Starting the organisation
Inspired and encouraged by a friend and mentor who started a similar organisation in the United States, Rebecca became determined to create a similar resource for Australian widowed people and teamed up with Lauren and Carren to navigate the process of establishing a not-for-profit organisation here in Australia.
Rebecca, Lauren and Carren, along with Jo and Deanna, who joined the team in our early days, have worked tirelessly to bring First Light Widowed Association to life. By meeting and working at nights and weekends, the women combined their shared strengths and expertise; undertook further studies; and reached out to family, friends and other inspiring leaders in the Brisbane not-for-profit community for support and guidance.
Management committee & leadership team
President and Executive Director
Rebecca’s desire to help widowed people navigate the bereavement process stemmed from her own experience in losing her husband unexpectedly in 2013, only six weeks after their wedding.
Feeling totally devastated and unprepared to navigate the grief process and rebuild her life, Rebecca was left searching for widowed grief support and realised this was lacking in Australia. After travelling to the United States to attend Camp Widow, a healing retreat/conference for widowed people in 2014, Rebecca turned a corner with her own bereavement and the dream of building First Light Widowed Association in Australia was born.
Rebecca has drawn upon her leadership skills, her commitment to serving widowed people and her career as a writer, professional communications advisor and events coordinator to lead and grow First Light.
Jo was widowed at 36 when her husband died instantly in a motorbike accident in September 2013, leaving her a solo parent to their two daughters. Living in a regional area.
She struggled finding others to connect with locally and found it difficult to navigate both her and the girls’ grief without the support and understanding from those who understood.
In early 2016 she relocated to Brisbane and became aware of First Light through another young widow. At the time of attending her first meeting Jo was looking for support. Leaving that day, she knew she wanted to be involved in helping to establish and grow the organization and to help others to find the support and connection she felt she missed in those early years.
Jo is the Catch-ups Coordinator and is a regular host at the Brisbane Catch-ups. She is currently studying towards a Diploma of Counselling.
Carren became a widow when her husband David unexpectedly suffered a heart attack at work. In the most sudden set of circumstances, she was left to manage her own grief and the grief of their blended family.
While she had wonderful support from family and friends, around 12 months into her widowhood, she began to seek out a different kind of support, those who were also widowed young and could ‘get’ her new normal. This widowed community support and the connections she made would lead her to First Light Widowed Association.
Carren has an extensive background in education and training environments, particularly in adult education. She is also an experienced manager with skills in operational program management, risk management and human resources. Carren’s organisational skills have supported the management team in the development of First Light Widowed Association.
Treasurer and Finance Manager
As an accountant, Deanna brings experience in financial accounting, management accounting and external auditing across several sectors including not-for-profit.
With an eye for detail, a love of spreadsheets and a can-do attitude, she is an invaluable asset to the team.
While recovering from chronic health issues herself, Deanna realised the importance of support groups and connection with others going through the same experience. She is excited to help First Light Widowed Association achieve its mission and help the widowed community in Australia.
First Light is honoured to recognise the support of our wonderful ambassadors. Our ambassadors come from a range of backgrounds, however, they all have exceptional stories, are respected and recognised in their chosen fields and embody the values of our organisation.
Matt Golinski is a highly regarded, professional chef with a passion for creating cuisine using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Well known as from the popular ‘Ready Steady Cook’ television series.
Matt has worked as executive chef at some of Queensland’s leading restaurants and founded his own catering company.
Based on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Matt now enjoys working as a consulting chef to restaurants, being a regular guest chef at festivals and events and writing his popular food columns and blog. He is also an active member of the Slow Food movement and a motivational speaker.
In March 2018, Matt joined the Peppers Noosa Resort team as their Consultant Executive Chef, developing menus that consolidate his knowledge and love of the producers of his region.
In December 2011, Matt lost his wife and three daughters in a house fire and spent 4 months in hospital with severe burns. Over the past 10 years he has worked hard to rebuild his life, and now lives on the Sunshine Coast with his partner Erin and their three-year-old daughter Aluna.
Matt believes that, like the burns community that supported him over the first few years of his recovery by providing a support network of burns survivors going through similar challenges, First Light provides a connection to other people going through the grief of losing a partner and shows them that they are not alone.
Robin Bailey is a radio and television presenter with more than 30 years experience. She has worked all over the country as a breakfast radio announcer, but has called Brisbane home for the last twenty years.
She is currently a part of the Robin, Terry and Bob Breakfast Show on 97.3fm. As well as doing weekly segments on The Weekend Today Show, Robin has had an award winning podcast on Mamma Mia and is currently developing a website and podcast space for women over 40.
Robin is an ambassador for First Light because she understands the struggles of not only surviving but rebuilding and thriving following the death of a spouse.
Robin has three teenage sons and in the last six years she has helped her boys deal with the suicide of their father and then the death of their step-dad two years ago.
Robin is passionate about treating death with honesty, raw emotion and a fair bit of light-hearted banter.
Hope, community, understanding
Join our community for access to information, resources, events, and a network of widowed people for peer support. Our membership is free, with options to upgrade and contribute later to keep us running and helping others.