Phoenix Australia is an Australian not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry, the University of Melbourne.


Phoenix Australia Ltd. (formerly the Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health) is governed by a Board of Directors that includes representatives of its key stakeholders, the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence, and the University of Melbourne. Our Chief Executive Officer and Director, Professor David Forbes, is responsible for leadership of the Executive management team, delivery of our strategic plan and oversight of all operational activity.

Our Board is chaired by Ms Janine Kirk AO. Board activity is informed and supported by an Audit and Risk Committee, a Clinical Governance Committee, and a Nominations and Remuneration Committee. Our Company Secretary is Ms Lee Merzel. Phoenix Australia is a registered entity under the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission and is a charity with Deductible Gift Recipient Status.

Ms Janine Kirk AO, 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.

Professor Malcolm Hopwood

Malcolm is the Ramsay Health Care Professor of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne, based at the Albert Road Clinic in Melbourne. He specialises in clinical aspects of mood and anxiety disorders, psychopharmacology, and psychiatric aspects of acquired brain injury. Previously he led the Psychological Trauma Recovery Service, incorporating the Veterans Psychiatry Unit and the Victorian Brain Disorders Program, at Austin Health. He has held senior positions within the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists including past Chairmanships of the Victorian Branch and the Board of Research and was President of the College from 2015-2017. In 2017 Malcolm was installed as President-Elect of the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations,. He is the current Co-Chair of Equally Well Australia and past Chair of the Board of The Summer Foundation. Malcolm is the Chair of the Phoenix Australia Clinical Governance Committee.

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.

Mr Rodney Charles Piltz

Rodney has more than 30 years experience with EY, a leading global professional services firm. Rodney is the Managing Partner of the EY Melbourne Office and an Assurance Partner with extensive experience in finance, governance, and risk management. Rodney also leads the Digital Assurance team at EY, responsible for driving the use of a broad range of technology solutions by the Assurance practice in the Oceania region. Rodney holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University and is a Chartered Accountant. He is currently a board member of the Australian Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.

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.

Mr Paul Wappett

Paul Wappett took up the role of CEO of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) in October 2021. A lawyer by profession, Paul’s previous positions have included being the CEO of Open Universities Australia from 2012-2018, CEO of the Australian Institute of Business (a private equity-controlled higher education provider) from 2018-2021 and legal and commercial roles at CPA Australia, the Western Bulldogs Football Club, Mobil Oil Australia, and law firm Clayton Utz. Paul has led substantial organisational transformations throughout his career, leading organisations to adapt to changes in their external environments, to build organisational cultures that enable them to improve performance, to enable them to effectively interact with complex groups of stakeholders, and to redesign the way in which they transact with and relate to their customers/students/members, particularly digitally. Paul was the non-Executive Chair of Berry Street, the largest child protection agency in Victoria, between 2010-2018, the Executive Chair of corporate training company e3 Learning between 2013-2016, and a non-Executive director of ed-tech start-up Aeyons Pty Ltd between 2016-2019. He is currently a non-Executive director of Phoenix Australia, Australia’s national centre of excellence in posttraumatic mental health. Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Law degree from the University of NSW, an MBA and is a Member and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Outside of work, Paul is a sports tragic, a milkshake addict, an enthusiastic but ordinary guitarist, and – quite sadly, really – he is not quite ready to accept that he will never open the batting for the Australian test cricket team.