The keynote speakers at Nurseforce for the Future will offer new perspectives, provoking reflection and action

Trailblazers, innovators, leaders – be inspired to make some changes, however big or small, to advance yourself professionally and personally.

Keynote Speakers

Songwoman Maroochy, Law-woman and respected Elder of the Turrbal-Gubbi Gubbi People, the original inhabitants of Brisbane; and a direct descendant of Daki Yakka, the Chief of the Old Brisbane tribe.

It is a great honour to have Songwoman Maroochy delivering the Welcome to Country to open Nurseforce for the Future.

At the age of 12 she was taken from her family and fostered out to a family in Melbourne. Maroochy later attended the Melba Conservatorium of Music in Melbourne and Victorian College of the Arts where she graduated in Dramatic Arts in 1979. Over the years, Maroochy has acted in such well-known productions as The Flying Doctors and Bran Nue Dae.

Maroochy has also had an extensive community involvement over many years working with the younger generation of Indigenous Australians in the arts industry. She has delivered several lectures on Aboriginal culture in various institutions and was a keynote speaker at the Australian Reconciliation Convention in Melbourne in May 1997.

Maroochy became the first Aborigine to perform on the Australian operatic stage in 1989. She aspires to continue to work in this area of the performing arts, while at the same time engender better understanding of Aboriginal culture.

Maroochy has received many awards including an Honorary Senior Fellowship of the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland in 2000 for her outstanding and sustained contributions to the community.

Maroochy is presently the Artistic Chief Executive of Daki Budtcha Records in Brisbane.


A trailblazer in the role of women, Jean is a public advocate for education, youth, health, equal opportunity and ageing; making her an ideal MC to lead the charge at Nurseforce for the Future.

Jean Kittson is a performer and scriptwriter for stage, television, radio, magazines and newspapers.

Jean came to national attention on 'The Big Gig'. Followed by Let the Blood Run Free, Kittson Fahey, Good News Week, the Glasshouse, Flat Chat, The Einstein Factor, Media Dimensions, Strictly Speaking, Talking ’Bout Your Generation, Studio Ten, the Today Show and she is also well known for her comedy debates for the ABC, Channel 9 and Channel ten.

She has been a regular columnist with New Weekly, Sunday Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald - Sydney Magazine, Inspire Magazine, the Readers Digest Health Smart magazine and The Hoopla.

She is the author of Tongue Lashing, published by Penguin.

Her film credits include Hating Alison Ashley and The Nugget.

Theatre includes Mum’s the Word, Calendar Girls, Siren, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

She is a regular panellist on ABC 702 radio drive programme, Thank God It’s Friday.

She has conversed on Conversations with Richard Fidler twice.

Jean is an experienced MC, keynote speaker, panellist, debater and facilitator of conventions, conferences, award nights and other after dinner frolics, in corporate, government and community arena.

She was a founding Director of the National Cord Blood Bank, the inaugural Chair of the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (AGCF) and a founding Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Australia. She is currently an Ambassador for The Macular Disease Foundation, Northcott Disability Services, The Raise Foundation, Taldumande Youth Services and the Australian Gynaecological Cancer Foundation. She is the Patron of Junction Works and most recently she has been appointed the Patron of Palliative Care Nurses Australia.

As an advocate for women’s health issues, she was invited to speak about her experiences of menopause at the National Press Club.

This lead to her recently published book, “You’re Still Hot To Me. The Joys of Menopause.” (Pan Macmillan)

“Informative, accurate, funny and just so accessible. I love it and finally have the definitive book to recommend to my patients.” 
Dr Penny Adams, GP and medical media advocate for women’s health

Jean is married to cartoonist and political satirist Patrick Cook.

And is the mother of two daughters, Victoria 25 and Charlie, 18.

APNA President Karen Booth has worked as a primary health care nurse and nurse manager in general practice since 1998. Her roles include acute care, preventative health and chronic disease management, care coordination, data management, accreditation, administration, staff training and mentoring. Karen has recently moved into practice management.

Karen’s true passion is preventative health care and utilising surveillance and health checks to identify health problems so that care can be initiated early to prevent damage to a person’s health and wellbeing. Key to this is the development of systems to utilise skills of the whole general practice team to support health prevention activity and care.

Karen has participated in advisory groups for APNA, Australian Medicare Local Alliance, Nursing in General Practice Program, New South Wales Health, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Practice Nurse Clinical Education, and Sydney University, and Health Pathways Advisory Group for Inner West Sydney Medicare Local/Sydney Local Health District.

