Margot Mains

Fellow of the University of Wollongong

Citation delivered by Doctor David Williams AM, Chair of the Honorary Alumni Chapter at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Margot Kathleen Mains as a Fellow of the University on 7 October 2021.

Chancellor, I present to you Margot Kathleen Mains.

Margot Mains is a health expert, strategic thinker and an authentic leader who has dedicated her career to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of communities in the Illawarra, across Australia and overseas.

Margot began her career as a Registered General and Obstetrics Nurse in New Zealand in 1978 and went on to hold several strategic leadership roles as CEO of the Mid Central District Health Board in Palmerston North and then the Capital and Coast District Health Board for the Wellington region, and as Strategic Program Leader with the Accident Compensation Corporation. A passionate lifelong learner, she completed concurrently a Diploma of Nursing Education, a Bachelor of Laws majoring in Health and Employment, and Harvard Business School’s Finance for Senior Executives summer program.

Margot relocated to Australia in 2011 as Chief Executive of the North Adelaide Local Health Network, before bringing her wealth of international healthcare leadership expertise to her current role as CEO of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) in 2014. Under her leadership the Illawarra Shoalhaven district has benefited from more than $1.2 billion in funding for new and projected infrastructure projects including the new Bulli Hospital and Aged Care Centre that opened in July 2020, a community centre at Warrawong, the redevelopment of Shoalhaven Hospital and the new Shellharbour Hospital.

Since then, Margot has had a phenomenal impact on healthcare in our region. She played a decisive role in establishing the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative in August 2015, uniting more than 20 organisations with lived experience advocates to address unacceptably high rates of suicide in the district. She is also responsible for committing ISLHD to the Birthing on Country Program, a South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation initiative to address the maternal and perinatal gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and babies.

More recently, Margot’s decisiveness, authentic leadership and strengths as a communicator have underpinned the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District team’s effective planning and management in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently working to ensure the smooth rollout of the region’s vaccination program. Throughout this extraordinarily challenging period, she has remained focused on strategic goals, building a robust and resilient network of hospitals and community health services and playing a pivotal role in securing funding towards a much-needed new hospital in Shellharbour.

A hallmark of Margot’s time with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District has been building a thriving research culture to position the organisation as a leader and innovator in improving health service delivery. The Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District now has a dedicated research unit supporting the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, and as a member of IHMRI’s board for almost six years shares her valuable experience and insights. Margot also chairs the executive steering committee of the Centre for Health Research Illawarra Shoalhaven Population in UOW’s Australian Health Services Research Institute.

A proud and active member of the community, Margot generously gives her time to numerous organisations including the Illawarra Domestic and Family Violence Trauma Recovery Centre, sharing her expertise with emerging leaders through the Leadership Illawarra Program.

Chancellor, Margot Mains’ significant and continued contribution to the health and wellbeing of the Illawarra and Shoalhaven community, and to research leadership and impact, is extensive and without parallel.

It is a privilege to present Margot Kathleen Mains to be admitted as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.