Multicultural Centre For Women's Health

Advancing the Evidence: Speakers

Advancing the Evidence is a two-day national conference on migrant women's sexual and reproductive health. It will take place on 27 and 28 February 2020 at the Novotel Hotel in Melbourne.

We are so excited to announce our incredible line-up of guest speakers and panelists for the conference, including:

Natalie Arambasic is a Health Promotion Officer at Diabetes Victoria passionate about improving community health and wellbeing, including the management and prevention of diabetes within culturally and linguistically diverse populations. In 2016, Natalie completed a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion at Deakin University.

Cecilia Barassi-Rubio is the Director of the Immigrant Women's Support Service, a specialist domestic violence and sexual assault support service for migrant and refugee women. Cecilia has worked in policy and program areas with the Violence Prevention Team (QLD government) and other program areas in Brisbane, Logan and Ipswich.  Cecilia was the inaugural court support worker at the Brisbane Magistrates Court, employed by Legal Aid Queensland.

Beccah Bartlett is a Registered Nurse-Midwife, PhD candidate at Monash University and the founder of Shifra, a web app designed to improve sexual and reproductive health access for refugee and migrant populations. Beccah utilises design thinking tools and applies an intersectional feminist approach to all her research and community partnerships.

Gabrielle Bennett (RN, RM, Grad. Dip. CHN, Grad. Dip. Women’s Health, MPH) is a Registered Nurse/Midwife with experience working in the areas of women’s health, drug use & blood borne viruses, refugee health, remote Aboriginal communities and homelessness. She is currently the Victorian Viral Hepatitis Educator based at St Vincent’s Melbourne.

Boipelo Besele is the Senior Project Officer for the NETFA and MWHA national projects led by the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. Boipelo has previously worked for the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration and various community organisations in Botswana,South Africa, Malaysia and Australia. Her key areas of work include communications, coordination and advocacy.

Dr Siobhan Bourke is a Sexual Health Physician, currently working for The University of Melbourne at the Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health managing online learning for rural health professionals and in the Department of Medical Education as the Director of the Sensitive Physical Examination Program. Clinically she works at CoHealth in Laverton in one of the state government funded Sexual and Reproductive Health Hubs.

Rosie Brennan is the Sexual and Reproductive Health Coordinator at Women’s Health in the North, managing a variety of projects aimed at improving the sexual and reproductive health of women in the northern metropolitan region. She has a Master of Public Health - specialising in sexual and reproductive health through the University of Melbourne and a Bachelor of Nursing through ACU National.

Dr Jasmin Chen is the Research, Advocacy and Policy Manager at Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. She has a PhD in Cultural Studies, and a Graduate Diploma of Education. Jasmin has worked in a number of research, project and communication roles, including projects relating to preventing violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and intersectional approaches to migrant women’s health.

Bonney Corbin is an urban and regional planner with postgraduate qualifications in violence against women policy and conflict resolution practice. She works at Marie Stopes Australia as their Senior Policy Officer. Bonney has fifteen years’ experience working in violence prevention in global healthcare contexts. She is the Chair of Violence Prevention Australia, an organisation seeking to prevent violence from within health systems.

Andrea Creado has been the CEO of Ishar for over 13 years. Andrea focuses on the development and delivery of policies, programs, projects, resources and services for culturally and linguistically diverse people with complex health needs. She holds graduate and postgraduate degrees in Human Development, and Psychology.

Professor Angela Dawson is an NHMRC Translational research fellow with national and international experience examining approaches to counselling women with FGM/C. She is the recipient of the Sax prize for research impact. Angela is a convener and member for various women’s health organisations and an Associate Editor for BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Dr Ruth DeSouza has extensive experience as a clinician, researcher and academic. She is a Fellow of the Australian College of Nursing, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Digital Transformation of Health at the University of Melbourne. Ruth helped set up the maternal mental health team in Central Auckland and has undertaken community-engaged, participatory research in Aotearoa New Zealand about migrant mothering, barriers to the uptake of cervical cancer screening, and refugee women’s experiences of sole parenting. Her current research relates to race, gender and digital health and how cultural safety can be mobilised in Australia.

Dr Kristina Edvardsson is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, La Trobe University who leads and participates in research projects in seven countries. Her primary research interests are in mother and child health. She is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Nursing and a PhD in Epidemiology and Public Health.

Jess Elsworth is a Health Promotion officer at WHISE with a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion from Deakin University. Jess leads and coordinates the regional sexual and reproductive health strategy Good Health Down South 2018-2021. She has a strong interest in sexual and reproductive health rights and access, and gender equity.

