A series of events and workshops to help inspire and educate AHP members in growing their practices. Our online hubs are held online on the last Tuesday of every second month. We are also commencing twice-yearly in-person events in October 2022.

In-person event – Saturday 26 November 2022

Many clients have underlying trauma-related issues. This forum is for allied health professionals wanting to improve treatment where trauma is also a factor.

Hear our expert speakers and join with colleagues in identifying key challenges in dealing with trauma and strategies for improved practice.

SPEAKER 1 – Ryan McGrath: Ryan is a physiotherapist and early career researcher from Shepparton, Victoria. In addition to his physio qualification, Ryan is currently enrolled in PhD studies in psychology. He is a research committee member with the International Organization of Physical Therapy in Mental Health, and a committee member with the Australian Physiotherapy Association NSW Mental Health Branch.

Ryan has previously worked as a physiotherapist in refugee health and has volunteered as a crisis supporter with Lifeline Australia. He has a particular interest in improving the skills of allied health professionals to respond to disclosures of psychological and/or suicidal distress that arise in their regular practice settings. Ryan has published four peer-reviewed articles on the topic of physiotherapists supporting people experiencing psychological distress. Ryan’s research can be found at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ryan-Mcgrath-4/research.

Presentation Title: Being Prepared to Explore the Whole Story

While trauma is often thought of as the domain of mental health professionals, generalist allied health professionals also come across people experiencing trauma-related distress. Ryan will discuss how generalist allied health professionals can prepare themselves to support people who disclose trauma. He will also briefly discuss how generalist allied health professionals can manage their own wellbeing faced with these demanding clinical situations.

SPEAKER 2 – Professor John Hurley: John Hurley is a professor of mental health at Southern Cross University and Vice-President of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.  Academically, Professor Hurley has over one hundred peer reviewed publications, many with a focus on mental health workforce capability development.

Educationally, John has qualified as a general nurse, psychiatric nurse, gestalt psychotherapist, counsellor, educator and emotional intelligence trainer and assessor. He holds a Senior Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy in recognition of his contribution to mental health nursing education and course development in England, Scotland and Australia.

Clinically, John maintains an ongoing practice as a credentialed mental health nurse with Headspace through a weekly clinic. He has used his extensive experience in acute community mental health services to focus on the Headspace population with the most complex need. As such he has considerable capability in working successfully with those who are most at risk of suicide.

Presentation: Professor Hurley will provide an overview of the picture of mental health on the North Coast NSW.  He will outline some of priority mental health issues for North Coast communities, some current challenges and gaps in services, and will acknowledge innovations in practice in mental health in our region.  He will then focus on the context of adolescent mental health, particularly in relation trauma-impacted adolescents, and provide advice for health practitioners on how best to respond to trauma-related issues in their clients, even where practitioners are not directly responsible for addressing that trauma.

SPEAKER 3 – Alexandra Howard: Alexandra has more than ten years’ experience working in the field of post-traumatic mental health – as a clinical psychologist, educator and specialist in policy and service development. She has worked with disaster-impacted communities, emergency service and military personnel, and traumatic injury patients, as well the professionals who support them. Alexandra’s particular interests lie in understanding and improving psychosocial outcomes for those impacted by disasters and public health emergencies, with a particular focus on marginalised populations, and with a gender lens. She has published in the field of post-traumatic mental health, and has presented her work at national and international conferences.

Alexandra is employed at Phoenix Australia. For over 25 years Phoenix has been acknowledged as Australia’s National Centre of Excellence in Post-traumatic Mental Health and is an internationally recognised leader in the field, with a mission to understand trauma and renew lives.

Presentation: Alexandra will present on the range of impacts of trauma, including disaster, as well as how this might present in clients you are working with. It will also include practical information on how you can incorporate trauma-informed principles into your work, including how you can manage trauma disclosure and when to refer on for more specialist trauma support. There will an opportunity for questions, and information on further resources will be provided.

SPEAKER 4 – Dr Nicola Holmes (She/Her): After growing up in Coffs Harbour and studying medicine at the University of Newcastle, Nicola completed her General Practice training in 2000 with the highest mark in NSW. She has practiced in Coffs Harbour since then including 10 years in adolescent mental health at Headspace Coffs Harbour. She has completed level 2 focused psychological strategies training. She also has a passion for teaching and worked with North Coast GP Training for 10 years training GP registrars. She continues in her educator role working for the Black Dog Institute delivering workshops on mental health skills for GPs and psychologists as well as giving regular presentations to parents of local primary schools on how to nurture children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Presentation: Nicola will present on the impact of trauma on attachment styles of children and how they may present in a variety of settings.  She will review how childhood trauma impacts on a person’s physical and mental health over the lifespan and how as clinicians, by providing a safe space for our patients, we can help their healing journey through providing healthy attachments and nurturing their sense of identity.



WHEN:  Saturday 26 November 9am-2.30pm

WHERE:  Southern Cross Uni Campus – Hogbin Dr, Coffs Harbour

TICKETS:  $40 NCAHA Members, $60 non-members, Free for students – morning tea and light lunch included


Please note: You may be photographed or filmed for marketing purposes while attending this event. Please advise the organiser if you have questions, concerns, or do not wish this to happen. As an attendee you will be added to the SBP mailing list for event correspondence, follow up and upcoming event information.  The option to unsubscribe is available at any time.

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In-person event – Friday 28 October 2022

Our speakers will present on important new projects and policy of relevance to allied health professionals working in aged care on the North Coast.

