Our Board and Governance

Phoenix Australia is a not-for-profit public company, affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne.

Phoenix Australia 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.

Phoenix Australia is a registered Health Promotion Charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.


Our Board is chaired by Paul Wappett. Board activity is informed and supported by an Audit and Risk Committee, a Clinical Governance Committee, and the Nominations and Remuneration Committee.

Our Chief Executive Officer and Director, Enterprise Professor Nicole Sadler AM CSC, is responsible for leadership of the Executive management team, delivery of our strategic plan and oversight of all operational activity.

Our Company Secretary is Lee Merzel.

Paul Wappett

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 CEO for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), non-executive director at Australian Medicines Handbook, Joint Colleges Training Services, and RACGP Training Services between 2021 – 2023. 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. Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce, a Bachelor of Laws, an MBA and is a Member and Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
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Professor Malcolm Hopwood

Professor of Psychiatry
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 2019 Malcolm was installed as President-Elect of the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations. He has recently been appointed Chair of the Interim Regional mental Health and Wellbeing Body for North East Melbourne. Malcolm is the Chair of the Phoenix Australia Clinical Governance Committee.
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Andrew Coghlan

Head of Emergency Services Strategy at Australian Red Cross
Andrew brings extensive experience in the emergency management sector. His current role is as Head of Emergency Services Strategy with Australian Red Cross. Prior to joining Red Cross, Andrew was the National Recovery Consultant with Emergency Management Australia, providing advice to both State and Federal governments following a range of emergencies and playing a key role in coordinating recovery assistance to Australians impacted by events such as the Boxing Day 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Career highlights include: • Refresh and growth of Red Cross role in emergency management in Australia, including psychosocial focus in prevention, response and recovery • Development of Red Cross’ Emergency REDiPlan project, a four-step household preparation program aimed at fostering individual and community resilience throughout Australia • Coordinating the Red Cross response to a range of major emergencies and disasters, including Cyclone Larry (2006), the Black Saturday Victorian Bushfires (2009) and Queensland Floods and Cyclone Yasi (2011) and the 2019/20 Bushfires. • Development of Red Cross leadership role in long term, community-based recovery. • Contributing to establishment of o the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience o Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience Andrew also draws on his experience to contribute to sector leadership, through extensive experience in government and not for profit sectors at operational, strategic and Board level. Leadership roles include: • Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne • Chair, International Advisory Committee for the University's Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety and Australian Emergency Management Volunteer Forum • Board member | Volunteering Victoria and Former Board Member - Volunteering Australia and Asia Australia Mental Health Andrew has also contributed to emergency management internationally, including as a key contributor to the IFRC Global Resilience Strategy and as a former Vice President of the International Sociological Association Disaster Research Committee.
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Professor Christopher Davey

Head of Department of Psychiatry at The University of Melbourne
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.
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Jacqueline Coates

CEO, Telstra Foundation
Jackie is a corporate sustainability and philanthropy leader, passionate about social change through technology. As CEO Telstra Foundation and a Board Trustee of the Telstra Foundation Philippines, Jackie leads Telstra’s philanthropic investment strategy and Australian charity. Strategic and entrepreneurial, her work supports digital change-makers in the community sector across a broad range of areas, including mental health digital innovation. An advocate for the responsible and inclusive development of new and emerging technologies, Jackie has an Arts degree from the University of Melbourne and 25+ years CSR and Corporate Affairs experience working in ASX listed companies. Feminist, mother, tech optimist, and grant-maker, Jackie believes that as technology moves forward, the lives of those in need must move forward with it.
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Michael Harper

Deputy Commissioner – Victoria, Department of Veterans Affairs
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.
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Rodney Piltz

Managing Partner of the EY Melbourne Office
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 North Melbourne Football Club and is a former board member of Australian Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.
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Professor Andrea Phelps

BA (Hons) MPsych (Clin) Phd | Deputy Director/ Head, Policy and Practice
Professor Andrea Phelps is the Deputy Director of Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health. In this role Andrea has strategic oversight of the Centre’s activities across research, service development, and training, and plays a key role in strategic planning and setting future directions. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in the assessment and treatment of posttraumatic mental health problems in veterans and was responsible for the accreditation of PTSD treatment programs for veterans across Australia for many years. At Phoenix Australia, Andrea leads a number of major projects including the Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD. She also consults to a range of Government departments and industry partners on research, service development and policy issues regarding organisational responses to psychological trauma. Government departments include Veterans’ Affairs, Defence, Health and Human Services, Australian Border Force, and Australian Federal Police; industry partners include state police, fire, ambulance and rail services. Andrea’s research interests centre on the nature and treatment of posttraumatic stress with a particular focus on moral injury and posttraumatic nightmares.
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Lesley Podesta

