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Community Advisory Committees

Community Advisory Committees

Our Community Advisory Committees provide our Board with locally relevant perspectives on community health issues.

The Community Advisory Committees are made up of members with active community networks who are able to provide the advice, feedback, community perspective and context which helps to shape our funding of programs and services.

If you have suggestions or identified issues regarding your community’s health you are encouraged to contact your local Community Advisory Committee.

Central Coast Community Advisory Committee
Profile image of Geoffrey Forrester

Geoffrey Forrester


Geoff is a founding member and the Chair of the Central Coast Community Advisory Committee. A retired Managing Director with over 25 years’ experience the healthcare industry working with State and Federal Governments targeting integration of acute and primary care using digital technology.

He is passionate about digital health integration and advocates for a holistic view of healthcare and removing silos within the industry. Geoff cites his role working with the Australia Government in the emergence of e-Health during the early 2000’s as a key professional achievement. Titled the Eastern Goldfields Regional Reference Site (EGRSS) it was a key component of the ‘Access to Broadband Technology’ initiative. It was the only project of its kind at the time.

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Bradley Twynham

Board Representative

Brad is a Technology Entrepreneur and Innovator, Strategy Consultant and Investor/Board Director with over 25 years working and consulting in the areas of enterprise technology adoption and enterprise operating model transformation.

Brad has previously acted in roles ranging from CEO to Corporate Development to Technology Strategy Consulting and is currently an investor in a number of companies focused on preventative health care. He sits on a number of Boards and acts as a Board Advisor.

Brad is a Senior Lecturer at Western Sydney University in the Bachelor of Entrepreneurship Program and is the Entrepreneur in Residence at several high-profile Technology Startup Incubators. He is a Board Member of the Central Coast Montessori Primary School, and a member of The Institute of Company Directors and Director Institute.

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Mellita Bate

Mellita is the Regional Manager of Interrelate Greater Sydney and has held leadership roles in the social services sector for over ten years. Mellita has been a relationship counsellor for over 25 years and has lived in the Australian outback and regional areas of NSW working closely with multiple communities throughout that time. She also works closely with the Family Law Networks, Mental Health and Relationship Services and Faith communities.

Mellita joined the Community Advisory Committee in 2022 as she is passionate about the health and support sector working more closely together to avoid service duplication and efficient use of shared resources with the aim of improving the lives of our community.

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Vickie Parry

Vickie is a proud Gomeroi woman born in Moree NSW, who moved to the Central Coast in the early 1960s. With a solid background in the education sector Vickie is the Executive Director of the Barang Regional Alliance and current Chairperson of the Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Service.

As a founding member of the Community Advisory Committee, Vickie is passionate about improving community capacity to address social determinants of health and education for Aboriginal people. Her focus is to empower Aboriginal people through education, training, employment, and participation.

She has extensive experience across the government and non-government sectors. In 2012 Vickie was awarded the NAIDOC Darkinjung Medal for Aboriginal Person of the year award for her commitment, work and dedication to improving outcomes for the Aboriginal community.

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Bobby Redman

A retired psychologist, Bobby has become a passionate dementia advocate since being diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia in 2015. Determined to improve the lives of people with the syndrome, Bobby is Chair of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee, working for and with people living with dementia around Australia. She also sits on the Steering Committee of the Central Coast Dementia Alliance and Chairs the Central Coast Lived Experience Dementia Advisory Group.

Bobby has strong community ties and is both a member of the Australian Red Cross Emergency Services Team here on the Central Coast and a Rotarian, holding the position of Rotary District Chair of the Dementia Awareness and Support Committee. Bobby was greatly honoured to be a NSW finalist for Senior Australian of the Year in 2020 for her community and dementia advocacy work.

Bobby joined the Community Advisory Committee in 2020 to give those living with dementia a voice, and with the hopes of improving medical services and support to all those living with cognitive degeneration.

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Dean Callaghan

Dean has a background in teaching and is currently a Transition Support Teacher with the NSW Department of Education. In this role, he supports school leavers with disabilities and acute mental health conditions in a network of schools across the Central Coast and Lake Macquarie regions.

Dean specialises in connecting students with complex circumstances to a range of post-school pathways. During his work, Dean has identified significant shortfalls regarding access to youth services and supports. He aims to provide advice around what he is seeing on the ground and support solutions to some of the challenges community members are experiencing.

Dean joined the Community Advisory Committee in 2021 to help advocate the need to enhance the health and wellbeing of young people across the region.

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Joy Sinclair

Joy is a Kenyan-born woman with three children. She came to Australia as a student in 2005 and has been living on the Central Coast for 15 years.

