Gillard will take over from current chair and beyondblue founder Jeff Kennett at the end of June.
The organisation, founded in 2000, aims to raise awareness of depression, anxiety and suicide prevention.
In a statement posted on beyondblue’s website today, Gillard said she grew up with an awareness of mental health issues.
“My father was a psychiatric nurse so I grew up with an awareness of and commitment to mental health causes,” she said.
“I’m absolutely delighted that Jeff and the board have the confidence in me to take over as chair of an organisation that has made such a difference in the lives of so many Australians, but there is only ever going to be one founder and without Jeff Kennett there would not be a beyondblue at all.”
beyondblue said Gillard was the first former Prime Minister to run a not-for-profit organisation since Malcolm Fraser launched aid organisation CARE Australia in 1987.
Kennett said Gillard’s appointment showed beyondblue’s “fierce bipartisanship”.
“beyondblue is part of my DNA,” Kennett said. “Outside my family, it has been my most important role.
“I’ll miss it, but I’ll miss it less knowing that in Julia’s hands the organisation will go from strength to strength.
“Julia Gillard’s influence as a former leader of this country, her warmth and her commitment to the cause make her the ideal person to lead beyondblue when I step down on July 1.
“In her we have found a person who is emotionally committed to the cause and has the ability to cut through the clutter and drive change for the wellbeing of all Australians.”
Gillard, Australia’s first female Prime Minister, has lived in Adelaide after leaving politics and is an honorary professor in the School of History and Politics at the University of Adelaide.
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