Meet our conference committee members!
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Organising Committee
  • Kate Roberts (Conference Convenor)
    Occupational Therapist AICGG
  • Scott Gibbings
    SARRAH Director
    State-wide Consultant - Allied Health Workforce Recruitment & Development at Tasmanian Health Service

    Scott is a Physiotherapist with 12 years of professional experience, predominantly spent in the acute hospital setting in Perth, WA. He is now based in Launceston, working with the Tasmanian Health Service as the Statewide Consultant – Allied Health Workforce Recruitment & Development. The role acknowledges that having skilled and supported staff in situ is a critical factor in improving healthcare accessibility and outcomes for our rural and remote populations. In the role he works with the Allied Health leaders across the state public health services to improve Allied Health services through the optimisation of position occupancy and staff growth and development. Prior to this, he served as the Physiotherapy Services Manager at a large sub-tertiary hospital in Perth’s Northern Suburbs.


    Scott was born and raised in a small dairy and beef farming community in South-West WA, where his parents are still based. Never short on advice, they provide additional perspectives on the contemporary issues faced by the rural population, and what should be done about them! Scott seeks out that connection to community in both his professional and personal life and strives to improve the lives of those around him, especially those who experience disadvantage. He has completed a Master of Health Management at UNSW, and a Graduate Certificate in Mental Health at Monash University.

  • Joyti Zwar
    Physiotherapy Academic, University of South Australia
    I graduated from Auckland University of Technology in 1999 with a Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy) and have over 23 years of rural and remote experience in clinical, clinical leadership, project and management positions within South Australia and New Zealand.

    I am committed to achieving client centered outcomes for rural and remote populations, most recently in the area of community aged care at the University of South Australia Whyalla Rural Health Clinic, where I support podiatry, physiotherapy and pharmacy students to provide an interprofessional falls and balance service. The planning, implementation and evaluation of this service has been an important and enjoyable aspect of my current role as a rural Physiotherapy Academic with University of South Australia.

    My experience of living and working in rural and remote communities has enabled me to gain an understanding and insight into the specific issues faced by remote communities, including education of local students to support the growth of the rural health workforce. My most recent project activities have focused on rural private practice barriers and enablers to rural clinical placements, and development of a model for mentoring of early career physiotherapists to support transition to rural practice.

    I have a strong interest in interprofessional teaching and clinical education in rural health services as evidenced by the development, implementation and evaluation of an interprofessional work integrated learning model within the University of South Australia Rural Health Clinic.


  • Joanne Lawson
    Allied Health Consultant - Rural Support Service
    Jo is a Physiotherapy graduate from the University of South Australia with 25 years’ experience working as a physiotherapist in regional and metropolitan South Australia, New South Wales and the UK. With clinical experiences across all parts of the health sector as well as research, student supervision, governance, risk management, policy review and project management. She brings extensive clinical leadership and operational management skills from her roles in SA Health, including as Physiotherapy Manager at the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, Senior Project Officer in the Child Protection and Policy Unit and Country Health SA Advanced Clinical Lead Physiotherapist. She is also the state representative on the National Rural Advisory Committee for the Australian Physiotherapy Association and involved in other professional bodies.
    She has post-graduate qualifications, including a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Leadership and Clinical Supervision and a Master’s Degree in Health & Human Services and is now based within the SA Health Rural Support Service as the Principal Consultant Allied Health, ensuring ongoing support and governance to allied health professionals across regional SA.
  • Heather Scriven
    Heather Scriven is an Accredited AASW member & Senior Social Worker currently working in Queensland Health. She has almost three decades of professional experience in clinical and community settings and has a Bachelor of Social Work (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology). Her work in Rural and Remote Health began in 2007 as a Snr Social Worker with South West Hospital and Health Service (SW Qld).
    She has been successfully in the Health Practitioner Research Scheme and presented her findings at Conferences & published in Rural and Remote Health (2019). Following 12 years in Rural Remote Generalist Social Work clinical practice; she commenced the role of Domestic and Family Violence Specialist educating clinical staff for South West Hospital and Health Service in 2021.
    She strongly advocates for innovative practice, showcased developing a collaborative partnership with Gold Coast Hospital IPPC pioneering the Telehealth clinics ‘Manage Your Pain -South West’ in 2013; to in 2023 developing a collaborative partnership with Far West Indigenous Family Violence in South West Qld which successfully has co-designed, co-developed and co-implemented training & resources that have a strong emphasis on First Nations cultural sensitivity in teaching health staff clinical responses to First Nations patients affected by DFV.
    She has a passion for Interdisciplinary Care within rural and remote health and for educating clinical health staff. Heather loves to encourage Rural Generalist Health Professionals in to showcase the great innovative work that they do, and to encourage collaboration between Health and Community based services to support each other in achieving better health outcomes to patients in the bush.
  • Bridie Reid
    Occupational Therapist
    Having lived in rural and remote areas of Queensland, I know first hand how difficult it is to access allied health services. I love providing preventative and early intervention occupational therapy services in a multi disciplinary team to children and families who are unable to access services locally due to the unavailability or the affordability of those services. This aligns with my personal values in helping children reach their full potential.
Scientific Committee
  • Dr Ali Dymmott (Chair), SARRAH Vice-President
    Lecturer, Researcher, Placement Education Coordinator, Occupational Therapist, Rural Generalist - Flinders University
    Alison Dymmott is an occupational therapy lecturer, placement education coordinator and researcher at Flinders University. She has predominantly worked clinically in rural areas of South Australia in a range of leadership roles including state-wide project management and policy development. She has specialist skills in rural generalism, paediatrics, rehabilitation and acute care.