Karen holds several committee and advisory group positions at Australian Government Department of Health level including the General Practice Roundtable, the National Immunisation Committee, the Advisory Committee for Safety of Vaccine (Ministerial appointment). In 2014 Karen participated in several advisory groups for the RACGP including the Pandemic Taskforce and the review of the Pandemic Flu Kit, the Infection Control Standards and Quality Health Records.

Hon Greg Hunt MP was elected as the Federal Member for Flinders in 2001, and became Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs as a young MP in the Howard Government. Greg was Minister for the Environment between September 2013 and July 2016. In 2016 he was selected as the inaugural Best Minister in the World recipient at the World Government Summit.

In January 2017, Greg was appointed Minister for Health and Sport. He is guaranteeing Australians’ access to health services and affordable medicines with the establishment of the Medicare Guarantee Fund to secure the ongoing funding of Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Greg has struck partnerships with the nation’s general practitioners, specialists, pharmacists and the medicines sector.  This is historic; as it is the first time a government has achieved simultaneous partnerships with all sectors and underscores the Government’s rock solid commitment to Medicare and delivering the health care people need.

Mental health is an issue that is particularly important to Greg. Mental health touches nearly every family in Australia and he is making this a focus of his role as Health Minister to improve mental health services.

Debra Thoms is the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer for the Australian Government and is responsible for providing high-level advice on nursing and midwifery issues. She also participates in the formulation and implementation of policy and strategic direction in relation to health care in Australia.

She was formerly the inaugural chief executive officer of the Australian College of Nursing, a position she took up in mid-2012 following six years as the chief nursing and midwifery officer with New South Wales Health.

Debra is a registered nurse and registered midwife and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Economics/Psychology), Master of Nursing Administration and Graduate Certificate in Bioethics. She has also completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts (History/French) and a Governance and Risk Management Certificate.

During her career Debra has gained broad health management and clinical experience including as a clinician in remote and rural Australia, as CEO of a rural area health service, general manager of the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney and as Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer within the Health Departments of South Australia and New South Wales.

Her contribution to nursing and health care has been recognised by an Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Technology, Sydney and she also holds appointments as an adjunct professor with the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Sydney.

Dr Rosemary Bryant AO is a respected leader and a distinguished figurehead of nursing. Enjoying a broad career in acute and community nursing, as well as extensive experience in policy development in nursing, midwifery and the broader health sector, Rosemary was dubbed the ‘Chief Nurse of the World’ in her position as President of the International Council of Nurses representing 19 million nurses worldwide.

Starting her nursing career in 1963, working mainly as an intensive care nurse in the early days, then in administrative roles and policy roles, to a nurse leader on a national and international stage, Dr Bryant has held prestigious positions; as Australia’s first Commonwealth Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, as the 26th president of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) and consulting to the World Health Organisation.

In 2016 APNA was thrilled to announce Dr Rosemary Bryant as its inaugural APNA Patron, a position in which she will be an ambassador for nurses working in primary health care in Australia.

To acknowledge the significant and long term contribution Rosemary has made to the nursing profession, and her dedication and advocacy of nurses working in primary health care, APNA is pleased to name an award of high achievement in her honour. The Rosemary Bryant Award recognises long-term achievement over many years.


It is with great honour that APNA announce one of the most decorated women in Australian Military history, Major Matina Jewell (retired), will be addressing the group of similarly driven, capable nurses at Nurseforce for the Future.

We all walk a tight rope every day, whether it be juggling the competing demands of our workload, home life, work colleagues, management and wanting to meet the needs of patients.  As Matina will illustrate, it is how we handle adversity that will shape our development and ultimately determine our fulfilment, both professionally and personally.

In 15 years of army service, Matina worked alongside US Navy Seals blockading the Persian Gulf, took command positions beyond her years and dodged Israeli bombs while a United Nations peacekeeper in the 2006 Lebanon war, earning herself eight military service medals.

Courageous and bold, yet by no means a grandstander, Matina’s story is one of finding a way forward in high-pressure situations, of authentic leadership lessons learnt over a trailblazing military career, and a story about seeing change as opportunity, taking responsibility and empowering others.

Awe-inspiring, yet relatable: we can’t wait to hear Matina!

“Matina is hands down the best speaker I’ve experienced. Her inconceivable circumstances,raw courage, storytelling and rare ability to package her lessons in risk and leadership into a realm that we could digest and own was a gift to us all. The entire room was transfixed and moved in 45 mins.”

Nicole Hatherly, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Women in Focus

Find out more about Matina Jewell here.

Dr Del Fante started his career as a computer programmer before completing a medical degree at the University of Adelaide, followed by postgraduate training and Masters in Public Health Medicine and a postgraduate Certificate in Management at LaTrobe. This background has made Peter an ideal Clinical Lead rolling out the latest innovations and systems from the Australian Digital Health Agency.

