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Meet the 2020 Victorian Rural Health Award Winners

The 2020 Victorian Rural Health Awards took place virtually on Thursday 15 October, celebrating over 30 health professionals from across regional and rural Victoria. 

Meet our Victorian Rural Health Award winners:

Winner of Outstanding Contribution by a Rural GP: Dr Jeffrey Robinson

Dr Jeffrey Robinson from Mount Beauty Medical Centre is recognised for his longstanding dedication to serving the community of Mount Beauty, not only in a medical capacity but also as a volunteer fire-fighter, which saw him at the front-line earlier this year battling the bushfires while continuing to provide medical services during these disastrous conditions.

Winner of Outstanding Contribution by a Rural GP VMO and length of service award: Dr Peter Keppel

Dr Peter Keppel has worked as a GP Anaesthetist at Yarrawonga Health since 1985. From 2018, he has been a VMO Anaesthetist and GP at Kerang District Health where he is one of two GP Anaesthetists providing much needed theatre services to the hospital.

Dr Keppel is recognised for his longstanding contributions in supporting rural communities and sustaining access to specialist services
in his region and beyond.

Winner of Outstanding Contribution by a Rural SPECIALIST: MR PETER MORTENSEN

Mr Peter Mortensen is a Specialist Urologist and surgeon servicing health providers across Shepparton. 

Mr Mortensen is recognised for his outstanding commitment to Victorian rural communities spanning over 30 years, much of which he has operated as a sole urologist, while seeking to build and ensure the sustainability of local services.

Winner of Outstanding Contribution by a Rural NURSE/MIDWIFE: VICKI BROAD

Vicki Broad is a Midwife working at Robinvale District Health Services. As a solo midwife based in Robinvale for the last 13 years, she is recognised for her dedication to providing midwifery services and supporting countless women during their antenatal period.

Winner of Outstanding Contribution by a Rural ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL: MEGAN GREEN

Megan Green is a Dietitian working at Colac Area Health. Megan is recognised for her leadership and commitment to improving the treatment, screening and identification of malnutrition of in-patients at Colac Area Health.


Harley Hayes is an Occupational Therapist from Everyday Independence Bendigo. Despite being only in his third year of practice, Harley is recognised for his extensive contribution to the occupational therapy profession and advocacy for developing and building a rural workforce.


Dr Edmund Poliness from Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative is a GP and Medical Educator who has provided extensive GP clinical service support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

Dr Poliness is recognised for his work improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Geelong and surrounding regions.


Dr Lesley Cadzow is a GP locum who regularly provides services to Apollo Bay and Yarram. Dr Cadzow is recognised by her colleagues and patients for her unwavering commitment and enthusiasm, and for consistently filling the need for GP locum relief to rural health services over the last decade.


Dr Dale Ford is the Chief Medical Officer for Western District Health Service in Hamilton, and continues to work part-time in general practice at Hamilton Medical Group, where he has been since 1985. When asked about his career highlights:

“The privilege of looking after many patients as their GP over the “long haul”; my current position as CMO which I believe brings all of the skills that I have learnt from various programs and training together; and the great feeling of achievement that occurred with seeing practices achieve long lasting system improvements with the Primary Care Collaboratives.”

Working in country Victoria has given Dr Ford great satisfaction knowing that he can serve communities where there is great need for GPs.


Dr Suzanne Harrison was born in Sale and raised in multiple towns in rural Victoria. Since 1984, Dr Harrison has lived and worked in Echuca-Moama in general practice, Aboriginal Health and as a VMO providing anaesthetic and emergency services at Echuca Regional Health.

For the last 15 years she has had an interest in medical education and workforce, and has been at various times a Hub Educator for the University of Melbourne Extended Rural Cohort, Director of Intern Training at ERH and a supervisor of registrars at her practice. She currently has governance roles with ACRRM, MCCC and RDAV.

The highlight of Dr Harrison’s career is being able to work with many great young doctors, many of whom she has had the pleasure of contributing to their training and rural experience, including her daughter.


Dr Neil Jackson is based in Terang in the Western District and has been practising medicine in this district for 35 years. For the past 15 years, Dr Jackson has operated as a solo rural GP in his Civic Medical Terang practice.

There have been many highlights in her career including working in Perth, WA, the UK and with the Royal Flying Doctor Service based in outback Western Australia as well as a long period spent in Western Victoria. Dr Jackson loves being part of the local community where he “knows the story” of many patients and their families over several generations.

Dr Jackson has enjoyed being able to provide comprehensive medical care with access to the local hospital and supporting the local nursing home.


Dr Iain Nicolson was born and raised in London. Dr Nicolson relocated to rural Victoria, where he has spent the last 43 years in rural practice, initially in Toora South Gippsland and since February 1985 in Sale.

Dr Nicolson’s career highlights include teaching undergraduates and registrars and being involved with the Sale Hospital.

“I enjoy being part of the community and living on the block of land purchased in 1986 with chooks, goats, alpacas and a horse and a wonderful veggie garden and orchard and the support of my wonderful family.”


Dr Simon Sneyd graduated from Melbourne University in 1980 and completed his training with the college of GP’s family medicine program in Shepparton in 1984 with a Diploma of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Having discovered the many attractions of Shepparton and the surrounding region, Dr Sneyd joined Wyndham House Clinic at the beginning of 1985 and has continued to practise family medicine, feeling privileged to have been involved with multiple generations of local families.

His current interests are on the benefits of nutrition and lifestyle medicine with a focus on chronic disease and hormonal management of men and women throughout life.  He also has interests in aged and palliative care along with mental health, especially in the field of mind body medicine.

Dr Sneyd is also passionate about ongoing medical education for the next generation of doctors.

All Length of Service Award Winners

  • Dr John Beaumont – Aireys Inlet Medical Centre
  • Dr John Bergin – Inglis Medical Centre, Sale
  • Dr Santino Bronchinetti – Bacchus Marsh Medical Centre
  • Dr David Cruickshanks – UFS Medical – Sturt Street, Ballarat
  • Dr Frank Del Rio – Surf Coast Medical Centre, Torquay
  • Dr Dale Ford – Hamilton Medical Group
  • Dr Kulbir Gill – Gisborne Medical Centre
  • Dr Suzanne Harrison – Echuca Moama Family Medical Practice
  • Dr Deborah Henty – Ballarat Group Practice – Victoria Street
  • Dr William Howson – Wonthaggi Medical Group
  • Dr Neil Jackson – Civic Medical, Terang
  • Dr Peter Keppel – Yarrawonga Denis Medical Group
  • Dr Patrick Kinsella – Gippsland Lakes Complete Health, Lakes Entrance
  • Dr Soo Lim – Ely Street Clinic, Wangaratta
  • Dr Paul Malcher – Portarlington Medical Centre
  • Dr Jennifer Murray – Ovens Medical Group, Wangaratta 
  • Dr Iain Nicolson – Sale Medical Centre
  • Dr Terence Norwood – Newborough Health
  • Dr Alan Randell – Beechworth Surgery
  • Dr Barry Reid – Ocean Grove Medical Clinic
  • Dr David Schepisi – Sandhurst Medical Practice, Bendigo
  • Dr Simon Sneyd – Wyndham House Clinic, Shepparton
  • Dr Peter Trigg – Yarra Valley Clinic, Healesville
  • Dr William Twycross – Central General Practice, Mansfield
  • Dr John Urie – Bairnsdale Medical Group

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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