    Alison’s research interests are in rural health workforce and occupational therapy evidence-based practice. She is currently undertaking her PhD in conjunction with SA Health around rural allied health workforce strategies, specifically the impact of the rural generalist pathway. She has extensive experience educating occupational therapy students and supporting students and educators on placement, she is particularly passionate about co-designing clinical placements that are mutually beneficial for all stakeholders.
  • Amy Ward
    Speech Pathologist
  • Dr Anthea Brand
    Senior Lecturer, College of Medicine and Public Health
    I am an Accredited Practicing Dietitian with significant experience working in community and primary health care settings across rural and remote Australia. In response to concerns raised by communities I worked with, in addition to questions that arose during my practice, I undertook a PhD to explore whether the nutrition activities of health professionals met the needs of the Aboriginal people they worked with. My research recommended changes to health professional training and health systems to enable health practitioners to implement the principles of comprehensive primary health care and cultural safety into their work. I transitioned from the health sector to work at Flinders University where I have contributed my learnings from practice and research to health professional education and to the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals which are integral in shaping primary health care health service provision in remote and Indigenous communities.
  • Donna Akbari
    Speech Pathologist
  • Dr Ennur Erbasi
    Healthcare Consultant
  • Jack Seaton
    SARRAH Director
    Physiotherapist and Early Career Academic
    Jack Seaton is a registered Physiotherapist and Early Career Academic. Jack is an experienced allied health practitioner having worked across a broad range of clinical settings within the public and private health sectors in urban, regional, rural and remote areas and he currently serves on the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s Queensland Branch Council and National Rural Advisory Committee. As a Lecturer in Public Health at James Cook University, Townsville, Jack makes a significant contribution to the design, delivery and coordination of innovative public health curriculum for undergraduate allied health students. Jack is nearing completion of a PhD which seeks to understand the factors that influence effective interprofessional collaborative practice for physiotherapists working in primary care settings in northern Queensland.
  • Jessica Kolic
    Physiotherapist
  • Dr Joan van Rotterdam
    Webinar speaker
    I graduated in 1986 from the Sydney College of Chiropractic and started my own practice in 1991 in Toronto, Lake Macquarie, NSW. At present I am engaged in clinical practice on a part-time basis. In 2006 after passing my confirmation year I commenced my PhD candidature in the area of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and the role of Quality of Life questionnaires. I graduated with my PhD in April 2019.


    In 2020 I was awarded chiropractor of the Year for the Australian Chiropractors Association (ACA) for my work in creating a Reconciliation Action plan for the ACA. I have also worked in recent years with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rural and Remote Practitioners Network (ARRPN) and the National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) to support the role of chiropractors in rural and remote practice.

