Youth Health 2018 Conference Organising Committee

Youth Health Conference - AAAH

Geraldine Dyer, Conference Chair, Vice President (QLD), AAAH

Clinical Nurse, State Schools Nursing Service – Central Qld Region, Department of Education Queensland Government

Geraldine is a Registered Nurse and Midwife with postgraduate qualifications in Paediatric, Child and Youth Health Nursing. In her current role, Geraldine is employed by the Queensland Government Department of Education as a Clinical Nurse supporting students with specialised health needs in the Central Queensland Region. With many years of nursing experience within the Public Health sector, Geraldine has worked as a clinician, educator, and manager in a variety of settings. Residing in Mackay in Central Queensland, and having lived and worked in urban, rural and remote communities, she is passionate about issues facing young people living in these areas.

As a mother of 2 adolescent children with disabilities and chronic illnesses, Geraldine is driven to be a passionate advocate and voice for families and young people affected by chronic disease, special needs and disability. Since being elected to the Australian Association for Adolescent Health’s Board of Directors in 2015, Geraldine has had the privilege of working together with national leaders in adolescent health to meet the association’s vision of bringing young people and professionals together to promote the health and well-being of adolescents and young adults.

Geraldine Dyer

Dr Melissa Kang, President (NSW), AAAH

Associate Professor, Faculty of Health, Australian Centre for Public and Population Health Research, University of Technology Sydney

Melissa has worked with and for young people for over 20 years and been lucky enough to have done this in many different ways. Melissa works as a medical doctor with young people in western Sydney who are homeless or otherwise marginalised, and as an academic at The University of Technology Sydney doing research and teaching. Melissa has done a lot of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching as well as training of general practitioners, nurses and other health professionals. Melissa’s research is in the areas of access to health care and adolescent sexuality and sexual health, and she loves having young people involved in guiding, advising and shaping the research projects. She has written the Dolly Doctor column for over 20 years and feels privileged to interact with young people in this way. Melissa was a member of AAAH in its early days in the 1980s and 90s and was thrilled when it got rejuvenated in 2011. She sees an association like this as a great way of bringing together young people and those who work with and for them to give a united, powerful voice to youth health.

Dr Sharon Medlow, Organising Committee

Senior Research Officer, Academic Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. Discipline of Child and Adolescent Health, The University of Sydney

Dr Sharon Medlow has a PhD in Psychology and has worked in adolescent health services research for 10 years. Her interests include youth mental health, support for young people with cancer, and health experiences of marginalised young people. Sharon is currently involved in the exciting new Centre of Research Excellence in Adolescent Health, which is a network of interdisciplinary researchers exploring ethics, engagement, health pathways and health services in collaboration with young people and families.

Rohan Borschmann

Dr Rohan Borschmann, Organising Committee

NHMRC Early Career Fellow & Psychologist, Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Dr. Rohan Borschmann is an AHPRA-registered psychologist and senior research fellow at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. He completed his clinical doctorate in psychology in 2007 (QLD) and his PhD in psychiatry in 2014 (London, UK). Rohan’s research passion is the mental health of adolescents and marginalised young people in Australia, with particular expertise in self-harm, substance use and antisocial behaviour during the teenage years. He has co-authored >70 peer-reviewed papers, secured >$3.1 million in research funding since 2014, and was named the ‘Early Career Scholar of the Year’ by the Society for Mental Health Research in 2015.

David Perez, Organising Committee

Chief Executive Officer, The Link

David Perez is the CEO of The Link Youth Health Service which now incorporates headspace Hobart. He has over 25 years of experience in the community sector and local government with much of it centred on developing and managing youth services and community development and leading capacity building strategies. David has demonstrated a strong commitment to strategic change management and has played an influential role the community sector in Tasmania and is a passionate advocate for collaborative practice not just within the community sector but inclusive of government and the private sectors. The provision of quality of services and the continuous improvement of the sector are things that are very close to his heart with a focus on better consumer outcomes. David is very excited about the Association being rejuvenated and the potential impact it can have.

David Perez photo

Marc Zen, Organising Committee

Secretary, Australian Association for Adolescent Health

Marc Zen is the current Secretary on the AAAH Board and has been actively involved with the Youth Health Conferences since being a youth volunteer in Fremantle, 2013; including Convener of the Sydney conference in July 2017. Marc currently works in suicide prevention projects in Melbourne and is completing a Master of Public Policy at RMIT University. Originally from Perth, previous roles have included capacity building and professional development for public health workers throughout WA; and public health research and project implementation. Marc has served on various state and national committees carrying out health initiatives in youth health, suicide prevention.

