John has been a passionate advocate for suicide prevention throughout his public service, bringing awareness and openness to a topic that for many years was treated as taboo. John was first appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in 2012 and in 2018 was appointed the state's first Premier's Advocate for Suicide Prevention.
During his time as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary John showed commitment and support and consistently put pressure on the State Government to enhance its efforts – in both programs and funding – that led to the development of its 2017-2021 State Suicide Prevention Strategy. John advocated for the development of a suicide register, Ministerial Suicide Prevention Council, training programs and the development of a dedicated Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.
In his current role John leads the Premier's Council on Suicide Prevention, a group made up of experts in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention. John works closely with many suicide prevention networks and organisations, such as the 801 Group, Silent Ripples, Beyond Blue, Mates in Construction, Standby as well as the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist at SA Health, and many more.
The Premier's Council on Suicide Prevention builds on the vital work of the state's suicide prevention networks and associated voluntary groups. The council is working to increase the profile and reach of suicide prevention initiatives across South Australia and enhance community participation in suicide prevention activities.
John remains dedicated and passionate about all things related to suicide prevention and is always seeking to reduce the stigma by encouraging discussion and support.
John has long been a passionate advocate for surrogacy. Having been contacted by many people wanting desperately to be parents but being forced by restrictive laws to go overseas, John fought for many years to create laws in South Australia that would protect both biological parents and surrogates.
In 2014, legislation drafted by John finally passed through the House of Assembly. The Family Relationships (Surrogacy) Amendment Bill 2014 improved access to surrogacy by creating a surrogacy register, established a framework for advertising for surrogates and increased the availability of counselling for surrogates and their partners.
In 2019, in collaboration with Attorney General Vickie Chapman, the South Australian Surrogacy Bill 2019 was passed into state legislation. The new Bill built upon the groundwork laid by the Family Relationships (Surrogacy) Amendment Bill 2014, allowing even more families the option of surrogacy. The new legislation removes the previous restriction on single parents and parents who are unable to contribute their own genetic material as well as adding new protections for surrogates such as compensation for loss of income.
John has been a White Ribbon Ambassador since 2008, fighting against violence against women and standing up as a public voice for the cause.
Additionally, born and raised in Gawler, it has been important to John to remain based in the area and continue to support local community issues.
John has been involved in many different community groups, including:
- Rotary Club of Gawler
- Gawler & Districts Softball Association
- Two Wells Football & Netball Sporting Club
- Adelaide Plains Football League
- Gawler Agricultural, Horticultural, and Floricultural Society
- Operation Flinders Foundation
- Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal
- Northern Agricultural Shows Association
- Gawler River Uniting Church
- Gawler Tourism & Trade Authority