    Presently I am engaged with the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) as secretary of the Complimentary and Integrative Rehabilitation Medicine (CIRM) group after winning a fellowship with them in 2022.
  • Karen Hayes
    Occupational Therapy Academic, PhD Researcher
    Graduating in 2001, Karen has worked in inpatient, outpatient, and community clinical settings in both rural and urban settings. She is also a passionate educator who worked for over 12 years in health professional development, and for the last 4 years at Charles Sturt University. Working in a regional university allows her the privilege of working with many rural and regional occupational therapists and undergraduate occupational therapy students. Her mission is to increase access to excellent occupational therapy services for people living in regional, rural, and remote areas of Australia. She is also committed to dispelling stereotypes of rural spaces, people, and employment, promoting the diversity and value of rural communities, and the reciprocity between rural and urban health and wellbeing. She is currently enrolled in PhD research examining the regional, rural, and remote occupational therapy practice.
  • Lauren Toll
    Senior Allied Health Advisor, Office of the Chief Allied Health Officer (OCAHO), NT Health
    Lauren Toll has a background in physiotherapy and public health and is originally from rural Victoria. Lauren moved to Darwin in 2013 and worked in community settings before commencing with the Office of the Chief Allied Health Office in January 2022. Lauren has a strong interest in rural, remote and global health, and ensuring equity of access to all.
  • Marcus Gardner
    Podiatrist, Manager of Education, Bendigo Health
    Marcus Gardner is a podiatrist and he is currently the Allied Health Education Manager at Bendigo Health. He is a PhD candidate with the La Trobe Rural Health School and his topic is what influences the effectiveness of clinical supervision for allied health professionals. Other areas of research interest include diabetes-related foot health, rural health and building research capacity. Marcus was the lead for the Department of Health project to develop the Victorian Allied Health Clinical Supervision Framework. He is currently leading a follow up project to develop and evaluate state-wide allied health clinical supervision training modules for allied health in Victoria.
  • Sam Higgins-O'Hara
    Regional Allied Health Clinical Educator, Allied Health, Grampians Health
    Sam graduated from the University of South Australia in 1996 with a Bachelor of Social Work. Sam is currently employed by Grampians Health Ballarat in the role of Grampians Regional Allied Health Clinical Educator working with a consortium of health services across the Grampians, Victoria. Since graduating Sam has worked in rural areas across South Australia, Northern Territory and Victoria.  Sam has completed post graduate studies in Community Health, Chronic Condition Management, Health Literacy and is currently studying toward a Master of Health Professional Education at ACU. Sam’s interests include Interprofessional Education and Practise, Rural Regional Students and Workforce, the AHA Workforce and Clinical Supervision. Sam is a devoted advocate for Rural Allied Health broadly and is a member of the Allied Health Clinical Educators Network (AHCEN) – Victoria.
  • Dr Shelley Barlow
    Physiotherapist, Ballina Physiotherapy
    Dr Shelley Barlow is a pain physiotherapist (Titled APA) who works at Ballina Community Health, both in outpatients and in the community. She has a small private pain practice specialising in Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT). Shelley works on the Faculty of Brisbane Gestalt Therapy (GTB) as an academic.

    “I believe that working with people experiencing trauma and chronic pain is both a challenge and an opportunity for growth. Growth that is personal and professional”

    I have been working on the North Coast in this field for over 30 years.
    I am a NZ trained physio and have a Masters in Gestalt Therapy and a PhD.
    My PhD was looking at “the lived experiences of Physiotherapists in their clinical encounters with people with chronic pain: A phenomenological enquiry”.

    I am interested in the subjectivity of the clinician/ health practitioner as they navigate the clinical encounter. I am wondering how we engage with people in pain and at the same time take care of ‘us’ as we honour our experience as it emerges in the “in between space”. I am also exploring the role of how … ‘pain in the body can also be transformed and held in the collective field as transformation of distress to calm, which can occur with carefully meeting the ‘other’ with care and support’. This sounds very esoteric and I am fascinated in discussing this with anyone.

    Oh, and I also spend time walking around our beautiful town and do as much yoga as I can.

  • Dr Stephen Barrett
    Physiotherapist, Adjunct Research Fellow at the La Trobe University Rural Health School
    Stephen works as an Allied Health Research and Knowledge Translation Lead in Bendigo Health. He has an undergrad in physiotherapy and completed his PhD in public health in 2021. He has a strong research interest in knowledge translation and implementation science with a focus on the utilisation of theories, models and frameworks to rapidly translate research into practice to improve clinical care in health services.