Meet the speakers

Take a look below for a list of our inspiring and informative speakers joining us for RMA19. Watch this space... We look forward to announcing new speakers as they come on board.

Elizabeth (Liz) Cosson
Major General (Ret'd) Liz Cosson


After 31 years of distinguished military service in the Australian Army, Liz Cosson joined the Australian Public Service in 2010 and was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) in May 2018. Liz is also the President of the Repatriation Commission and Chair of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

Liz’s diverse career has provided opportunities to develop strengths in driving reform and modernisation, leadership, building relationships, collaboration, setting visions, providing strategic advice and policy development. It was Liz’s leadership, resilience, courage and determination that saw her become the first female promoted to the senior rank of Major General in the Australian Army.

In 2010 when Liz first joined the public service as First Assistant Secretary, Client and Commemorations Division at DVA, she implemented the Anzac Centenary Board, who were responsible for laying the foundations of the Anzac Centenary National Program.
Between 2012 and 2016 she held the positions of Deputy Secretary at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Deputy Secretary/Chief Operating Officer at the Department of Health, leading the implementation of major cultural and behavioural reform activities.

In 2016, Liz returned to DVA to take on the role of Deputy Secretary, where Liz has been instrumental in establishing DVA’s transformation program, applying her wealth of knowledge as a veteran and working with partners across Government, the private sector and the veteran community to collaboratively build the future of DVA, improving the outcomes for veterans and their families.

Liz is a passionate advocate for improving services to support and enable all veterans and their families to transition from military service to civilian life.

Liz’s many talents have not gone unrecognised, being awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross in 2001, appointed a Member in the Military Division of the Order of Australia for her contributions to Army and for delivering profound organisational reform in 2011. In 2014, Liz was awarded the ACT Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership.

Liz has a Master of Arts (Strategic Studies), Bachelor of Social Science (Human Resource Development) and a Diploma in Management.

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Dr Dinesh
Dr Dinesh Palipana


Dr Dinesh Palipana was the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland, and the second person to graduate medical school with quadriplegia in Australia. Dinesh earned a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), prior to completing his Doctor of Medicine (MD) at the Griffith University and has also completed an Advanced Clerkship in Radiology at Harvard University. Halfway through medical school, he was involved in a catastrophic motor vehicle accident that caused a cervical spinal cord injury. As a result of his injury and experiences, Dinesh has been an advocate for inclusivity in medicine and the workplace generally. He is a founding member of Doctors with Disabilities Australia and currently a resident medical officer at the Gold Coast University Hospital. He is a lecturer at the Griffith University and adjunct research fellow at the Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, with a research interest in spinal cord injury, particularly with novel rehabilitation techniques. Dinesh is the Gold Coast University Hospital’s representative in the Australian Medical Association Queensland’s Council of Doctors in Training, is a member of the scientific advisory committee of the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation, disability advisory council at Griffith University, and the Ambassador Council at the Hopkins Centre. He is an associate member of the Australian College of Legal Medicine and was the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service’s 'Junior Doctor of the Year' in 2018. Most recently, he was awarded the 2019 Medal of the Order of Australia. 

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Ita Buttrose


Ita Buttrose AC OBE is a truly exceptional Australian: a legendary media trailblazer, businesswoman, best-selling author, committed community and welfare contributor and former Australian of the Year. Ita is Chair of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. She balances this high-profile role with charitable responsibilities include serving as National Ambassador of Dementia Australia following her term as National President from 2011-2014. She is also Patron of the Macular Disease Foundation, Emeritus Director of Arthritis Australia and Ambassador for Breast Cancer Network Australia. Ita was the founding editor of Cleo, the youngest ever editor of The Australian Women’s Weekly, the first woman to ever edit a major metropolitan newspaper in Australia as Editor-in-Chief of the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, and the first female director of News Ltd Australia. She has hosted prime time shows on radio and television and was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2017. In 2018, Ita was conferred with the University of New South Wales’ highest honour– an honorary doctorate in medicine in recognition of her eminent service to health, being an inspirational role model for aspiring women in business and making a difference in society. In 2015 she was conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University of Wollongong, for her contribution to mental health and ageing. She received an AO for her services to the community especially in the field of public health education when she spearheaded Australia's HIV/AIDS Education Program, an OBE for her services to journalism, and a Centenary Medal for business leadership. This year Ita became a Companion of the Order of Australia for her service to the community through leadership in the media, the arts, the health sector and as a role model.

