Meet our Consumer Advisory Committee

The Consumer Advisory Committee consists of eight community members from across our region. Our members represent diverse community and consumer perspectives of lived experience with health conditions and/or the use of health services.

Our committee provides guidance on strategies related to consumer and community involvement in health research translation to improve healthcare and health outcomes in rural and regional NSW.

We work to strengthen the diversity of community and consumer perspectives contributing to the quality and relevance of health research for our region.

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Vivienne Scott (Chair)

Vivienne is an experienced consumer representative with a strong interest and commitment to improving health outcomes in the community through research and the implementation of evidenced based treatments. She is particularly interested in research into treatments for diabetes type 2, peripheral neuropathy, dementia and long covid. Vivienne has been a member of the Central Coast Local Health District Consumer Advisory Committee (CCLHD) for the past 6 years and is a founding member of the Hunter, Central Coast and NSW Regional Health Partners Consumer Advisory Committee. Her consumer representative experience includes active participation in the numerous CCHLD committees including operational research, falls, safety and quality, diabetes, allied health and community health.

Vivienne has also been active on various NSW Consumer Health Forums including the long covid and safety and quality working groups. Having firsthand experience with long term type 2 diabetes, Vivienne participates on various NSW Diabetes working groups.

To promote better health management, Vivienne has trained as a peer educator under the health promotions for older people and for the past nine years, she has provided numerous presentations on various health topics to senior groups in the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie and Hunter regions. Vivienne Scott has a professional background in tertiary education, vocational training, research, senior management and small business.

  • Membership of National Seniors and Council on the Ageing (COTA), Diabetes NSW, NeuRA, Dementia Australia, the Foundation of Peripheral Neuropathy, and The Wicking Dementia Centre
Ivy Scurr CAC

Ivy Scurr (Deputy Chair, she/her)

I am an anthropology PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle researching Solarpunk as a movement engaging with the current climate crisis, and the need to imagine hopeful alternative futures to work towards.

I come from a convict/”settler Australian” background and grew up in various parts of regional NSW before moving to Newcastle (Mullubinba, Awabakal country) in 2007. I have been involved with advocacy across environmental, social justice, disability, and LGBTQIA+ issues in the Hunter region for many years.

I have lived experience with disability, neurodivergence, and queer health both as a ‘health consumer’ and as a support person. Like many people, my life has been quite varied with lots of twists and turns and sudden disruptions. I’m super passionate about diversity and inclusion and public health and look forward to collaborating with a wide range of people to improve community engagement across health research, policy, and program implementation.

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Brigitte Sigl (Outgoing Chair)

Bavarian, wife, mother, grandmother and MS warrior.

Over the past 10 years, I have been engaged as a consumer representative and consumer consultant with NSW Regional Health Partners, Central Coast Local Health District, Ministry of Health, Clinical Excellence Commission, Agency for Clinical Innovation, the Center for Women’s Reproductive Health, and Monash University Melbourne. I am the President of my local MS Society, a member of the Beryl Institute, and am currently studying for the Certificate of Patient Experience Leadership.

After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis my life took quite a turn, but being a stoic person, I was able to fight back. Last year I completed a half marathon and am enrolled for this year’s Sydney half marathon. I love to get the most and best out of life.

This is also what I try to apply in my consumer input – everyone in our society/community should have the opportunity to live their best life, with the best possible and most dignified support.

I’m always looking to meet new people, learn, widen and enhance my knowledge, and build bridges between health pillars and consumers.

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Benjamin Brien

Ben is an emerging leader in the lived experience and peer workforce space, and an experienced and passionate lived experience advisor and advocate.

Having recovered from challenges with substance use, mental health and suicidality, Ben is passionate about growing lived experience inclusion in mental health and drug and alcohol services, and ensuring the voices of consumers, family members and carers are heard in improving our services.

Ben was recently appointed a three-year term as a lived experience representative on the NSW Mental Health Commission Community Advisory Council. He is also a member of the National Suicide Prevention Office Lived Experience Partnership Group, providing advice and lived expertise to guide the development of a national suicide prevention strategy.

