Conference MC: Gerry Gannon

One of Ireland’s finest exports, Gerry Gannon has been a journalist, broadcaster, MC and media trainer in Australia for the last 30 years and is now one of the best known speakers and facilitators in WA.

After a decade with ABC radio in Western Australia, Gerry left to pursue a career that would bring him closer to audiences and allow him to explore parts of the world he couldn’t do from the inside of a radio studio. He established Indonesia's first English language radio station in Bali, served on the council, and as President, of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and on the board of the Tourism Council of WA.

Gerry is committed to community and non-profit organisations and has also been a board member of Access 31 Television, Kids Help Line and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

A specialist conference MC, facilitator and media expert, Gerry is renowned for his wit, passion, easy-going nature and commitment to those he works with. He has worked extensively in both Australia and overseas and provides media skills training to government, not-for-profit organisations and industry entities, as well as conducting speech and presentation training courses.

Gerry’s real passion is people; whether it is helping them reach their potential through training and support, MC at an event or providing valuable perspective and advice, Gerry’s easy humour and experience provides a refreshing opportunity for growth and knowledge for everyone he meets.


Invited Speakers

Luke Escombe

Luke Escombe is a songwriter, musician and comedian who has turned his 20 years of living with Crohn’s disease into inspiration for his art.

His 2011 musical comedy show “Chronic” took him to festivals around the world and led to him becoming an ambassador for Crohn’s and Colitis Australia and a Champion for those with chronic pain, as well as earning him a nomination for Victoria’s premier arts accolade: the Green Room Award. The next year his studio album “Mantown” put the emphasis on rock and roll, spending an amazing nine straight months in the top ten of the Australian Blues and Roots charts and drawing comparisons to the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Nick Cave. Somewhere in between, he won the auspicious title of “Sydney’s sexiest man voice” on a popular radio station, sounding a defiant note to all those who say you can’t talk about bowel illness in the media because it’s not “sexy”. If nothing else, Luke is proof that with the right voice, and the right attitude, anything can be sexy.

While he continues to play at folk festivals, blues clubs, rock and roll joints and comedy venues around Australia, Luke is increasingly drawn to the possibilities of being an entertainer working in health and education. In 2013 he began playing shows in nursing homes and disability care centres and saw firsthand the transformative power of music and song. He has spoken for the last three years in a row at Parliament House in Canberra, as well as at the New Zealand National Museum in Wellington, the 2012 National Medicines Symposium, the 2013 Pharmacy Australia Congress, and at conferences, workshops, support groups, Medicare Locals and training seminars across the country.

He was described by John Shand in the Sydney Morning Herald as a “rock-soul singer, raconteur, blistering blues guitarist, comedian and songwriter...and very good at them all”, and is most often described by himself as the Mick Jagger of inflammatory bowel disease.  

He lives in Sydney, near the beach.


Professor Pat Dudgeon

BAppSc. GDip (Psych). PhD. FAPS.

Research Professor and Project Leader, ARC Discovery Indigenous Grant, The School of Indigenous Studies. University of Western Australia.

Chief Investigator on NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing and Honorary Research Fellow, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research. University of Western Australia.

Professor Pat Dudgeon was the Head of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at Curtin University, for some 19 years, leading the field in providing culturally appropriate education.
As well as leadership in Indigenous higher education, she has also had significant involvement in psychology and Indigenous issues for many years. She has undertaken much work and many publications in this area and is considered one of the ‘founding’ people in Indigenous people and Australian psychology. She is involved in many organisations and of note; she was inaugural Chair of the Australian Indigenous Psychologist’s Association.

Pat is actively involved with the Aboriginal community, having an ongoing commitment to social justice for Indigenous people. Pat has participated in numerous state and national committees, councils, task groups and community service activities. Of significance; she was a member of the Parole Board of Western Australia for several years. Pat Dudgeon has always worked in ways that empower and develop other Indigenous people.


Daniel Mahony

Daniel is a young Senior Physiotherapist working in the South West of Western Australia making waves in Australia’s healthcare system.  At the age of 22, he became the youngest person ever elected to the Board of Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) and is currently Co-Chair of Future Health Leaders.  Future Health Leaders provides a voice for student and early career health professionals in the National Health Reforms working closely with Health Workforce Australia to help shape a sustainable Australian Health Care System for the future.

Upon graduating from The University of Notre Dame Australia in 2010, Daniel was awarded the SARRAH Student Leadership Award, the Rural Health Workforce Award for Outstanding Leadership and the Australian Physiotherapy Association National Board of Directors Student Award for work achieved with the National Rural Health Students' Network (NRHSN) Allied Health Portfolio and his rural health club in promoting and advocating for rural health careers and better health care in the bush. Daniel was also a Young Leaders Finalist at the HESTA Primary Health Care Awards in 2013.

Daniel is passionate about improving the healthcare system for all Australians.  On top of his part time postgraduate studies in Health Services Management, Daniel is working with Future Health Leaders to provide leadership development and mentoring opportunities for the future health workforce and facilitating the conversations we need to have to create a workforce that will work together for the benefit of the patient and their community.  In his spare time he is a Volunteer Fire and Rescue Fire Fighter and enjoys rowing, mountain biking and fishing.