She is the NSW Leader for the Mental Health Foundation of Australia Mental Health Attaché` program and actively participates in a variety of panels and committees with a focus on mental health and CALD community advocacy. Joy also volunteers her time with the Red Cross and the Central Coast Environmental Council

Joy has a passion for the recognition of Human Rights, equality, and inclusion as well as Mental wellbeing and Suicide prevention for Ethnic communities. This passion stems from her 8 years' lived experience of mental health issues, and her experiences within service provision.

Joy joined the Community Advisory Committee in 2021 to advocate for her community to address stigma and educate service providers and the community to challenge attitudes and beliefs around disability and mental ill health.

Vanessa Thompson

Vanessa is a single mother to eight children aged between 12 and 30 years of age and has been a resident of the Central Coast’s Northern End for 27 years.

A Registered Clinical Counsellor working as an Adolescent and Family Counsellor in community services sector, she is interested and passionate about mental health, especially mental health of young people. Vanessa is a strong advocate for early and accessible diagnosis for the neurodivergent community.

Member of Australian Counselling Association and secretary of the Adolescent and Family Counsellors’ Association (NSW) Vanessa hopes to bring her personal and professional experience to the CAC and highlight the difficulties people in the lower socioeconomic cohort face in regard to all facets of health.

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Michele Daly

Michele has worked as a senior research academic in Medical Education for over 25 years at Sydney University and the Royal Australian College of Physicians. She has co-authored numerous research publications with a focus on rural career intention and professional development of new doctors. Michele is a Consumer Advisor with the Cancer Institute NSW, and also an active Consumer in Research supporting several cancer research projects.

Having witnessed challenges facing elderly consumers of health care and their carer, in the Central Coast region, Michele is passionate about the importance of integrated care, in particular around community and medical specialty access in underserved areas.

Hunter Manning Community Advisory Committee
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Kaye Duffy OAM


Kaye is based in Newcastle and has been Chair of the Hunter Manning Community Advisory Committee since inception. She has a background in journalism, public relations and business consultancy.

She has served on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and on the boards of Cancer Australia and the ACI. She is currently a board member of Health Consumers NSW and facilitates the Hunter Brain Tumour Support Network. Since 1990 she has been actively engaged in steering committees developing educational tools, resources and training programs within health.

Kaye has a special interest in palliative care, chronic disease, health services for disadvantaged and marginalised people, and provision of services in regional and rural areas so that people are not disadvantaged by distance or social isolation. She is passionate about health literacy.

Kaye's role as health reporter for the Newcastle Herald stimulated her interest in consumer engagement and this is the reason for her joining the CAC. She hopes the CACs will work co-operatively within the PHN and partner with other organisations to get the best possible health outcomes for their communities and make the best use of the available health budgets.

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Ms Wendy Machin

Board representative

Experienced non-executive Director and Chair, Wendy Machin is the Chairperson of the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (PHN).

Wendy currently sits on Boards in the public, private and NFP sector. She is a Director of Heritage Bank, Golf Australia, Vice Chair of the NSW Nationals party and also operates her own beef cattle property on the mid north of NSW where she was born and raised.

Wendy’s early and formative years were in politics, serving 11 years in the NSW Parliament as Deputy Speaker of the House, a Minister and a Shadow Minister, along the way becoming the first Australian woman to have a baby in office as a Minister.

Prior to her Board career Wendy worked in-house as Director of Corporate Affairs in Australia’s largest funeral corporation, now known as InvoCare. She has also been the Executive Director of the Urban taskforce, an advocacy body for urban developers.

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Glenn Ferrero

Glenn has lived in regional New South Wales for over 30 years and has been involved in Community Advocacy and Health Promotion for all of that period. He currently lives in Johns River after 10 years in Newcastle working as: Regional Manager, Hunter for ACON Health (formerly the AIDS COUNCIL of NSW). Glenn has also spent one year as a Trainer with Lifeline MidCoast and five years as a Crisis Supporter on the Crisis Line.

His interest in community representation began with advocacy on LGBTQI+ rights and championing equal access to health services along with Suicide Prevention and Mental Health needs of at-risk groups. Particularly those living with HIV, injecting drug users, sex workers and the homeless.

He has been a community representative on advisories since the 1990’s beginning with a long period serving on the Sexual Health Advisory Group with the Hunter New England Health District. He has been involved in multiple suicide prevention advisories and participated in the Community of Practice advisory for the Pilot rollout of the NDIS in Newcastle.

Glenn is in his third term with the Primary Health Network and continues to maintain a voice for those that are traditionally unheard in such forums.

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Helen Belcher

Helen Belcher is from the Lower Hunter and has been a member of the Hunter Manning Community Advisory Committee since inception.

Helen is a retired academic and has a PhD, Masters Health Planning, Grad Dip Social Administration and a BA. She has a background in nursing, health sociology, health planning and governance, and community participation and engagement.