Ben has spoken as a consumer and person with lived experience at various events such as BEING Connected and NSW Consumer Peer Workers Forum; both events for professionals working in the lived experience space. He has also been invited to speak at webinars, education sessions and podcasts, and is involved in student and disability advocacy at Charles Sturt University, his local university.

Ben currently works as a Lived Experience Team Leader at Dubbo Safe Haven, providing a non-clinical alternative to emergency departments for people experiencing suicidal and emotional crisis. Here he uses his lived and living experience of suicidality and mental health to role model recovery, support consumers during their time of distress and provide supportive environments to plan for safety and wellness with consumers of the service.

Joy Rahab Wairimu Sinclair

Joy Wairimu

Joy is a Kenyan born woman with 3 children who came to Australia as a student in 2005. She holds two degrees in Law obtained in India, a French proficiency certification, an Advanced Diploma in Hospitality and Event Management from TAFE, a Cert IV in Human Resources, a Diploma in Community Services as well as a Diploma in Mental Health.

Joy has a passion for the recognition of Human Rights, equality and inclusion as well as mental wellbeing and suicide prevention for ethnic communities. Her passion stems from eight years’ lived experience of mental health issues, and experience within service provision.

Joy is driven to advocate for her community to address stigma and to educate service providers and the community to challenge attitudes and beliefs around disability and mental illness.

She has recently been re-appointed as the Leader of NSW Mental Health Foundation of Australia Mental Health Attachés program.

    • The African Women’s Group Sydney
    • PHN Hunter, New England and Central Coast Regional Advisor committee member
    • Embrace project NSW representative
    • CCLHD Consumer & Community Engagement committee member
    • Multicultural Women’s Mental Health Panel
    • Board of Central Coast ARAFMI Public officer
    • Coordinator for Roses In The Ocean African Communities Engagement
    • Central Coast Council Disability Inclusion Access Reference Group
    • Committee member of “Happiness habits” as a CALD and mental health representative
    • Volunteer for the Red Cross and the Central Coast Environmental Council
    • Was a Speak My Language Traveller with the Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW
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    Beth Bolte

    Beth’s professional roles include registered nurse and midwife at local hospitals, nursing tutor at the University of Newcastle, high school teacher, TAFE teacher and teacher consultant specialising in learning and mental health. Beth’s voluntary work is equally impressive and includes tutoring in literacy at The Glen, a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre.

    Beth brings lived experience of health conditions and health services including renal, ophthalmic, and cardiac conditions. She has first-hand experience supporting her elderly mother to navigate the health system, as well as with two grandchildren with medical issues.


    Her academic qualifications include two master’s degrees in education, and a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education. With her nursing and teaching background, and a profound interest in lifelong and life wide education, Beth will provide a valuable contribution to NSW Regional Health Partners’ Consumer Advisory Committee. 

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    Melanie Kathleen Smith

    For the past six years, Melanie has worked as an independent support worker providing assisted transport for people living with disabilities to Taree, Port Macquarie, Gloucester and Newcastle Hospitals. She ensures her clients are comfortable, stays with them for specialist appointments or day surgery and brings them safely home.

    Melanie’s decision to enter the field of disability support was influenced by her personal experience providing palliative care for her parents, allowing them to receive end-of-life-care at home.

    Melanie holds a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disabilities) and certificates in mental health first aid, first aid, CPR and COVID safety.  

    Additionally, Melanie has contributed to advisory panels for Carers NSW. As a member of the NSW Regional Health Partners’ Consumer Advisory Committee, she aims to make a significant impact on regional health care.

    Prior to her career as a support worker, Melanie worked as a publisher and cruise ship director. 

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    Hannah Coote

    Hannah is a first-year nursing student at the University of Newcastle. Growing up in Dubbo – a regional town in NSW, she has first-hand experience with the challenges of regional and rural health care. This background has made her passionate about promoting change and ensuring equitable access to health care.

    Upon completing her nursing degree, Hannah aspires to pursue a role in health promotion, where she can actively engage with and support her community.

    She is excited to have joined NSW Regional Health Partners’ Consumer Advisory Committee and aims to be an advocate for young people.