Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens
I was first elected to the Australian Senate for the state of NSW in 2001 and re-elected In 2007. I was appointed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, and Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector in the new Rudd Labor government. My responsibilities involved building an ambitious change agenda for Australia’s third sector. This included the National Compact, a National Volunteering Strategy, and a program of regulatory reform leading to the establishment of Australia's first national charities register - the Australian Charities and Non Profit Regulator which came into being in 2012.
Prior to 2007, I served in a number of roles including as Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Parliamentary Secretary for Science and Water, and Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Development and on numerous committees within the Parliament.
I completed my a PhD in Public Administration, following Masters studies in Adult Education and a Bachelor of Education degree. Before entering parliament I was involved in adult and community education, after training as a primary and special education teacher. I have also served on numerous advisory and regulatory bodies and boards in the public and community sectors.
My passions are community development, adult and community education, social justice and environmental issues, and I have been actively involved in grassroots movements in these areas in Australia for more than 30 years. I thrive on the opportunities that support innovative and creative thinking. I've written widely on the challenges of governing for the common good. I'm working towards an Australia that is vibrant and tolerant and acknowledges our responsibilities as international citizens.
Outside Parliament, I enjoy supporting and mentoring a number of social entrepreneurs and social enterprises. Born in Wicklow, Ireland,we're a strong Irish clan and I am chairperson of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Ireland and the Australia-Russia Parliamentary Friendship Group.
I live with my husband on a farm outside Goulburn in country NSW. In our spare time we indulge our grandchildren, work on our permaculture garden, go bushwalking, and take to the open road on our motorbikes.