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Conference Advisory Committee 2024

Below are Conference Advisory Committee members for the Preventive Health Conference 2024. We thank them for their support and dedication to forming the conference program.

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Prof. David P. Thomas

Menzies School of Health Research & Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance NT | Chair, Preventive Health Conference 2024

Professor David Thomas is a public health researcher at Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin and also works on secondment at the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT).  He has worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and health research for more than 30 years. He has been a member of PHAA for 35 years, serving the association in many roles.

David has published research about many aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and the book, Reading Doctors’ Writing.  Since he established the Tobacco Control Research Program at Menzies in 2007, his research, including the national longitudinal study ‘Talking About The Smokes’, has answered many questions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tobacco control.  He has been involved in successful, and less successful, advocacy for public health policy reform.


His work at AMSANT supports tobacco control in Aboriginal community-controlled health services across the NT.  He previously worked as a doctor at three Aboriginal community-controlled health services.

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Dr Adyya Gupta

Dean’s Research Fellow and a VicHealth Fellow at Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE) within Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University

Dr. Adyya Gupta is a Dean’s Research Fellow and a VicHealth Fellow at Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE) within Institute for Health Transformation at Deakin University.

​Her research focusses on building the evidence for effective and equitable policy and practice interventions to create supportive and healthy online food retail environments. She is the Executive committee member of Food and Nutrition Special Interest Group (FANSIG) at PHAA. She is the chair of the Digital food retail environment Community of Practice within Nourish Network at Deakin University.

Adyya has expertise in applying mixed methodology to public health research and is a lecturer of Research methods at Deakin University. Adyya is also an editor for Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

With a dental public health background, Adyya’s research focusses on generating evidence to address common risk factors for general and oral health to reduce chronic disease health burden using mixed methods.

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A/Prof. Amie Steel

Associate Professor (Public Health), Co-Director of the Australian Research Consortium in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (UTS), and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow

Dr Amie Steel is an Associate Professor (Public Health), Co-Director of the Australian Research Consortium in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (UTS), and an Australian Research Council Future Fellow.


Amie’s Future Fellowship project investigates the preventive health perspectives, activities, behaviours, and decision-making of the forgotten preventive health workforce of complementary medicine practitioners and the three out of four Australians who engage with or are influenced by them, with the aim of informing implementation of the National Preventive Health Strategy.


Amie has attracted ~$4.4M in research funding and holds editorial appointments in leading journals. She has authored >220 journal articles and >30 book chapters, and edited three special journal issues – most recently on Global Public Health and Traditional Medicine - and three public health research books.


She is PHAA’s QLD branch president, co-convenor of the Women’s Health SIG, and an executive committee member of the Evidence, Research and Policy in Complementary Medicine SIG. 

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Prof. Louise Maple-Brown (MBBS PhD FRACP FAHMS)

Deputy Director (Research), Menzies School of Health Research |
Senior Endocrinologist, Royal Darwin Hospital

Louise Maple-Brown is Deputy Director Research at Menzies School of Health Research and a Senior Endocrinologist at Royal Darwin Hospital (Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia). 

Louise is the senior diabetes researcher at Menzies, having established and led for eleven years (until 2023), the Diabetes across the Lifecourse: Northern Australian Partnership. The partnership includes several large NHMRC-funded projects, including the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership and The PANDORA (Pregnancy And Neonatal Diabetes Outcomes in Remote Australia) Cohort Study and most recently the Northern Australia Youth Diabetes collaboration across Western Australia, Northern Territory and Far North Queensland.

After completing the majority of her physician and endocrinology training at St Vincents Hospital Sydney, Louise moved to Darwin in 2002 to pursue her passion for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to improve health outcomes.


Louise founded and was inaugural Chair of the NT Diabetes Clinical Network. She was a member of the Australian Diabetes Society Council (2014-2022) and Australasian Diabetes in Pregnancy Society Council (2012-2014). Louise has been providing clinical diabetes services to urban and remote NT communities for over 20 years.

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A/Prof. Karla Canuto

Associate Professor of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health | Director of Indigenous Leadership | Matthew Flinders Fellow | Rural and Remote Health - NT | Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University

Associate Professor Karla Canuto is a Torres Strait Islander, descendent of the Naghir Tribe of the Kulkalgal Clan. She is mid-career researcher with over 20 years’ experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health/ health research. 


Karla's qualifications include a Bachelor of Sports & Exercise Science, a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion and a PhD. Karla has experience across a wide range of research initiatives all focused on improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples including cardiovascular rehabilitation, early detection of rheumatic heart disease, cancer screening, chronic disease prevention and the promotion of physical activity and improved nutrition. She is also passionate about building the capacity and capabilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health researchers.

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Dagmar Schmitt

​Director Prevention and Wellbeing Strategy, Planning and Reform,
NT Health

Dagmar Schmitt holds an MPH and a Bachelor of Applied Science, and is an experienced health promotion, environmental health, health protection practitioner and policy officer with more than 28 years’ experience in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Australia.


Dagmar has been based in the Northern Territory since 2006, and has held a variety of operational, policy and management positions. Dagmar is currently the Director Prevention and Wellbeing in NT Health.   


Dagmar has first-hand understanding of how to meet the challenges of working in multicultural, urban, rural, and remote areas, and specialist knowledge of health theories, principles and practices, and a keen interest in system thinking and design.


She has a broad range of expertise in strategic planning and implementation, policy, program and system development, action on Social Determinants of Health and working with cross sector partnerships.

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Adj. Prof. Christine Connors OAM (MBBS MPH FAFPHM)

Chief Health Officer, Public Health Division, 
NT Health

Adjunct Professor Christine Connors OAM MBBS MPH FAFPHM is an experienced public health physician, general practitioner, researcher and health service executive with more than 35 years' experience working in health care in the Northern Territory. Christine is now the Chief Health Officer for NT.

