We are thankful for the support of our wonderful Patrons and Ambassadors, who generously give their time, energy and passion to help support our important programs, campaigns and fundraising events.
With 1.5 million Australians unaware they have indicators of chronic kidney disease, helping to raise community awareness of the prevention and early detection of kidney health issues is vital.
Patron-in-Chief — His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC
His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia
Peter Cosgrove was born in Sydney in 1947. The son of a soldier, he attended Waverley College in Sydney and graduated in 1968 from the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
Early in his military career, he fought in Vietnam, commanding a rifle platoon. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1971 for his performance and leadership during an assault on enemy positions.
In 1972, he served as Aide de Camp to Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck. He returned to regimental life as second in command of a Company, rising to Adjutant then Company Commander in the Army’s 5th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR), then 5/7 RAR in Holsworthy, Sydney.
Subsequent appointments included a period as a tactics instructor at the Army’s Infantry Centre in Singleton, New South Wales; a year’s study at the United States Marine Corps Staff College in Quantico, USA; extended periods of duty in the United Kingdom and India; and command of 1 RAR. He was appointed a Member in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service in command in 1983-84.
Peter Cosgrove came to national attention in 1999 when, as Commander of the International Task Force East Timor (INTERFET), he was responsible for overseeing that country’s transition to independence. For his leadership in this role he was promoted to Companion in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AC).
Promoted to Lieutenant General, he was appointed Chief of Army in 2000. After further promotion to General, he served as Chief of the Defence Force from 2002-2005. He retired from the Australian Defence Force in 2005.
Subsequently, he accepted positions on several boards, including QANTAS, Cardno and the Australian Rugby Union. He was appointed by the Queensland Government to lead the taskforce rebuilding communities in the Innisfail region following the devastation caused by Cyclone Larry in 2006. From 2007 to 2012, he chaired the Council of the Australian War Memorial, and served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2010 until early 2014.
On 25 March 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that General Cosgrove would become a Knight in the Order of Australia when sworn in as Governor-General.
General Sir Peter Cosgrove gave the Boyer Lectures series, ‘A Very Australian Conversation’ in 2009. His autobiography ‘My Story’ was published in 2006. He was named Australian of the Year in 2001.
An avid sports follower, General Sir Peter Cosgrove takes particular interest in rugby and cricket. He and his wife Lady Cosgrove have three adult sons and one grandson.
Honorary Patron – Sir Jack Brabham OBE
Sir Jack Brabham OBE (2 April 1926 – 19 May 2014)
Formula One World Champion
We pay tribute to our Honorary Patron, three-time Formula One champion and world motorsport legend, Sir Jack Brabham.
Sir Jack was one of the most accomplished and colourful racing drivers in the history of motorsport. Winner of three world titles in 1959, 1960 and 1966, he was the first Formula One driver to be awarded knighthood in 1978.
A talented engineer, Sir Jack also ran a successful motor repair business and was a loving husband, father and grandfather.
Sir Jack suffered from kidney disease and was on dialysis for a number of years.
As a proud Patron of Kidney Health Australia since 2008, he passionately supported our vision and work. Together with his wife and fellow Patron, Lady Margaret Brabham, Sir Jack attended numerous fundraising events, campaigns and special functions.
When Sir Jack's kidneys failed, he was able to remain active and get as much out of every day as possible. Sir Jack was extremely passionate about encouraging kidney patients on dialysis to continue the activities they enjoy and live their lives to the full. Sir Jack gave hope to many people young and old, and was a true legend.
Patron – Lady Margaret Brabham
Photo credit: AAP / Dave Hunt
Lady Margaret Brabham
Lady Margaret Brabham has been a proud Patron of Kidney Health Australia since 2008.
Generous with her time, Lady Brabham has supported numerous fundraising events, campaigns and special functions to help raise vital awareness of kidney disease.
Ours is a cause close to Lady Brabham’s heart. Her late husband, three-time Formula One champion and icon of world motorsport Sir Jack Brabham, suffered from kidney disease and was on dialysis for a number of years. An Australian motor racing legend, Sir Jack was the first F1 driver to be awarded knighthood in 1978.
Lady Brabham says, ‘Sir Jack was in his seventies when he appeared to have some early signs of kidney disease. With a family history of kidney failure, he had been seeing a nephrologist on a regular basis.
‘Within a few years, he started receiving peritoneal dialysis treatment. I did the exchanges at home for a few months until a problem arose and he required haemodialysis. For the next eight years, he was very fortunate to receive Fresenius treatment at the Allamanda Dialysis Unit on the Gold Coast.
‘Jack was extremely fortunate that at the end of his life he was quite well and happy with no real problems.
‘I am very proud to continue as a Patron for Kidney Health Australia. I am constantly amazed at their wonderful programs for dialysis and transplant patients. So many programs are in place, such as the Kidney Kids Camp, Big Red Kidney Bus and the Emorgo Kidney Transplant House, which make the lives of kidney patients a little easier.
‘Kidney Health Australia has a large, dedicated and caring team, and offers an enormous amount of literature on kidney health on their website and in hard-copy formats.’
