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RWAV Conference 2023 Overview

RWAV Conference logo Working together to enhance Victorias Rural Health Workforce

RWAV Conference 2023 Overview

Click here to watch the full event:

The RWAV Conference, ‘Working Together To Enhance Victoria’s Rural Health Workforce,’ was held on 16 February 2023. RWAV would like to thank all delegates who participated in the program and attended the event.

RWAV were delighted to meet with you to discuss the key issues raised at our Conference. These included the issues that impact rural communities, the viability of the rural health workforce in Victoria, and the potential solutions.

GP Panel facilitated by Trevor Carr (CEO, RWAV) – Rural General Practice in Victoria.

  • Dr Anita Muñoz (Chair of the Vic Faculty, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners)
  • Dr Dan Wilson (President, Rural Doctors Association Victoria)
  • Dr Greg Gladman (National Director of Training, The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine)
  • Abe Ropitini (Executive Director Population Health, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation)
  • Presentation by Jacque Phillips (CEO, Nathalia, Cobram and Numurkah Health)
  • Presentation by Rowena Clift (CEO, Western Victoria Primary Health Network)

Allied Health Panel facilitated by Trevor Carr (CEO, RWAV) – Finding Solutions to Allied Health Challenges.

  • Katrina Streatfeild (Clinic Principal, Streatfeild Psychology)
  • Dr Naomi Malone (Director, A Life Simply Lived Psychology)
  • Ainsleigh Whelan (Executive Manager Support, Therapy, Education & Prevention, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health)
  • Daniel Searle (Physiotherapist at Daniel Searle Physiotherapy and Australian Physiotherapy Association Victoria Branch Council Committee Member)
  • Simon Flagg (CEO at Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative)
  • Presentation by Dr Andrew Horwood (GP Specialist, Pain Management Wimmera Southern-Mallee Integrated Pain Service, Grampians Health, Horsham)
  • Presentation by Jane Anderson (LaTrobe Health Advocate)

Strategic Panel Discussion facilitated by Grant Phelps (Associate Professor, RWAV Board Director) – Rural and Regional Healthcare Workforce, More of the Same or Time for a Very Different Approach.

  • Elaine Mallows (CEO, Yarrawonga Health)
  • Dr Sophie Ping (Director, Medical Services, Dhelkaya Health)
  • Associate Professor Rex Prabhu (Executive Director, Medical Services, Swan Hill District Health)
  • Dr Ka Chun Tse (Director, Medical Services, Rural Victorian Health Services)
  • Dr Loren Sher (Director, Victoria’s Virtual Emergency Department)
  • Cath Maloney (CEO, Services for Australian Rural & Remote Allied Health)

We heard from passionate health professionals about their work. They described how they were exhausted by the lack of workforce availability, investment and policy levers to support them in delivering the best care to their patients.

Improve the domestic rural workforce pipeline by increasing;
  • Rural placements for health students, with increased quotas for allied health students.

  • Supervision and mentoring funding support to make it more viable for rural professionals to be able to supervise trainees.

  • Promotion of the many positive aspects of working rurally to attract the future workforce (which includes beautiful locations, working with a close-knit community, and experiencing a good range of treatment presentations with patient follow-up work often being much more satisfying than in bigger cities).

  • Be more inspired and learn from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and Aboriginal health services delivered in Victoria. Their uniquely integrated wraparound services support better community health and well-being outcomes. Look to create more bridges across sectors like housing and social welfare.

  • Build a health system with multiple points of entry for patients to be referred through to stop ‘bottlenecks’ in health service waiting rooms.

  • Reform Medicare to reduce output funding and better reflect the holistic care of General Practice, encourage multi-disciplinary work for a range of health professionals from the allied health and nursing workforce and make use of geographical rebates to influence more movement of the health workforce to rural areas.

  • Increase the availability of accommodation and housing arrangements for health professionals to locate rurally.

  • Streamline international recruitment processes for international medical graduates, with more support offerings to assist in navigating the migration systems and proactively combat racism and cultural bias.

  • Consider the impacts of the current Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification system on more remote areas and opportunities for more workforce distribution levers.

  • Facilitate more opportunities and platforms to collaborate and better coordinate health workforce data sharing and planning activities in a less siloed manner.

  • Increase place-based workforce support models in rural Victoria involving communities, community leaders, local government and business groups. Deliberately seek to hear from the people commonly unheard within the community.

  • Give people the opportunity and permission to trial and fail innovative workforce models.

RWAV hopes to continue the conversations and progress the solution-building process with you soon.

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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