Indigenous Advisory Committee

  • Ms Deanna Stuart-Butler

    Ms Deanna Stuart-Butler

    Indigenous Research Officer

    Deanna Stuart-Butler is a descendant of the Arabana people of the ‘Pantu Parnda’ (Lake Eyre) Region of South Australia. She leads the Indigenous work of the NHMRC Stillbirth CRE and associated programs such as the Safer Baby Bundle, chairs the Stillbirth Indigenous Advisory Group and is a member of a number of other stillbirth committees to increase awareness and broaden knowledge of Aboriginal culture, priorities, and needs.  She shares her knowledge on how to encourage Indigenous women to seek and participate in antenatal care, and how to incorporate Aboriginal culture into health service delivery, associated with connection to land, health and wellbeing, life and sorry business. She is leading and co-leading several MRFF and CRE-funded research projects investigating voices of Indigenous families relating to stillbirth, stillbirth research priorities for Indigenous women and extensive adaptation of Stillbirth CRE masterclasses for Indigenous healthcare personnel. She is a founding member of the Aboriginal Community and Families Research Alliance, a group instigated by SAHMRI Women and Kids to translate community priorities into research and to integrate research and policy. She was the first graduate of the SA Aboriginal Maternal Infant Care qualification in 2010, going on to become the manager of the Aboriginal Family Birthing Program at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide. She is particularly passionate about translating research into operational practices within mainstream maternity models to ensure better health and wellbeing for Indigenous babies, women, and their families.

  • Associate Professor Philippa Middleton

    Associate Professor Philippa Middleton

    Co-lead Implementation

    Philippa Middleton is a Principal Research Fellow in the Healthy Mothers, Babies and Children Theme of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and an Affiliate Associate Professor, School of Medicine, The University of Adelaide.  As a perinatal epidemiologist and implementation scientist, she specialises in randomised controlled trials, systematic reviews, research synthesis, guidelines, research reporting standards and translating research evidence into policy and practice. Her areas of expertise include preterm birth, nutrition, diabetes, stillbirth and health disparities, and she has a particular interest in Indigenous health.

  • Ms Joyce Graham

    Ms Joyce Graham

    ACT Health, Canberra
    Joyce is currently Manager of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Liaison Service at the Canberra Hospital where she helps to provide cultural social and emotional wellbeing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families.

    Previously, she has worked in the federal government with issues relating to her mob such as housing/homeless, education and students and social issues as well as managing community organisations.

    Joyce has a long connection with CIT Yurauna Centre, as her brother and son have studied there and she herself now undertakes studies in cultural arts.

    She believes CIT Yurauna Centre is a very valuable community drop in for present and past students as well as community members and is proud to be connected to it and to CIT as a member of the CIT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee.




  • Ms Diana Jans

    Ms Diana Jans

    Protection of Children Advisor, Apunipima, Cape York

    Diana holds a Bach of Education and has taught in Cairns and Cape York Aboriginal schools and have a Masters in Social Work as well as being a CBT and Narrative Therapist and a Justice of the Peace.


    All of Diana’s working career has seen her working in human services. She worked for many years in the child protection field with Dept Child Safety, as a bereavement counsellor with StandBy Suicide Bereavement Support and then with the Dr Edward Koch Foundation. Diana currently works at Apunipima Cape York Health Council as Maternal Child Health Social Worker as the Protection of Children Advisor, the Kimberley Mums’s Mood Scale Project Officer and now beginning in this new role with the National Stillbirth CRE. She has worked at Apunipima since 2014.

  • Marni Tuala

    Marni Tuala


    Marni Tuala is a proud Bundjalung woman who grew up on country in Northern NSW and comes from a long line of healers. Marni brings a unique perspective to her role, as Deputy Director of Aboriginal Health for the North Coast primary health network having studied both midwifery and the law. Marni is the regional strategic lead for Aboriginal Health within the NCPHN and works collaboratively across the region with health services, clinicians, the Community Controlled sector and community members to improve access to quality health care and influence better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

    Marni has worked clinically as the Aboriginal liaison midwife at The Tweed Hospital and is passionate about improving the cultural safety of the wider health system. As the President of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Marni has led and informed policy change at a national level and has developed the expertise to drive system-wide reform of health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. Marni holds a Masters in Primary Maternity Care becoming the first Aboriginal person to complete this degree through Griffith University.

