Our Team

Professor Christine Jorm is the Director of NSW Regional Health Partners. She worked as an anaesthetist for more than 15 years before her interest in quality assurance led to full-time cross-disciplinary work in patient safety and quality at hospital level and then later as the foundation Senior Medical Adviser for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. After leaving the Commission, Christine worked at Sydney Medical School as Associate Dean (Professionalism) before focusing on interprofessional health education. As well as speciality medical qualifications, Christine has doctorates in neuropharmacology and sociology.

Prof Christine Jorm


A message from our Director - July 2020

COVID19 has meant an eventful few months for all research programs: some of our research projects have had to reduce the scope of the data collection, some were suspended (and one remains so). The general practices we are seeking to engage in our rural practice-based research network have been extremely busy with pandemic preparedness and delivering safe and effective telehealth at scale. And of course, like many others, our team spent some months working from home.

Current highlights are…

Our Knowledge Translation Fellows, who continued on with the program supported by the ever-enthusiastic Jed Duff. The incredible diversity of projects for improving healthcare each nominated as being important in their work is illustrated by their posters on our homepage.

The embedded Economist program (eE) – We did make a range of crisis plans for the eE, balancing threats to integrity of the research protocol due to potential inability to embed (with non-essential workers not allowed in LHDs), with the desire to provide potentially needed economic support to COVID affected facilities. Options included omitting some sites from the study and/or redesigning the study. At the same time, everyone got a lot better at Zoom meetings. The end results have been minimal impact on the research program with introduction of a mere three month hiatus in the embedding program and a highly engaged MNCLHD site. While the effects of the remote engagement period are yet to be measured, indications are that the program did not suffer. We were delighted to be able to complete and submit a strong theoretical paper during this period.

The Spinifex Network – This Network is growing – and a new website will shortly be available. NSWRHP is also driving the establishment and implementation of the Spinifex Network, a national alliance for Rural Health and Medical Research comprising more than 60 rural and regional health organisations (co-convening it with the other two CIRHs – Central Australian Academic Health Science Network and the Tropical Australian Academic Health Science Centre. The Network is championing rurally-based research, and rural representation in health research and decision-making groups.

Working more closely with NSW Health – This has been a beneficial excellent COVID ‘side effect’. NSWRHP has begun to work with the other NSW Health Translation Centres – Sydney Health Partners and SPHERE – to progress state-wide priorities. We co-organised and co-chaired the NSW Health Service Research COVID-19 Response Priority Setting Roundtable in June and are working with the Agency for Clinical Innovation and the Office of Health and Medical Research to increase the profile and success of health services research in NSW.

We are looking forward to…

    • Completion of the first round of RART projects and growing evidence of their impact
    • Providing more support to those working in palliative and end of life care – in order to get their messages out to the community
    • Developing a national paper with support from all the health translation centres, demonstrating the value to health services of local level health economic analyses

NSWRHP is staffed by a small team, with big ambitions…

We work together to facilitate and fund impactful research and communicate well to all our stakeholders.

The NSW Regional Health Partners Team

Dr Niko Leka in an Enrolled Nurse with the James Fletcher Mental Health Unit for Older People. His role involves assisting with assessment and providing direct care for older people experiencing severe mental health issues. Niko applied for the scholarship as he would like to develop skills in the critical appraisal of complex situations, involving both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Niko hopes to use these skills to improve workplace relations for the benefit of the health of his clients and colleagues.

Lindsay Charlton

Lindsay has worked in various administrative roles for over 20 years across a range of industries such as arts, finance, higher education, local government, health/fitness and aviation. She has held a variety of positions such as executive assistant, project officer, sales, marketing and IT roles. Whilst she grew up in Sydney, Lindsay and her husband decided to move permanently to Newcastle to enjoy the great lifestyle and slightly quieter pace of life. She has a longstanding interest in health and enjoys working on projects to benefit people's wellbeing.

Lindsay Charlton

Executive Assistant
Tim Connell

Tim's background is in print journalism and radio, but he's glad to have found a home at NSW Regional Health Partners as our communications officer. While he studies to be a high school English teacher, Tim is excited to share our passion for turning medical research into outcomes for people. He feels like he's barely scratched the surface. Outside of work you might see him running (slowly), exploring Newcastle with his wife Lou or asking their son Hugo not to ride too far ahead on his scooter. 

Tim Connell

Communications Officer

Lisa McFayden

Lisa is the Project Lead at NSW Regional Health Partners, coordinating health translation projects being delivered through the Medical Research Futures Fund. Lisa has been working in rural health for almost 25 years, including five years in Broken Hill with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Far West NSW Medicare Local. Lisa has qualifications in business management, research and public health. Her passion is health equity and the provision of health services that meet the specific needs of rural Australians.

Dr Lisa McFayden

Executive Officer
Donella Piper

Donella is a lawyer by background and holds a PhD in Social Science awarded by the Centre for Health Communication at the University of Technology Sydney. She possesses trans-disciplinary qualifications, skills and experience across law, regulation, business, health, policy, evaluation and social science.  Donella has proven project design, management and evaluation skills across inter-disciplinary programs and has a number of high impact publications across health communication and the intersection of health, law and social science. She is currently working for NSWRHP on the embedded Economist Program.

Dr Donella Piper

Programme Manager & Social Scientist

Debbie joined NSWRHP to lead the Consumer and Community Involvement in Research initiative, working to increase participation by health service consumers in research priority setting, design and implementation. Debbie brings skills as a social researcher and a strong commitment to the inclusion of diverse voices in decisions on public issues. Debbie is an experienced researcher focusing on research translation in the human services and the evaluation of social and community programs. She has published widely in national and international journals. Debbie has worked as a social worker, a program evaluation consultant to human services and a social work educator and researcher at the University of Newcastle and the Australia Catholic University, where she was Head of Social Work.

Prof Debbie Plath

Consumer and Community Involvement – Research Associate

Celia Rae

Celia Rae is a Project Officer at NSWRHP and works on a range of different projects, including the Healthy Weight Strategy Project, the NSWRHP Scholarship Program and the NSWRHP website. With postgraduate degrees in Public Health and Health Management, she has over 15 years of health administrative experience in several different countries. As Celia grew up in a medical family in Central West NSW, she understands the challenges rural communities face in accessing optimal healthcare. She enjoys working on projects that facilitate this access with the aim of improving health outcomes for rural communities.

Celia Rae

Project Lead
Ellen Newman

Growing up on a 5,000 acre farm in Central West NSW access to services was limited, including medical services. I have always had a passion for health care completing a degree in applied science followed by a Master’s in Public Health. I have over 15 years’ experience in health, including working in rural and remote areas. My role as Operations Manager at NSWRHP means I am able to give back to rural areas and help improve equity and access to health care through translational research.

Ellen Newman

Operations Manager (Currently on maternity leave)

Maree Gleeson

Emeritus Professor Maree Gleeson is an immunologist who has held leadership and professional positions in health services, health policy, academia and medical research. Maree was Director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute (2006-2011), a joint venture between the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health. Under her 5-year leadership a strategic plan was implemented resulting in substantial growth in research funding; an increase in researchers from 400 to over 1000; and capital funding and construction of the $90 million medical research facility on the John Hunter Hospital campus at Rankin Park.

Emeritus Prof Maree Gleeson