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MWRC team
The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre team (L-R: Kayla Heinemann, Luciana Massi, Jenne Roberts, Sophie Hickey, Yvette Roe, Sue Kildea, Anvitaa Chadha, Sarah Maidment, Mpho Dube))


Molly Wardaguga Research Centre Staff

Co-Director: Professor Sue Kildea

Co-Director of The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Professor Sue Kidlea is recognised internationally as a midwifery leader, a health services researcher and an advocate for returning birthing services to First Nations control, and rural and remote communities. She is passionate about the year before and after birth and see these as the best times to positively impact Mums, bubs and families for the best start in life. She uses research for social change and leads multi site projects across Australia.

Research profile

Co-Director: Professor Yvette Roe

Co-Director of The Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Professor Yvette Roe is a Njikena Jawuru woman from the West Kimberly region, Western Australia. Yvette grew up in Darwin where she has strong family and friend connections. Yvette has more than 25 years' experience working in Aboriginal health. She was awarded her PhD, by the University of South Australia in November 2015.

Research profile

Associate Professor Yu Gao

Statistical and Health  Economics Lead, Associate ProfessorYu Gao completed eight years of medical training in China and was awarded a Master of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2004. Yu practiced as a Resident Obstetrician in a large teaching hospital in China for a year before being chosen to conduct doctoral studies at Charles Darwin University, completing in 2008 (co-supervised by Prof Kildea).

Research profile

Dr Sophie Hickey

Mixed-methods early career researcher at the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, Dr Sophie Hickey is an applied sociologist who currently manages the IBUS Study - a large longitudinal cohort study of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and children in Brisbane designed to provide feedback to local service providers to improve maternity care. The new model of care resulted in a profound reduction in preterm birth.

Research profile

Sarah Maidment

A proud Arrente woman & community researcher, Sarah grew up and lived most her life in Alice Springs. Sarah is a Community Research Assistant at The Molly Wardaguga research Centre, Charles Darwin University on The Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting (IBUS) Study. Sarah has worked with the team for three years (2016-present).

Kayla Heinemann
Kayla Heinemann

A proud Aboriginal, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander woman. From 2016-2019, Kayla was a Community Research Assistant on the Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting (IBUS) Study. Kayla is now the Executive Research Assistant of the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre performing admin duties, editing websites, managing social media and more. She is also studying her Masters of Business Administration to be completed by January 2023. 

Dr Belinda Lequertier
B Lequertier

Dr Belinda Lequertier is a researcher with an interest in infant and child development and maternal mental health.  She is passionate about research that identifies and supports strengths and protective factors to enhance child and family wellbeing.  Belinda’s background is in clinical psychology, and she continues to work in private practice with children, young people and families.

Dr Sarah Ireland
S Ireland

Medical anthropologist, nurse and midwife, Dr Sarah Ireland is an early career researcher, with expertise in cross-cultural qualitative research methods, especially collaborative approaches with Aboriginal people. Her research methodologies are informed by social justice, health promotion, decolonising theories, public health, gender, woman-centered midwifery, culture and human rights disclosure.

Research profile  CDU Snapshot Video

Dr Penny Haora
P Haora

Midwife and early career researcher and currently at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation (Yuin Country), Dr Penny Haora's work is centered around maternal, early years, and primary care research and evaluation in diverse contexts.  Penny is committed to decolonizing birthing for Indigenous women and communities, and revaluing Indigenous knowledges. Interested in reducing health inequities, cultural safety, cultural legitimacy and governance, organisational cultures.

Research profile

Jenne Roberts
J Roberts

Jenne has worked in Women’s Health policy, program design, management and evaluation for the last thirty years. Her client-driven research and evaluation provides an evidence base for assessing the current and long term effectiveness of programs and providing strategic advice to drive innovation and future investment.  Jenne specialises in programs where gender inequality, stigma and discrimination drive vulnerability and epidemics. Jenne’s work engages affected communities and partners throughout the project, combining human rights, evidence-based and public health approaches. 