Dr Emma Fulu is a researcher, feminist activist and leading expert on violence against women. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Equality Institute, a global feminist agency dedicated to the prevention of violence against women and girls. She is also the co-founder of VOICE, a non-profit organization that works with women and girls in conflict and disaster settings all over the globe to amplify their solutions to violence in their own communities.

Lorna Gillespie is Co-convenor of Steps to Success, providing pre-employment and employment assistance to Shepparton Sudanese, South Sudanese and Afghan women. Lorna has extensive experience working with regional women from different cultures and has a background in project delivery, training and mentoring.

Hangama Hamid works at Brotherhood of St Laurence on a ‘Prevention of Family Violence in CALD Communities’ Project. She was a project assistant at AMES Australia to improve CALD awareness about the NDIS. Hangama has worked as public health practitioner in different international organisations in Afghanistan, including work as a reproductive health officer and a national consultant in the Ministry of Public Health.

Dr Paula Hernandez is a researcher at WHISE. Paula completed her PhD in 2016 from La Trobe University focusing on Somali Women’s experiences of birthing and pregnancy in Australia. She has a strong interest in sexual and reproductive health as well as prevention of violence against women from diverse backgrounds.

Louise Holland has a background in midwifery and sexual and reproductive health. She works at Bendigo Community Health Services and coordinates the state Government funded Loddon Mallee STI/BBV Program in partnership with the Victorian Aids Council. She also works Bendigo Health as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Infectious Diseases Service.

Intesar Homed is a Health Promotion Offer at Women’s Health In the North passionate about making a difference to women’s health and wellbeing. Intesar is responsible for delivering the Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program (FARREP). Homed has graduate and postgraduate degrees in science, policy, human services and community development.

Dr Shakira Hussein is a writer and researcher for the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies, The University of Melbourne. Her book "From Victims to Suspects: Muslim women since 9/11" was included on the list of Top Ten Books: the International Affairs Summer Reading List for 2019. She was awarded the Brenda Gabe Leadership Award by Women with Disabilities Victoria for 2020 and was recently shortlisted for the Hazel Rowley Literary Award to write her memoir Nine Eleven-itis.

Sundus Ibrahim is a Kurdish former refugee who came to Australia in 2001 with her family. Sundus has completed her studies in inclusive education through educational support and is studying Youth Work at university. She is passionate about discrimination, mental health, inclusive education, and advocating to building an inclusive society that allows all people – regardless of their story – the chance to thrive.

Medina Idriess is the Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program (FARREP) worker at MCWH and the Royal Women’s Hospital, and has over 20 years’ experience advocating for women who have experienced FGM/C. She has a Graduate Diploma in Social Science and has delivered bilingual health education at MCWH since 1999.

Rebecca Jakobi is a Djabwurrung women born and living in Wathawurrung Ballarat.  Rebecca has experience in the community services sector, particularly in children living in out-of-home care. She has worked with the Djabwurrung Embassy to protect sacred women’s birthing country from a highway duplication. Rebecca is passionate about protecting country, sacred sites and song lines to share with the next generation: she has seen the benefits of children connecting with culture as it gives a sense of identity and grows children’s confidence.

Marie Jones is a registered nurse and midwife, cervical screening and immunizer accredited. She has been working in women’s health for over 35 years and has had a special interest in caring for women affected by FGM/C since the FARREP program was introduced at The Women’s Hospital. She was involved in formation of The African Women’s Clinic in 2010 and has been the Coordinator since 2011. Marie also works as an Associate Nurse/ Midwife Unit Manager in the Emergency Department at The Royal Women’s Hospital.

Sophie Keramidopoulos is a counsellor, currently working at Marie Stopes Australia as the Counselling Manager, with postgraduate qualifications in counselling and skills in facilitation. Sophie has been working in the family and relationships and sexual and reproductive health sector for 10 years.

Amal Kowhah is a fierce advocate in Australia and Sudan currently studying aged care in Shepparton. Amal was a community leader in the 2015 Melbourne University FMC research, speaking at educational workshops and participating in community development and media. Amal's lived knowledge of cultural practice has featured in many newspaper articles.

Dr Tamara Kwarteng is the Chair of the Board at Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health.  She was the Deputy Director of the Centre for International Health at the Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health in Melbourne and was Team Leader of the Pacific Regional HIV&AIDS Project spanning 14 countries. Tamara lived in Fiji for over ten years and was appointed Pacific Regional Director of the Burnet Institute’s Pacific Office in 2009.

