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Biographies – National Advisory Committee members


Professor Jane Burns – Mental Health

Professor Jane Burns is Professor of Innovation and Industry at the University of Sydney. In 2010 she raised 35M as the founder and CEO of Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre an organisation that over its five years drove industry focused research and development to explore the role of new and emerging technology in improving wellbeing.

Jane was a winner in the category of Social Enterprise and Not-for-profit for 2015s Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence, and was a Victorian Finalist in the 2012 Telstra Business Women's Awards.

Jane is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is Chair of the National Advisory Committee for the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service. She provides strategic advice to the government, university and social enterprise sector and is a member of 10 advisory boards and government working group, including as a member of the Vision for Australia Advisory Council, the Department of Communications Online Safety Working Group and the Department of Veteran Affairs Clinical Reference Group. Previous Directorships include the Cooperative Research Centres Association, the Bounceback and Thomas Kelly Foundations.

She was Deputy Executive Officer and led the youth and public health agenda for beyondblue in its initial start up, was a Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, and was Director of International Partnerships at Inspire Foundation driving growth in the United States. Jane held a VicHealth fellowship from 2006-2013, an NHMRC fellowship from 1997-2000 and an NHMRC scholarship from 1994-1996. She has a PhD in Medicine from the Faculty of Medicine (Public Health and Epidemiology) University of Adelaide.

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Dr Andrew Khoo Psychiatrist

Dr Andrew Khoo completed his undergraduate medical degree from the University of Queensland in 1994 and received his fellowship from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in 2002, receiving a College medal for his final year dissertation on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He presently divides his time between private practice and being a Clinical Director of the Toowong Private Hospital.

Given his clinical practice in the private sector, his specific interests include the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, particularly psychopharmacology and group therapy.

He is a Senior Lecturer for the University of Queensland Medical School and what time he finds for academic work is currently spent compiling and publishing papers on PTSD, CBT and group therapy.

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Dr David Cockram Vietnam Veteran and Clinical Psychologist

David is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology with a private clinical, consulting, mediation and training practice in Perth, WA.

David initially joined the Australian Army in 1969 at the age of 18, and as an infantry combat soldier completed an operational tour in South Vietnam with the 3rd Battalion RAR. He is a qualified paratrooper.

In 1984, he rejoined the Army as a chaplain and attained the rank of full Colonel. David wrote a report that helped facilitate the development of the Defence Community Organisation.

He has worked as a full-time chaplain for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and continues part-time. David has worked as a clinical psychologist with the Western Australia Police.

He has trained police and emergency services organisations in various aspects of mental health including stress and trauma management, and critical incident response. In addition to his Vietnam War experience, David has been to Army peace operations in Bougainville and East Timor, and to AFP operations in Bali (1st Bombing), the Solomon Islands Intervention, and the Tsunami disaster in Phuket, Thailand. He has supported the AFP on Christmas Island.

David's tertiary qualifications include ThL, Grad.Dip.RE, B.Bus, B.App.Sc, Postgrad.Dip.Psych, and Doctor of Psychology (Clinical). He holds a Cert IV in Workplace Assessment and Training.

He is a member of the Federal Government's Veterans' Family Study Consultative Forum for the current research into the effects of war-service on veterans' families and children. He is a part-time postgraduate lecturer in psychology at Notre Dame University, Fremantle, WA.

His doctoral research thesis investigated aspects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans. He is a full member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the APS College of Clinical Psychologists.

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Mr Brenton Russell DSM Contemporary Veteran

Brenton Russell served in the Australia Regular Army as an Infantry Officer from 1998 to 2011. During this time, Brenton served in a wide variety of regimental, staff and training positions including postings to 5th/7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment; Army Recruit Training Centre; Land Headquarters; Combat Training Centre and 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.

Brenton also undertook operational deployments to East Timor as a Platoon Commander with INTERFET in 1999/2000, Iraq as a multinational embedded officer with the British Army in 2006 and Afghanistan as the Officer Commanding, Operational Mentor and Liaison Team Charlie with the Mentor and Reconstruction Taskforce 2 (1 RAR Battle Group) in 2009/2010.

Brenton's final regular Army posting was as the Operations Officer, 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment where he was responsible for significant areas of 1 RAR's restoration after its return from operations in Afghanistan.

From his first-hand experiences, Brenton has a strong interest in the effects that operational deployments and military service in general has on veterans and their families. Brenton has personally commanded and managed a number of veterans (both on operations and in Australia) that have faced ongoing mental and physical challenges.

Brenton and his family have also personally used a number of VVCS services throughout his transition from the Australian Regular Army. Through his experiences from operational service, command of other veterans and transition from regular service, Brenton has a strong understanding and empathy of the stresses and challenges that many veterans now face.

Brenton is now a leadership, management and strategy consultant where he works with both public and private sector entities to develop high quality organisational outcomes.

For his service in Afghanistan, Brenton was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for 'distinguished leadership in action'.

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Dr Michael Seah

Dr Seah graduated from the University of Western Australia with the sponsorship of the Australian Defence Force Undergraduate Program. He entered full time RAAF service in 1995, and was posted to RAAF Pearce, Edinburgh, and Campbell Park, along with overseas postings to the UK and USA.

