AHPC is an innovative Australian think thank working to improve health and reduce preventable chronic disease in Australia. We work to inform and influence public policy and its practice with the aim of improving the health of Australians, in particular those in socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

Led by Rosemary Calder, one of Australia’s most experienced health policy experts, AHPC’s team of health professionals and researchers are dedicated to making a difference to the health and wellbeing of all Australians.

The AHPC leads the Growing Brimbank program, a long-term collaboration between Victoria University and the Brimbank City Council in Melbourne’s west, that aims to deliver crucial evidence on how to improve the health and wellbeing of people in communities of socio-economic disadvantage.

Our people

Rosemary Calder

Director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, Victoria University

Rosemary Calder is the director of the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, an independent national health policy ‘think tank’ established by Victoria University, Melbourne.

Rosemary is a leading health and social policy expert. She has held positions as a senior executive in health policy and administration in both State and Commonwealth Departments of Health and was head of the Office for the Status of Women in the Commonwealth Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2000 to 2003.

Rosemary was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2015 Australia Day Honours. She received the honour for “significant service to public administration, particularly in the areas of mental health and ageing, through academic roles, and to the community.”

Rosemary has held the position of Chief of Staff to a former Victorian Minister for Health and has extensive experience in policy and organisational management and board governance in the not for profit sector. She is a sociologist and began her career as a journalist with The Age.

Debbie Law

Manager, Brimbank Collaboration

Debbie leads the Brimbank Collaboration development strategy for AHPC. She is a specialist in service and workforce reform planning and implementation.

Her work in service reform has been aimed at driving a better balance of primary health care and acute care for vulnerable and at risk populations, working in partnership with and across health, community service, and aged care organisations at regional, state and national levels.

She has driven national workforce innovation and reform, bringing together state governments, unions and non-government and private organisations for strategy and evidence development, implementation of practice change and enabling policy development.

She has been a member of national committees for both aged care and chronic disease.

Ben Harris

Manager, National Policy and Strategy

Ben Harris has worked in health and social policy roles for state and federal governments, for professional associations and for a consumer organisation. He has worked as an adviser to a Commonwealth Health Minister, and has also served as Chief of Staff to the Victorian Minister for Community Services, Mental Health and Disability Reform.

Ben has extensive policy experience in workforce, health financing, population health, community services and disability reform. He is strong strategic thinker and has a sound understanding of government processes.

Ben is an economist and holds degrees from the Australian National University and Monash University. He has a range of publications, including opinion pieces and research work. He is the co-author of Managing Your Pain: an A-Z guide, published in 2017. Ben is planning a PhD thesis to begin in 2018 at Victoria University, examining the links between chronic health conditions.

Lyndal Bond

Professor of Population Health & Evaluation

Lyndal Bond leads the evaluation of the Growing Brimbank Program. She is an epidemiologist and public health researcher with over 20 years experience in designing, implementing and evaluating complex public health programs and initiatives in Australia and the UK.

Lyndal’s research has focused on school level effects, system level interventions and methods for converting evidence into effective practice, particularly in relation to reducing inequalities.

She has been a lead investigator on over 50 research projects, attracting over $30 million in research funds, including grants from national and international funding bodies, government departments and not for profit organisations. She has co-authored over 100 journal articles, book chapters and reports.

Hazel Fetherston

Chronic Diseases Program Coordinator

Hazel Fetherston is a passionate health promotion practitioner. Her experiences include developing, implementing and evaluating a public health nutrition resource and delivering food literacy and cooking programs. Hazel has experience working in not-for-profit and non-government organisations. As part of the Chronic Disease Program team, Hazel has successfully assisted with the coordination of the Australian Health Tracker report card.

Hazel has been recognised as an emerging public health leader and was awarded the Australian Health Promotion Association scholarship in 2015. Her passion lies in working with disadvantaged communities, in particular, the school setting and child health. She also holds an interest in food security and equity.

Erin Bowen

Strategic Adviser

Erin Bowen is an experienced senior policy specialist in health and public administration, with almost twenty years working at executive levels across both Commonwealth and state governments. She has provided leadership on whole of system strategic policy and integration, policy and program formulation and policy and people capability development.

Erin has extensive experience in stakeholder engagement and consultation, developing relationships with professional and community organisations. She has been integral in delivering a number of projects for government, including significant Commonwealth/state joint projects, major health reform initiatives, operational and health system analysis and evaluation and service re-design.

Her career experience and expertise includes a range of corporate and organisational leadership and management roles, including at Commonwealth and state levels in Canberra, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.

Erin has an Executive Masters in Public Administration from the Australian and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) and ANU, and a Bachelor of Applied Science with studies in communications and media. Erin is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Tyler Nichols

Policy Officer

Tyler has a Masters of Science in Dietetics. He was recently appointed to the position of Policy Officer at AHPC.

Tyler has a passion for working in health policy and primary prevention and currently shares his time between the AHPC and the Continence Foundation of Australia, where he works as a policy advisor.

