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Below are the confirmed Speakers for the virtual Australian Public Health Conference 2021.

Come back and visit this page soon, as new speakers will be added.

Opening Keynote: Dr Takeshi Kasai

WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific


Dr Takeshi Kasai began his term as WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific on 1 February 2019, following his nomination by the WHO Regional Committee for the Western Pacific and his appointment by the WHO Executive Board.

The public health career of Dr Kasai began nearly 30 years ago when he was assigned to a remote post on the northeast coast of Japan, providing health-care services for the elderly. His early experiences there impressed upon him the value of building strong health systems from the ground up. Dr Kasai received his medical degree (MD) from Keio University in 1990; a master's degree in public health from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in 1996; a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1997; and a doctorate (PhD) in medicine from Iwate Medical University in 2012.

Dr Kasai has worked for WHO for more than 15 years, and at the time of his nomination was Director of Programme Management, the No. 2 position at the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific in Manila, Philippines. As a Technical Officer and later as the Director of the Division of Health Security at the Regional Office, he was instrumental in developing and implementing the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies, which guides Member States in preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.


Dr Kasai also served as the WHO Representative in Viet Nam from 2012 to 2014, and in 2014 received the For the People’s Health Medal from the Government, the top honor bestowed upon those who have made significant contributions to public health.

Dr Kasai is from Japan. He is married and has three daughters.

Opening Address: Rachel Stephen-Smith

Minister for Health of the Australian Capital Territory


Current Ministerial appointments

  • Minister for Health (July 2019 – present)

  • Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (October 2016 – present)

  • Minister for Families and Community Services (November 2020 – present)


Rachel was born in Canberra in 1971, grew up in O’Connor and lives in Reid. She’s also lived in Melbourne, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as in other parts of Canberra.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Simon Lenton

Director National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University

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Professor Simon Lenton is the Director of NDRI and works part time as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice. His research interests include bridging the gap between drug policy research and drug policy practice, cannabis policy, illicit drug use and harm reduction. His research has informed evidence based changes to cannabis law, the wider availability of naloxone to prevent opioid overdose deaths, and the use of alcohol interlock devices as drink driving countermeasures

Keynote Speaker: Professor Alison Ritter

Director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) 
Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC), University of New South Wales

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Professor Alison Ritter, AO is the Director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) at the University of New South Wales. She is an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow leading a multi-disciplinary program of research on drug policy. The goal of the work is to advance drug policy through improving the evidence-base, translating research and studying policy processes.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Michael Doyle

Senior Research Fellow, Central Clinical School, The University of Sydney

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Michael is a Bardi Aboriginal man, the Bardi people are from the Kimberley region of Western Australia. He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research Excellence in Indigenous Health and Alcohol, in the Discipline of Addiction Medicine at the Central Clinical School. His research focuses on alcohol and other drug treatment for men involved in the criminal justice system.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Pat Dudgeon

Director, The Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention

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Pat Dudgeon is from the Bardi people in Western Australia. She is a psychologist and professor at the Poche Centre for Aboriginal Health and the School of Indigenous Studies at UWA. Her area of research includes Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention. 

She is the director of the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention at UWA. She is also the lead chief investigator of a national research project, Transforming Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing that aims to develop approaches to Indigenous mental health services that promote cultural values and strengths as well as empowering users. She has many publications in Indigenous mental health, in particular, the Working Together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principals and Practice 2014.

Basil Hetzel Orator: Professor Tom Calma AO

Chancellor of the University of Canberra


Professor Tom Calma is Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia, an Aboriginal elder from the Kungarakan tribal group and a member of the Iwaidja tribal group in the NT. Currently the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking and Chancellor of the University of Canberra, Professor Calma previously served as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner and the Race Discrimination Commissioner. Professor Calma has a special interest in Indigenous education, employment and training programs.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Fay Johnston

Public Health and Primary Care Theme, Menzies Institute For Medical Research, University of Tasmania


Professor Fay Johnston is public health physician and environmental epidemiologist. She heads the environmental health research group at the Menzies Institute for Medical research at the University of Tasmania, is a senior Specialist Medical Advisor for the Tasmanian Department of Health.

She has made major contributions to the global knowledge about the health impacts of bushfire smoke and led the international expert team that made the first global estimate of annually mortality attributable to air pollution from landscape fires. Her team developed AirRater, a real-time environmental and symptom surveillance system designed to support self-management for people with health conditions sensitive to outdoor airborne hazards like smoke and pollen which has won multiple awards for innovation, impact, and community disaster resilience. She leads the Latrobe Early Life Follow-up Study investigating impacts of a severe community pollution event associated with a coal mine fire on the long term cardiorespiratory, health and development of children who were exposed during the first 1000 days following conception.


Prof Johnston frequently provides expert advice in relation to air pollution emergencies for government, community organisations, media and legal proceedings. In 2018 she was named a global woman leader in fire science.  In 2019 she received the Public Health Association of Australia Tony McMichael Award for Ecology, Environment and Health and was named Air Quality Champion of year by the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand. She won the 2021 Menzies Institute for Medical Research, Research Excellence Impact Award for translation of research for the benefit of society.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Peter W Tait

College of Health and Medicine, Australian National University

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Peter Tait has been a General Practitioner for 36 years, 30 in Aboriginal health in Central Australia. He was the 2007 Royal Australian College of General Practitioners General Practitioner of the Year. He attained a Masters of Climate Change at the Australian National University (ANU) in 2010.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Rebecca Patrick

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health, School of Health & Soc. Dev. Deakin University


Dr Rebecca Patrick is the Director of Deakin University’s Sustainable Health Network and President/Chair of the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA). Rebecca is co-leads Deakin’s Health, Nature and Sustainability Research Group and the International Planetary Health Alliance (Oceania Hub). Rebecca is a health promotion and climate change researcher who led a national survey on Climate Change and Mental Health: Australian Temperature Check. Rebecca is an Associate Editor of the Health Promotion Journal of Australia.

Keynote Speaker: Professor Martin McKee

Professor of European Public Health, Past President, European Public Health Association, Research Director European Observatory on Health Systems & Policies


Martin McKee is Professor of European Public Health and Medical Director at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is also Research Director of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and Past President of the European Public Health Association. He trained in medicine and public health and has written extensively on health and health policy, with a particular focus on countries undergoing political and social transition.

Keynote Speaker: Dr Lisa Whop

Senior Research fellow, Menzies School of Health Research

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Lisa Whop is a descendent of the Wagedagam tribe of the Gumulgal people of Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait and has family connections to the Darling Downs in South West Queensland.

Lisa’s research to date has focused on improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with cancer. She holds a Bachelor in Medical Science from the Queensland University of Technology and a Masters of Applied Epidemiology from the Australian National University. Her PhD project was focused on the Queensland part of the National Indigenous Cervical Screening Project – the first population-based study in Australia to investigate the effectiveness of cervical screening for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

She was supported by a Sidney Myer Health Scholarship, a Menzies Enhanced Living Scholarship and a Lowitja Institute Scholarship. She recently submitted her PhD thesis to the Charles Darwin University and is working as a Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research.

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