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Clinical Councils

Clinical leadership is critically important to improving the effectiveness of health care outcomes

Role of our Clinical Councils

The role of the Clinical Councils is to provide the Board of the Primary Health Network with locally relevant perspectives on clinical issues that impact on the unique needs of our local communities.

There are three Clinical Councils who represent our Primary Health Network region:

  • New England North West
  • Hunter Manning
  • Central Coast

Clinical Councils are GP-led and include members from other primary health care professions who assist us to develop local strategies to improve the operation of the health care system for patients.

Membership of the Council includes participants from a cross-section of primary health and represents a variety of practice settings, experiences, expertise and disciplines. A Primary Health Network Board member representative also sits on each Council and is tasked with reporting recommendations and issues to the Board for consideration.

Central Coast Clinical Council
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Karen Douglas

GP and Clinical Council Chair

Karen is a GP with a special focus on equitable access to coordinated and integrated high standards of quality healthcare for all Australians.

She has worked as a GP and Practice Owner at Terrigal and Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast for over 33 years and holds a strong advocacy role for GPs and other health professionals in her community.

Karen is a founding member and Chair of the Central Coast Clinical Council and has been a key Clinical Lead for General Practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is an active member of the GP Collaboration Panel with the Local Health District and the PHN and is on the NSW GP virtual Community of Practice (vCoP). Karen was also awarded the RACGP NSW/ACT GP of the Year in 2021.

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Elizabeth (Liz) Ward

Board Representative and Clinical Council Deputy Chair

Elizabeth is a Board Member, Chair of the Safety Quality and Performance Board Sub-Committee, and a member of the Allied Health Reference Group of the PHN.

She is the President of the NSW Physiotherapy Council and as such regulates the conduct and performance of Physiotherapists and students in NSW. Elizabeth has also been involved in the governance and leadership of the Australian Hand Therapy Association over the past 15 years and was recently appointed Treasurer of the International Federated Societies of Hand Therapy.

Elizabeth is passionate about clinical leadership and ensuring health practitioners can work safely and competently at the top of their clinical scope of practice and is a strong advocate for allied health practitioners in the primary healthcare space.

As a founding Clinical Council member, Elizabeth values the opportunity to work with like-minded practitioners on the Clinical Council aiming to improve the health of our communities and ensuring people get the right care at the right time.

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Natalie Cordowiner


Natalie’s main areas of clinical interest are women’s care, antenatal care and pediatrics and has an interest in bariatric medicine. She works regularly for the Bridges After Hours GP Service, is on the GP Collaboration panel for the PHN, is an examiner for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and a GP Registrar Supervisor.

Natalie is passionate about access to good quality primary care including general practice and strongly believes in GP owned and worked practices supporting families through all phases of life and health. She advocates for access to timely and appropriate after hours care and the importance of health education/literacy.

Natalie is a founding member of the Clinical Council and believes that primary health care plays in the broader health system and hopes to influence better communication with primary care providers to better assist patients’ continuity of care.

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Martin Kwasner

Exercise Physiologist

Martin is an Exercise Physiologist who specialises in treating people with persistent pain and long term muscular skeletal injury. He also works with clients with neurological conditions and is interested in treating people suffering from long term pain, including Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and Phantom limb Pain.

Martin is interested in improving the care of people in persistent pain by creating pathways and mechanisms that better coordinate the explanations, advice and treatments given by the team of health professionals working with people in long term pain.

He has a Masters in Public Health and sat on curriculum development committees at the Australian College of Physical Education and the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Association Dance College.

Martin joined the Clinical Council in 2022 as it represents and speaks to a broad range of health professionals and can help develop policy that influences the approaches of clinicians from a variety of health professions.

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Ashley Van Leeuwestyn

GP Registrar

Ashley is a GP Registrar with an interest in Primary Care, Women’s Health and Mental Health, Clinical Governance and Medical Administration.

She trained as a medical student and a junior doctor at both Wyong and Gosford Hospitals. As a member of the Central Coast Local Health District's Clinical Council, she created a long-standing debriefing program for Junior Doctors and ran the Near Peer Medical Teaching program for the University of Newcastle. In 2021, Ashley was awarded Junior Doctor of the Year for the Central Coast, the same you she joined the PHN Clinical Council.

Ashley advocates for better health care for our community and growing up on the Central Coast and working as a local Doctor has given her a good insight to the local health system. Ashley joined the Clinical council to contribute towards improving the effective delivery of health care within our region.

