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Media Release – Victorian Rural Health Awards 2023, Finalists Announced

Melbourne, 06 June 2023: The Victorian Rural Health Awards 2023, hosted by the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) in partnership with the Victorian Government Department of Health, will honour and celebrate the exceptional achievements of medical professionals, nurses, allied health professionals, Aboriginal health workers, and practice managers across rural Victoria.

Established in 2005, the Victorian Rural Health Awards have become a symbol of recognition for the remarkable dedication and hard work of healthcare professionals serving the rural communities of Victoria. This year’s nominees represent a diverse range of healthcare disciplines, including rural general practitioners, medical specialists, nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals. Their commitment and contributions have made a profound impact on the lives of individuals and families in rural Victoria.

To ensure wider accessibility and participation, the awards ceremony will be once again held online through a free virtual Gala Night. We are pleased to invite all members of the community to join us for this memorable event.

We are also thrilled to announce that Angie Hilton, an Australian actress and director, known for her roles in acclaimed TV series such as Stingers, Blue Heelers, and travel shows like What’s Up Down Under and Coxy’s Big Break, will be our host for the Victorian Rural Health Awards night. Angie not only resides in regional Victoria but also possesses a deep understanding of the challenges faced by rural communities.

The Victorian Rural Health Awards 2023 acknowledges excellence in several award categories, each recognising outstanding contributions to rural healthcare in Victoria. Nominees of each category are listed below.

These outstanding healthcare professionals and teams have demonstrated exemplary dedication, innovation, and care in their respective fields. Their commitment to improving rural healthcare services has positively impacted the lives of countless individuals.

RWAV serves the essential health workforce of rural and regional communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples throughout Victoria. RWAV partners with health services, practices, and the community to design innovative solutions to attract a workforce to meet community needs in rural Victoria.

RWAV applauds the nominees and extends gratitude towards all healthcare professionals serving Victoria’s rural communities.

For media inquiries, interviews, or further information about the Victorian Rural Health Awards 2023, please contact:

For comments, more information or photo opportunities please contact:
RWAV Communications Team
P:     03 9349 7800
E:     communications@rwav.com.au
W:   http://www.rwav.com.au

Outstanding Contribution by a Rural Medical Specialist
  • Dr Angelika Borozdina, Bendigo Hospital and Central Victorian Obstetrics and Gynaecological Services, Bendigo
  • Jenna Hooper, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Traralgon
  • A/Prof Rex Pais Prabhu, Swan Hill District Health, Swan Hill
  • Sean Priestley, Cardiac Tech at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, Bairnsdale
  • Dr Suresh Jain, Kilmore Medical Centre, Kilmore

Outstanding Contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

  • Alesha Rowe, MVAC Health Service, Robinvale
  • Dr Erin Kelly, Mildura & Robinvale
  • Mandy Van Velp-Fernand, Get Well Clinic, Healesville 
  • Dr Olivia Stuart, Gateway Health Wangaratta and First Nations Apex Park Bus, Wangaratta
  • Tracy Cunico, Hearing Australia, Morwell
  • Dr Troy Walker, Nyini Health & A2B, Echuca

Outstanding Contribution by a Rising Star Award

  • Monique Tillig, St. Arnaud Physiotherapy Centre, St Arnaud
  • Dr Samara Cua, Latrobe regional hospital
  • Dr Tanya Johnston, Ballarat
  • Dr Troy Walker, Nyini Health & A2B, Echuca

Outstanding Contribution by a Rural Health Team

  • Anglesea Medical, Anglesea
  • Alex Hall and the West Wimmera Allied Health Team, Nhil
  • Child Health, Sunraysia Community Health Services, Mildura
  • Diana Antoniazzi and the Community Allied Health Services, Bendigo
  • Jenna Hooper and the Latrobe Regional Hospital, Traralgon
  • Jeremy Forrester and the Epichealth Medical Clinic, Ocean Grove
  • John Hermans and the Echuca Community Mental Health, Echuca
  • Kara Di Dio Speech Pathology, Traralgon
  • Kathryn Lynch and the Sunraysia Medical Centre team, Red Cliffs
  • Murray Valley Aboriginal Cooperative, Robinvale
  • Sean Priestley and the Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, Bairnsdale
  • St Arnaud Physiotherapy Centre, St Arnaud

