2021 National Congress Canberra speakers

Confirmed speakers and panel members include: more speakers to be announced!

Keynote speaker: Verna Yiu, MD, FRCPC | President and CEO, Alberta Health Services

An accomplished leader in the academic and healthcare sectors, Dr. Verna Yiu has been involved in public sector governance for over two decades. She is currently the President and CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS), Canada’s first and largest province-wide health system providing integrated care to more than 4.3 million Albertans. AHS has been recognized as a national and international leader in many clinical and administrative areas including: being named as one of the top 5 most integrated healthcare systems out of 40 countries, having one of the top 3 best health supply chain management systems in the world, and awarded one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers for four consecutive years.

Dr. Yiu is guided by the principle that healthcare is a people business, built upon strong and collaborative relationships. Creating the stability and vision that people and organizations need to succeed, strengthened within the objectives of Quadruple Aim, have been hallmarks of her governance style – first in her role as Interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta and now in her current role. Since taking the reins of AHS in January 2016, Dr. Yiu has strengthened relationships with AHS’ many partners, including government; academic institutions; health foundations; the AHS workforce; patients, clients and families; and communities across Alberta. By doing so, AHS has bolstered community engagement, collaborated on world-class research, led the country in many health performance indicators and met budget targets – all with the most efficient and leanest healthcare administrations in Canada.

Dr. Yiu previously served as Vice President, Quality and Chief Medical Officer in AHS from 2012-2016. Prior to the role of Interim Dean in 2011, she was Vice-Dean for the Faculty of Medicine/Dentistry from 2008-2011 and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs from 2000-2008. She has won numerous awards for teaching and clinical excellence and also chaired the Specialty of Nephrology for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada for 6 years. Dr. Yiu is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Alberta and continues to practice as a pediatric nephrologist.

Keynote speaker: Jeffrey Braithwaite, PhD, FIML, FCHSM, FFPHRCP, FAcSS, Hon FRACMA, FAHMS

Professor Braithwaite is Founding Director of the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Director of the Centre for Healthcare Resilience and Implementation Science, and Professor of Health Systems Research, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He has appointments at six other universities internationally, and he is a board member and President Elect of the International Society for Quality in Health Care (ISQua) and consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO).

His research examines the changing nature of health systems, which has attracted funding of more than AUD $137 million. He is particularly interested in health care as a complex adaptive system and applying complexity science to health care problems.

Professor Braithwaite has contributed over 500 refereed publications and has presented at international and national conferences on more than 950 occasions, including 104 keynote addresses. His research appears in journals such as The BMJ, JAMA, The Lancet, Social Science &  edicine, BMJ Quality and Safety, and the International Journal for Quality in Health Care. He has received over 45 different national and international awards for his teaching and research.  

Keynote speaker: Rob Edwards OAM

Rob Edwards, has a Bachelor of Science with majors in Anatomy & Physiology. He has been a company director for 20 years in the health and well-being industry where he designed and delivered staff development programs for hundreds organizations.
Prior to that he worked for five years in a cardiac rehabilitation program where he wrote the internationally distributed book "Better Blood Pressure". 
He has diverse experience working with people at all levels of business, cardiac patients, young offenders, elite athletes and remote island communities.
Rob received an Order of Australia Medal this year for his charity work.  He founded Its Time Foundation that installs solar power in remote Pacific island schools so, those kids can have a modern education.  He also founded Plastic Free Oceans and the Sustainable Social platform. 
Rob’s focus is simply to encourage people to take a brief time out in their busy lives to consider their most important asset - themselves.  And to get you thinking about sustainable actions that you can do so you have a long and high quality life.  

We can’t look after other people unless we look after ourselves first.  That’s why the session is called “It’s All About You”. 

Keynote speaker: Dr Ben Hamer

Dr Ben Hamer is one of Australia's leading work futurists. He drives the Future of Work agenda at PwC and, in this capacity, spent time seconded to the World Economic Forum heading up critical projects on the future of work, skills, and education.

Ben has a Doctorate of Public Administration, which included time spent as a Visiting Scholar at Yale University, and is an Adjunct Fellow with the Centre for the New Workforce at Swinburne University. Ben has featured in numerous publications providing expert commentary on the Future of Work, including The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, WA Today, and on the ABC.
 

 

Panel members: 

Professor Tracy Smart AO, Air Vice-Marshal (Ret.) 
BMBS, MPH, MA, Dip AvMed, FRACMA, FACAsM, FAsMA, FCDSS, FACHSM (Hon)  
Professor, Military and Aerospace Medicine/Public Health Lead - COVID Response Office; Australian National University

Professor Smart is a physician, health leader, and retired Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) senior officer. During 35 years of service, Professor Smart served in tactical, operational and strategic roles, on overseas deployments, and was Surgeon General of the ADF from 2015 to 2019. She transferred to the RAAF Reserve in 2020.  

Professor Smart’s current roles at the ANU include provision of public health guidance to ensure a COVID-safe, responsive and resilient ANU, and contributing to the development of the University’s Space Medicine program. In addition to these roles she is: Public Health Advisor and a Mental Health Steering Group member, Australian Football League (AFL); a Member, Australian Space Agency’s Technical Advisory Group - Space Medicine & Life Sciences; President, Australasian College of Aerospace Medicine; Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne; and Strategic Advisor – LGBTI Inclusion, Department of Defence.

Professor Smart was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2012 and an Officer of the Order of Australian in the 2019 Queens’ Birthday Honours List. 

Professor (Practice) Alison J McMillan
Alison McMillan commenced as the Australian Government Department of Health’s Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in November 2019.

Alison is a Registered Nurse with a Critical Care Nursing Certificate, a Bachelor Degree in Education, a Master of Business Administration and was awarded a National Emergency Medal in recognition of service following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. She is an experienced executive manager with more than 30 years’ experience across the public health system. Alison has held senior executive roles in government and health services within Victoria including the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and Director of Quality, Safety and Patient Experience.

Alison is a member of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee contributing to key advice provided to the National Cabinet during the COVID-19 pandemic and, as Co-Chair of the Infection Control Expert Group providing advice and information on best practice on infection prevention and control in the community, hospitals, aged care, schools and community sport.

Alison has been a part of a team providing communication to the community, which is clear, honest, and compassionate. In February 2020, Alison was the nurse team leader for an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) deployed to repatriate Australian’s from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship in Japan.

Alison has collaborated with state and territory Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers and other key stakeholders including the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Australian College of Nursing, Australian College of Midwives and Australian College of Critical Care Nurses to ensure sufficient nursing and midwifery capability and capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.