Staff Information

Photo of Maria Brett
Chief Executive Officer
Naarm (Melbourne)
maria.brett [at]

Maria Brett has more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in the non-profit sector. In addition to her leadership capabilities, Maria brings to Lirata her passion for social justice, and a suite of leadership and organisational development services she has developed in her consulting work. Maria’s expertise adds to the breadth and depth of Lirata’s service offerings.

At the age of 28, after a major life upheaval, Maria went in search of meaning. This took her to meditation and a 30-year exploration of mindfulness. Inspired to make a difference in the world, she had a brief career in the law, then moved on to campaign for causes close to her heart – the environment and human rights – and to work as a mental health professional. This led Maria into several leadership roles in the non-profit sector, where she has been an influential leader. 

With qualifications in law, politics and counselling, Maria has had a diverse career managing the delivery of human services in Australia and in the UK, including child and family welfare services, counselling, and community mental health services. She has also delivered organisational capacity building programs for the volunteer sector in the UK, and has worked in private practice as a psychotherapist. At executive level, Maria was Executive Director of the East Timor Human Rights Centre and Executive Director of International Social Service Australia.

In her last executive role, Maria was CEO of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, the national peak body for the counselling and psychotherapy professions. Over ten years, she led the organisation through a period of major change and achieved significant organisational growth, advocating for increased access to mental health services, and building a purpose-driven organisational culture grounded in ethics and resilience.

Prior to joining Lirata, Maria was consulting in her own practice, Maria Brett The Growing Edge. Her consulting work has focussed on leadership and organisational development for non-profit organisations.  This has included Maria’s Courageous Leadership Program, executive coaching and mentoring services, and keynote addresses on topics including People-Centred Culture, Courageous Leadership, and Thriving in the Age of Disruption. Maria now offers all of these services through Lirata, adding to Lirata’s suite of services that aim to strengthen people and organisations.

Maria has integrated a lifetime of learning about mindfulness, resilience and leadership, and her own development journey, to design people-centred consulting services, and to support individuals, teams and organisations to build their capacity and increase their impact for the communities they serve.


2012 Advanced Certificate of Relational Gestalt Counselling, Gestalt Therapy Australia
2006 Graduate Diploma in Counselling Psychotherapy, University of East London
1992 Bachelor of Laws, Monash University
1989 Bachelor of Arts (Politics), Monash University
2021 IECL Organisational Coach (Level 1)
2021 Certified Genos Emotional Intelligence Assessor
1993 Admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria

Key service areas



Sector policy development
Organisational review
Leadership development
Leadership mentoring
Leadership coaching
Strategic and operational planning
Organisational planning
Organisational and sector development
Organisational policy and systems development
Human resources advisory
Change management and conflict resolution
Communications advisory
Management advisory - other
Alliance building
Sector coordination
MEL training


Alcohol and other drug
Child, youth and family
Education and training
Mental health
Problem gambling

Working with Lirata

- current

Maria's articles & resources

Abstract circular image
Reflective dialogue for transformational learning
Reflective dialogue is a practice that supports leaders and their teams to embrace learning, to give and receive fearless feedback, and to move beyond continuous improvement to innovation and growth. In this article, Lirata CEO, Maria Brett, explores single and double loop learning and considers the benefits – and limitations - of single loop learning, and the opportunities presented by reflective dialogue for leaders who want to learn more deeply.