Get to know Jude Munro AO

We are excited to announce that Jude Munro AO has been appointed a Director of The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Board.

Jude grew up in Port Melbourne and attended the University of Melbourne, where she graduated with honours in Political Science and Philosophy. Jude has postgraduate qualifications in Business Administration and Public Policy. She worked at Community Services Victoria for 11 years, where she developed a strong interest in children and young people, and the importance of providing services that strengthened and preserved families. She has been CEO of two capital city councils – Adelaide and Brisbane – and has spent the past two decades contributing to 20 Boards across 11 different industries. Alongside her new role on the RCH Board, she is the current Chair of Uniting Vic Tas and the Victorian Planning Authority.

We caught up with Jude to find out more about her incredible life and career and what she’s excited to bring to the RCH.

What does the RCH as an organisation represent to you?
The RCH is at the pinnacle of hospital services for children and young people, not just to Victoria and broader Australia but to the whole Pacific region. One of my ambitions is for RCH to continue being a global leader and maintain that position. The RCH is a place where parents and families can get the support they need, which is just tremendous as housing and health are among our most basic human needs. For parents, it must be such a desperate thing when a child gets ill. To have this wonderful and supportive place where everyone is overwhelmingly committed to the health and welfare of their child is just fantastic.

What are you excited to bring to the RCH Board? Do you feel you have a new perspective to offer?
My experience as Board Chair of the Victorian Planning Authority, has given me insight into understanding the physical and economic role of a medical precinct and the RCH’s precinct partners. Uniting VicTas, has given me a deeper understanding of the complexity of family life and the pressures that are on parents, families, children and young people. I have a lot to offer in relation to board governance. I spent six years on a board that ran four hospitals in South-East Queensland, including three years as Chair of their Quality and Safety Committee, where I introduced the “aviation model”. In aviation, there’s an absolute commitment to get to the root cause of any problem, mishap, or incident and there’s no blame. It’s a fantastic culture and I really loved being able to bring that into the hospital setting. What the aviation model means is that people are much more likely to say when there has been an accident or a problem, and everyone can then dive in and think about how it happened. If you have a systematic approach to that, then you can work together to find a solution. I know the RCH promotes and uses those principles of a just culture.

This year we are developing a new strategic plan for the RCH, what do you think the RCH’s future looks like?
I think maintaining that position at the top of the league ladder and in doing so, collaborating with others to further develop leadership in a network of paediatric care and services. I think it’s absolutely crucial that we maintain our position, but that the RCH also leads alongside others in the development of an overall plan for paediatric services and care.

You were a founding member of the Melbourne Gay Liberation Front, is there anything that you learnt from that experience that you still carry with you today?
More recently I was the inaugural Board Chair of the Victorian Pride Centre which is a welcoming and safe place for the LGBTIQ+ community – a place that celebrates our diversity and is “out and proud”. I suppose I’ve been an out gay woman for a very long time. I came out when I was a teenager. I think that’s one of the things that I’m really proud of with the RCH and its support of young people who are LGBTQI+. I think what I learnt at that time was the value of having a tribe that was supportive of you. I also learnt the importance for me as an individual to be courageous, and to sometimes take first steps that other people hadn’t taken before because it was an important thing to do for the positive benefit of the whole community. I think those early days of gay liberation have led to Australian society being more accepting, not just tolerating but accepting. I’m proud that boards are more supportive of diversity. It’s one of my commitments to encourage boards to be as diverse as they possibly can be, and really reflect the community we serve.

What’s an achievement that you’re most proud of?
My proudest achievement was serving a population of 1.1 million people as the CEO of Brisbane City Council for 10 years. This involved running the water and sewage services, public transport, rubbish collection, building of major bridges and tunnels and local community services. Over a seven-year period, we increased bus patronage by more than 70 per cent through the deployment of rapid and frequent bus services. It was a breakthrough in service provision. It changed people’s lives. Many municipal services are behind the scenes ones. I call them the magic services, as they’re the essential services that people don’t know much about. They just press the button and it flushes, or step on a bus and it gets them from A to B. I think that’s also the case in hospitals where you have many services behind the scenes that keep the place humming – the cleaning services, meals provision, and maintenance of equipment. Hospitals have many magic services. I loved the last edition of Stethoscoop on the working life of the retiring RCH’s Executive Chef, Deb Kennedy, and her team.

What do you think makes a good leader and do you have any advice for others?
We were born with two ears and one mouth. I think that learning to listen in order to discern people’s needs is crucial. Then you can debate, discuss and work together to come up with solutions based on a climate of trusting each other.

What do you like to do when you have downtime?
I love going to concerts and musicals, bushwalking and cycling. I like going to see the odd production put on by the Victorian Opera as they’re always a little out there, it’s fantastic. One of the last operas I went to was a children’s tale, called The Selfish Giant which was about a giant who wanted to keep a garden just for himself but the children wanted to play in it. He learnt that if the children weren’t there, then spring and summer wouldn’t come, and it would be permanent winter. He slowly realised the importance of sharing the wonderful benefits he’d been given, and began to open up the garden so that the children could enjoy it too, and spring and summer returned.

It’s a beautiful story for the RCH isn’t it, and for those of us in Victoria. I know we do it during the Good Friday Appeal but it’s so important for those of us in a position to do so, to share what we can to make the world a better place. We’ve such tremendous skills and abilities at the RCH to make our world a more caring and kinder place. I’m a Kindness Ambassador. It is something to aim for isn’t it?  More kindness in the world.

Jude has been appointed for an initial three-year term and in other Board updates, Elleni Bereded-Samuel AM was re-appointed for two more years and Pallavi Khanna was re-appointed for three more years.


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