HEAL 2022 Conference Website
HEAL Conference

HEAL 2022

Transformational Change for Environmental, Planetary, and Human Health

Environmental and climate change, accelerated by human activities, is degrading the quality of air, soil, water and food, and posing a significant threat to human health. More frequent and intense extreme weather events are directly harming human health and impairing delivery of healthcare by disrupting emergency medical and hospital services and medical supply chains. Rising sea levels are disrupting water and food resources, local economies and infrastructure in coastal Australia and its neighbours, increasing migration and posing health security risks. Increasing temperatures and extreme weather are affecting mental health and wellbeing, food systems, occupational health and labour productivity. Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19 are increasing globally and impacting severely on human health. Environmental change drives disease transmission dynamics and is influenced by urbanisation, climate change and extreme weather, changes in farming practices, deforestation and biodiversity loss. Unevenly distributed in Australia, these risks create new inequities and exacerbate existing ones between urban and rural populations, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians.

While environmental and climate change pose great challenges to health, there is great potential for well-targeted mitigation and adaptation policies to reduce environmental impacts, protect and improve human health, build health system and community resilience, and progress towards a healthier, fairer and more sustainable world. This involves urban, rural and remote health interventions that strengthen the resilience of communities, and the health sector in particular, to environmental change.

Respectful integration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and Western concepts of health and related knowledge systems is essential to this effort, recognising that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander concepts of health holistically encompass connection to culture, family, language, community, and Country.

The objective of the HEAL 2022 Conference is to provide an inspirational forum for knowledge transfer, scientific debate, and community-wide conversations about research and policy priority setting on human health, climate and environmental change solutions in Australia.

Expected outcomes include a transformational vision statement and policy briefing on human health and environmental change research, enhanced community engagement, articles to be published as special issue in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and collaborative and co-designed research projects and funding applications.

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Organising Committee

Australian Capital Territory

Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis (Conference Co-Chair), Australian National University

Sotiris Vardoulakis is a Professor of Global Environmental Health at the Australian National University, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. He is the Director of the Healthy Environments And Lives (HEAL) network, and co-leads the International Consortium for Urban Environmental Health and Sustainability (Healthy-Polis), and the Clean Environment and Planetary Health in Asia (CEPHA) network. Previously he was Director of Research at the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh, and Head of the Environmental Change Department at Public Health England. His work focuses on sustainable solutions to protect human health from climate change, air pollution, temperature extremes, and other environmental and occupational hazards.

Daniela Espinoza Oyarce (Conference Coordinator), Australian National University

Daniela Espinoza Oyarce is a Senior Project Office of the HEAL Network and a researcher at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health and a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing. She was awarded a Master of Neuroscience at The Australian National University with a multidisciplinary thesis in neuroscience and immunology.

Dr Michael Tong, Australian National University

Michael Tong is a Research Fellow in Environment, Climate and Health Group at the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. He is an experienced medical science and public health researcher with a strong background in environmental epidemiology and climate change. His research and consultancy work has focused on risk assessment, heatwave, healthcare cost evaluation, health system capacity building, public and community health promotion, and vulnerable population health research in the context of climate change.

Dr Nigel Goodman, Australian National University

Dr Nigel Goodman is a Research Fellow in Air Quality and Health in the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU. His research aims to improve indoor and outdoor air quality, and ultimately public health. Nigel completed his PhD in Infrastructure Engineering at the University of Melbourne in 2019. Prior to his academic career, Nigel worked at CSIRO where he collaborated with partners from industry, government, and academia. He has published journal articles on topics that include air quality, volatile organic compounds, electrochemistry, desalination, water recycling, and pollutant exposures and effects. Nigel has helped secure many successful research proposals, including nationally competitive funding from The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Assistant Professor Ro McFarlane, University of Canberra

Rosemary (Ro) McFarlane is an Assistant Professor in Public Health at the University of Canberra. She has significant experience and expertise at the interface between health, biodiversity, environmental sustainability and food production. Her unique perspectives derive in part from her initial training as a Veterinarian, and direct hands-on experience in primary production and natural and cultural resource management in marginal climatic and agronomic regions. Her research explores health linkages with biodiversity and in ecosystem service frameworks, zoonotic disease ecology, sustainable food systems and food system resilience.