Head, Government Relations
Lesley joined the not-for-profit sector, having undertaken a number of senior executive roles in education, employment and health with the Victorian and Australian governments. 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. Lesley 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. She 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 partnership with the International Diabetes Federation to reduce blindness from diabetes, winning the Google challenge award with a low-cost camera to screen for blindness in remote and vulnerable populations. Lesley held the position of Chief Executive Officer with the Alannah & Madeline Foundation from 2016 – 2020 and was a Phoenix Australia Board Member, 2018 –2021.
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Jane Nursey

BBSc Grad Dip Child & Adol Psych MPsych (Clin Neuro) | Head, Clinical Services
With 30 years’ experience in the public hospital and not-for-profit sectors as a Senior Clinician and Director of programs in both acute and mental health services, Jane brings a wealth of both clinical and leadership experience to her role as Head of Clinical Services at Phoenix Australia. She has expertise in the development and implementation of hospital-based mental health programs as well as providing policy and service development advice to government and industry. She has worked clinically assessing and treating people across the lifespan presenting with a range of trauma-related mental health disorders, including people from high risk industry groups such as veterans and members of the defence force, emergency and law enforcement agencies, security organisations, schools, the judiciary, media organisations and disaster survivors. Jane has also worked in the alcohol and drug, traumatic brain injury, aged care and developmental disability sectors. Following the 2009 Victorian bushfires, Jane co-led the development and implementation of a state-wide clinical service for bushfire-affected communities at the Austin Hospital, Psychological Trauma Recovery Service in Melbourne. Since joining Phoenix Australia, Jane has led and contributed to a range of service development and training and research projects that focus on translating evidence into practice, improving community and industry’s knowledge of and capacity to manage the impact of traumatic events, and enhancing the capacity of mental health practitioners to deliver evidence-based treatments. Jane’s training in Clinical Neuropsychology and Developmental Psychology fuel her research interests in exploring the neurobiological and neuropsychological aspects of trauma and exploring innovative treatments that help to improve the clinical and cognitive symptoms of PTSD.
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Professor Meaghan O’Donnell

BAppSci BSci (Hons) MPsych (Clin) PhD | Head, Research
Professor Meaghan O’Donnell completed her postgraduate clinical psychology training at the University of Western Australia and her PhD at the University of Melbourne (under the supervision of Professor Mark Creamer). Meaghan has published widely in the area of posttraumatic mental health, holds a number of large research grants, and is involved in both national and international research collaborations. She is Immediate Past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), and is on the editorial board of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology. Meaghan is involved in a number of research projects that encompass a range of areas including epidemiology, phenomenology, intervention, and biology of posttraumatic mental health, and the mental health issues in military and veteran populations. She has been a recipient of the prestigious Humboldt Experienced Researcher Fellowship to foster research collaborations in Germany.
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Anna Parkin

BSc(Hons), DipEd, MEd(IntEd), PGDipMgmt(Mkt) | Head, Training and Workforce Development
Anna Parkin has more than 20 years’ experience in senior leadership roles in higher education. As a consultant, she has developed international strategies for Federation and Bond Universities and several private organisations. Prior to this, she was Faculty Dean International and Strategic Partnerships at Curtin University where she led marketing and recruitment, external engagement. Anna also led the delivery and performance of the Faculty’s transnational education programs including through the Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, and Dubai campuses, with franchised partners in HK and Vietnam, and joint programs in China and Indonesia. Her ability to identify and respond to changing environmental influencers with strategic solutions has led to many significant achievements including: the development of some of Australia’s earliest pathway courses and offshore transnational programs for international students as Principal of Foundation Studies and Diploma Programs at La Trobe University; improved recruitment outcomes and global profiling for Melbourne Business School as Director Global Development; organisational rebranding and successfully leading staff through large scale organisational changes as Director International and Development at TAFE SA; the development of Victoria’s first comprehensive international education strategy (also first in Australia) as Director International Education; and the establishment of substantial international institutional, government, and industry collaborations, quality improvements of offshore programs, increased mobility funding and opportunities, and the design of new online initiatives for Curtin University.
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Dr John Cooper

MBBS MPM FRANZCP | Consultant Psychiatrist
John Cooper is a Consultant Psychiatrist who has worked part time at Phoenix Australia since 1999, providing psychiatry expertise across the policy and service development, training and education, and research domains. During this same period, John has held senior clinical and advisory positions in posttraumatic mental health at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling (formerly VVCS), as well as maintaining a busy private practice specialising in the treatment of posttraumatic mental health problems. John’s particular expertise is in veterans’ mental health, assessment, pharmacotherapy, and service development. Recently, John has moved much of his clinical work into youth and community clinical settings where high rates of posttraumatic mental health disorders impact upon all aspects of patient care.
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Enterprise Professor Nicole Sadler AM CSC

