politics need respectful, authentic, skilled citizen politicians. Our work here is far from done. I say ‘no thank-you’ to big party politics in our electorate. But presenting an alternative to that takes belief and courage. I have both and I am willing to be considered by the people of Indi.
This is about all of us, not one of us …..that’s why.