    Marni is passionate about her responsibility to her community to provide role modelling and mentoring, and enjoys contributing to the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce through nurturing the next generations and developing a safe system for them to work in. In 2015, Marni was a part of the original team of the First Peoples Health Unit (FPHU) at Griffith University, put together and led by Professor Roianne West. The FPHU provides high level leadership and strategic direction on First People’s health in the areas of learning and teaching, research and engagement. The FPHU is an influential leader in the tertiary sector and is committed to closing the gap in health outcomes by improving the cultural capabilities of the wider health workforce through quality education and training.


  • Leona McGrath

    Leona McGrath


    Leona is a proud Aboriginal woman descending from the Woopaburra and Kuku Yalanji people of Queensland Australia. Leona is a mother, grandmother, artist, published and Registered Midwife. Leona undertook her midwifery training to be able to make a difference in her community.


    Passionate about the provision of culturally safe health care, Leona moved into policy work to support and increase the recruitment and retention of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce. Leona managed the NSW Health Aboriginal Nursing & Midwifery Strategy for eight years before taking up the role of Executive Director at CATSINaM. Leona is also a board member of the Aboriginal Medical Service in Redfern, Sydney.

  • Cassandra Nest

    Cassandra Nest

    Griffith University & Project Lead for Waijungbah Jarjums model of care

    Cassandra Nest is a Ngunnawal woman and decedent of the Fish River People of Pajong. Cassandra grew up on Yugambeh and Bundjalung country of the Gold Coast where she now raises her family. Cassandra was the First, First Peoples graduate from Griffith Universities Bachler of Midwifery in 2012 and was recently the recipient of the Australian Hesta Midwife of the year award for 2020, the First Peoples Alumni award for the health group for demonstrating sustained and remarkable achievements and the NAIDOC “Because of her we can” award for Gold Coast Health.


    Cassandra currently sits in a joint appointment as the inaugural First Peoples Midwifery Lecturer at Griffith University and a Clinical Midwife Consultant and Project Lead for the Waijungbah Jarjums model of care. Waiungbah Jarjums is an innovative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander model of care co-designed and co-developed alongside the Gold Coast Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and provides continuity of care to mums and bubs from conception to the first 1000 days (2 years).


    Cassandra’s passion lies with providing women and their families with culturally safe maternity care, challenging the deficient discourse that surrounds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in relation to health and wellbeing and transforming maternity care.



  • Dr Cath Chamberlain

    Dr Cath Chamberlain

    Associate Professor, Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University

    Catherine Chamberlain is an NHMRC Early Career and Senior Research Fellow (2015-2018), who received the 2015 NHMRC 'Rising Star' award. A descendant of the Trawlwoolway People (Tasmania), her postdoctoral research program aims to improve Indigenous health equity by developing strengths-based family-focussed strategies in pregnancy, birth and early childhood.

  • Dr Yvette Roe

    Dr Yvette Roe

    Adjunct Senior Lecturer, UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, Honorary Senior Fellow, Mater Research Institute/UQ, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work 

    Dr Roe is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberley region, Western Australia. Yvette has more than 20 years’ experience working in the Indigenous health sector. She is an early career Aboriginal scholar and her research is aimed at identifying opportunities to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by implementing services that are patient, family and community focused.  Yvette has a keen research interest in cardiovascular disease, comprehensive primary health, patient-clinician engagement, meaningful measures of health and wellness, innovative models of health financing, Aboriginal community controlled health sector policy development, program delivery and the development of community-focused evaluation models informed by a critical Indigenous research paradigm.

  • Ms Johanna Neville

    Ms Johanna Neville

    Apunipima Cape York Health Council

    Johanna is the Maternal Child Health Program Advisor at Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Cape York, Far North Queensland.   She has worked with families for the last 25 years as both a Midwife and Child health Nurse. She has a Grad Dip, Midwifery; Grad Cert Family and Community Health and a Grad Cert Organisational Change and Clinical Leadership.  She has a special interest in the value of a family centred model of care in home visiting programs, with the role that strong healthy women play in keeping families healthy within Aboriginal communities.   

  • Dr Sue Vlack

    Dr Sue Vlack

    Metro North Hospital and Health Service

    Sue Vlack is a public health physician and health services researcher with clinical experience in Indigenous community women's and children's health, working at Metro North Public Health Unit. Doctor Vlack chaired the original Indigenous Reference Group for Stillbirth Prevention at Mater Research, and contributed to development of Indigenous-specific resources such as Bubba’s Movements and what they mean;  BabyHelp: a diagnostic tool for Indigenous parents and Health Workers; and Indigenous Health Worker Resource Manual for Immunisation in Queensland. Her PhD project was Relating well to people: a mixed-methods evaluation of preventive care implementation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in mainstream, urban general practice.