Dr Sue Moore
S Moore

Dr Sue Moore is a  public health researcher with a keen interest in addressing health service disparities. Sue worked as a nurse in Alice Springs for more than 10 years before moving into research, including undertaking a post-doctoral fellowship at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France. She has working on numerous large scale competitively funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer and cardiac research programs, and lately as an epidemiologist in the Queensland Health COVID-19 emergency response team.

 Research profile

Associate Professor Melissa Lindeman
Melissa Lindeman

Associate Professor Melissa Lindeman has an extensive career in health and community services in research, education and training, and policy and service development, including more than 15 years in the university sector. She recently managed an Aboriginal Domestic and Family Violence service and has consulted to various community-based organisations.  Her research has covered areas as diverse as social gerontology, rural and remote health, Indigenous aged and dementia care, and Indigenous youth services. She will focus on projects designed to strengthen families, particularly those with young children (first 2000 days), through intergenerational support, and in developing culturally safe and trauma-informed approaches to practice.

Professor Sheree Cairney
s cairney

professor Sheree Cairney is a Celtic descendent and Neuroscientist who has spent two decades leading health research and innovation projects in Aboriginal communities in the most remote parts of Australia. She has published over 50 scientific articles, produced creative and digital learning tools, and psychosocial screening instruments that are used across the country. She is taking on the role of Professor of Wellbeing with the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre.

Nicki Watts
N watts

Nicki Watts is the Course Coordinator for our Bachelor of Midwifery program. Nicki is both a registered midwife and nurse and has extensive experience across clinical care, research and education.  Nicki has worked as a midwife since 1999 with experience across different models of midwifery care.  Nicki’s expertise is caring for women with a high-risk pregnancy and has been a key member of a multidisciplinary risk-associated pregnancy team coordinating individualised women’s care for women with high-risk morbidities.  Nicki has experience in both quantitative and qualitative research.  Nicki has worked as a research assistant for both quantitative and qualitative projects including recruitment, interviewing, coding, data analysis and writing for publication. Nicki is a peer reviewer for two peer-review journals and is keen to continue contributing to research outputs. Nicki has been in the university sector since 2012. She has diverse sector teaching experience having lectured in midwifery for three universities as well as a short teaching commitment in Cambodia.

Dr Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama

Dr Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama has recently joined the BOC CRE as a Senior Research Fellow. Lawurrpa will provide expertise in Indigenous (Yolgŋu) research methodology, Yolgŋu maternal, child health and wellbeing, Yolgŋu community engagement and the redesign of health services for the east Arnhem region and beyond. Lawurrapa has led and been involved in numerous research projects in education and community development.

Raisa Brozalevskaia

Raisa Brozalevskaia has joined BOC CRE as a Research Assistant. Raisa is a registered nurse and has worked in Galiwin’ku for a number of years, as a remote area nurse and most recently for the Red Cross Baby Hub. Raisa will assist Lawurrpa with the Galiwin’ku Birthing on Country redesign project and they have already hit the ground running.  

Dr Elaine Dietsch
Elaine Dietsch

Dr. Elaine has had the privilege of walking alongside and learning from women, students, and midwives (traditional and professional) in rural / remote Australia, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Her clinical work focused on midwifery, women’s and sexual health and in DRC, was linked to the findings from her PhD thesis, that participating women defined themselves in relation to the serious life traumas they had experienced.

Dr Clare Davison
Clare Davidson

Dr. Clare completed her nurse training in the UK in 1996, emigrating to Australia in 2001. She became a registered midwife in 2009 and found her passion. This led to Clare completing her Master of Philosophy in 2014 and PhD in 2019. Clare has worked as a midwifery lecturer since 2013, she has a background in clinical midwifery, specialising in supporting and promoting normal physiological birth. Clare’s research areas and interests are women and midwives’ qualitative research; the history of midwifery; physiological normal birth; water birth; home birth; feminism and midwifery.