Lady Brabham was born in Kent in the United Kingdom and immigrated to Australia with her parents as a young girl. She has two daughters from a previous marriage, two granddaughters and two grandsons.
Patron – Mr Normie Rowe AM
Mr Normie Rowe AM
Normie Rowe has been a proud Patron of Kidney Health Australia since 2009.
As Australia’s first ‘King of Pop’, he released a string of hit singles in the sixties including ‘Que Sera Sera’, ‘Oh La La’, ‘Shakin’ All Over’, ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’, and ‘It’s Not Easy.’
From 1966, Normie toured the UK with an array of music legends including Gene Pitney and The Troggs.
His music career was interrupted in 1968, when he was drafted for compulsory military service in Vietnam. He was discharged in 1970 and today remains a leading advocate and spokesman for Vietnam Veterans.
Normie is well known for his role as Doug Fletcher in the Australian TV soap opera ‘Sons and Daughters’. He has also had leading roles in a variety of musicals, including ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Annie’, ‘Chess’, ‘Evita’, ‘Cyrano’, ‘Get Happy’ and ‘Oklahoma’.
Most recently, Normie portrayed former Prime Minister Harold Holt in the docu-drama 'The Prime Minister is Missing' on ABC TV, and received national acclaim for his performances in the 'Long Way To The Top' concert tour.
In 2005, Normie was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame and was named a ‘National Hero’ by the Australian War Memorial.
This year, Normie is celebrating his 50th year of recording with the release of his new CD 'Frenzy'.
He is a Member of The Order of Australia (AM) for his services to Vietnam veterans, the entertainment industry and the community.
Normie says: ‘Kidney disease is a silent killer; with 1.5 million Australians unaware they have indicators of chronic kidney disease. When I first became aware of this dire health issue, I was stunned. I approached Kidney Health Australia to help get the important message out, and became a national Patron.
‘Prevention is vital. I am dedicated to helping educate the Australian community, particularly those most at risk, on how important it is to keep a close eye on your kidney health.’
Ambassador – David Hussey
Australian cricketer, David Hussey, is one of the most experienced Twenty20 cricketers in the world.
David retired from first-class cricket in April this year, following a 12-year career with the Victorian Bushrangers. The right-handed batsman played 69 one-day and 39 Twenty20 internationals for Australia.
In 2015/16, David will embark on his fourth Big Bash League (BBL) with the Melbourne Stars. He is also the newly appointed batting coach for the Commonwealth Bank Bushrangers.
In September 2015, David joined Kidney Health Australia as an official Ambassador. He recently supported the Kidney Health Research Walk in Melbourne to help raise funds to save and improve the lives of Australians affected by kidney disease.
“Kidney disease is one of Australia's most serious and growing public health problems, with one in three Australians at an increased risk. Of serious concern is that 90 per cent of kidney function can be lost without experiencing any symptoms. In my role as an Ambassador, I’m really looking forward to getting behind Kidney Health Australia’s programs, campaigns and events that help to promote good kidney health," said David Hussey.
Ambassador – Frankie J. Holden AO
Frankie J. Holden AO is a popular Australian actor, singer and TV presenter.
He began his show-business career with the legendary rock group, ‘OL’ 55’, one of the most successful Australian recording acts of all time.
Frankie has created some of Australian television’s most memorable characters, with leading roles in long-running serials, such as Police Rescue, Underbelly and A Place To Call Home.
He has appeared in more than 30 films, both in Australia and overseas. In 1990, Frankie was awarded ‘Best Actor’ in a tele-feature by The Australian Film Institute and The Australian Television Society for his performance in Police Crop.
The 1989 film, Return Home, earnt Frankie an AFI Nomination for Best Performance in a feature film. In 2007, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the AFI Awards for his work opposite Brenda Blethyn in Clubland. He has hosted the AFI Awards three times.
In theatre, Frankie has toured with productions including The Rocky Horror Show (1992) and Grease (1994). Recently, he appeared in the MTC production of David Williamson’s Don Parties On.
Frankie is one of Australia’s most popular TV presenters. From 1993 to 1996, he was part of the team roaming the globe for Channel Seven’s The Great Outdoors. He has also hosted his own LIVE variety program on the Nine Network, In Melbourne Tonight, and from 2008 to 2014, co-hosted, What’s Up Down Under, with his wife Michelle - a family travel show on the Ten Network.
Currently, Frankie can be seen as ‘Roy Briggs’ in A Place To Call Home – the top-rating Australian drama on the Foxtel network.
In 2014, Frankie joined Kidney Health Australia as an Ambassador. His first official engagement was launching Kidney Health Week 2014 at Parliament House in Canberra.
Ambassador – Phil Davis
Co-Captain, Greater Western Sydney Giants
Phil Davis, Co-Captain of the Greater Western Sydney Giants joins Kidney Health Australia as an Ambassador in 2016 bringing with him personal experience of kidney injury.