Outstanding Contribution to Rural Allied Health

  • Brooke Shelly, Ontario Medical Clinic, Ontario, Mildura
  • Eloise Simpson, Connect Physio Co. and South West Healthcare, Warrnambool
  • Jacquelyn Minnis, Northern District Community Health, Kerang
  • Dr John Gooch, Gooch Chiropractic and Mallee Track Visiting Clinician, Mildura
  • Kara Di Dio, Kara Di Dio Speech Pathology, Traralgon
  • Rachel Rigbye, Neuro Spark Therapy & Rehabilitation, Shepparton
  • Sarah Gallagher, Bendigo Health, Bendigo

Outstanding Contribution to Rural Outreach Provision

  • Eloise Simpson, Connect Physio Co. and South West Healthcare, Warrnambool
  • Dr. Erin Kelly, Mildura & Robinvale
  • Dr. Jennifer Coller, Shepparton Medical Centre, Shepparton
  • Dr. John Gooch, Gooch Chiropractic and Mallee Track Visiting Clinician, Mildura
  • Luke Williams, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health, Lakes Entrance
  • Megan Gomez, Rural Health Connect, Ballarat
  • A/Prof. Rex Prabhu, Swan Hill District Health, Swan Hill
  • Sean Priestley, Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, Bairnsdale
  • Sue Reid, Tallangatta Health Service, Tallangatta
  • Tracy Cunico, Hearing Australia, Morwell

Outstanding Contribution to Rural Practice Management

  • Alesha Rowe, Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-operative, Robinvale
  • Cassie Munn, Lime Therapy, Mildura
  • Dianne Loubey, Otway Medical Clinic, Colac
  • Merylee Punchard, Baw Baw Physio and Fitness, Drouin
  • Patricia Ryder, Mount Beauty Medical Centre, Mount Beauty
  • A/Prof. Rex Prabhu, Swan Hill District Health, Swan Hill

Outstanding Contribution by a Rural Health Consumer Advocate

  • Dr Deborah Carrington, Active Health Portland, Portland
  • Roslyn Stewart, Hume Mental Health Interim Regional Body, Broadford

Outstanding Contribution to Rural Primary Care Nursing

  • Amanda Williams, Waranga Medical Centre, Rushworth
  • Amy McElgunn, Anglesea Medical, Anglesea
  • Claire Oettinger, Get Well Clinic, Healesville
  • Geraldine Cornwell, Easy Wimmera Health Service, St Arnaud
  • Kathryn Lynch, Sunraysia Medical Centre, Red Cliffs
  • Linda McPherson, Shearwater Medical Clinic, Port Fairy
  • Lindy Thunder, Yarram and District Health Service, Woodside
  • Luke Williams, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health, Lakes Entrance
  • Melissa Callesen, Terang Medical Clinic, Terang
  • Sue Reid, Tallangatta Health Service, Tallangatta
  • Tina Coxall, Merbein Family Medical Practice, Merbein

Outstanding Contribution by a Rural GP or Rural Generalist

  • Dr Angelika Borozdina, Bendigo Hospital and CVOGS, Bendigo
  • Dr Deborah Carrington, Active Health Portland, Portland 
  • Dr Erin Kelly, Mildura & Robinvale
  • Dr Ernan Hession, Swan Hill District Health Primary Care, Swan Hill
  • Dr Fady Henry, White Hills & Strath Village Medical Centre in Kennington
  • Dr Laura Carter, Mansfield Medical Clinic and Collected Minds, Mansfield 
  • Dr Laura Zagorski, Mount Beauty / Falls Creek Medical Centre, Mount Beauty        
  • Dr Natasha Nogueira, Torquay
  • Dr Olivia Stuart, Gateway Health Wangaratta and First Nations Apex Park Bus, Wangaratta 
  • Dr Pablo Chakma, Princess Park Clinic, Shepparton
  • Dr Sami Abed, Wellness Medical Clinic, Shepparton
  • Sean Priestley, Cardiac Tech, Bairnsdale Regional Health Service, Bairnsdale
  • Dr Sewellyn Gale, Leongatha Healthcare, Leongatha  
  • Dr Suresh Jain, Kilmore Medical Centre, Kilmore
  • Dr Umair Masood, Neal Street Medical Clinic, Gisborne


Snezana is a Human Resources leader with more than 15 years of experience in management, playing a pivotal role in driving team transformations across diverse industries, including FMCG, automotive, government, and non-profit sectors.