Fiona Armstrong

Fiona Armstrong is a registered nurse, journalist, and public policy reform advocate whose interests and expertise are in health and climate and energy policy and climate communications. She has been a leader in policy advocacy for national health reform for several years, as a board member and then Chair of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance www.healthreform.org.au (2007-2009), and since 2010 in the area of climate change.

Fiona is the founder of the Climate and Health Alliance www.caha.org.au a national coalition of healthcare stakeholders working together to promote solutions for the risks to health posed by climate change, environmental degradation, and resource depletion. She is a co-founder and director of the not for profit CLIMARTE: Arts for a Safe Climate www.climarte.org

Fiona is the author of the 2012 report, Our Uncashed Dividend: The Health Benefits of Climate Action, and Shifting from Fear to Hope, a chapter in the 2010 book: More Than Luck: Ideas Australia Needs Now. Fiona is a Fellow of the progressive think tank, the Centre for Policy Development. She is the producer of the 2013 film The Human Cost of Power which explores the health and climate impacts of coal and gas.


Mandy Nolan

Multi-talented Mandy Nolan is an accomplished comedian, artist, journalist, scriptwriter and memoirist. 
A stand up comedian for well over 28 years, audiences adore Mandy on stage, and around Byron Bay where she lives, Mandy-jokes are as much a part of the vernacular as any surf speak.
Her humour is sharp, honest, sometimes self-depreciating, somewhat outrageous, but never cruel or pretentious. Frequently irreverent, it speaks to a diverse audience with no set demographic, no gender, race or religion, occupation or tribe. 

Mandy's stand-up is known and loved for its rapid fire  philandering and esoteric observations that emerge from the musings of what she describes as ‘a woman whose dilemma it is to navigate the new frontiers in the suburban badlands of human relationships.’

She is a columnist for the Byron Shire Echo, and writes regularly for The Hoopla.  She has developed her own Humour Therapy and delivered a Commonwealth funded and researched project that made its way to International peer reviewed medical journals. 

She has appeared on ABC's Q&A, SBS's Mums The Word & About Women and is in demand as a corporate and club performer around the country. 

Her first memoir, What I Would Do If I Were You, was published in 2011 and her new book she describes as 'the femoir no man wants you to write!': Boyfriends We’ve All Had (and Shouldn’t Have) launches 1 April 2014. 

With her keen eye for detail and dark wit, Mandy dissects the underbelly of intimate relationships to dish up a plateful of saucy belly laughs. If you like David Sedaris and Jennifer Lawson, you’ll love Mandy Nolan. 


Associate Professor Dr John Stevens PhD RN FRCN

John is an Academic Entrepreneur. He is an Associate Professor (Adjunct) for the School of Health and Human Sciences at Southern Cross University as well as the Director and CEO of a number of companies involved professional development and research.

As an academic for over 20 years John has filled many roles including Head of School and Director of Enterprise and Professional Development. He has over 50 refereed publications including a book on Dementia.

John is also a Registered Nurse and has been for over 30 years. His scholarly interests include: ageing well; social models of care for people with dementia; and improving the health and well-being of the community by improving health practice through Continuing Professional Development and through public - private partnerships.


Professor Susan Nancarrow

Susan Nancarrow is Professor of Health Sciences, Director of Research in the School of Health and Human Sciences and Deputy Chair of Academic Board at Southern Cross University (SCU).

She joined SCU in March 2011 on returning to Australia following 10 years in Sheffield, UK where she worked as a health services researcher. Susan qualified as a podiatrist at Queensland University of Technology in 1993 and has a research masters (also from QUT) and a PhD from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University.

Prior to moving to England in 2001, Susan worked in Australia a range of clinical and management roles, including aboriginal health, multidisciplinary team leader for a community health service and as part of a primary care team in northern India.

Susan has been actively involved in research since 1996 when she started investigating lower limb complications associated with diabetes. Later, her interest in health services research developed as a result of work with a community health organisation, and through her PhD research. Her research interests are in workforce development, workforce flexibility and integration, particularly as they relate to primary care, allied health and older peoples' services. She is also actively involved in building research capacity and she project managed the introduction of the new Bachelor of Health Science (Podiatry and Speech Pathology) and Bachelor of Clinical Science (Pedorthics) which commenced at SCU in 2013.
Susan's recent research has involved the investigation of workforce dynamics, particularly in the context of multidisciplinary services, community rehabilitation, and the care of older people. She has undertaken a number of research projects and consultancies in this field.



Important Dates

Abstract Notifications Early June 2014
Presenter Registration Due 27 June 2014
Refereed Papers 1st draft due 27 June 2014
Early-Bird Closes 15 Jul 2014
Final Abstracts due 11 Aug 2014
Final Refereed Papers due 30 Aug 2014
SARRAH 2014 Conference 17-20 Sept 2014


Organising Committee

Lindy Swain - Chair
Rod Wellington - SARRAH CEO
Ruth Hawkings
Cate Patrick
Helen McGregor
Annie Nicholls
Luke Schultz

Image credits

Destination NSW
Grenville Turner: Destination NSW
Hamilton Lund: Destination NSW