MPsych (Clin) | Chief Executive Officer
Nicole is a Clinical Psychologist and the Chief Executive Officer/Director of Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health. She is also an Enterprise Professor within the Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne. For over three decades Nicole has been working with military members, veterans, emergency services workers and frontline health care professionals, who due to the nature of their work, can be impacted by trauma and adversity. She is an expert in trauma-related mental health and wellbeing, suicide and disaster mental health. She has an in-depth understanding of issues and challenges for individuals working in high-risk organisations and roles, and the systems and services required to improve and maintain their mental health and wellbeing, including after they have transitioned out of these roles. Nicole has led major mental health strategic reviews, research and policy and training development projects for organisations across Australia and internationally. Prior to joining Phoenix Australia in 2017, she served in the full-time Army for over 20 years and completed her career in the senior Army psychology position. Nicole continues to serve in the Army Reserves and was recently promoted to the rank of Brigadier. She has a strong record of accomplishment in setting and implementing strategic direction in mental health and personnel management within the Australian Defence Force, which was recognised with a Member of the Order of Australia in 2018 and a Conspicuous Service Cross in 2009.
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Patron & Ambassadors

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston

Patron | AK, AFC (Ret'd)
Sir Angus was awarded the Knight of the Order of Australia in January 2015 for extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia. The knighthood recognised his distinguished service in the Australian Defence Force, continued commitment to serve the nation in leadership roles - particularly the national responses to the MH370 and MH17 disasters, and other roles in the community. Sir Angus retired from the military in July 2011 after serving for 41 years. He was Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 2005-2011 and prior to that was Chief of Air Force for four years. He was Chair of the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board from 2011-2013 which provided strategic advice to the Australian Government in relation to the planning and implementation of the Anzac Centenary. Sir Angus chairs a number of boards and also serves as a board member for numerous organisations. He is a visiting fellow of the Australian National University National Security College and the South Australian Special Envoy for International Trade and Investment. In addition, he is the Ambassador/Patron of a number of charitable organisations. Sir Angus has been awarded four honorary doctorate degrees from the University of South Australia, the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales and Griffith University.
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Wing Commander Sharon Bown AM, FACN (Ret’d)

Sharon is a keynote speaker and award-winning author. In her book, she highlights the strategies that enabled her to change the narrative of her life from a broken veteran that was severely injured in a helicopter crash in East Timor, to a respected leader commanding a critical care team in Afghanistan. She’s a powerful veterans’ advocate as a Member of the Council of the Australian War Memorial and Phoenix Australia Ambassador. As a Returned Service Nurse, Sharon cared for people amidst war, peacekeeping, and humanitarian aid operations across the world. She harnesses the lessons and strategies of her unique experiences to empower individuals, communities and organisations to maximise their leadership and resilience, and to discover the great opportunities for growth in adversity.
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David Mann

Ambassador | AM. KSJ FAICD
David was made a Member of the Order of Australia in June 2018 for significant service to the community of Victoria, particularly through emergency services, entertainment, education, heritage and charitable organisations. He has worked for more than thirty years in an operational capacity with emergency services including Victoria Police, Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and Ambulance Victoria. David is a roving reporter for 3AW 693, promoting the successes and achievements of Victorian businesses and organisations. He runs a marketing and public relations company, and consults to many companies and not-for-profit organisations around Australia. He is Chairman of the Victoria Police Blue Ribbon Foundation and Entertainment Assist, and sits on a number of other boards including the Chisholm Institute and The Production Company.
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Magda Szubanski

Ambassador | AO
Magda Szubanski AO is one of Australia’s best known and loved performer/writers. She helped create international hit shows and films including D Generation, Babe, Kath and Kim, Fast Forward, and Big Girl’s Blouse. Her 2015 memoir, Reckoning - which deals with intergenerational trauma - won a slew of awards including: Book of the Year; Biography of the Year; NSW Premier’s Literary Award; The Victorian Community History Award – among others. Her efforts during the Marriage Equality survey made her 2017’s most talked about person. She was nominated for Australian of the Year and made an Officer of the Order of Australia. She was awarded the 2017 Liberty Victoria Voltaire Award for Free Speech. In the course of her career Magda has helped raise millions of dollars for charity. She is an Ambassador for Phoenix Australia, is on the Advisory Board of the Human Rights Institute, and is Patron of Twenty/10.
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