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Veronica Vogel

Accredited Practising Dietitian

Veronica is an Accredited Practising Dietitian in private practice, helping people to understand the value of good nutrition information to improve health, mood, and sleep. She works with people suffering a variety of health conditions and has a particular interest in gut conditions and hormonal health especially mid-life women in perimenopause and menopause.

Veronica is passionate about increasing awareness of the impact of good nutrition on overall health outcomes and integrating appropriate nutrition in healthcare. She is a member of the PHN’s Continuing Professional Development sub-committee and also has previous experience in Health Policy and Advocacy within the RACP.

As a founding member of the Clinical Council, Veronica advocates for the role of dietitians and allied health involvement in healthcare and the need to increase action in preventative healthcare.

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Lachlan Walter

Community Pharmacist

Lachlan has worked in community pharmacy for ten years and has been a registered Pharmacist for the past five years. A member of the Central Coast Pharmacists Association, he believes in a multifactorial approach to health care which doesn’t have pharmaceuticals as the soul solution. He wants to improve mental health care in the community and has a particular interest in mental health and dementia care for the elderly.

Lachlan was involved with the PharMIbridge Mental Health trial that looked at bridging the gap between physical and mental illness by empowering pharmacists to better support patients with mental illnesses in community pharmacies.

He joined the Clinical Council in 2021 to advocate for increased collaboration between health professionals, in all sectors and levels as the way to strengthen community programs and will provide better education about the resources available for those in need.

CCLHD representative

Hunter Manning Clinical Council
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Abe Mathew

GP and Clinical Council Chair

Abe is a Practice Principal in Singleton and Visiting Medical Officer at Singleton District Hospital. He has a special interest in paediatrics, travel medicine and skin cancer with additional qualifications in this area of medicine.

Abe is actively involved in the teaching and supervision of Rural General Practitioner Registrar programme, the GP Clinical Lead for SeNT eReferrals (the PHN) and ADHD clinical lead.

He is passionate about research to determine new diagnostic methods and personalised treatment plans for his patients and advocates for improved health policies that can improve the delivery of healthcare within our region.

Abe joined the Clinical Council in 2020 to advocate for quality care throughout a patient’s health journey.

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Denise Lyons

Nurse Practitioner

Denise practices nursing in various primary care contexts, including General Practice, pharmacies, the PHN and the HNELHD in roles that focus on improving clinical systems and health service delivery.

Denise advocates for improved integration between general practice and local health districts and the important role of nurses as an essential part of the general practice team. Denise is also passionate about providing support and mentoring for nurses working in primary health care and is a strong advocate for health promotion, and patient education and enablement.

Denise is a founding member of the Clinical Council and aims to provide insight into clinician engagement and strengthening the way the PHN engages with clinicians and the PHN’s planning, monitoring and evaluation of commissioned services.

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Fiona Van Leeuwen


Fiona trained as a Registered Nurse then studied Medicine, completing her RACGP training and fellowship after internship and residency at the John Hunter, Mater, and Tamworth hospitals. She was a Director on the Board of the Hunter Division of General Practice, has held numerous clinical advisor roles for the Medicare Local including the inaugural Clinical Co-Lead role for the Hunter Health Pathways upon its initiation in Australia.

Fiona is Chair of the Hunter General Practitioners’ Association of which she was a founding member and is a part of the Covid Response Unit, which scaled up during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fiona was a GP educator/supervisor for Valley to Coast GP Registrar Training and continues to teach medical students in her role as a GP.

Fiona joined the Clinical Council in 2017 with a special interest in clinical systems, patient journeys, media communications, Primary Care Nursing, and family medicine.

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Anita Watts

Board Representative

Anita is a proud Wiradjuri woman, currently working part time as a GP in a large mainstream urban general practice and has special interest in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, women’s health, and children’s health.

Currently a Board member of the PHN, Anita is the NSW and ACT representative of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and was a previous board member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association.

Anita is passionate about improving health in our communities through access to quality primary care and advocates for health equity.

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Jacqui Culver

Nurse Practitioner

Jacqui provides residential aged care telehealth medical clinics in many facilities across NSW in rural and remote locations, as well as face-to-face clinics.

Jacqui has been a Nurse Leader in the aged care sector for over 20 years, the last ten as a Nurse Practitioner working across Acute, Community and Residential Aged Care promoting advance care planning, quality symptom management and natural dying at home or facility.

She is passionate about older vulnerable people living and dying well in the location they choose and was a founder member of the Hunter Aged Palliative Care Network which has representatives from over 40 residential facilities across the Region.

