Phoenix Australia is a legally independent not-for-profit organisation affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry, the University of Melbourne.


Phoenix Australia (formerly the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health) is governed by a Board of Management that includes representatives of its key stakeholders, the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence, and the University of Melbourne. Phoenix Australia is endorsed by the Australian Tax Office as a Charitable Institution and has also received endorsement as a Deductible Gift Recipient.

Ms Janine Kirk AM, Chair

Janine has extensive leadership experience in a variety of roles for a broad range of organisations. She was the founding Chief Executive of The Prince’s Trust Australia – in which position she collaborated closely with Phoenix Australia on two international roundtables on disaster mental health – and prior to that was a partner at Ernst & Young. She is Chairman of the Melbourne Prize Trust and the Kukukuku PNG Tribe Advisory Council, and Deputy Chair to the Council for Women and families United by Defence Service; is an ambassador for the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute, Teach for Australia, and the Australian Communities Foundation; and is a founding member of the Berry Street Childhood Alliance. Janine was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 and is a life member of Berry Street Victoria, the Committee for Melbourne, and the BioMelbourne Network. Janine has a Bachelor of Economics (BEc) and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (Hon LLD) from Monash University in 2007.

Professor David Forbes

David is the Director of Phoenix Australia and a clinical psychologist with many years’ experience in the assessment and treatment of mental health problems following trauma. David was the Chair of the Working Party for the inaugural NHMRC-approved Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and is the Vice Chair of the PTSD Guidelines for the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. He sits on the editorial boards of key international journals and publishes widely in the international literature.

Mr Paul Dolan

Paul commenced as the Head of Strategy and Operations at Phoenix Australia in May 2018, an Executive position on the Board of Management. Prior to this Executive role, Paul held a Non-executive position on the Board and was Chair of the Finance & Risk committee for four years. Paul is an experienced director across the public and commercial sectors and also runs a business – Tektology – focussed on health and social systems. His previous roles include Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand with Lightfoot Solutions, an Applied Analytics and Advisory business, as well as Director of System Intelligence and Analytics and then Priority Child and Family Projects with the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria. Prior to that he was lead Director in Ernst & Young’s Healthcare Practice in Oceania. Paul has over 18 years’ public sector and management consulting experience in strategy, reform and operational improvement, with a predominant focus on health and human services. Paul holds a BA (Hons) degree in Business and German from the University of Hull, and has also studied International Business at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

Professor Christopher Davey

Chris Davey was appointed as the Head of Department of Psychiatry at The University of Melbourne in early 2020. Prior to this he worked as a psychiatrist and researcher at Orygen and the Centre for Youth Mental Health, where he was the head of a clinic for young people with severe and complex mood disorders and led the mood disorders research program.

Chris completed his medical degree at the University of Western Australia. He trained in psychiatry in Sydney and Melbourne, and completed his PhD at The University of Melbourne. Chris’s research has focused on studying effective treatments for depression, and he has led large NHMRC-funded multicentre clinical trials. He is interested in using brain imaging to examine depression and social-affective processes. He has a particular interest in integrating clinical trials of antidepressant treatments with neuroscientifically informed investigation of their mechanisms of action.

Mr Michael Harper

Michael is the Deputy Commissioner – Victoria, Department of Veterans Affairs. Michael has over 20 years’ experience in the Australian Public Service, having worked across a number of service delivery and human resources functions within Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency. Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Deakin University and a Graduate Certificate in Public Sector Management from Flinders University. Michael was a member of the Australian Army Reserve, having joined his local Reserve Infantry Battalion in Geelong. He advanced through Non-Commissioned Officer ranks before undertaking officer training and receiving a commission to the Signals Corps.

Mr Don Spinks, AM

Don is the Repatriation Commissioner in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Don served as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the Australian Army from 2015 to 2018, the culmination of a 39 year career in the Army. He served on multiple overseas deployments as Regimental Sergeant Major including: 2nd Cavalry Regiment 2003-2004, Multi National Force and Observers – Sinai Egypt 2004, Royal Australian Armoured Corps 2003-2005, 1st Brigade 2008-2009, Joint Task Force 633 on Operation Slipper in 2010, and Forces Command – Army 2011-2014. In 2018 Don was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for exceptional service to soldiering within the Australian Defence Force.

Ms Lesley Podesta

Lesley joined the Board in 2018. She is the Chief Executive Officer of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, and came into the not-for-profit sector after undertaking a number of senior roles in the Australian and Victorian governments. She worked in education, employment and the health portfolios as a senior executive. She was the head of the Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, Ageing and Aged Care Division, and the head of Communicable Disease and Biosecurity. She helped to establish the National Incident Room and National Medicines Stockpile to enable Australia respond to serious events including the use of biological agents in terrorism, pandemics and serious natural disasters, and was also responsible for the National Dementia Strategy, the National Immunisation program, and the National HIV Strategy.

Lesley worked with The Fred Hollows Foundation as their head of Global Partnerships and Advocacy where she developed a global partnership with the International Diabetes Federation to reduce blindness from diabetes and won the Google challenge award with a low cost camera to screen for blindness in remote and vulnerable populations.

Mr Greg Ridder

Greg joined the Board as director in 2012 and was appointed to the role of Chair of the Finance and Risk Committee in May 2018. Greg is an experienced company director and business advisor, with a strong commercial background in strategy, finance, and general management, having previously been President of NYSE listed packaging company Owens Illinois’ Asia Pacific regional operations. Greg’s other board roles are at Limited, Spirit Telecom Limited, Ethical Property Australia and PNG Sustainable Development Program and he is a mentor at Kilfinan Australia. Greg is a Graduated Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a CPA.

RADM Sarah Sharkey, AM CSC RAN

Sarah is the Commander Joint Health and Surgeon General Australian Defence Force. She has served as a Medical Officer in the Royal Australian Navy for more than 25 years, with her clinical background being mainly in submarine and diving medicine. She has completed a range of postings both at sea and ashore, and has served at the Director General level in Joint Health Command, and as the Head of the Navy Health Community. Sarah has a Bachelors of Medicine and Surgery, Masters in Business Administration, and a Masters in Politics and Policy. She is a Fellow of the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies and an Associate Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators, and a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. Sarah is a recipient of the Australian Defence Medal, Australian Service Medal with Solomon Islands Clasp, and the Defence Long Service Medal.  She has been awarded a Chief of Army Commendation, a Conspicuous Service Cross in the 2014 Queens Birthday Honours, and was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM), in the Military Division, in the Queen’s Birthday Honour List 2020.