Loris Muir
Loris Muir

Loris is a Research Assistant at the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre. She has a Bachelor of Nursing/Bachelor of Midwifery and completed a Graduate Certificate in Public Health in 2021. She will be working closely with Dr Sarah Ireland and A/Prof Suzanne Moore to provide secretariat support to the Birthing on Country project.

Rosalind Beadle
Rosalind Beadle

Following a five-year period of work and research in Warburton, Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Western Australia, in July 2019 I published a PhD thesis based on the worker experiences and perspectives of a group of Ngaanyatjarra women. The findings are used to provide policy recommendations for meaningful work engagement in remote Aboriginal communities. I have had extensive experience working in public health and community development in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and overseas, in both government and non-government organisations. My passion lies in taking a developmental approach to supporting community initiated and guided projects, participating in community-led participatory research, working closely with participants to develop culturally safe research practice, and developmental project evaluation. My family and I are very appreciative of the opportunity to live in Galiwinku and are so grateful to the people here for their warm welcome and willingness to share their culture and country with us.

Rosemary Gundjarranbuy
Rosemary Gundjarranbuy

Rosemary Gundjarraŋbuy is a Birthing on Country Research Fellow within the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre. She currently lives in Galiwin’ku and is a well respected person in the Garrawurra clan and the community. Gundjarranbuy has approximately 35 years experience in teaching at bilingual schools. She has also worked in community roles with elderly and disadvantaged youth. Her previous 10 year role at Yalu Aboriginal Corporation as Manager has provided Gundjarraŋbuy with the knowledge and experience of collaborating and engaging communities. During that time, she worked on a number of research and service delivery projects including 'Sharing the Full and True Stories about Chronic Conditions Project' which was in partnership with CDU, and projects relating to early childhood and engagement in higher education.

Australian Nurse Family Partnership Program National Support Service

Professor Sue Kruske

 National Director - Sue has contributed to health services in a variety of roles and settings including clinical, policy, education and  research. She has a  background in midwifery and child  health nursing and has worked most of her career in the area of First Nations maternal and child health. She provides strategic and operational leadership while ensuring the staff are well supported to achieve their operational responsibilities.

Research profile

Professor Juanita Sherwood
Juanita Sherwood

Curriculum Writer and First Nations Leadership, Maternal and ChildProfessor Juanita Sherwood is a proud First Nations Australian who has had enriched working opportunities over 40 years commencing with Nursing which ensured she grew a strong notion for equity and safety in health care. Her work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child health created a strong shift in knowledges within the health sector regarding Otitis Media and its impact on the life development of all children. Today she continues to be strongly involved in First Nation health research, and is one of the top five most productive researchers globally on the topic of decolonisation and her work has popularised the use of decolonising frameworks and praxes in teaching, research and health care across Australia. 

Professor Roianne West
Roianne West

Professor of Workforce Strategy - Professor Roianne West a descendent of the Kalkadoon and Djkunde Peoples. From 2016-2019  she was the Inaugural ANFPP Indigenous Nurse Clinical Advisor and sat on the ANFPP Leadership team. She will continue to provide leadership across the NSS and ensure the program is developed and delivered in a culturally safe way. She will also provide leadership in the Molly Centre and more broadly within the Faculty of Health at CDU. Professor West was previously the Inaugural Dean First Peoples Health at Griffith University, and current role is the Chief Executive Officer of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives.

Associate Professor Sandy Campbell
S campbell

Data Systems Manager – As an Aboriginal public health researcher with Masters (ANU) and PhD (UniSA) qualifications in epidemiology, Sandy was born on Mandandanji country. Her Indigenous ancestry follows her father’s family line. Sandy has a professional background in nursing and midwifery and her quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation skills are built on a foundation of providing clinical care and health promotion in Aboriginal communities in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Victoria.