Helen is a former Board Member Hunter New England Local Health District, and former chair of the Board‘s Community and Patient Partnership Committee and Health Care Quality Committee. Currently she is a member of the Urgent Care Services Governance Committee, the Maitland Health Committee, Lower Hunter Clinical Committee, Health Consumers NSW, Health Consumers NSW Consumer Leaders Taskforce, and an associate member Consumers Health Forum Australia. Helen has recently been appointed to the National Clinical Governance Committee Calvary.

Helen is a passionate advocate for community engagement and participation. Better health outcomes for patients and a better health system are achieved when consumers are engaged in the design, delivery and evaluation of health care. Her interest extends to health planning, health care quality and safety, integration of health services, remote and regional health, social determinants of health, care navigation, and social prescribing.

Helen’s interests are shaped by a desire for better health outcomes; a safe, efficient and integrated health system; and equitable access for all. Helen was motivated to join the CAC by her desire to bring her extensive experience to the table in order to achieve better health outcomes for patients, their families and their communities. She believes her experience might assist HNECC PHN to better partner with stakeholders, not the least consumers, from across the health care system.

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David Series

David lives in Port Stephens where he is an active member of a number of Community groups.

He served 30 years in the UK Police Service, retiring as a Chief Superintendent, and Assistant Director of the Overseas Command course at the UK Police Staff College.

He has considerable experience in the Health sector as a Non-Executive Director, and Vice-Chairman of a major Health Trust in the UK, which managed five public hospitals. More recently he served on the Hunter Medicare Local After Hours Advisory Board.

David has personal experience of Aged Care, and Dementia Care issues, and has specific interest in Healthy Ageing, E-Health, and convenient local access to Health Services.

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Chris Harle

Chris works in Sustainability at Lake Macquarie City Council in the Community Partnerships department. Previously Chris worked for HNE Health for over a decade in various roles across the Hunter.

Chris has knowledge and experience working with communities affected by the social determinants of health. Chris has previously served on the boards of local community agencies and is a member of the Australian Association of Social Workers.

Chris is passionate about social justice and equitable access to health services. She also has an interest in the burden on health as a result of climate change.

Chris was motivated to join the CAC in the hope that her experience in health could be utilised to assist her local community achieve improved health outcomes.

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Anna Burley

Anna is CEO of Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group, a Gloucester community service.

She has a diverse career background that includes banking, health, hospitality and natural resource management. Anna returned to live and work in Gloucester after spending a period of time in remote Far North Queensland. Whilst living in the Gulf country she worked with the Traditional Owners, Agricultural, Tourism and Mining communities.

Samantha Huntley

Sam is based in Maitland and is an experienced professional in Mental Health Implementation, Project Management, Stakeholder Engagement and mother of two. She has extensive experience in government, not for profit and tertiary education sectors in both service delivery, program development, implementation and research.

Sam is passionate about shaping mental health service systems to ensure they meet the needs of contemporary communities through authentic engagement and implementation processes.

Sam has had many opportunities to engage with a broad range of rural and regional communities in the co-design of system decision support tools, health policy development and coordinated implementation and delivery of programs and services. This experience has given her important insights into regional governance and politics, the challenges of implementation and coordination, and what is needed to navigate these challenges to ensure the effective implementation of cross sector initiatives. Sam is a passionate advocate for the inclusion of lived experience in all aspects of sector redesign and development.

Sam has special interests in mental health, consumer engagement, digital technology and workforce development which she hopes to influence through participation in the community advisory committee.

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Jodie Stewart

Mydie Keegan

New England North West Community Advisory Committee
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Wayne Chaffey


Wayne is Chair of the NENW Community Advisory Committee, a role he has had since its inception. He has spent the majority of his life in the NENW region of NSW. Educated in the Tamworth region and attending UNE before embarking on a forty+ year career as a secondary science teacher, he now raises cattle with wife Nell.

Wayne has held leadership roles in a variety of organisations, both career and voluntary positions, and advocates strongly for every individual having ready access to a quality, general practitioner, and when necessary, equitable access to specialists or allied health practitioners. He understands the diverse health needs and cultural nuances in rural and remote settings.

After decades in public office, he hopes to be able to influence decision makers to finance programs to provide the best health outcomes for regional communities.

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Dr David Briggs AM

Board representative

David has a Bachelor of Health Administration, Master of Health Management (hons), PhD (UNE) and an honorary Doctorate in Public Health (Naresuan University, Thailand).

David is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Health Service Management, a Foundation Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Health Service Executives, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of New England, Adjunct Professor, ASEAN Institute of Health Development, Mahidol University, Thailand and Honorary Editor in Chief of the ASEAN Journal of Health Development.