He has undertaken various overseas deployments to Bougainville, East Timor, Kyrgyzstan, and the Middle East Area of Operations. Mike has significant experience with military garrison health operations, rehabilitation, health policy, and medical standards. He left full time active service in 2011 and now works as a General Practitioner in Gungahlin.

Dr Seah is a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Australasian College of Aerospace Medicine. He holds a Master of Public Health and Diploma of Aviation Medicine.

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Ms Leanne Galayini

Ms Galayini is currently working for Sydney Legacy as the Support Services Department Team Leader and oversees the day to day running of the Administration support to both Legatees and Legacy Beneficiaries. Leanne has previously worked in the Private RTO (Registered Training Organisation) Sector, managing a large team of tutors. These tutors assisted students who were completing studies in Diploma's such as Community Services, Youth Work, Youth Justice, Mental Health/ AOD (Alcohol and other Drugs) and Counselling.

Ms Galayini has completed a Diploma in Management and Leadership, Diploma in Community Services and achieved her Cert 4 in TAE (Training and Education) including (LLN) Literacy, Learning and Numeracy.

Ms Galayini has previously undertaken the role of Training and information Program (TIP) Co-ordinator and TIP Trainer for Department of Veterans' Affairs over a two-year period. In this role, Ms Galayini organised and facilitated Welfare Officer Training's Levels Basic, Advanced and E-Tools.

Ms Galayini previously worked for Sydney Legacy for six years as a Community Services Worker visiting War Widows and their families. In this role she assessed, referred and advocated for Widows and their dependants with disabilities to appropriate services thus improving the quality of their lives.

Ms Galayini is the founder and President of Adult Kids of Veterans Australia (AKOVA)- originally known as KOV-NSW, a group established to provide support for the Sons and Daughters of Vietnam Veterans.

Ms Galayini advocates not only for the needs of this group but also those of the generations to come who are affected by being part of a Veteran family.

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Mrs Melanie Pike

Mrs Pike is the wife of a veteran, who she described as a "completely changed man" after he returned from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008. Mrs Pike returned from the war with several conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) and severe depression. Mr and Mrs Pike have experienced first-hand the damaging after effects of service, and Mrs Pike is committed to ensuring that more support is provided to assist the wellbeing of the serving and ex-service community in Tasmania.

Mrs Pike is well aware of how life-altering PSTD is, and how the ripple effects of such conditions extend to impacting the family and those close to the veteran. Living with a veteran suffering from PTSD and major depression can be challenging and at times totally overwhelming. Mrs Pike believes that partners and families are often the ones left to pick up the pieces which leads to feelings of isolation, therefore education and meaningful support for partners and families is key. Mrs Pike believes strong policies surrounding veteran mental health issues need to translate into a practical, fair and sensible way of treating those and their families who are suffering.

Mrs Pike has worked at the Australia Antarctic Division since 2006 and she is a member of the Partners of Veterans Association (PVA).

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Mrs Heike Dunn, CSM

Mrs Dunn transferred to the Active Reserve in May 2011 following 28 years service in the Regular Army. During her time in the ARA Mrs Dunn was primarily employed as a Movements specialist, additionally she completed postings in recruiting, training and development. Mrs Dunn's final appointment prior to separating from the ARA was a representational position, DAA Southern Europe. She has participated in numerous large scale exercises and has significant operational service, including Somalia 1994, East Timor 2000 and Iraq 2004.

Mrs Dunn is currently employed by the Directorate of Army Health as part of the Army Support to Wounded, Injured and Ill Program (A-SWIIP). As the Member Support Coordinator for Southern Victoria.

Mrs Dunn provides support to wounded, injured and ill serving and transitioning Army personnel. She achieves this by liaising with numerous organisations, including the ADF Transition Centre, Defence Community Organisation, DVA, Department of Human Services and education, medical service and rehabilitation providers. Mrs Dunn regularly attends Regional Veterans Centre Project meetings, has participated in the VVCS Stepping Out Program and completed TIP Welfare and Pension Officer training courses.

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Mrs Anne Pahl

Mrs Anne Pahl was a member of the Prime Minister's Advisory Council (PMAC) from 2008 2013. Her particular area of responsibility is Serving and Ex-Serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) members on Veterans' Affairs matters. Mrs Pahl is also the RSL National Representative and member of the DVA Consultative Forum-Young Veterans and Contemporary Needs Forum, a member of the ADF Women Steering Review committee, co-opted member of the Victorian RSL State Executive since 2003 and chair of a number of other working parties including Veterans Affairs' Aged Care Consultative Committee and Young Veterans Forum, Victoria. In November 2010 Anne was statutory appointed to the Veterans Review Board and served for the 12 months in the role as Services Member for Victoria and Tasmania.

Currently Mrs Pahl is employed with the Victorian State Branch as their Young Veterans and Defence Liaison officer, assisting contemporary serving and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force and their families, with claims of compensation, advocacy and welfare assistance. She is also the Consumer Representative at the Austin Health Veterans Psych Trauma Recovery Unit – Ward17 and Heidelberg Repatriation Veterans Centre and this year had the honour of leading the Victorian ANZAC Day March representing young veterans who have served in the ADF since 1975.