New South Wales

Associate Professor Veronica Matthews (Conference Co-Chair), University Centre for Rural Health

Dr Veronica Matthews from the Quandamooka community is a Senior Research Fellow at the University Centre for Rural Health, The University of Sydney. Her work centres on improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander holistic health care systems (including environmental health) through quality improvement, systems-thinking and community-based participatory research. She co-leads the Centre for Research Excellence in Strengthening Systems for Indigenous Health Care Equity, a multi-jurisdictional network of service providers, policy-makers and researchers working to embed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and methodologies into inter-sectoral, quality improvement research to address social and emotional wellbeing and the determinants of health.

Professor Alexandra Barratt, University of Sydney

Alexandra Barratt is Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, a medical doctor, epidemiologist and health services researcher. She is leading Wiser Healthcare’s research to mitigate healthcare carbon footprint and move towards zero carbon healthcare (www.wiserhealthcare.org.au/wiser-carbon-neutral/). Major reductions in the carbon footprint of clinical care will be needed to achieve emissions targets but the evidence base to make these changes safely and effectively is lacking. Wiser Carbon Neutral research aims to fill this evidence gap. Alex has a longstanding interest in promoting science to the community and has won two Australian Museum Eureka prizes for medical reporting.

Associate Professor Ying Zhang, University of Sydney

Doctor Ying Zhang is Associate Professor at School of Public Health, University of Sydney. She is an epidemiologist and a dedicated researcher and educator on climate change and global health. Ying is the Co-Chair of the MJA-Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change for Australia, which produces annual reports to track progress on health and climate change in the country until 2030. Ying is the Convenor of the Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration. Ying is also keen on promoting research translation and policy advocacy to address health and climate change issues.

Associate Professor Geoff Morgan, University Centre for Rural Health

Associate Professor Morgan has a joint appointment with the Sydney School of Public Health and University Centre for Rural Health and has more than 25 years’ experience in epidemiological research, environmental health policy, and education. His research specialises in the use of state of the art biostatistical and geographical information techniques applied to routinely collected health data linked to socio-demographic and environmental risk factors. His current work includes epidemiological studies into health effects of smoke including bushfires and wood heaters; health effects of climate including extreme events such as heatwaves; and the relationship between the built environment and health.

Dr Kristen Pickles, University of Sydney

Dr Kristen Pickles is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Wiser Healthcare collaboration and Sydney Health Literacy Lab at The University of Sydney's School of Public Health. Her research focuses on understanding human and system-level complexities driving low value care and overdiagnosis. Kristen has training in public health and psychology and expertise in qualitative research methods. Her current projects involve co-designing behavioural interventions with clinicians and consumers that support more sustainable care delivery, with the end goal being to motivate a shift in clinical choices towards carbon neutral healthcare.

Professor Philip Hansbro, University of Technology Sydney

Professor Hansbro is the Director of the Centre for Inflammation, Centenary Institute and University of Technology Sydney, conjoint Professor in the Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs at the Hunter Medical Research Institute and University of Newcastle, and an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow. Professor Hansbro has established internationally recognised programs in infections, COPD, asthma, IPF, and lung cancer. His group has developed several novel mouse models of COPD, severe, steroid-insensitive asthma, early life infection and lung cancer to substantially further our understanding of pathogenesis and to develop novel therapies. He performs complimentary collaborative clinical and multi-disciplinary studies and collaborates widely.

Dr Keshav Paudel, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Keshav Paudel is an early career researcher working in the field of chronic respiratory disease, exploring the disease progression and pharmacological activity of drugs on disease models (in vivo and in vitro) like lung cancer, asthma, and COPD using the molecular, immunological, and biochemical assay. He has an interest in exploring the cell signalling pathways of inflammatory disorders. As a postdoctoral researcher he is leading the Australian government-funded MRFF-2020 bushfire project “Defining and treating the physiological effects of bushfire smoke”, funded to Prof Philip Hansbro. The bushfire project is further funded by Triple I CAG and TSANZ grant-in-aid.

Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng, University of New South Wales

Doctor Xiaoqi Feng is the Associate Professor in Urban Health and Environment in the School of Population Health, University of New South Wales, Australia and Founding Co-Director of PowerLab (www.powerlab.site). She has authored >160 publications, led major research projects and successfully translated her research into policy and practice. Xiao has won multiple research awards (e.g., Parks and Leisure Australia National Research Award). Xiao’s research has informed council urban greening strategies (e.g., Greening Sydney Strategy). Internationally, she is an elected council member and education committee chair for the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Asia-Western Pacific Chapter (ISEE AWPC).

Dr Thava Palanisami, Newcastle University

Dr Palanisami is an Associate Professor at the School of Engineering at the University of Newcastle with a PhD on the risk assessment and remediation of mixed contaminants. His research changed the decades-long assumption that chemicals in contaminated sites occur as single contaminants and demonstrated that they occur as mixtures instead, with chemical mixtures of PAHs and metals having higher toxicity and more bioavailability. Dr Palanisami and colleagues have led the first field level implementation of a Risk-Based Land Management approach to managing contaminated sites in Australia, which has significant implications for paradigm change in risk assessment and management.


Professor Rebecca Bentley, University of Melbourne

Dr Rebecca Bentley is a Professorial Research Fellow in Social Epidemiology, Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Healthy Housing and the leader of the Healthy Housing Research Unit in the Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. Over the past 15 years, Rebecca has developed a research program exploring the role of housing and residential location in shaping health and wellbeing in Australia. This research has a particular focus on housing affordability, tenure and their measurable effects on individual health and wellbeing.

Professor Iain Walker, University of Melbourne

Professor Iain Walker is a social psychologist with broad interests in social and environmental sustainability and in social justice. His research focuses on understanding processes of social and environmental change, with a broader aim of developing a better understanding of the interplay between theory and practice. His goal is to join analyses of ecosystems, social systems, and egosystems to enhance social and environmental sustainability within and across those systems. Consistent with this, his research has increasingly been done in interdisciplinary contexts and appears in interdisciplinary outlets. He currently leads an MRFF-funded project on psychological distress and resilience following the 2019-20 bushfires, is involved in ongoing work on public understanding of climate change and mobilising pro-environmental behaviour, and is co-leads the Science Communication theme within the HEAL Network.

Dr Nicola Willand, RMIT

Dr Nicola Willand is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Property, Construction and Project Management and a member of the Sustainable Building Innovation Laboratory and the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT University, Melbourne. She is an interdisciplinary researcher whose profile represents the coalescence of housing, equity and the social, health and building sciences. Her research focuses on how housing and health outcomes are shaped by the intersection of dwelling quality, householder practices and the structural, geographical and social contexts. Her multi-method research brings together qualitative insights into lived experiences with quantitative assessments of health and the built environment.

Dr Claire Henderson-Wilson, Deakin University

Claire Henderson-Wilson is a Senior Lecturer in health sciences / planetary health within the School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University. She co-leads the Health, Nature, Sustainability Research Group and Human Health and Environmental Change domain within the Sustainable Health Network. Claire is involved in both completing and supervising a number of projects investigating the health benefits of contact with nature and in recent years, her research has predominantly focused on the health and wellbeing benefits of community garden participation, the role of animals in enhancing health and wellbeing and the links between climate change and mental health.


Professor Fay Johnston, University of Tasmania

Professor Fay Johnston is an environmental health researcher from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research and is a medical advisor for Public Health Services in the Tasmanian Department of Health. Prof Johnston has specialist qualifications in public health and general practice, and a PhD in environmental epidemiology. Her research focuses on public health and clinical impact of smoke from bushfires and planned burns, long-term health implications of early-life exposure to severe air pollution and interventions to reduce public health impacts of severe smoke episodes. Prof Johnston led the development of AirRater, the world’s first air quality and allergy monitoring system.

Dr Stefania Ondei, University of Tasmania

Dr Stefania Ondei is an Associate Research Fellow in Pyrogeography and Landscape Change at the University of Tasmania. Her research investigates historical vegetation changes and the impact of altered fire regimes on biodiversity and threatened vegetation communities. Her work has contributed to implement land management strategies in some of the most fire-prone areas of northern Australia. She is now focusing on combining information on plant flammability and climate to support the management of natural habitats and the design of fire-safe gardens.