  • Sheree Stewart

    Sheree Stewart

    Koori Maternity Strategy at VACCHO

    Sheree Stewart is a proud Wergaia and Wemba Wemba woman from Mallee Victoria, a beautiful Country of red dirt and stark starry skies. Sheree is a mother, artist, midwife and just to throw something else in the mix, she is also a student hot air balloon pilot. Sheree currently works as the Senior Project Lead of the Koori Maternity Strategy at VACCHO (Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation).

    Sheree has a long-standing history of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and is passionate about improving health equity and outcomes for mob through nurturing safe communities and safe environments for our people to thrive in. As her Nan always told her growing up, if she use her heart in everything she does, then only good will come from it. 

  • Dr Lauren Sculthorpe

    Dr Lauren Sculthorpe

    Institute for Urban Indigenous Health

    Ren is a Palawa woman from Southern Tasmania.  Ren is a Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years experience working in mental health and as a clinical supervisor.  She currently provides a Clinical Psychology service to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through the The Birthing in Our Communities Team in Brisbane.  Ren specialises in perinatal mental health and is passionate about supporting parent baby relationships and addressing intergenerational trauma.

  • Ms Lorian Hayes

    Medical School, University of Queensland

    Lorian is an Indigenous health worker and researcher with qualifications in epidemiology and training in diagnostic and assessment of FASD at the University of Washington, USA. She has lead awareness and education on FASD on Cape York Peninsula and presented widely across Australia since 1992 as well as Canada.

  • Sue-Anne Hunter

    Sue-Anne Hunter

    SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children

    Sue-Anne Hunter is a proud Wurundjeri and Ngurai illum Wurrung woman from Melbourne area Sue-Anne has worked in the Aboriginal Child and Family Welfare field for over 20 years and was the Inaugural Statewide Aboriginal Principal Practitioner for VACCA and is committed to ensuring the rights of her people are upheld.

    Sue-Anne is currently the National Sector Development Manager at SNAICC – National Voice for Our Children, and also holds the position of National Co-Chair for The National Family Matters Campaign Co-Chair. She is currently undertaking her Master of Social Work and has completed her Master Certificate in Trauma & Recovery with Harvard Medical School. Sue-Anne has also completed her Graduate Certificate in Clinical Family therapy, Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), Diploma of Community Development and Diploma of Frontline Management. She has an in-depth understanding of developmental, trans generational and community trauma’s as well as western modalities of therapy, her studies have been both nationally and internationally and she is proficient in multiple therapeutic interventions, in which she combines with cultural knowledge to bring about healing change for her people. Sue-Anne is passionate in ensuring her people receive a high quality of service delivery particularly in the space of health and wellbeing. Sue-Anne brings a cultural lens all to her work including Aboriginal healing wisdom when working with the Aboriginal community, children and families.


    Research Interests: Childhood Trauma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Intergenerational Trauma, Culture as healing and protective.

    Email address: 

  • Professor Vicki Flenady

    Professor Vicki Flenady

    Director; Co-lead Risk Factors; Co-lead Implementation

    Professor Vicki Flenady leads the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence which aims to reduce stillbirths and improve care for families when a child is stillborn through high quality research and raising community awareness.  Vicki was lead author on The Lancet’s stillbirth series in 2011 and 2016. Vicki’s research currently focused on stillbirth prevention through better understanding of causal pathways and risk factors and is currently leading a large-scale trial on a mobile phone app for women on fetal movements to reduce stillbirth rates. With a clinical background in midwifery and neonatal nursing and masters and PhD in perinatal epidemiology in stillbirth prevention, Vicki has a keen interest in addressing evidence practice gaps in maternity care. Vicki is an active member of the International Stillbirth Alliance. 

  • Associate Professor Fran Boyle

    Associate Professor Fran Boyle

    Co-lead Care After Stillbirth


    Associate Professor Fran Boyle is a social scientist with qualifications in psychology and public health. Fran’s research focuses on people’s lived experiences of health, health services and the health system. Her expertise and experience is in the application of social sciences methods (quantitative and qualitative) and health systems thinking to guide policy and practice. Fran brings to the Stillbirth CRE a detailed understanding of perinatal bereavement and, as co-lead of the Care after Stillbirth program, is committed to improving outcomes for women and families through the implementation and evaluation of best practice parent-centred perinatal bereavement care.