A Public Health Physician and General Practitioner, Peter works in private practice in Adelaide and in strategic management and governance roles, such as CEO and Medical Director for a Adelaide Western Division of General Practice.

Dr Del Fante is also an Army Reservist has also served as a medical officer from the 9th Combat Service Support Battalion in Adelaide, deployed on Exercise Hamel where he provided medical treatment to soldiers taking part in simulated battle scenarios.

Janet Quigley is the Assistant Secretary, Primary Care, Dental and Palliative Care Branch in the Commonwealth Department of Health. 

The Branch’s priorities include:

- Primary health care reform and the delivery of the stage one trial of Health Care Homes;
- Bilateral agreements with states and territories on coordinated care;
- Supporting the provision of high quality palliative care; and
- Dental health policy and implementation.

Janet has been with the Department of Health since 2000 and has worked in various policy and program areas during this time.  Prior to working in the Department of Health Janet worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for 9 years.

In the afternoon plenary of Friday 11 May, hear from the Commonwealth Department of Health Assistant Secretary Janet Quigley, alongside practice nurse and HCH nursing champion, Donna Datoon, on the progress and experience thus far of this important primary health care reform. 


Be challenged to think about how you can optimise your own potential and that of your team by young leader Holly Ransom.

Holly Ransom is CEO and founder of Emergent, a consultancy that helps businesses and leaders adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. She is also a polished keynote speaker of global repute, renowned for distilling her insights into presentations that provoke, challenge and inspire. Her speaking topics include leadership, peak performance, communicating for influence, intergenerational issues, social media and change strategy.

Rapid change is not only Holly Ransom’s area of professional expertise, it describes her meteoric career. Holly has compressed what would be a sparkling 25-year career into less than a decade, achieving more before her 30th birthday than most do in a lifetime. The youngest person to be named among Australia’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’, she is the former Chief of Staff to National Australia Bank’s Wealth CEO Andrew Hagger and a personally appointed business analyst to Rio Tinto Chief Executive, Sam Walsh. These roles taught her complex change strategy, public affairs and risk management, government and stakeholder engagement, as well as performance improvement through innovation and technology. She brings these skills and more to her work at Emergent, where she counts Microsoft, KPMG and the Australian Institute of Sport among her valued clients. 

Holly has also held many non-executive directorships, across not-for-profit and the public and private sectors. In 2012, she became the world’s youngest ever Rotary Club President and in 2014, she was appointed by the Australian Prime Minister to Chair the G20 Youth Summit. In 2016 she was honoured to become the youngest ever female director of an AFL Club, joining the board of the Port Adelaide Crows (though she remains a West Coast Eagles girl at heart!)

A popular contributor to publications such as The Australian Financial Review and The Huffington Post, Holly is a regular guest on television shows like ABC’s Q&A, Channel 7 News and Channel 10’s ‘The Project’. Outside of work, she had the honour of presenting a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama and being named one of Richard Branson’s dream dinner guests, and has recently completed her first Ironman. 

Holly is uniquely positioned to challenge the way you lead, communicate and do business. She brings a rare combination of acumen and experience, mixed with the creativity and fearlessness of youth. Her insights are bold and game-changing and her presentation style informs and inspires. Holly represents the voice of a new generation with the wisdom of the one before, and her presentations can be tailored to meet your individual needs.       

Find out more about this remarkable young leader here.

What can be learned from a high-functioning practice team?

A program highlight is the Panel facilitated by the engaging Dr Jacqui Richmond, featuring members of the well-regarded Kotara Family Practice – a well-regarded high-functioning multidisciplinary team – with members of the practice team performing to the top of their scope of practice.

Pick up valuable insights and advice to take back to your practice on how to identify and utilise the strengths and skills of your team, how to help bridge gaps, and how to establish a strong, accountable culture to best ensure your team is performing to the full scope of practice.

Care coordination, referrals, delegation, orientation, culture and values, mentoring, supervision, professional development, patient relationships and satisfaction, and of course, scope of practice, will be on the agenda.

Facilitating this discussion will be Jacqui Richmond, a registered nurse who completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2006. In addition to a range of roles in hepatology nursing, education, research and policy development, Jacqui has led the development of key professional documents including hepatology nursing practice standards and consensus nursing guidelines; she also provides facilitation and education services. In 2016-17, Jacqui was involved in facilitating and supporting the consultation for the development of the APNA Career and Education Framework. 