Robyn Fitzroy will outline an exciting new aged care project that will in part focus on multidisciplinary training in local aged care settings in Casino, Kyogle and Bonalbo, seeking to add value to existing training programs for health professionals and advocate for new approaches to aged care training and service provision in rural communities; as well as developing training centres/hubs and student accommodation alongside multi-disciplinary service-learning education to encourage greater numbers of students across more disciplines to become immersed in rural communities with high needs.

Monika Wheeler will co-present with colleague Bronwyn McCrae (Deputy Director, Healthy Living and Ageing) to speak about the development of a North Coast Healthy Living and Ageing Strategy, inclusive of insights from recently completed social research and systems dynamic modelling for the Strategy.  They will also touch on initiatives from the recent Aged Care Royal Commission that Healthy North Coast have tasked to roll out in the region, and will draw on how these reforms as well as the Healthy Ageing Strategy are relevant in an allied health context.

Dr Jennifer Hewitt will provide an analysis of the Commonwealth funding instrument for residential aged care facilities – the AN-ACC – including the opportunities it presents for allied health professionals to improve services for the elderly and the flow on implications for reform in residential aged care. She will highlight the need for allied health professions to develop evidence for their services to inform these new models of care; and will focus particularly on the development of best practice pain management, restorative care and falls prevention programs. Discussion will be encouraged around real-world practicalities, issues experienced in the transition, and next steps to be addressed to continue to advocate for residents’ access to best-practice allied health. You will also join your allied health colleagues in identifying the key challenges for providing allied health services in aged care and workshopping solutions for a better healthcare system.


Robyn Fitzroy – Director, Multidisciplinary Health – University Centre for Rural Health, University of Sydney

Robyn grew up in the Northern Rivers.  Her focus is firmly on health workforce development in rural, remote and regional Australia; particularly for Allied Health, Nursing, Pharmacy and Dentistry professions, to foster and promote multidisciplinary education and person-centred practice.

Her experiences and skills have been honed by working across a diverse range of sectors including community development, social policy, urban design, and public, environmental, and regional health. Robyn’s workplaces have included Local and State Governments, federally funded organisations, Community and NFP’s, private consultancies and University.

Her previous role with the North Coast Primary Health Network included establishing the North Coast Allied Health Association (NCAHA) as the Executive Officer; coordinating the initial needs assessment; collaborating with Local Health District and Family and Community Services particularly on ‘insecure housing’ and discharge planning.

Now, in conjunction with her current University Centre for Rural Health (UCRH) role being a Director and Chairperson of the Board of the North Coast Allied Health Association (NCAHA), Robyn works closely with Allied Health Professionals seeking to ensure equitable access to health care and improve health outcomes. Whilst Robyn is not a clinician she intrinsically understands the role each clinician can play and the unique value they bring.


Jennifer Hewitt – Physiotherapist and Educator, University Centre for Rural Health, University of Sydney 

Dr Jennie Hewitt is a practicing physiotherapist, educator, and academic researcher with a passion for delivering best practice and leading research that informs health care policy.

She has been awarded the Aged and Community Services Australia, National Lifetime Achievement Award, and received a National Commendation for Better Practice, from the Aged Care Quality Agency, for her work on exercise for the prevention of falls in residential care. In 2019 she won the Morley Award for the paper most likely to influence policy and practice from the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

Dr Hewitt’s work has been used successfully to advocate for Australian Aged Care Funding Reform. She was invited to give evidence as an expert witness for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, in 2020, on the role of allied health in residential and community aged care. Her evidence was used to form new Medicare item numbers for allied health service provision, and federal funding for group exercise sessions. Dr Hewitt is currently working as a technical advisor to the Commonwealth Chief Allied Health Officer on an implementation plan to translate her exercise program to practice in 11 Primary Health Networks during 2021-22. Evaluation of this program will inform future health policy.

Dr Hewitt is a member of the NSW Health Frailty Taskforce Working Group, and the Health North Coast (PHN) Healthy Living and Ageing Reference Group.


Monika Wheeler – Executive Director – Wellness, Healthy North Coast

Monika lives with her young family on Bundjalung Country in the Northern Rivers and has worked the past several years with the North Coast Primary Health Network (Healthy North Coast) where she is currently Executive Director – Wellness.

She has 15 years’ experience leading social policy strategy and health service delivery and holds a Master of Public Policy from the University of Sydney. She has worked at the local, state, national and international levels in government and not-for-profit organisations.

Monika is passionate about increasing community access to quality health care and empowering community members and health professionals to influence improvements to the health system. As the Executive Director – Wellness, she is driving improvements to primary health care, Aboriginal health, chronic disease management, ageing, workforce development, and population health. 



WHEN:  Friday 28 October 10am-3pm
WHERE:  UCRH Campus,61 Uralba Street, Lismore
TICKETS:  $60 NCAHA Members, $80 non-members, Free for students, $20 on-line participation – light lunch included

Impact of Covid on AHP – Panel Discussion

Tuesday 29 Sept, 6:00 – 7:30pm – NCAHA Online Hub

This facilitated panel session will explore the impact of COVID19 on allied health practices in Northern NSW.

The session will be facilitated by Professor Susan Nancarrow and panellists will include:

  • Rob Curry, physiotherapist, NCAHA executive officer and Chair of SARRAH;
  • Associate Professor Jacqui Yoxall, allied health lead at SCU who will discuss the effects on education, training and clinical placements;
  • Craig Gilmore, private practitioner and Director of Cirrus Healthcare;
  • Alira Bandiran, clinical psychologist from Coffs Harbour.

This is an ONLINE event and the Zoom link will be sent to you upon registration.

6.00 – 7.30pm

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