Dr Humaira Maheen is an early career researcher with interest in migration-related health inequalities. In her research, she is trying to understand “healthy immigrant effect” in Australian population, when it started to decline, and what factor contribute to deterioration of migrant health in the long run.

Heather Magawgwa is a Peer Engagement & Research Coordinator at Positive Women Victoria. She facilitates tailored peer support for women living with HIV and coordinates Volunteer Peer Support Training Programs and outreach group support. She also engages women living with HIV from marginalised communities and diverse backgrounds to inform strategic planning and research programs for Positive Women Victoria.

Chiedza Malunga is a public health professional with experience in refugee health, sexual and reproductive health promotion and research in multicultural communities. Chiedza has worked in statewide programs across Victoria, ranging from individual and community-based programs through to policy and advocacy initiatives.

Abdi Maolin is a FARREP (Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program) Community worker at cohealth. Abdi has worked in various roles in community development and community health over the last 17 years. He has an educational background in Science and Public Health and is interested in health equity and social justice.

Dr Virginia Mapedzahama is a researcher, policy analyst and community change-maker. She has years of researching diversity, difference and social cohesion in Australia. She explores this in the context of subjective experiences of migration, diaspora, blackness, race, racism and ethnicity, sexuality, gendered violence and intersectionality.

Jane Middleton is a part-time PhD candidate at RMIT University. She is also a Social Work Senior Clinician at the Mercy Hospital for Women (MHW) in Heidelberg.

Associate Professor Philippa Middleton is an executive member of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence to reduce stillbirths and improve care for families when a child is stillborn. Philippa co-leads the Pregnancy and Perinatal Care Pillar of SAHMRI Women and Kids, in Adelaide.

Dr Khairul Mohamed-Noor is an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from Melbourne. Since 1998 she has worked as a Gynaecologist at the Royal Women’s Hospital and is currently a consultant in the Pelvic Floor Unit. Her interest in FGM/C started during her specialist training at the Royal Women’s Hospital. She continues to provide support in a consultancy role and sees the more complicated patients affected by FGM/C.

Nigisti Mulholland is a nurse-midwife and social worker, is a FARREP Coordinator at the Royal Women’s Hospital. She has an honours degree in sociology and a master’s degree in social work. Nigisti has worked on many projects, mostly concerning immigrant and refugee women and children's health, including FGM/C.

Dr Adele Murdolo is the Executive Director at the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health. Adele has a background in feminist research, a PhD in history and women’s studies on migrant and refugee women’s feminist activism in Australia, and has specific expertise in intersectionality, violence against women and women’s health. She is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Dr Carolyne Njue is a Chancellor’s post-doctoral research fellow, undertaking research into maternal and child health services for refugees in NSW. Carolyne has worked for the Population Council to end FGM/C and has undertaken research on reproductive health among women in low income countries, adolescents and those with HIV/AIDS.

Dulcie Paina is a Culturally Responsive Health project officer at True Relationships and Reproductive Health. Dulcie has worked as a registered community psychologist with the Pasifika, refugee and migrant communities in New Zealand for 9 years. Dulcie also volunteered extensively in non-profit organisations including being a Justice of the Peace.

Rachel Pearce is a Health Services Manager at Ishar, responsible for health programs and a team of health professionals. She has over ten years’ experience working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and has led to the expansion of many programs on new exercise groups, chronic disease prevention and domestic violence at Ishar.

Jasmine Phillips has extensive national and international experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities as a community development worker. Jasmine is currently working at cohealth as part of the Refugee Health Team and manages the bi-cultural project to develop their skills in community-led practice, advocacy and self-determination.

Erin Plumb is a Registered Nurse working as the Health Services Coordinator at Melaleuca, with a background in surgical, HDU/ICU and public health. Plumb has been co-facilitating a pilot introducing Multicultural Health to the Northern Territory through capacity building among health professionals and service providers.

Jinghua Qian is a genderfluid writer who has reported on racism, queerness, the Chinese diaspora, and transgender health for Australian and international publications including Sydney Morning Herald, SBS, and Sixth Tone. Jinghua is not a woman but they have largely experienced the health system as a woman and they're here today to talk about that weirdness.

Associate Professor Shanti Raman is a Director of Community Paediatrics at South Western Sydney Local Health District and Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales. Shanti is interested in the health of refugees, Indigenous people, and child and maternal health. She is responsible for clinical Child Development and Child Protection services and directs the research and training.