David has extensive senior management experience in the public health sector, which includes Chair, New England Medicare Local, CEO of a large Area Health Service, General Manager of a District Health Service, and CEO of a 300-bed acute regional referral hospital. He has had extensive experience in both rural and community health services and in the accreditation of health and aged care services. David is currently engaged in consultancy, research and publications in the health sector, most recently in primary health care, in the Asia Pacific as well as Australia. In 2020 David was recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to health services, medical administration and to education.

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Janelle Speed

Janelle lives at Wellingrove near Glen Innes and her work and community responsibilities have included a wide geographic range including Newcastle, the Hunter, New England and Northwest regions of NSW.

She has two decades of leadership in the public health sector with a focus on quality systems and risk management and a broad and deep experience in community consultation and service design and delivery. She has worked cooperatively and collaboratively with State Ministers, Board Chairpersons, Directors, Chief Executive Officers, General Managers, Executive Leaders, Clinicians, Elders and Academics at two regional Universities in New South Wales (University of New England and Newcastle University) and at TAFE’s New England Institute.

Janelle is a Director of Homes North Community Housing Co. Ltd and a member of the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial with a specific interest in advocating for Aboriginal health, rural services and communities, veterans, and minority groups.

Passionate about coordinating initiatives and programs across geographic and organisational boundaries and in ensuring quality outcomes are achieved under complex constraint, she was motivated to join the CAC by her involvement in community and consumer groups. She hopes to influence service providers to gain a wider understanding of the complexities and cultural aspects in health for rural and remote areas.

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Colleen Fuller

Colleen Fuller is from Gunnedah, North West NSW. She is a tireless community worker at both local and state level, elected to the Gunnedah Shire Council in 2004 a position she still holds today. She is committed to her community, serving on many committees and chairs a number of these.

Colleen is part of many groups such as Environment and Development: Crime Prevention; Domestic Violence Prevention; Multicultural Commission Northern Inland; she was also the first female president and Life Member for Association of Mining Related Councils. Colleen has also been the chair of the local Meals on Wheels for the last 10 years and also part of the state board.

Colleen was also appointed to the Rural Hunter New England State Health in May 2016 and is very passionate about supporting and developing improved health care in rural areas, maintaining Rural Doctors, Ambulance Services and making Health Care accessible for all ages.

Colleen’s motivation in joining the CAC is so that her community gets a voice and are provided with the required health services.

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Anna Burley

Anna is CEO of Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group, a Gloucester community service.

She has a diverse career background that includes banking, health, hospitality and natural resource management. Anna returned to live and work in Gloucester after spending a period of time in remote Far North Queensland. Whilst living in the Gulf country she worked with the Traditional Owners, Agricultural, Tourism and Mining communities.

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Keli McDonald

Deputy Chair

Keli is based in Gunnedah, NSW. She is CEO of the National Rural Women’s Coalition, runs a business - Kels Office and Management Services (KOMSS), a business solutions and bookkeeping company, and is partner in a sustainably certified mixed farming enterprise at Gunnedah.

She provides professional services to a diverse client base. She has a passion for business and helping rural people achieve their business goals and a strong affinity to women forging careers in rural Australia.

Keli is an active community member and her interests in community health include reaching those with multiple forms of disadvantage; ensuring access to all services including allied health; the opportunity to use telehealth where appropriate; and ensuring equality of services to rural people.

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Nathan Blacklock

Nathan Blacklock is an Australian former professional rugby league and, briefly, rugby union footballer who played in the 1990s and 2000s. An Australia national rugby league representative wing, he played for the Sydney City Roosters and the St. George Dragons before they formed a joint-venture with the Illawarra Steelers to form the St. George Illawarra Dragons, with whom he continued playing, becoming the National Rugby League's top try-scorer for three consecutive seasons from 1999 to 2001. Blacklock also played in the Super League for Hull FC, with whom he won the 2005 Challenge Cup.

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Mary Hollingworth

Mary Hollingworth has been a passionate community volunteer and advocate locally in Deepwater and Glen Innes and throughout the region for over 40 years.

Her passion has always been to lobby all levels of government to ensure rural families have equality and opportunities in accessing health, education, sporting, cultural, social and particularly mental and preventative health services.

Mary had a decade with Glen Innes Severn Council as the Admin assistant for the Australian Celtic Festival (her dream role) once her three children were at university. This provided her with a plethora of valuable skills and networks for enhanced community collaborations and partnerships especially valuable for preventative and allied health.

Recently retired Mary is actively involved with several local organisations at an executive level and several State Committees. She is very proud to be a member of the PHN HNE Community Advisory Committee and continues to be a passionate and vocal contributor for her beloved Glen Innes and District Community. Mary is committed to ensuring all levels of government know what small rural communities actually need and lobbying until the need is recognized and actioned.


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