Her field of expertise has been health system improvement to improve population health outcomes. This has included integration of health care delivery between remote primary health care services and hospitals, clinical guideline development, education and training, audit and quality improvement and revision of models of care.

Christine was nominated by Health Ministers as a member of the National Preventative Health Taskforce 2008-2009 which produced the National Preventative Health Strategy in September 2009.

Christine has been actively involved in research translation with Menzies School of Health Research, with a focus on reducing skin infections, Diabetes detection and control and quality improvement in primary care.

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Sabine Ostrowski (BSc.Optom, MPH)

Manager – Communities and Places, QUIT, Prevention Division, 
Cancer Council Victoria

A public health leader with diverse stakeholder engagement experience across primary and specialist care, academia and community, Sabine has a passion for improving public health by building effective organisations and partnerships.


After 20 years as a clinician, Sabine joined the Macular Disease Foundation Australia working in patient advocacy and developing systems level change to improve clinical outcomes for Australians living with macular disease.


In 2022 she moved to the Screening, Early Detection, and Immunisation (SEDI) team at Cancer Council Victoria, to lead the Early Detection Saves Lives Campaign.


In her current role as Manager of Communities and Places at Quit Victoria, Sabine leads the team engaging communities and sectors to reduce tobacco related harm.

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Prof. Dr. Muhammad Aziz Rahman

​Discipline Leader of Public Health and Research Adviser for the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Federation University Australia

Professor Dr. Muhammad Aziz Rahman is an experienced academic, a medical doctor and a public health professional. Currently, he is working as the Discipline Leader of Public Health and Research Adviser for the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Federation University Australia.


He has over 20 years of experience of working in the areas of public health research and teaching, both in Australian and international settings. His research focuses on non-communicable diseases and risk factors, tobacco, health and wellbeing of migrants, and global burden of diseases.


Due to his extraordinary track record of research citations, he has been ranked amongst the world’s top 2% scientists for subsequent three years during 2020-22 in the subfield of ‘General and Internal Medicine’ (ranked by Elsevier BV, Stanford University, USA).


Professor Rahman is a Board Member and the Convenor for the Health Promotion Special Interest Group at the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA). He is also a Board Director for the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australasia (CAPHIA). He is also actively engaged with multicultural communities in Australia to improve their awareness on health and wellbeing.

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Erin Bowen

​National Manager - Health, Research & Innovation,

Heart Foundation

Erin is the National Manager Health, Research & Innovation at the Heart Foundation. Erin is an experienced senior policy specialist in health, social policy and public administration, with over twenty years working at executive levels across both Commonwealth and state governments and over five years as a public policy consultant prior to joining the Heart Foundation in mid-2022. She has provided leadership on whole of health system strategic policy development and integration, health program formulation and implementation, human resources management and people capability development.


Erin has had extensive involvement in stakeholder engagement and consultation, leading diverse teams and strengthening organisational capabilities. She has been integral in delivering several projects for government and non-government organisations, including national strategies and plans, significant Commonwealth/state joint projects, major health reform initiatives, operational and health system analysis and service re-design.


Her career experience includes a range of corporate, strategic and organisational leadership and management roles, at Commonwealth and state government levels in Canberra, the Northern Territory and Tasmania. As an independent consultant, she has worked in partnership with Commonwealth and state governments, non-government organisations, medical colleges, universities and think tanks.

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Erika Gunadasa (MPH)

Assistant Director, Prevention and Wellbeing Policy Section, Preventive Health & Food Branch,

Department of Health and Aged Care

Erika Gunadasa is an Assistant Director in the Prevention and Wellbeing Policy Section at the Department of Health and Aged Care. She oversees implementation of prevention policy, including the National Preventive Health Strategy 2021-2030, with the aim of addressing the wider determinants of health and health inequities. Erika has completed a Master of Public Health and Graduate Diploma in Public Policy.

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Danielle Gavanescu (MPH)

Early Career Researcher

Danielle is a graduate from the University of Queensland having completed a Master of Public Health specialising in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.


In 2022, Danielle completed an internship with the PHAA National Office before joining the Students and Young Professionals in Public Health (SYPPH) Committee.

Danielle is currently conducting research evaluating the impacts of the social determinants of health on melanoma diagnosis, with the aim of improving health outcomes. 


Danielle is passionate about creating meaningful change for health systems, improving health equity and access to health care in Australia.

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Lily Pratt (MPH)

Policy Officer,
Public Health Association Australia

Lily is the Policy Officer on the PHAA National team.


She gained both her Bachelor of Nursing and Master of Public Health degrees from the University of Queensland and has applied these skills in aged care, preventative health and health policy in Australia, the UK and the USA.

Lily currently oversees PHAA’s preventive health and environmental health portfolios and is also assisting to facilitate the lively PHAA Northern Territory Branch meetings and activities.


Adj. Prof. Terry Slevin

Chief Executive Officer,
Public Health Association Australia

Mr Terry Slevin has been Chief Executive Officer for the Public Health Association of Australia since May 2018.


He is Adjunct Professor in the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University and Adjunct Professor in the College of Health and Medicine at the Australian National University.


He is a Fellow of PHAA and was the first Vice President (Development) of the Association.

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Cal Spencer-Rosenberg (BHSc.pubh)

​Events Officer,
Public Health Association Australia

Ms Cal Spencer-Rosenberg has over 20 years of experience in events, gained in corporate, private, and non-profit organisations across London, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

In January 2022 she completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences, majoring in public health, and brings both her academic and professional career experience to her role as Events Officer.

She is also the Event Lead for Preventive Health Conference 2024 and the Conference Advisory Committee Secretariat.

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