Mrs Pahl has a Navy background, enlisting in 1988 as a Radio Operator in the Communications Branch and transferring to the RAN Active Reserve as a Petty Officer Radio Supervisor in 1999. In 1992, Mrs Pahl was posted to sea on HMAS Jervis Bay and saw operational service in support of Operation Solace – Restore Hope Somalia. Mrs Pahl was awarded Legacy Instructor of the Year in 1995, RAN Instructor of the Year and in the same year, the RAN Peter Mitchell Prize, Chief of Navy Commendation Junior Sailor of the Year. In 2003, she was promoted to Chief Petty Officer, the rank she now holds.

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Major Benjamin Flink

Major Benjamin Flink is the Deputy Director for the New Venture Institute at Flinders University. He is responsible for the business development and delivery of a range of programs to stimulate entrepreneurial activity in South Australia, supporting growth both in existing business and the creation of startups.

In his previous roles, he has been involved in delivery of numerous technology transfer projects with Flinders Partners, the commercialization company of Flinders University, and has fulfilled roles ranging from CEO of a spin-out company to project management of complex University / Industry partnerships. He has a broad range of experience in software development, licensing, sales and marketing of products and services.

Mr Flink enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2002, graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in February 2005. His military appointments include postings as Platoon Commander, Training Officer, Company 2IC and Officer Commanding within10th/27th Royal South Australia Regiment and Senior Instructor at Adelaide Universities Regiment. During 2006 he was the Liaison Officer to Commander 9th Brigade. Currently he is the Officer Commanding, Bravo Company, 10th/27th Royal South Australia Regiment. He was the recipient of the Prince of Wales Award in 2011.

He deployed to the Solomon Islands as Infantry Platoon Commander, Operation Anode Rotation 17, October 2008 – April 2009. Prior to deployment, he completed the Solomon Islands Pijin Course at the Australian Defence Force School of Languages

In 2012 he joined RSL SA's Emerging Leaders initiative and has contributed to the strategic planning of the organization's long-term sustainability. Since 2014, he has held an appointment on the Board of RSL South Australia.

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Major General Mark Kelly, AO, DSC

Major General Mark Kelly is the Repatriation Commissioner in the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Mark served in a number of senior command appointments during an Army career spanning over 35 years, including Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, Commander 3rd Brigade, Commander 1st Division, Land Commander Australia and Commander Joint Task Force 633 (CJTF 633).

His operational experience includes service with the Commonwealth Monitoring Force in Zimbabwe/ Rhodesia (1979-80), Chief of Staff of the International Force in East Timor (1999-2000), with US CENTCOM in the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Iraq (2003-2004) and as CJTF 633 commanding all ADF elements in the Middle East Area of Operations, Iraq and Afghanistan (2009-10).

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Professor David Forbes Phoenix Australia

Professor David Forbes is the Director of Phoenix Australia (previously the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health [ACPMH]). He completed his clinical training (M.A. Clinical Psychology) and PhD at the University of Melbourne. He has worked in both acute crisis and continuing care settings across the community mental health system and in specialist traumatic stress services.

David joined Phoenix Australia in 1999 (then the National Centre for War-Related PTSD) as Deputy Director. In January 2012, he was appointed Director of the then ACPMH.

He is a clinical psychologist with many years' experience in the assessment and treatment of mental health problems following trauma. David has played an active role in all three arms of Phoenix Australia's areas of activity: research, education and training, and policy and service development. He was the Co-Chair of the Steering Group for the NHMRC-approved Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Professor Forbes sits on the Editorial Boards of key international journals and publishes widely in the international literature. Professor Forbes has a specialised interest in the assessment and treatment of traumatic stress and in veteran and military mental health.

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WO1 Don Spinks, OAM

Warrant Officer Class One Don Spinks was born, raised and educated in the Upper Hunter Valley, New South Wales. He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in January 1979 and on completion of Basic Recruit Training he was assigned to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps. He has been employed in all ranks in trade and has served in multiple units across Army and overseas.

He was promoted to Warrant Officer Class One in January 1999 and in 2000 he was selected to attend the United States (US) Army Sergeants Majors Academy, Fort Bliss, Texas where he completed the US Army Sergeants Major and the Command Sergeant Majors Courses, he served as an instructor at the academy the following year. For his service with the Sergeants Majors Academy he was awarded the United States Army Meritorious Service Medal.

He has served as the Regimental Sergeant Major of 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Multi National Force and Observers – Sinai Egypt, Royal Australian Armoured Corps, 1st Brigade, Joint Task Force 633 on Operation Slipper and Command Sergeant Major Forces Command – Army.

In January 2007 he was awarded the Medal for the Order of Australia for meritorious service to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps and to the Multi-National Force and Observers Sinai.

In March 2015, he was appointed as the 10th Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army – effective date, 9 July 2015.

Warrant Officer Spinks is married to Jennifer—they have two children and five grandchildren. He is a keen Rugby supporter, enjoys exercise, outdoor activities and travel.

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