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Alison Coughlan 


Alison joined the Health Issues Centre team as CEO in December 2022 and is working to transform our organisational capacity to extend our reach and influence. Her primary focus is in ensuring that a diversity of voices of lived experience are heard and the incredible value of co-production harnessed to create much needed change and better health for all.  

Alison has a research and public health background and almost 30 years’ experience working at a state, national and global level with more than 80 organisations as a researcher, policy maker, advocate, leader, consultant, and board director. She is passionate about consumer engagement in health which has been a strong and enduring theme of her work for the past 25 years.  


Katherine Burnard 

Training, Development & Projects Officer 

Katherine has been with HIC since October 2021. She builds the capacity of people across the health sector to embed a more consumer-driven approach, with a passion for co-design. Her role involves delivering training, facilitating workshops, and leading consumer engagement projects.  Katherine also nurtures consumer advocates through our Consumers Connect network, and the newly launched Victorian Health Consumer Community of Practice.   

Previously, Katherine was the Lived Experience Program Manager for a national charity and spent the formative parts of her career as a mental health Occupational Therapist. Katherine completed postgraduate studies in social innovation in the UK and founded a social enterprise focused on equity, inclusion, and young people. 


Dr Maria Teresa (Tere) Dawson 

Manager Training and Development 

Tere manages tailored and accredited training in consumer and community engagement. Tere builds the skills of people with lived experience who wish to participate in designing and improving the health system and health and medical research. She also trains health professionals and researchers who wish to build their skills in consumer engagement. Tere was instrumental in the development of our nationally accredited courses in consumer leadership and engagement. 

Tere has almost 30 years’ experience in health-related academia, research and training. This includes experience in consumer engagement, participation practice and research. She has a Master of Public Health, a Master and PhD in sociology & anthropology and has published widely. Tere has passionately served the Health Issues Centre, consumers and the sector for over 20 years. 


Denize Hooton 

Finance and Operations Manager 

Joining Health Issues Centre in 2018, Denize manages Health Issues Centre’s finance, IT and HR functions as well as organisation systems and processes to support all aspects of our operations.  She also provides support to HIC’s Board and Committees and ensures the organisation fulfils its regulatory and compliance obligations. 

Denize has an extensive and varied background in IT, training, finance and project management in a range of organisations and is well-equipped to provide support across a range of HIC initiatives as needed.  With qualifications and expertise in project management, she maintains oversight of our programs of work including project planning, budgets and reporting/acquittal.   


Dr Janelle Jones 

Business and Development Manager 

Janelle joined the team at Health Issues Centre in February 2023 to identify and develop opportunities to expand the organisation’s consultancy, research and training services. 

Janelle has worked in a range of research, project management and funding development roles across the health sector, working collaboratively with government, associations and philanthropic groups to improve access to clinical care and services across Australia and New Zealand. Janelle has a particular interest in improving equity of access to high-quality healthcare for all Australians, regardless of their geographical location, age, socioeconomic status or cultural background. 


Sarah Medcalf  

Communications Officer  

Sarah joined the Health Issues Centre team as a Communications Officer in August 2022 to help manage the communications, planning and delivery of various consumer advocacy projects.  

Prior to her commencement at Health Issues Centre, Sarah worked as a clinical nutritionist within her own consulting business and more recently, as a freelance creative health writer for an Australian based supplement company. Alongside her work at Health Issues Centre, Sarah is studying her Masters of Public Health with a particular focus on climate change, social justice, and human rights. 


Kathleen Mitakakis 

Senior Project Officer 

Kathleen joined Health Issues Centre in September 2019 to develop and deliver a range of consumer centric projects across the health, community and government sector. 

Kathleen has worked in a range of community engagement, social policy, project implementation and management, and community development roles across the health, community, local and state government sectors. All of her work is with a focus on ensuring the community’s voice is equal to that of other stakeholders in decision making and designing outcomes. Kathleen has a particular interest in the social determinants of health and inclusive community engagement.  


Frida Svensson  

Administration Officer  

Frida joined the team at Health Issues Centre in October 2022 to support the overall administration aspects of the organisation along with assisting IT, finance, and operations.  

Throughout her career, Frida has worked across several industries, and has a long background in operations. She has accumulated over 15 years of experience in the health sector and has a strong interest in mental health. Prior to joining Health Issues Centre, Frida completed a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science and practiced as a Doctor of Chinese Medicine.