Research profile

Associate Professor Cameron Hurst
Cameron Hurst

Biostatistician/Epidemiologist - Associate Professor Cameron Hurst’s research interests are in Biostatistics (Longitudinal observational studies, Clinical trials, Computational statistics, Multivariate and Machine learning classification, and Psychometrics) and Epidemiology (Chronic diseases, Mothers and Babies, Clinical epidemiology, Social epidemiology and Vector-borne diseases). He is both an experienced educator and researcher and over the course of his career has worked extensively across the full spectrum of health studies ranging from biomedical research through to clinical and population health studies. While primarily a methodologist, he has a particular passion for work in the area of chronic disease (esp. diabetes) in resource-limited health care settings and/or vulnerable populations.

Dr Rae Jones
R Jones

Senior Practitioner, Perinatal & Parenting - As a Perinatal Clinical Psychologist, Rae has worked with women and their children for the past 10 years. In addition to her research in the special care nursery, Rae has studied various wisdom traditions deeply and loves having conversations about the human spirit. Prior to moving to NSW in 2017, Rae worked with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in South East Qld for a few years.

Kym Cunningham
K Cunningham

Clinical Lead - Kym has spent the past 30 years as a Registered Nurse and has a passion for child and family nursing and nurse education. She has over nine years’ experience with the ANFPP in a range of roles and settings.  Kym is committed to supporting positive program outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families through dynamic education, staff retention, clinical supervision and strong leadership.

Nikki McGrady
N Mcgrady

Family Partership Work Educator & Cultural Consultant – Nikki is a proud descendant of the Gamiliaroi (Gomeroi) people of Toomelah northern NSW and has worked in various consultant and health roles throughout SE Queensland and NSW.  She is currently completing her Bachelor of Nursing and has a desire to work in child and maternal health.

Nickita Wylie
N Wylie

Nurse Consultant - Nickita Wylie is a proud South Sea Islander and Aboriginal woman with ancestral ties to Bundjalung country. She holds a Bachelor of Nursing and is passionate and highly experienced working in clinical settings for community, including supporting and caring for elders. In addition, Nickita taught Griffith University's First Peoples Health unit for six years. She combined her passion for nursing and education in her recent role as clinical facilitator. Nickita enjoys working with the ANFPP teams to ensure we achieve positive holistic outcomes for our families.

Quintina Cowell
Q Cowell

Program Administrator - Quintina is a proud Torres Strait Islander with a background in government and administration. She is bright, bubbly and very approachable. Quintina is passionate about the ANFPP and the role she plays in it.

Caitlin Wharton
Caitilin Wharton

Project Officer - Caitlin is a descendant from the Kooma Nation of Southwest Queensland, and recently graduated university with a Bachelor of Business. Marketing and graphic design are Caitlin’s focus areas with a special interest in Health Promotion, having worked in the area for the past two years. Caitlin is excited to bring her creative skills to the ANFPP team by helping them showcase their work in exciting new ways. 

Elfreda Tanna
Freda Tanna

Business Administration Trainee - Elfreda is a proud First Nations woman – her mother is Aboriginal and South Sea Islander from Hervey Bay and her father is Torres Strait Islander from Badu Island. She is a valued team member who is studying a Certificate IV in Business. Since joining the ANFPP, Elfreda has learned a great deal about the program. She is excited to continue to learn, develop her administration skills and ultimately pursue a career in business.

Sheringa Minniecon
Sheringa Minniecon

Program Administrator -  Sheringa Minniecon is a proud Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander woman. She is connected to Kabi Kabi, Goreng and Wiradjuri countries, and the Mualgal and Erub people from the Torres Strait Islands. Sheringa has a diverse range of administration experience and skills in the health field. As a great communicator, with deadly people, computer and organisational skills, Sheringa is looking forward to contributing to positive outcomes for ANFPP and her mob.

Boyd Potts

Senior Project Officer - Boyd specialises in inferential statistics and computational methods with an educational background in psychology and mathematics. He has experience in experimental and observational research settings including public health, suicide, domestic violence and learning analytics. An avid reader and enthusiast for methods of quantifying, explaining and understanding complex phenomena, Boyd contributes to the data management and analytical capabilities of the ANFPP team.