Jacqui joined the Clinical Council in 2022 and has a specific focus on Geriatric Syndromes and preventative health care and wellness models of care for older people.

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Lee Fong


Lee is a General Practitioner also working in clinical governance, service development, guideline development and advocacy roles. He has current roles in private general practice, Hunter New England Local Health District, the Primary Health Network, Hunter Primary Care, the Hunter GP Association, the GP Deputising Association, Therapeutic Guidelines, and a volunteer GP in a clinic for the homeless.

Lee has a particular interest in developing and facilitating connections, collaboration and innovation across healthcare organisations, with the goal of realising system changes that will improve healthcare equity.

As a founding member of the Clinical Council, he hopes that the voice of General Practice can help shape the future of primary care in our region, firstly to the benefit of our own communities, but also with an eye on the potential to scale in other regions.

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Mike Shelley

Health Psychologist

Mike is a Health Psychologist with over two decades’ experience working in complex mental health comorbidities and specialises in chronic pain.

He is currently an independent provider and works with a variety of local organisations such as the University of Newcastle, Northern Integrated Pain Management, and the ACI Pain Management Network. Mike also participates as a ACI Pain Executive, APS College Health Psychology National Executive, APS Relationships Committee and Health Psychology Supervisor.

Mike has a special interest in activity-based treatment and whole person care and advocates for people with injury and disability to navigate care systems.

He joined the Clinical Council in 2017 to focus on local and unique health concerns and improve awareness and delivery of care for chronic condition, especially chronic pain.

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Kylie Bailey

Senior Clinical Psychologist

Kylie is a Senior Clinical Psychologist who is a practising clinician, service director and a researcher clinician specialising in addiction, mental health, and chronic pain. Kylie has worked for the University of Newcastle as an academic, as well as for Local Health Districts, not-for profit organisations and in private practice.

She has written treatment manuals, conducted translational research, has been an invited speaker, and published over 30 journal articles. Kylie has also developed training and mentoring programs for health professionals and is also a member of the PHN’s Allied Health Reference Group.

Kylie joined the Clinical Council in 2019 to support the community by advocating for opportunities to improve access to health treatments and is passionate about improving health outcomes.

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John Ward


John is a Geriatrician with a special interest in the assessment and management of dementia in the community, the management of residents in aged care, and promoting the health benefits of exercise.

He is the Co-Chair of the Hunter Ageing Alliance and a member of the Care Governance Committee for AnglicanCare/Samaritans. John has a special interest in primary care management of chronic disease, primary care reform, optimal ageing, exercise in older age and a life-course approach to healthy ageing.

John joined the Clinical Council in 2019 and advocates for reform of Primary Care regarding managing chronic disease, establishing Primary Care Dementia Nurses and the First 2000 Days project.

Sarah McCubbin - HNELHD Representative

Hunter Manning Clinical Council Member

New England North West Clinical Council
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David Lockart

Chairperson | GP

David is a GP and director at Barton Lane Practice in Tamworth, where he joined as a Registrar in 2013 and then took up responsibilities as one of the owners and directors in July 2018.

David joined the Clinical Council in 2017 and steps into the role of chair in 2023. He joined the Council due to his passion for promoting health care in this region, where he was born and completed his education to the end of high school. 

Through his role in the Clinical Council, David can provide locally relevant perspectives on community health issues to help promote better health outcomes for the local community.

Alongside his work as a GP, David is also involved in training the next generation of GPs in his position as a Medical Educator with RACGP Training Services Ltd

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Emma Moffatt

Deputy Chairperson | GP & VMO

Emma is a GP and Visiting Medical Officer based at Manilla and passionate about the health care of people living in rural areas. She advocates for improvement in the systems supporting health care for people outside of cities and regional centres.

Emma hopes to positively impact the health outcomes of people in her community and the wider PHN footprint. 

She was an active participant in the PHN’s Perinatal Mortality Working for its duration from 2017 to 2021 and joined the Clinical Council in May 2020. She’s also been a GP representative on various groups looking at COVID-19 management within the LHD. She is currently enrolled in a Masters in Health Management/Public Health.

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Andrew Mahony

Accredited Exercise Physiologist

Andrew is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist and Founder of Rural Fit, an allied health company that promotes exercise as medicine to sustain healthier lifestyles in rural and remote communities. His passions include inspiring allied health graduates to return to the country, the utilisation of telehealth, and providing support to GP’s. 