Currently, Jacqui is the Executive Officer of the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Care Collaborative, a clinical advisor for the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), and an honorary Research Fellow at the Burnet Institute and La Trobe University.

Making up the panel from the Kotara Family Practice:

- Dr Kim Isaac, Business Manager & Owner
- Nurse Practitioner Denise Lyons
- Dr Tony Isaac, General Practitioner, Practice Principal & Owner
- Kate Kuter, Practice Nurse

Come equipped with issues you would like to raise, tips to share and questions for the panel or shoot questions and topics for discussion through to

See you in the Plaza Auditorium from 3.30pm on Saturday 12 May for this panel discussion with some key take home messages to close out Nurseforce for the Future.

Professor Ross Andrews is an epidemiologist with major research interests in vaccine-preventable diseases and skin infections. Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research, Prof Andrews is currently the Chair of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), Australia's peak ministerial immunisation advisory committee.

In a world first, he led a randomised controlled trial of pneumococcal vaccine in pregnancy, called PneuMum, which found evidence suggestive of an impact against ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants, and now leads a multi-centre cohort study called FluMum, which is assessing impact of influenza vaccination in pregnancy amongst 10,000 mother-infant pairs. Learn more here.

His work on skin infections has demonstrated that: a short course oral antibiotic is an effective alternative to penicillin injections for treatment of skin sores (The Lancet 2014); and the virtually elimination of scabies ‑ 94 per cent reduction in prevalence – following introduction an oral ivermectin-based drug administration program in Fiji.

Underpinning his research approach has been his demonstrated commitment to community engagement and capacity building.

Ross has $22.1m in research funding; 93 peer-reviewed publications; supervised ten higher degree by research (HDR) students to completion and currently supervises three HDR students.

It is a great honour to have Professor Andrews joining Nurseforce for the Future to share his knowledge.


Robbie Bedbrook is a Registered Nurse with a passion for health promotion and social justice.

Robbie works predominantly in Primary Health Care (PHC) with a special interest in sexual health, mental health and managing chronic illness.

In 2016 he founded the health promotion channel Hot on Health, which seeks to use video content to improve rates of health literacy and promote the under-developed and under-represented field of PHC nursing.

In 2017 Robbie was named a finalist for Recently Graduated Nurse of the Year by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA).

Since then he has expanded his role in the field of PHC through various consulting roles with local government bodies and universities.

Robbie is also a member of the Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum to engage young people to improve the state of the world.

At Nurseforce for the Future, Robbie will ask the questions "Can social media improve health outcomes?" And "Do nurses belong in the entrepreneurial and innovation space?" And answer with a resounding "Yes!" to both.  

Join Robbie Bedbrook as he discusses his work in making health information more accessible for the general public and improving rates of health literacy with his video platform Hot on Health, social media and more. Robbie will explore why he created his persona 'Nurse Robbie', how this is boosting the profile of primary health care nursing and how important it is for nurses to be highly visible in both the media and health-innovation space.

Leading Nurse Practitioner Lesley Salem joins the Nurseforce line-up.

A descendant of the Gringai-Wonnarua Nation in NSW, Lesley's nursing is dedicated to improving the health of those with chronic disease and continuously agitating the state and federal government over nurses and patient rights.

I enjoy mentoring and believe strongly in sharing knowledge. Always through my work is a strong dedication to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, those with socioeconomic disadvantage, and my peers.

In 2015, well-known Coledale Community Centre nurse Lesley Salem was recognised by the industry’s peak body, the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners, when she was named the Australian Nurse Practitioner of the Year.

Lesley splits her time between a number of community clinics across Australia.

She enjoys mentoring and believes strongly in sharing knowledge and the important role for nurse practitioners in rural communities.

“Nurses have success in communities because they see the bigger picture with clients."

Ms Salem said people may come in for one ailment but often she has found other psychological or social factors causing or prolonging illness.

A lack of specialty services, extended waiting times and shoestring budgets were listed as the main challenges faced by community clinics by Ms Salem.

While a nurse practitioner’s primary service is medical help, Ms Salem said communication skills are vital in the industry.

“A lot of cases are about building confidence and making sure they don’t feel like you’re looking down your nose at them.”

Lesley is also an exceptionally gifted artist, following in the footsteps of her father, Les Elvin, an artist and elder of the Wonnarua Nation. Lesley combines knowledge gained from her father with a more contemporary approach.

All work must be telling a story. I love to paint the imagery of the flora and fauna that I see on my travels with rural and remote nursing and tramping (or hiking) I do extensively. I also love to use dotting technique in a modern/contemporary style along with traditional symbolism to paint the life story of an individual or family showing their journey.

View some of Lesley's remarkable work here.​



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