FOS’s new manager of Stakeholder Engagement and Communications, Veronica McGowan, brings significant experience and a strong history of community engagement to the role.
Veronica has more than 25 years’ experience in communications, stakeholder engagement, and government and media relations. Most recently, she has been working as a public relations consultant with a diverse portfolio of clients across the public and private sectors. She has held senior executive positions in the private sector, including executive roles at Coles Myer including Government Affairs Manager, Public Affairs Manager, Customer Engagement Manager and National Public Relations Manager. Veronica has also worked in the public service, including a stint as Press Secretary with the Victorian Government.
She says she is committed to using her skills for ‘good rather than evil’ and the campaigns she is most proud of in her career are not necessarily the high-profile ones, but the ones which have given a voice to people who were previously poorly represented in public debate.
One of these is a project training women who have had an experience of domestic violence to become media advocates. The project helped women with a lived experience of domestic violence to advocate for changes in community attitudes towards family violence.
“The project has helped them be skilled and supported so they can say what they want to say about changing the way family violence is reported, especially in the media. Over 200 women have now been trained in media and public speaking and many of these women now commonly appear in media, speaking about domestic violence. Before we started this project there were very few women’s voices,’’ Veronica said.
“I’ve also done advocacy work with Indigenous Australians, refugees and disadvantaged citizens, and it has been very satisfying to be involved in projects that help people to find their voice and be supported in knowing how to work with the media and government.”
Along with a belief in accessibility to justice, it was a passion for customer service that attracted Veronica to FOS and she is excited to be given an opportunity to employ her extensive experience in strengthening FOS’s stakeholder engagement and communications.
“I’m keen to speak up when service isn’t up to my expectations and I really enjoy the process of exploring organisations’ responses and how their customer service and complaint resolution procedures and responses work or don’t.”
“I’m very interested in working with the organisation internally and listening to and consulting with external stakeholders to find out what level of engagement is right for the various programs and strategies that FOS has in place and developing the most appropriate communications approaches to support FOS’s work.”
“FOS is undergoing a major reform process to help deliver faster and fairer dispute resolution so naturally there’s a lot of change, a lot of colour and movement, and I’m very interested in focusing not just on churning information out but making sure that FOS has in place communications strategies and approaches that will achieve genuine results from meaningful engagement.”
Outside of work Veronica keeps busy looking after her four children and playing an active role in her community.
She is one of 14 children and said in her family there was a strong emphasis on community service and contributing.
“In my family you had to contribute something – you had to be involved – so I’ve always been on various school and community committees as well as Boards and the like. Making a contribution is very firmly embedded in my family ethos.”