Are you an AHPA member? Log in

Not a member? Join Here


Jemma King


Jemma holds a Masters of Public Health (Health Promotion) and a joint Bachelor’s in Business and Psychology (Hons). As an undergraduate, she was interested in how marketing principles could be applied to something beneficent, which led her in the direction of social marketing. Jemma is currently engaged in public health research with the occasional dabble into tertiary teaching at James Cook University. She is interested in health literacy, power relationships, the research and practice nexus and the application of behaviour change principles to health enhancement. She is currently a member of the Townsville Health Promotion Network and the Active Transport in the Tropics Network.

Carlie Smith

Vice President

Carlie has been a committee member of the Qld Branch since 2017, contributing to both the communication and advocacy subcommittee and the role of Secretary. Since completing her degree in health promotion Carlie has been working for the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network where she has been involved in a range of projects ranging from chronic disease prevention to improving the health outcomes of rural and remote regions. Carlie is passionate about advocating for the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to health and wellbeing, as well as exploring how a place-based approach can improve health outcomes at a community level.

Emma Heard


Emma has a PhD in Public Health (Health Promotion) and 10 year experience in health promotion research and practice. Emma’s research experience has included working with diverse groups, such as young people, people in prison, people with diverse genders and sexualities and people in the Pacific region. Her health promotion work has included conducting interventions focused on chronic disease and sexual health and wellbeing in a range of contexts. Emma’s recent work focuses on the prevention of violence against women, and sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention specifically. Emma is interested in the application of new theoretical approaches, such as intersectionality, to improve health promotion practice.

Rachel Acton


Rachel holds a Bachelor in Public Health, with majors in Nutrition and Health Promotion. Since 2014 she has worked in various health promotion roles across Queensland. She is passionate about empowering communities to lead positive health change, by increasing knowledge and awareness of protective factors. Through her current work at the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Rachel has supported over 20 communities adopt evidence-based principles to develop tailored activities focusing on prevention and addressing the individual needs of the community. She has extensive experience in developing community partnerships and working with diverse communities, including many regional and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Kath McFarlane

General Member

Kath has been a previous President of the AHPA Queensland Branch and involved as a general member of the committee on-and-off since 2008. Kath has worked in the field of health promotion for over 20 years and has completed a PhD focused on building health promotion and research capacity in an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service. Kath is passionate about improving health outcomes in disadvantaged settings and has a strong interest in how organisational systems can be strengthened to increase health promotion capacity. Kath has recently been working on the public health COVID-19 response but usually works in a public health role leading sexual health promotion approaches in north Queensland.

Sue Devine

General Member

Sue holds a Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion, Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a DrPH. Sue has worked in the health promotion field since the early 1990’s and is passionate about building health promotion capacity in both within and outside the health sector. She currently works at James Cook University where she teaches health promotion subjects to postgraduate Public Health students and undergraduate allied health students.

Anita Cowlishaw

General Member

Anita is the past President of the AHPA Queensland Branch, and has been an Executive Committee member for several years, as well as previously involved in the New South Wales Branch. Currently, Anita works as a Senior Policy Advisor addressing whole-of-government strategic reform in relation to mental health, alcohol and other drugs, and suicide prevention. Previously, Anita has managed various statewide childhood obesity prevention and nutrition initiatives across Queensland and New South Wales, through roles at Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service and the NSW Ministry of Health. Prior to her statewide roles, Anita managed a number of health promotion initiatives at a local level throughout a range of different metropolitan, rural and remote community settings including Western Sydney and Far Western NSW Local Health Districts. Anita has both clinical nutrition and academic experiences with a focus on prevention and child health. She has completed a Masters of Public Health and a Masters of Human Nutrition.

James Wong

General Member

Before gaining his master’s degrees in public health and business administration, James’ career had spanned several countries & sectors. Shortly after graduating, the monsoonal event of 2019 occurred. He has been working in disaster recovery ever since, putting his public health and stakeholder engagement skills to good use. First, as a Disaster Recovery Coordinator for the NQPHN and then as a Recovery & Resilience Officer in community development for Townsville City Council. Coupling social determinants of health with disaster recovery principles, his recent projects have involved refugee communities, mapping, people with disabilities, social isolation, mental health, & suicide prevention, amongst others. James is also a consumer rep at both the local HHS and state level, where he advocates for person-centred care on behalf of the community as a member of various health service councils and committees.