Jigar Patel
Jigar Patel

Data & Quality Analyst - Jigar's background is in banking, insurance and public health, and he specialises in data and business analytics. He holds a Bachelor of Computing Systems and a Diploma in Business. Jigar loves spending time with his daughter and finding ways to strengthen her self-empowerment and independence. He believes it's inspiring that women in recent times have been at the forefront of progress and change in society.


Nerida Grant
N Grant

Nurse, midwife & masters student, Nerida has worked since 2013 at Kirketon Road Centre, a primary health clinic in Sydney providing accessible and appropriate care to people who are marginalised from mainstream services. As a midwife, Nerida is committed to reclaiming birth for women. Nerida is excited to have recently started my Masters by Research with the team at MWRC, supporting the work of Waminda transforming maternity care for Aboriginal women and their families.

Luciana Massi
Luciana Massi

Luciana is passionate about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities and services. She is undertaking a PhD through the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, evaluating strengths-based programs to improve health and birthing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mums and babies.

A birthing tree and a safe place for growing healthy babies” Virtual 3MT Thesis Runner Up – Luciana Massi, PhD Candidate, MWRC, CDU


Birri O’Dea
B Odea

Birri O’Dea is a Kungalu and Birri-Gubba (Wiri) woman, with a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree and a background in business (MBA) that focussed on human resources and performance measurement and management.  Birri is currently undertaking her PhD at the Centre, focussing on improving family preservation and restoration for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have come in contact with child protective services during pregnancy.

Fleur Magick Dennis
Fleur MD

Nyimirr (Fleur) is a Wiradjuri and Ngemba/Wayilwan Woman.  Fleur has been actively involved in decolonisation with her peoples through her roles in the maintenance & revival of the Wiradjuri and Ngemba/Wayilwan languages, knowledges, cultures & spiritual practices including women's business and cultural birthing over the last 20 years. Fleur's PhD is exploring decolonisation of birthing and parenting practices by Aboriginal women. The research intends to support Waminda and all Aboriginal women to establish further evidence towards the importance of "Birthing On Country" models of care and practice for Aboriginal women in Australia.

Loretta Anderson
Loretta A

Loretta Anderson is currently undertaking her PhD at UQ focusing on reducing breastfeeding complications in mothers of preterm infants. Loretta is passionate about helping mothers breastfeed easily with evidence based knowledge and skill. Furthermore, reducing breastfeeding complications such as engorgement and mastitis to increase duration of breastfeeding. 

Mpho Dube
m dube

Midwife, educator & PhD Student, Mpho is a lecturer of midwifery in the Faculty of Health. Mpho has 15 years of clinical midwifery practice and has worked as a clinical midwife in Darwin and Africa. Mpho was born and raised in rural Zimbabwe and she migrated to Australia in 2006. Mpho attained her midwifery qualification at CDU and completed a Master of International Health degree with Curtin University. Mpho is passionate about women's empowerment and maternal health. 

Anvitaa Chadha
A Chadha

Anvitaa is a dentist with a Master’s in Health Services Administration and a keen interest in Health Economics and Health Policy. Anvitaa is currently undertaking a PhD at the Molly Wardaguga Research Centre, to conduct an economic evaluation of the Birthing in Our Country service and its long term benefits to the First Nations mums and bubs.

Breeanna Spring
Breeanna Spring Walsh

Clinical Research Coordinator at the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, Federation Office. RN / RM, MACN, MACM, Member of the HiPPP EMR-Collective. Adjunct Lecturer at James Cook University Townsville, College of Public Health, Medical & Veterinary Sciences, in the Public Health & Topical Medicine discipline. Extensive Flight Nurse experience throughout rural and remote Northern Australia. Critical Care Nursing & Midwifery background in ICU/CCU/HDU/NICCU. Passionate researcher in the remote, prehospital and aeromedical field. Previous research and current PhD topic aims to improve remote, prehospital, aeromedical maternal and neonatal outcomes.