With a curiosity for business and its associated complexities, Snezana fosters collaborative partnerships to cultivate a highly motivated workforce that effectively executes strategic plans.

Msc (Fin), FCCA, FGIA, CA

Shay brings over 20 years of financial
management experience in commercial and not-for-profit organizations. He has a
rich and varied experience in multiple finance and leadership roles in the
United Kingdom and Australia, including CFO, GM Finance & IT, Commercial
Manager Operations, Finance Manager and Accountant.

His extensive leadership experience is
augmented by an FGIA, FCCA, CA, a Masters in Finance and an undergraduate degree in
accounting and finance.

RN, GradDip(Health Promotion), PRINCE2, Mini MBA

Kate is a Registered Nurse highly experienced in health promotion and project management. Her people and program management skills enable her to be agile and adaptable while maintaining an outcomes focus on improving quality access to primary healthcare.

Kate’s extensive experience working with all levels of government, the community and stakeholders across the sector have provided her with insights into the challenges rural communities and health professionals face. Kate has led the design and delivery of many innovative and strategic health promotion and grants programs, supporting better access to health services, health information and activities across communities. Whilst at RWAV, Kate has led the transformation of the RWAV grants program, enhanced the administration of a number of programs and developed the RWAV allied health portfolio. She has also led the development of the RWAV research program of activities.

Having worked at RWAV since 2020, Kate will continue positively influencing the rural healthcare workforce and access to services.

Social Work (BA Hons), DipSW

With a background in social work and a proven record in recruitment, project management, and business development, Jo brings strategic leadership and a wealth of experience in driving positive outcomes within the health, human services, and State Government sectors.

Jo specialises in managing health professional recruitment and outreach programs, including the More Doctors for Rural Australia and 3GA programs. Her focus is on implementing innovative workforce strategies and clinical governance to bolster RWAV’s mission of enhancing healthcare accessibility in rural and regional Victoria.

Having previously excelled at RWAV, Jo spearheaded successful internal change initiatives while fostering strong relationships with external stakeholders. Her efforts consistently align with RWAV’s strategic direction, ensuring a cohesive approach to driving impactful change.

Beyond her professional expertise, Jo’s passion lies in uniting communities and championing positive transformations in rural healthcare in Victoria.

Martin is a governance professional and lawyer with experience in private practice and in-house legal roles. He has been a company secretary for public and private sector organisations across a range of industries including VicTrack, Regis Healthcare Limited and Dairy Australia Limited. He holds Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Commerce degrees from the University of Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance from the Governance Institute of Australia (GIA) and is a fellow of the GIA.

With a rich background of consulting and in-house people and culture roles with the corporate, government and community sectors, Andrea is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Andrea has significant experience in leading teams across culture, capability, diversity, equity, leadership, organisational development and learning programs as well as core human resources partnering.

With a strong focus on building and maintaining psychologically safe organisations, Andrea’s team is dedicated to ensuring that RWAV is a place where people can work well and be well at work.


Rosemary has had a varied career as an academic teaching economics, public policy and industrial relations, and as a consultant, advocate, health union official and as a director.

She brings strong governance and strategic skills to the Board, as well as knowledge and depth of experience in health policy, economics and investment.

Rosemary was a Director of Aware Super for nine years, and Chair of the Investment Committee for three years. She was also a member of the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee, the Governance Committee and the REM and HR Committee. Rosemary is currently a member of the Investment Committee of Cbus.

She was the Secretary of the Victorian Psychologists Association Inc for 20 years and knows first-hand the difficulties in attracting and retaining health professionals in rural and regional Victoria.