Kate Thompson, Organising Committee

Foster and Kinship Care Worker, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service

Kate is a Gurang Gurang woman from Bundaberg, QLD. She recently completed a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) at the University of Queensland. Throughout her university studies Kate was a student member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), and a student representative member of IAHA in 2017. Kate mentored high school students through the University of Queensland Young Achievers Program, and co-developed a peer mentoring program for first year social work students at the University of Queensland. She completed her final social work field placement in Nepal, where she worked with the International Child Resource Institute Nepal.


Jonathan Kirkham, Organising Committee

National Manager – Creative Collaborations, Starlight Children’s Foundation

Jonathan has had over 11 years experience working with young people, children and their families, starting off his career as a high school teacher before moving into the not-for-profit sector. Currently part of Starlight’s Program’s Leadership Team, Jonathan manages Starlight’s Innovation Hub, a team of seven that focuses on pioneering unique projects and experiences for Starlight families who are living with a chronic condition, illness or disability. The team have led the way in utilising virtual and augmented reality training programs and experiences for children and teens in hospital. Jonathan continues to experiment with developing technologies in collaboration with thought-leaders from around the world to positively impact the lives of seriously ill youth.

Jonathan brings positive leadership, innovation and creative thinking frameworks, a strong network within the health and tech space, and a wealth of knowledge about adolescents to all projects and organisations he works with. He is super passionate about bringing uniquely fun and positive moments to children and young people living with a serious illness, particularly because they miss out on so much.

Ainslie Thompson, Organising Committee

Teacher, Department of Education and Training

Ainslie is a proud Gurang Gurang woman from Bundaberg. She recently completed a Bachelor of Education (Middle Years of Schooling) at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. She is now a primary classroom teacher in Inala. In recent years, Ainslie has been involved in a number of programs mentoring and guiding students from a range of backgrounds. She mentored a group of high school students through their senior years of high school through the University of Queensland’s Young Achiever Program. Ainslie has been involved in a number of programs for Indigenous students. She has been involved in the Deadly Choices Pathway to Success Program facilitating sessions with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander high school students around culture, identity and future career paths. She was also a student ambassador for the Pathways to Success Program for Indigenous students in both primary and secondary school, guiding students around the UQ campus during their on-campus day visits. She has volunteered her time for the ARTIE tutoring program and facilitated camps for the InspireU program. Ainslie is passionate about working with Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander youth. She is also passionate about student wellbeing and the impact it can have on their education.


Helen McCullagh, Organising Committee

Clinical Nurse Consultant for Central, North and Far North Qld Regions State Schools Nursing Service Department of Education Queensland Government

Helen commenced working with young people in a residential facility for children with disabilities while she was still at school herself, before commencing a formal career in nursing. She is passionate about supporting adolescents, families and schools with a particular interest in regional and remote areas. Helen is currently employed by Queensland’s Department of Education as a Clinical Nurse Consultant for Central, North and Far North Queensland Regions. Helen’s aim is to ensure students with specialised health needs are able to access and participate in their educational program alongside their peers.

Andrew Badcock, Organising Committee

Senior Youth Health Worker, The Link Youth Health Service

Andrew Badcock is a senior youth health worker at The Link Youth Health Service in Hobart, where he assists young people through brief interventions and crisis support.

Andrew’s background also includes working with mental health services to be more responsive and inclusive to LGBTIQ+ communities and has a history of volunteering with a variety of local organisations and groups to address social inequalities.


Sam Stewart, Organising Committee

CEO, Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association

Sam Stewart has been appointed the new CEO of the Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association. The strategic business experience, innovative mindset, high level of energy and fresh perspective he brings to the team will positively impact the Association in many ways.

Sam is an  active business strategist and seminal thinker across a diverse range of business sectors including online health.

He has been engaged to coach and chair the board of directors meetings for 6 Companies for which he facilitates and offers strategic advice. He is also contracted to give advice to other privately held businesses on an ‘as needed’ basis due to the depth and vast experience he has acquired across many industries.

Sam is passionate and excited to apply his experience and skillsets to assist the Association to grow the membership base, increase member benefits and increase the Association’s engagement with Practitioners, Consumers and Carers.

His aim is to facilitate multiple pathways to provide professionals with information through sharing best practice and the vast podcast library the Association has developed.