Dr Elisha Riggs (BAppSc, Hons, PhD) is a Senior Research Fellow, Team Leader and Co-leader Refugee and Migrant Research Steam, Intergenerational Group, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Honorary Senior Fellow, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne. Elisha is a public health researcher with expertise in the co-design and evaluation of public health interventions informed by community and service engagement.

Helen Rogers is a registered nurse/midwife with 25 years’ of national and international experience with Medicins Sans Frontieres and the World Health Organisation. She is currently the Early Parenting Program Coordinator with South Eastern Sydney Local Health District focusing on addressing inequities in accessing maternity and child health services.

Maria Sangiorgi is an Artist, Performer Dance Movement Therapist, Humanitarian & Teacher. She holds an Advanced Diploma from the International Dance Therapy Institute of Australia and is a professional member of the Dance Movment Therapy Association of Australia. She is a certified practitioner of Functional Analysis Body Psychotherapy, the creator of Embodied Bellydance and a facilitator of Sacred Dance processes.

Diana Sayed is the CEO of Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights, a leading voice for equality without exception, serving Muslim women in Australia. She is an international human rights lawyer having worked in both Australia and the U.S. and has worked as an advocate and campaigner for over 10 years. As an Afghan-Australian woman from refugee migrant parents, she has the lived experience of being a visible Muslim woman of colour in Australia.

Zubaidah Mohamed Shaburdin is a Research Assistant in Culture and Rural Health at the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne. Zubaidah has a strong interest and passion for social justice and has worked closely with community organisations, health professionals and service providers on inclusive care practices.

Dr Touran Shafiei is a Senior Research Fellow at Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University. She has a clinical background in midwifery, and has worked on a range on studies, including a study of bilingual labour companions for immigrant women and of perinatal mental health needs of immigrant and refugee women. Touran is working on a number of projects to support women with anxiety and perinatal and postnatal depression.

Fatu Sillah is passionate about raising awareness through public speaking and sharing her experience as a survivor. She intends to educate the broader community around the dangers of FGM, especially about warning signs of children at risk of FGM. Her ultimate vision is to see an end to the practice of FGM. Fatu has just finished a degree in social work. She wants to work with youth, her ambition is to teach adolecents about FGM, empowerment, leadership, self-respect and equal rights.

Dr Asvini Subasinghe is a researcher with a particular focus on sexual and reproductive health in young women in Australia, India and Sri Lanka. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Department of General Practice, Monash University on culturally and linguistically diverse women’s access to medical abortion services through primary care.

Desiree Tan is a student and artist who explores the intersection between narratives of illness, violence and bodily experience. She is currently conducting a narrative medicine project investigating the barriers facing survivors of sexual and domestic violence to accessing breast cancer screening services.

Bu Gay Pah Thei is a Community Development Worker at Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services. She holds a nursing degree and has over 7 years’ experience in paid and volunteer community roles. Bu Gay arrived in Australia as a refugee at the age of 12 and is part of the Karen community. As well as English, Bu Gay speaks Karen and Burmese.

Dr Jane Yelland is a Senior Research Fellow in the Intergenerational Health group at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. She co-leads the Refugee and Migrant Research Program to strengthen services and improve health and health care outcomes for refugee and migrant families.

Associate Professor Wendy Vanselow is a Women’s Health Specialist General Practitioner. She is head of the Psychosexual Medicine Clinic at the Women’s and consultant in the menopause and contraceptive clinics. She has studied at the Key Centre for Women’s Health and has a PhD on menstrual cycle mood disorders using a biopsychosocial approach. She has postgraduate training in psychological medicine, sexual medicine, couple counselling and vulvar dermatology. She also has postgraduate qualifications in obstetrics and gynaecology.

Louella Villadiego-Logge is a Project Officer at the Multicultural Centre for Women's Health, conducting research on the barriers, challenges and support systems migrant and refugee women and service providers in regional and rural Victoria experience in accessing reproductive health services. She has a background in international human rights law and has been active in policy and advocacy in the not-for-profit sector, particularly in the areas of women’s health rights and international development.

Tizita Yohannes is a public health advocate, she currently works in primary prevention for a women’s health service. Tizita is also a consumer advisor with Marie Stopes Australia and tutors in public policy at the University of Melbourne. Tizita holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences (sociology and gender studies) and a Master of Public Policy and is skilled in the areas of training and facilitation with a passion for grassroots community development and reproductive justice.

Nikolina Zonjic is the Senior Health Promotion Officer at Family Planning NSW. She currently leads the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse team in planning, delivering and evaluating a wide range of targeted health promotion projects including media campaigns, community and professional education, research and advocacy activities.

.... and many more!

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