Amie Steel

General Member

Amie holds a Masters in Public Health and has an academic position at University of Technology Sydney. Her research work includes a focus on self-care and community-based health initiatives. She has an interest in maternal and child health, particularly preconception care, and applies a broad health system view to solving community health problems. Her work has encompassed both formal and informal health care, including health behaviours that fall outside of the conventional biomedical gaze.

Melanie Cook

General Member

Melanie Cook is a passionate Health Promotion Practitioner with a proactive interest in suicide prevention and the health impacts of large-scale environmental degradation including the inequitable impacts to already vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.  She significantly contributes as a committee member for raising the profile of the health promotion workforce in Queensland and shares the capacity building and advocacy work on public health issues.  Melanie’s main interest areas are in addressing the determinants of health in achieving health equity.  Her research focuses on recognising and integrating a ‘Health in All’ Policies approach in local policy processes as an integral part of planning and creating healthier communities, workplaces and environments.  Melanie currently engages in community health promotion through a multi-sectoral and multi disciplinary approach for collaborative efforts to implement, develop and strengthen an evidence-based male suicide prevention program.

Serena Booy

General Member

Serena holds Postgraduate studies in International Health and Development, a Bachelor in Complementary Medicine, and is completing her Postgraduate Certificate in Public Health through James Cook University.  

Serena has worked in the field of International Health and Development for over fifteen years and completed her research on interrupting the infectious disease cycle to prevent secondary malnutrition in children living in Papua New Guinea.   

Since being back in Australia, Serena has had the opportunity to work in various clinical environment, continue in Health Promotion, advocacy, and project management. Serena is passionate about preventative medicine, health screening and implementing sustainable interventions in underserviced communities. 

Cathie Gillan

General Member

Cathie holds a Masters of Public Health and has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Nutrition and a Bachelor of Arts in English. Cathie has worked in the health promotion field since the late 1990’s and led the mental health promotion program in Sydney South West before relocating to Queensland in 2007. She is particularly interested in power relationships, intersectoral approaches to preventive health, systems thinking and place-based approaches. Cathie currently works for Health and Wellbeing Queensland where she is part of the Communities team and is working on developing a community learning platform to help connect and support the prevention network in Queensland

Alana Court

General Member

Alana has a Masters of Public Health (Health Economics) and a Bachelor in Applied Science (Health Promotion) as well as a Bachelor of Nursing. Alana has recently moved to Queensland from the Northern Territory where she had previous experience as a Committee Member and Branch President for the NT Branch. Alana has 14+ years of experience in roles focused on both health promotion and public health and 16+ year experience working within the health sector. She also has experience mentoring and leading others, especially in health promotion. This has included organisation wide capacity building in health promotion and health communication as well as 11+ years’ experience managing others and leading teams. Alana has a passion for lifelong learning and continued professional growth in the field of public health, health communication, stakeholder engagement and health economics ensures contemporary approaches to policy development. She has a particular interest in how public policy can influence change across populations and factors that influence resource allocation and prioritisation by governments. Alana has recently commenced working for Moreton Bay Regional Council in Brisbane, and looks forward to bringing her public health and health promotion perspective to local government.

Nasim Salehi

General Member

Dr. Nasim Salehi has qualifications in Health Promotion, and Healthcare leadership. Currently, she is a senior lecturer and course coordinator at the Master of Healthcare Leadership, and an adjunct research fellow at Griffith University. She has started her work in healthcare settings/universities in 2004 and has held positions as program director, lecturer, education manager, research fellow, and hospital administrator. Across these roles, she has developed expertise in both the theoretical and practical areas of health, social, and community care system. She has made strong contributions to international science, addressed challenges in the health, social, and community care system. She has diverse ranges of publications in health promotion and healthcare leadership within high-ranking journals.

Her specific areas of research that formed a research-led improved practice are: holistic health; family-inclusive models; effective and efficient care provision; consumer engagement in research and healthcare provision (Citizen Science); young individuals as agents of change; digital health; and online education.

Laura Leyden

General Member

Laura holds a Masters of Public Health and a Bachelor of Food and Nutrition. Laura currently works at Northern Queensland Primary Health Network as a Senior Program Officer, primarily focussing on health services planning, continued quality improvement in primary health care and health literacy. Laura has worked as a casual academic at James Cook University in the field of public health, which she enjoys enormously. Prior to moving in to public health, Laura worked in ecommerce and as an editor, both of which supported an appreciation of the importance of communication in health care, leading to a passion for health promotion and health literacy. Laura is interested in nutrition, particularly nutrigenomics and how individualised nutrition might be accessed by and targeted to communities. Laura is passionate about women’s health and looks forward to participating in research in the future.