Born and bred in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs as the youngest of four children, I have long held a passion to improve the opportunities and way of life for people in my community.
Interest in politics has been a family affair, with my brother, Michael, serving as Australia’s Health Minister in the federal parliament.
I grew up watching my parents work hard to build a profitable business and raise a family – experiences that have shown me how persistence and drive will ultimately achieve success.
This helped me graduate from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree with Honours, before I went on to study an MBA at Harvard University.
Employment with consultants McKinsey & Company and major Australian media organisation, Publishing & Broadcasting Limited (PBL), has meant I have worked with some of the world’s leading companies, and learnt skills to manage a business effectively.
I also worked as a Senior Adviser to the Australian Government. As part of my work in the small business policy area, I advocated for and achieved increased Government funding for COMET, a program which supports small innovative businesses to grow through business mentoring and seed funding.
Prior to being elected I was the Chief Executive Officer of The Foundation for Young Australians – an organisation committed to the pursuit of leadership and redressing disadvantage for young people. During my time at FYA, we introduced innovative changes to the organisation so that it is led by young people, including the appointment of young people as decision makers on the Board and all committees.
Community participation and volunteering have long been important parts of my life. An interest in women’s health and a commitment to achieve better health care for women meant I became involved with the Breast Cancer Network Australia, a cause I’m still supportive of and involved in.
It was through this involvement that I met my husband, Andrew, who is a doctor at Box Hill Hospital and the founder of the Otis Foundation. Married since 2003, we have a young son, who keeps us busy and reminds me of why I want to improve the way of life for people in my community.
Mary was elected as the Member for Doncaster at the November 2006 Election and was re-elected in 2010. With the election of the Coalition Government Mary was appointmed as the Minister for Mental Health, Community Services and Women's Affairs and in 2013 also as the Minster for Disability Services and Reform. Click here to read about Mary's achievements during her time in Government.
Following a redistribution of electorate boundaries that came into effect at the November 2014 election, the seat of Doncaster was abolished and Mary was elected to the Legislative Council as a representative for the Eastern Metropolitan Region. Click here to read Mary's achievements during her time as the Member for Doncaster.
Following the December 2014 election and her move to the upper house, Mary was elected by her colleagues Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council and Shadow Minister for Health.