  • Valerie Ah Chee

    Valerie Ah Chee

    Murdoch University

    I am a Bindjareb woman from the Nyoongar Nation in the South West of Western Australia with family connections to the Palkyu people of the Pilbara. I am a mother of six and grandmother of two. Through my husband, our children also identify as Nyikina and Yawaru from the Kimberley.  I graduated as a Registered Midwife in 2015 and have worked clinically in Perth at the Armadale Health Service, in Midland at St John of God Public Hospital and in Adelaide at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.  As an Aboriginal woman and midwife, my own experiences birthing in the system generated my interest to improve outcomes in Aboriginal maternal and infant health, more specifically, embedding cultural safety in the pregnancy and birth space and improving the health of Aboriginal women from a cultural perspective. I have been in my current position as the Senior Project Officer and Research Assistant at Ngangk Yira (Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity) at Murdoch University for 12 months and am currently working on Baby Coming You Ready? a comprehensive and culturally safe way to assess the social and emotional health and wellbeing of Aboriginal women in the perinatal period, with a focus on our strength and resilience. 


  • Melanie Briggs

    Melanie Briggs

    Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation

    I am an Aboriginal woman and descend from the Gumbangirr and Dharawal peoples and live on Wandandian country within the Yuin nation. I am a mother of two beautiful children and live on the New South Wales south coast in Jervis Bay. I grew up in La Perouse on the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney and have strong family ties along the east coast from La Perouse to Wreck Bay. I completed a Bachelor of Midwifery at the University of Technology Sydney in 2007 and completed my new graduate year at The Royal Hospital for Women in Randwick. In 2019, I completed the Master of Primary Maternity Care through Griffith University to enhance my skills and build on my midwifery knowledge.

    I am currently working at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation as a Midwife and Birthing on Country Project Officer. I work with Aboriginal families on the south coast of New South Wales within the Yuin nation and am very passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of my people. As the Birthing on Country Project Officer at Waminda I am responsible for coordinating the Shoalhaven Birthing on Country model from a community perspective to ensure the community voices are being heard and put into practice.


    I am an active member of the following associations such as:

    •  Australian College of Midwives – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee
    •  Australian College of Midwives – Reconciliation Action Plan Advisory Group
    •  Co-Chair of the National Birthing on Country Strategic Committee
    • Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) Member
    •  Waminda Cultural Committee
    •  Waminda Research Committee
    •  Nurses and Midwives Association
    •  NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Stillbirth Indigenous Advisory Committee

  • Jessica Sexton

    Jessica Sexton

    PhD Candidate and Research Assistant

    Mater Research Institute - The University of Queensland


    Jessica Sexton is an epidemiology PhD student. Prior to joining the Stillbirth CRE, Jessica earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science – Medical Laboratory Science from the University of New Hampshire in 2012, a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from Georgia Southern University in 2015, and will earn a Master of Science in Spatial Analysis from Johns Hopkins University in 2018. As an MPH student, she investigated the determinants of neonatal sepsis in Ghana, participated in environmental laboratory studies of Vibrio spp., and studied the 2014 influenza outbreak. Upon graduation, she earned a position working for the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention as an Allan Rosenfield Global Epidemiology Fellow in Lilongwe, Malawi. At CDC, Jessica was responsible for the design and implementation of surveillance programs designed to address the HIV epidemic and served as the point of contact for HIV drug resistance activities. In 2017, Jessica was honoured by United States Ambassador Virginia E. Palmer to receive a Franklin Award for her service and innovation through diligence, coordination, and skilled collaboration to improve use of laboratory data and health systems in surveillance and research studies in Malawi.

  • Ms Madeline Forbes

    Ms Madeline Forbes

    Research Assistant

    Madeline has completed both a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne and a Masters of Public Health from the University of Queensland and was awarded the Joan Lawrence AM prize by the University of Queensland for her studies in early 2020. Madeline joined the Stillbirth CRE in 2019 and is working as across several projects. These projects include developing an international classification system for causes of stillbirths and neonatal deaths across data-rich settings, implementing a stillbirth education campaign across Australian populations with a focus on higher-risk populations, and an audit of current hospital practices following perinatal mortality throughout Australia.