Tyler’s major project at AHPC focused on Australian policy activities aimed at lowering dietary sodium intake.

Fellows

James Dunbar

Clinical Adviser

Professor James A Dunbar is the Research Adviser to AHPC, James graduated MB ChB from St Andrews in 1972 and MD University of Dundee 1990.

He is a health services implementation researcher at Deakin University and was ranked as the most productive primary care researcher in Australia 2012-17.

From 2001-2014, he was Inaugural Director, University Department of Rural Health, Deakin and Flinders universities. Previously he was Medical Director of Borders Primary Care NHS Trust, and prior to that, an innovative general practitioner in Dundee  winning the UK’s premier award for quality improvement in health care - the Golden Helix.

From 2004-2006, he established the national demonstrator Greater Green Triangle Diabetes Prevention Program which he scaled up to be the statewide Victorian Diabetes Prevention Program Life! Taking action on diabetes from 2007. He was the leading investigator on the NHMRC-funded Melbourne Diabetes Prevention Study evaluating the Life! program and NHMRC-funded MAGDA -mothers after gestational diabetes in Australia – a system change to prevent women who have had diabetes in pregnancy converting to diabetes.

He is the author of books, book chapters and over 250 original peer-reviewed articles. His major interests are heart disease, diabetes, depression, quality improvement and patient safety.

Maria Duggan

Policy Fellow and Adjunct Associate Professor

Dr Maria Duggan is a director of the UK based consultancy Public Service Works and a well-respected health policy analyst. Maria has a long track record of international work on health and social care policy. In Australia she has been working with Victoria University and the Royal College of Australian and New Zealand Psychiatrists to address the current policy gap on women’s mental health. The goal of the project is to develop advocacy approaches aimed at improving the physical health and life expectancy of people with severe mental illness.

Ruth Dunkin

Policy Fellow

Dr Ruth Dunkin has over 30 years' experience as a senior executive, CEO and board member in the public and higher education sectors, with a strong background and interest in public policy.

Ruth has extensive experience in policy development and strategy as an independent consultant and researcher. From 2008-2012 she was Director, Policy at the Business Council of Australia, focusing on labour market issues including workplace relations, and health, aged care and disability reforms.

Ruth was Vice-Chancellor of RMIT University from 2000-2004, and previously, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, with responsibility for business system development and operations, financial and human resource management, and subsequently for leading the academic operations of the university.

She has a Masters degree in Public Administration from Harvard and a PhD in organisational change from the University of Melbourne.

Rob Rees

Policy Fellow

Rob Rees is a Policy Fellow at AHPC, providing leadership in food and nutrition and social impact programs.   Rob is a leading  chef in the UK who now lives in Australia and is dedicated to creating a healthy food culture in Australia and the UK. 

Rob was appointed to the UK School Food Trust in 2005, becoming Chairman from 2010 to 2015 through the transformation of the school food program for children and the establishment of the schools cooking clubs program, Let's Get Cooking.

Rob served as a board member of the UK Food Standards Agency and as a non executive director on NHS Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust and Clinical Commission Group.  He was a board member of Visit England and served as a Trustee of British Nutrition Foundation 2001-2004 and was President of National Nutrition Australia in 2016-2017.  He is currently a non-executive director for Umbrella Dementia Café – a new program in Australia providing support to those who care for or are suffering from dementia.

Collaborating Centre

Dr Sharon Brennan-Olsen

Senior Research Fellow

Sharon is Senior Research Fellow with the Department of Medicine-Western Health, University of Melbourne. She is also Program Director of ‘Social Epigenomics and Population Health’ and Academic Liaison Officer at the Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS).

Sharon also manages the Osteosarcopenia Roadshow (accredited training workshop for General Practitioners) and is a member of the Women in Bone Science Committee of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Sharon promotes and speaks on diversity in science. Her research interests include social determinants of musculoskeletal diseases and related health service.

Sharon was awarded the 2015 Philip Sambrook Award for Outstanding Early Career Investigator from Osteoporosis Australia and the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society.

Our vision & mission

Established and supported by Victoria University in Melbourne’s western suburbs, AHPC aims to be a trusted and valued source of information and insight by:

  • curating contemporary research and evidence and developing realistic solutions to health policy challenges
  • collaborating with experts and leading organisations to delve deeper into complexity and providing national leadership on major health issues
  • measuring the impact of health and related public policies
  • working to improve people’s understanding of health, of the risks and challenges to good health, and of how health care works and how it can be improved.

The AHPC vision is that everyone has access to good health outcomes regardless of socio-economic status and cultural and geographic diversity.

The AHPC mission is to contribute to the development of public policy and its practice to improve health and education outcomes especially for those living in socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

Statement of Commitment

The Australian Health Policy Collaboration is leading a national project to develop and implement chronic disease targets and indicators based on the WHO noncommunicable disease targets. To date more than 50 high-profile organisations, including Victoria University, have signed up to the Chronic diseases prevention for Australia: Statement of commitment to establish a platform for national chronic disease targets.

Read the full Statement of Commitment.