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speaker-Ewen McPhee
Dr Ewen McPhee


Dr Ewen McPhee is a Rural family doctor and GP Obstetrician and has been a resident in Emerald Central Queensland since 1989. Dr McPhee is a Fellow and current President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and has had recent involvement in government health policy through membership of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group and the eHealth Implementation Taskforce.

speaker-Adam Coltzau
Dr Adam Coltzau


Dr Adam Coltzau is a rural generalist doctor at St George in south-western Queensland, where he provides emergency, anaesthetics, obstetrics and generalist in-patient care at the local hospital, and general practice care at the St George Medical Centre. He also provides medical outreach clinics to the isolated community of Bollon, approximately 120 kilometres west of St George. Adam was raised in the northern NSW town of Casino and studied Medicine at the University of Queensland. He holds Fellowships of both the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), and a Diploma of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Advanced) from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG). He is an active teacher and supervisor of medical students and GP registrars — both at the private practice and at St George Hospital — and holds an appointment as Senior Clinical Lecturer with the University of Queensland. He is also closely involved with Queensland’s Rural Generalist Pathway program, teaching GP registrars and junior doctors and mentoring registrars on that Pathway. Dr Coltzau has served as RDAA President since October 2017. He came to the role after serving several years on the Management Committee of the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ), including a term as President in 2012/13. He also helped establish the RDAQ Foundation in 2014, and served as the Foundation's inaugural Chair. Dr Coltzau was announced as the RACGP’s Queensland GP of the Year in 2017.

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Dr Norman Swan


Dr Norman Swan hosts The Health Report on the ABC’s Radio National, which is the world’s longest running health programme in the English speaking world. Norman has won many awards for his work including Australia’s top prize for journalism, the Gold Walkley. He was the third person to be awarded the prestigious medal of the Australian Academy of Science and was given an honorary MD by the University of Sydney on its 150th anniversary. Norman trained in medicine in Scotland and paediatrics in London and Sydney before joining the ABC and has hosted many other programmes on radio and television. He has made several Four Corners, the most recent being on out of pocket expenses in health care. Norman was the medical host on Channel Ten’s Biggest Loser for six seasons and created, wrote and narrated Invisible Enemies, a four part series on disease and civilisation for Channel 4 UK and broadcast in 27 countries. He has consulted to the World Health Organisation and co chaired a global meeting of health ministers in Bamako West Africa focused on evidence based policy and priorities in health research. He has been the Australian correspondent for both the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Norman is also co-founder of Tonic Health Media, an integrated health television channel and production company which has over 15 million viewers per month.

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Speaker_Tim Kelseu
Tim Kelsey


Tim Kelsey is Chief Executive of the Australian Digital Health Agency which is responsible for all national digital health services and systems, with a focus on engagement, innovation and clinical quality and safety. He was formerly National Director for Patients and Information in NHS England – a role which combined the functions of chief technology and information officer with responsibility for patient and public participation. He took up the post in 2012 after serving as the British government's first Executive Director of Transparency and Open Data. He was also National Information Director for health and care in England and Chair of the National Information Board which advises the Secretary of State on national priorities for data and technology. Tim is a leading advocate of a popular knowledge revolution in health and care and, in 2000, was co-founder of Dr Foster, a company which pioneered publication of patient outcomes in healthcare. He is also an internationally regarded expert in digital transformation of the customer experience in healthcare. In 2007, he launched NHS Choices, the national online health information service (www.nhs.uk) which now reports around 40 million users per month. In 2014 Tim was named one of the 500 most influential people in the UK by The Sunday Times. Before Dr Foster, Tim was a national newspaper journalist and a television reporter. He worked for the Independent and the He is co-author with Roger Taylor of Transparency and the Open Society which was published by Policy Press and the University of Chicago in 2016. Tim is visiting professor in the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London.