Dr Louise Manning is a rural GP Obstetrics trainee practising in Central Victoria where she delivers general practice, obstetric and sexual health services. Growing up in a small town she has lived experience of the difficulties accessing healthcare in rural and regional areas, and is dedicated to advocating for equitable health outcomes regardless of geography.

Louise is also a Board Director of the Rural Doctors’ Association of Victoria.

BAppSci GradDipBus MBus GAICD FIML

John Biviano is an experienced senior executive who has held many senior roles in government (Health Dept) and also in professional associations related to healthcare. Until recently, John was the CEO of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, where he oversaw the digitisation of a range of Member offerings, including aspects of training. 

BA (Politics/Philosophy) BEc GDipBus MBA GAICD FGIA

Roger is an accomplished CEO, Non-Executive Director and Chair with experience in the health, human services, law enforcement, education, transport, and environmental industries – across private, public sector and not-for-profit organisations

.He brings strong governance experience, commercial acumen, risk management and strategy skills combined with a passion for innovation and business development having also been Chair of numerous Finance, Audit, Risk, Investment and Community Advisory Committees.


Assoc Prof Phelps has practiced as a Gastroenterologist and Acute Physician in regional Victoria for more than 20 years.

He trained in safety and quality at Dr Brent James’ Institute at Intermountain Healthcare in the US and has held management and leadership roles in Victoria and Tasmania. More recently he completed a two-year project as Director of Clinical Governance for Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Grant currently works as an independent consultant providing advice to hospitals and organisations on clinical leadership and safety and quality

LLB BSc MMgt (Strategic Foresight) GAICD

As a lawyer and business consultant Jane has worked with company boards and senior management across a range of areas including IP commercialisation, internet-based businesses, healthcare products/services, privacy and data/IT security. Jane is currently general counsel for .id Consulting – population demographers, economists and forecasters.

Jane served as a director of BreastScreen Victoria for 10 years, is a current director of Ballarat Health Services and chairs RWAV’s Governance Committee.

BMed MMedSci FRACGP FARGP FACRRM DipPractDerm DipMedHyp DipFP DipBusAdmin GAICD

Assoc Prof Rawlin is an experienced General Practitioner and medical educator. He is currently in clinical general practice in suburban Melbourne and previously practiced in rural Victoria for 10 years.

Assoc Prof Rawlin is Chair of the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaborative and a past Chair of the Mental Health Professionals Association and is a board member of the Mental Health Professionals Network. He is also the Medical Director of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Victoria.
He is a member of the RACGP Victoria Council.

Albert Giorgini is the Senior Advisor to CEO at RWAV.

As an experienced finance executive, with an extensive career in public transport and in the automotive and industrial gas sectors, Albert has honed his skills in driving financial performance improvements with a commercial and business transformation focus.

Through his strategic financial skills, Albert has demonstrated an exceptional capacity to lead and develop large teams in complex and changing environments to achieve the financial and regulatory requirements of the business. His extensive experience has given him a deep understanding of the industry and its challenges, equipping him with the expertise to drive impactful change.

Albert has highly developed communication and stakeholder management skills to support his strong planning, analytical and financial performance improvement acumen, always striving to create innovative solutions that drive growth and success.


Lauren commenced in the role of Manager People and Culture in August 2018 and is responsible for leading the implementation of RWAV’s People and Culture strategy, policies, processes, functions and team.

Lauren’s team is committed to implementing activities and initiatives to support the achievement of RWAV’s strategies and strengthen RWAV’s position as an ‘Employer of Choice’.

Lauren is an experienced Manager and HR professional, with a career spanning the professional services, automotive, defence, and not-for-profit sectors.

BHlthSci(Hons) MPH PostGradDipMgt GAICD AFCHSM

Lauren Cordwell commenced in the role of Chief Executive Officer in August 2023. She took on the role of Acting CEO in April 2023 and previously served as the General Manager since February 2020.
Lauren has leadership responsibilities for strategy, communications, data, stakeholder engagement and program delivery.

Lauren’s team is committed to supporting communities in rural and regional Victoria to have timely access to affordable and safe health care.

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