Honorary Appointments

Associate Professor Donna Hartz
donna hartz

A descendent of the Kamilaroi (Gomeroi) nation, a nurse, a midwife and an educator, Donna has 34 years’ experience as a clinician, educator, lecturer, manager, consultant and researcher. She is currently the Associate Professor in Midwifery and Associate Dean Indigenous Leadership at the Faculty of Health at Charles Darwin University.  She is passionate about working with Communities to improve the well-being and future for our First Nation peoples.

Mel Briggs
M Briggs

Mel is an Aboriginal woman descending from the Gumbangirr and Dharawal nations. She lives in Wandandian country within the Yuin Nation. Having completed a Bachelor of Midwifery and Master of Primary Maternity Care, Mel is the Midwife and Birthing on Country Project Officer for the Waminda South Coast Women’s Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation. Mel is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of her people and is responsible for coordinating the Shoalhaven Birthing on Country model from a community perspective to ensure the community voices are being heard and put into practice.

Liz Wilkes
L wilkes

Liz has been a midwife since 1995 and has been in private practice for the past 16 years. Liz is well known for her lobbying and advocacy at all levels of government and she was in the first group of Medicare midwives in Australia.  Her main levels of acumen are in policy and business development.  She has an MBA from Griffith University. Liz is currently the Managing Director of My Midwives and her midwifery goal is to ensure that every woman in Australia has a midwife who she knows providing care in birth. Liz is passionate that every woman feels informed, safe, respected and cared for during this special time.

Professor Sally Tracy
S Tracy

Sally Tracy is the Professor of Midwifery at the University of Sydney and conjoint Professor of Midwifery, School of Women's and Children's Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW. She has published widely on the epidemiology of preterm birth; birth centre care; admission to neonatal care and the safety of midwifery group practice and stand-alone maternity units. Educated in midwifery in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, Sally was awarded the world’s first professional doctorate in midwifery in 2003. She was one of 15 clinicians across Australia appointed to the inaugural Clinical Advisory Committee of the national Independent Hospital Pricing Authority of Australia. 

Professor Lesley Barclay

Emeritus Professor Lesley Barclay AO began her career as a midwife but recently has become known an educator, health services researcher and systems reformer. Her work has improved maternal child health services in urban and remote Australia and internationally. Professor Barclay has led NHMRC and ARC grants with many being rural, remote or Indigenous focussed.

Associate Professor Nigel Lee
N Lee

Nigel is a midwifery researcher and lecturer. Prior to his academic appointment he had 30 years of clinical practice working in metropolitan and regional hospitals around Australia and the United Kingdom. He completed his PhD in 2013, researching sterile water injection techniques for the management of back pain in labour. His research into the use of water injections to relieve pain in labour continues alongside studies into supporting physiological labour and birth.

Associate Professor Robyn Thompson
R thompson

Associate Professor Robyn Thompson is an experienced midwife, family, child and maternal health nurse MCaFHN, breastfeeding specialist and was awarded a PhD for her research into why so many women were experiencing painful nipple trauma in the early postnatal period. Thousands of women and their babies have experienced the benefits of her gentle and intuitive method of breastfeeding known as The Thompson Method. She is a midwife called upon by midwives and has been influential in helping women all over the world strengthen their resolve in themselves and their instinctive skills.

Professor Nicky Leap
n leap

Professor Nicky was a youth and community worker in England before becoming a midwife in 1980. She moved to Australia in 1997 and worked with others on a range of initiatives, including the development of: the initial three-year Bachelor of Midwifery programs; community based midwifery continuity of care; group antenatal care; and national standards for midwifery education and practice. Nicky has published widely on a range of topics related to promoting positive experiences of childbirth for women their families, and communities.

Professor Pat Brodie
Pat Brodie

Patis a well-known midwifery leader committed to building midwifery capacity and strengthening the profession globally. She is recognised for her enduring efforts in implementing models of midwifery continuity of care. A previous president of the Australian College of Midwives and a founding member of the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund – a charity committed to enhancing the Indigenous midwifery workforce and 'Closing the Gap' in health outcomes for Indigenous mothers and babies.