Born in Tasmania, and having lived there for most of her life, Catryna Bilyk was first elected as a Labor Senator for Tasmania in November 2007 taking her seat in the Senate on 1 July 2008. She was re-elected in 2013, 2016 and 2019.
Catryna’s previous experience included a variety of roles including medical administration, research and early childhood education. While working with the Australian Services Union she set up the first Union Jobskills Program and represented the Union on many Industry Training Advisory Boards. She was the ASU delegate to Unions Tasmania and held the position of Senior Vice President of Unions Tasmania. She has also served as National Vice-President of the Australian Labor Party.
In the years immediately prior to her election to the Senate Catryna was employed by the Tasmanian Government as an Advisor/Electorate Officer with Tasmanian Government Ministers David Crean, David Llewellyn and Ken Bacon.
Catryna has also worked for over a decade as an early childhood educator, and early in her career as a research assistant for mental health pioneer Dr Eric Cunningham Dax.
Shortly before commencing her first term, Catryna was diagnosed with two brain tumours which were successfully removed. Her subsequent involvement in the brain cancer community—meeting patients and their families—has motivated her to continue campaigning for a greater Government effort to improve the low survival rates for brain cancers and tumours. Throughout her service as a senator she has often been a lone voice in Parliament in advocating for more brain cancer research funding. Catryna was diagnosed with two more tumours in late 2020 and late 2021 which she is currently living with.
Among Catryna’s achievements are raising over $200,000 for Cure Brain Cancer, securing hundreds of millions of dollars for rare and low-survival cancer research, saving Palliative Care Tasmania from closure (twice), working with the Workplace Relations Minister to establish a presumption of compensation to Federal firefighters with cancer, and successfully campaigning for the Catalyst arts slush fund to be closed and $80 million funding returned to the Australia Council.
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