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speaker-paul worley
Paul Worley

Emeritus Professor Paul Worley was appointed as Australia’s first National Rural Health Commissioner on 11 November 2017. Professor Worley has had a distinguished career in rural health, both as a practitioner and an academic. He studied medicine at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1984 and has worked as a Rural Generalist in rural South Australia; first at Lameroo, and then in Clare, Barmera and currently at Yankalilla. He lives in South Australia with his wife, and has seven children (including three children in-law) and five grandchildren. From 2007 - 2017 he was Dean of Medicine at Flinders University in South Australia, where he established Rural Clinical Schools and University Departments of Rural Health in both South Australia and the Northern Territory and guided the conceptualisation and development of the Northern Territory Medical Program with a clear focus on recruiting and supporting Indigenous students and staff. While at Flinders University, Professor Worley developed and nurtured programs which are now recognised globally as models for the establishment of rural medical, nursing and allied health education. Professor Worley has long been a leading figure internationally in the rural health and medical education sectors, has held senior positions in the Rural Doctors Association of South Australia and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, was instrumental in establishing rural Divisions of General Practice across South Australia, has served as a Board Director for the Adelaide PHN and for AGPT Regional Training Organisations in the Northern Territory and South Australia, is Editor in Chief of the international journal, Rural and Remote Health, and is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences. As National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Worley is passionate about quality, equity and fairness for all, especially the underserved. Australia’s rural and remote communities and the health professionals who serve them, deserve an evidence-based, sustainable, cost-effective and well supported rural health system, designed by rural clinicians, grown in rural regions, and serving all who live across our vast land. We must have the right health professionals delivering the right care, in the right place at the right time.

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speaker-Cathy Baynie
Cathy Baynie

Cathy has career long experience in the Health Industry, in the Public, Private and Aged Care sectors. This includes working in Primary Health Care for the last 18 years. Cathy is a Registered Nurse and Certified Practice Manager,having managed both semi-rural and urban practices. Whilst continuing to manage a Multi-Disciplinary General Practice and a Specialist Practice in Sydney’s north, Cathy has held positions with NSW AMA as Practice Management Advisor and is the Academic Director of the Medical Practice Assistant Program with the University of New England Partnerships and consultants with Practices nationally on Governance and Practice Management issues. Cathy is a Director of AAPM and current National President as well as being a Fellow of the Association. Cathy is a firm believer that Practice Managers are key in the development and delivery of strong systems of leadership and management enabling the delivery of quality care in Australian Primary Health Sector.

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Chris Zappala
Dr Chris Zappala


Dr Chris Zappala is the Vice-President of the Australian Medical Association. He is a thoracic and sleep physician who works as a senior staff specialist at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital and in private practice in Brisbane and in Hervey Bay. His formative years were spent in Queensland and also London at the Royal Brompton Hospital where he worked in asthma and interstitial lung disease. Dr Zappala's special interests are focused on interstitial lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension. His research interests include definition of prognostic indicators in interstitial lung disease and relating structure to function in complex diffuse parenchymal lung diseases. Dr Zappala also has an active interest in sleep disordered breathing and chronic airways disease, the latter leading to his interest in new therapies available in chronic obstructive airways disease and asthma. He is a founding member of the Lung Foundation Australia Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Australian Registry steering committee. Current key medicopolitical issues are improved remuneration for general practice, private health insurance reform with improved health literacy and medical workforce management and distribution.

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Dr Clare Walker

Clare Walker is a senior medical officer and board member for the Central West Hospital and Health Service, based in Longreach, who works at the Longreach Family Medical Practice and the Longreach Hospital as both a GP and GP Supervisor. Clare also provides procedural Obstetrics and Anaesthetics to the Central West HHS since moving there in 2010. Clare enjoys the diversity of work offered in this remote area and is passionate about providing high quality primary and secondary care to rural and remote patients, as close to home as is safe. As a resident of Longreach herself and the mother of four children, Clare believes in the importance of healthy lifestyle promotion, preventative care and good chronic disease management. She practices what she preaches with her local running group, ‘The Gidgee Sniffers’! Clare attained an undergraduate degree in Science from the University of Queensland in 1998 before completing her postgraduate medical degree, also at UQ, in 2002. She went on to complete her hospital training time in Cairns, Atherton and Longreach, followed by a dual Fellowship of the RACGP and ACRRM, in 2008. Clare also completed an Advanced Diploma of RANZCOG in 2008 and a JCCA qualification in Anaesthetics in 2009, an Associate Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators in 2018 and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors in 2019. Clare has also been a committee member of the Rural Doctors’ Association of Queensland since 2014, coming into the President position in 2019/20.

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