As a founding member of the PHN’s Hunter New England Rural Clinical Council, Associate Lecturer and representative on numerous rural health working groups, Andrew hopes to support and influence strategic and visionary thinking, and a multidisciplinary team approach, that achieves on-the-ground, measurable solutions.

His interests include innovation and ‘above the line,’ solution-focused thinking to build health workforce capacity that supports the proud, intelligent rural and remote communities in our region.

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Anne Galloway

Mental Health Clinician

Anne is a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse with a career spanning acute and primary mental health roles incorporating education and evolving digital developments. Tamworth based, Anne is passionate about equality of access to mental health support and rural mental health workforce development to provide services that match community needs.

Working with HealthWISE and managing a diverse mental health workforce Anne promotes activities that increase community mental health services and mental health literacy and values the role of lived experience in reducing stigma and supporting recovery. She hopes to develop and test models of care that challenge conventional models of service delivery in health care.

Anne brings firsthand experience of working in the complex health landscape, understanding funding bodies and health planning, and service delivery in rural, regional, urban and remote communities.

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Diana Coote


Di graduated Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in Queensland in 1978 and has over 40 years’ experience as a GP. She is one of the Practice Principals at Warialda Family Practice and Visiting Medical Officer at Warialda MPS.

Di has completed a Fertility Control course with the Australian Family Planning Association and regularly attends the Rural Health Continuing Education programs. She is also a member of the Barwon Health Alliance and the Gwydir Health Alliance.

In addition to comprehensive general practice care she has special interests in obstetric care, paediatrics, women’s health interests and counselling.

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Edwina Sharrock OAM

Managing director and founder of online digital health tech company Birth Beat, Edwina Sharrock OAM is a passionate health advocate focused on advocating for the advancement of primary healthcare.

A firm believer that high quality, sustainable primary healthcare is critical to ensuring regional communities thrive, the Tamworth-based influencer embraces technology and innovation as the keys to addressing the health challenges in regional and rural communities.

Ms Sharrock was a founding member of the PHN’s Hunter New England Rural Clinical Council and is now the PHN’s Board representative for that group.

She has a distinguished list of achievements, including being named as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence and NSW Telstra Small Business Woman of the Year in 2019, and recently Australia's fellow of the Cartier Women's Initiative - an annual international entrepreneurship program.

“Being based in Tamworth, I know that there are particular health challenges in our regional and rural communities, and this increases with geographical remoteness.

“High quality, sustainable primary healthcare is a critical factor to ensure our communities thrive,” Ms Sharrock said.

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Rosemary Rose

Registered Nurse

Rosemary has been the Nurse Manager of Pius X Aboriginal Corporation since 2001 with a specific interest in health care for First Nations people.

She is a member of the Australian College of Nursing and of the Practice Managers Association and was recognized by her peers in 2020, winning the Practice Manager of the Year award for the area.

Rosemary’s main clinical interest is in providing care for the Aboriginal and wider community of Moree and surrounding areas and joined the Clinical Council in 2017 in the hope of providing a voice for the rural and Aboriginal people of the area.

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Warren Ansell


Warren is Principal Physiotherapist at Pro-Active Physiotherapy in Tamworth, which he established in 1999. His passion is in injury prevention and performance enhancement.

He has been a physio for over 30 years and during that time has worked at the Sydney Olympics and various national competitions. He has also worked with world and national champions in a wide variety of sports and spent time training at the Australian Institute of Sport and the Western Australian Institute of Sport.

Warren has conducted research into ironman triathletes and has had the pleasure of being a clinical supervisor of physiotherapy students for the University of Newcastle and Charles Sturt University. Prior to becoming a physio, he was a gymnastics coach, a martial arts instructor, fitness trainer and an athletics coach for visually impaired athletes.

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Kylie Whitford

HNELHD Representative

Kylie Whitford is a psychologist currently working as a senior manager across acute, general, community, aged care, and allied health services across the Tamworth, Gunnedah, Walcha and Liverpool Plains Local Government Areas.

She is passionate about rural health care and ensuring vulnerable people living in rural areas get the necessary access to health services. Kylie has a keen interest in working with First Nations communities to improve health outcomes by supporting and improving the health workforce in rural areas.

She was motivated to join the Clinical Council by her interest in working more closely with the primary health sector to achieve better outcomes for people through collaboration and cross agency connections and improvements in how health professionals are recruited and retained in rural and regional communities.


For more information about our Clinical Councils please contact:

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