Kidney health is of utmost importance to Phil after facing the loss of a kidney in 2014 after being injured during an on field collision against the Sydney Swans. Two operations ultimately saved Phil’s kidney and since that time maintaining his kidney health has been a priority. Through his role with Kidney Health Australia he hopes to create a greater awareness of kidney issue and risk factors.
“Acute Kidney injury is a real concern in a hard tackling sport like Aussie Rules. I’m truly thankful for all the doctors did to save my kidney. In my role as Ambassador, I hope I can fight as hard as I do on the footy field for people with kidney issues, whether that be injuries or disease,” said Davis.
One of the GIANTS’ three inaugural co-captains, Canberra-born Phil Davis was one of the first un-contracted players to join the club after being drafted to the Adelaide Crows. The key defender was picked at selection 10 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft from North Adelaide, after he moved from the ACT to South Australia with his family at the age of 14. Playing in the number 1 guernsey, Davis was awarded the GIANTS Best Defender Award at the 2012 Kevin Sheedy Medal.
Outside of football Davis studies Commerce at The University of Sydney and majoring in Finance and Accounting.
Kidney Health Australia is proud to welcome Phil as an Ambassador and looks forward to helping raise awareness of kidney health.
Ambassador – Rochelle Pitt
Singer/songwriter and renal registered nurse
Rochelle is a Butchulla/Kalkadoon/Wirri Indigenous Australian, who started singing in church and school choirs in Cairns, far north Queensland.
She learnt her vocal skills from listening to her aunties and uncles singing the old gospel hymns, and realised at a young age the power of music and voice.
Rochelle started singing professionally at the age of 23, when she wrote and released her first EP, ‘Black to Reality’, which is full of uplifting and inspirational songs. Her Indigi-groove hit, ‘Too Deadly My Sister,’ is still played on Indigenous community radio.
In 2014, Rochelle appeared on Channel Seven’s X Factor as a top eight finalist. She became renowned as the ‘soul mama’ for her ability to sing a diverse variety of genres in her unique soul/blues/jazz style.
Rochelle says being a professional singer/songwriter and a renal nurse has helped shape her life path. ‘I know that I’m here to make a statement about the strength, beauty and love we all have inside us.
‘Music is therapy, love and life; it nourishes our soul and puts us in a good place. That’s why I will never stop singing, it’s who I am and it’s part of me. I hope everyone gets something from my music. I want people to feel uplifted and positive when listening to and seeing me perform.’
In June 2015, Rochelle became an official Ambassador for Kidney Health Australia.
‘I’m excited about my new role as an Ambassador for Kidney Health Australia’, says Rochelle.
‘Having worked as a renal nurse for many years and being an Indigenous Australian, I am extremely passionate about talking with my people about their kidneys and health.
‘Kidneys are definitely the unsung heroes within us. They are such simple organs, yet do so much, and we need to learn to love and respect our kidneys and look after them, as they endlessly look after us. Love your kidneys, and they will love you right back.’
Ambassador – Sharna Burgess
Ambassador Sharna Burgess
Australian professional dancer and choreographer, based in the US
Sharna is currently starring in the ABC’s (US) hit television show, Dancing with the Stars USA (DWTS) and is paired with Nick Carter from the iconic music group, The Backstreet Boys. Since 2012, Sharna’s DWTS dance partners have included American Sergeant and motivational speaker Noah Galloway, Olympic Gold Medalist ice-skater Charlie White, NFL player Keyshawn Johnson and comedian Andy Dick.
Sharna grew up in Wagga Wagga, and at age five, began training in ballet, jazz and gymnastics. By eight years of age, she had started ballroom dancing. Within these first few years, she had won numerous local and national dance titles.
At 15, she was chosen to represent Australia at the World Championships in both the Standard and Latin styles. Her accolades and national prominence went on to earn her the distinguished honor of performing in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games closing ceremony, a privilege and a memory she will always cherish.
In 2006, famed choreographer, Jason Gilkison, chose Sharna to go on tour with the hit dance sensation, Burn The Floor. Wildly successful, it sold in excess of four million tickets in over 30 countries and 160 cities worldwide.
During that time, Sharna also had guest appearances on Dancing with the Stars Australia, Dancing with the Stars USA and So You Think You Can Dance Holland. She was also the assistant choreographer to Jason Gilkison on So You Think You Can Dance USA and So You Think You Can Dance Australia.
In 2009, Burn The Floor landed on Broadway with Sharna as one of the lead female dancers. After achieving her lifelong dream of doing Broadway, Sharna went on to choreograph the film, Street Dance 2: 3D, which was released in the UK, Europe, India, Australia, and Asia in 2012. This catapulted Sharna into landing her on one of the biggest prime-time network television shows, Dancing with the Stars USA.
Sharna’s new venture, alongside Paul Kirkland, called DanceFuzion, is a unique dance convention for all ages and levels to learn from dancing pros and iconic choreographers in effort to build a larger, more open dance community. The inaugural event is expected to be held in 2016.
Sharna is involved with non-profit organisations, such as the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in the US and is a Global Ambassador for Kidney Health Australia.