South Australia

Professor Craig Williams, University of South Australia

Craig Williams is UniSA Dean of Programs (Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences): Clinical and Health Sciences. Throughout his academic career of more than 20 years Craig has combined skills in education and communication with research studying the interface between environmental and public health. This academic work has been recognised through South Australian Young Scientist of the Year (2007), IgNobel Prize in Biology (2005, for science that makes you laugh, then think), and Commonwealth Office of Learning and Teaching (OLT) Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning (2013) awards. Craig teaches undergraduate courses and conducts research on citizen science and public health.

Professor Erica Donner, University of South Australia

Professor Erica Donner is an environmental scientist with expertise in chemical and microbiological related risk assessment and management, and specialises in systems based contaminants analysis in relation to (waste)water, recycled water, irrigation and food production systems, and wildlife habitat. Her current work investigates the links between chemical selective pressure and microbial ecology and resistance to understand the environmental dimensions of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and how pollution promotes AMR development and spread. Professor Donner is the Director of Industry Partnerships, co-lead of the One Health Science stream for the OUTBREAK consortium, and Chief Investigator in the international JPI AMR ‘WAWES’ network.

Associate Professor Carmel Williams, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute

Associate Professor Carmel Williams is Director of the Centre for HiAP Research Translation based in South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Co-Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Advancing Health in All Policies. Carmel has overseen the establishment and sustainability of South Australia’s Health in All Policies approach and led numerous collaborative projects on the social and environmental determinants of health, drawing research, policy and practice together to deliver evidence informed public policy outcomes. Carmel has earned the honorary academic status of Associate Professor with the University of South Australian and the University of Adelaide.

Western Australia

Dr Brad Farrant, Telethon Kids Institute

Dr Brad is a Senior Research Fellow and Co-Head of the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing team at Telethon Kids Institute. Brad’s research focuses on the importance of early childhood development and how to connect this to strengths of Aboriginal people and culture. He also has a strong interest in how climate change and other ecological factors interact to affect children’s development now and into the future.

Jamie Yallup Farrant, Climate Justice Union WA

Jaime (she/her) lives and works on the lands of the Wadjuk people of the Bibbulmun Nation. With a strong focus on decolonisation and justice, Jaime is bringing her experience of 20 years as a community development practitioner facilitating cultural change and transformation to the challenges of the climate crisis through Climate Justice Union. CJU is a member based organisation working to restore a stable climate while taking care of people and place. Jaime's specialist skills include collaborating with people and facilitating processes which centre the lived experience of those who are often deliberately silenced and marginalised.

Professor Nanthi Bolan, University of Western Australia

Dr Nanthi is Professor of Soil Science at the University of Western Australia with research interests including soil health, contamination and remediation, and greenhouse gas emission. Professor Bolan is a Fellow of American Soil Science Society, American Society of Agronomy and New Zealand Soil Science Society and was awarded the Communicator of the Year award by the New Zealand Institute of Agricultural Sciences and the Massey University Research Medal for excellence in postgraduate students’ supervision. He has published more than 450 book chapters and journal papers and is one of Web of Science Highly cited researchers for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Professor Peter Le Souef, University of Western Australia

Dr Peter Le Souëf is Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Western Australia, and an academic scientist/paediatric respiratory and global health physician. He has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers, and given more than 280 invited presentations at international scientific meetings, universities and institutes in 46 different countries. His research has included many aspects of global child health involving collaborations in six continents. Over the last six years, he has developed a major research interest in ‘environmental change and future child health’, focusing on the influences of the deteriorating environment and increases in population on past, present and future child health.

Dr Raewyn Mutch, University of Western Australia

Raewyn is a Ngāi Tahu, Kāi Tahu. Raewyn is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Universities of Western Australia and Curtin, is a Research Associate at Telethon Kids Institute and invited faculty for the Harvard Program for Refugee Trauma, Global Mental Health, Trauma and Recovery, HMS of CME. Raewyn is a specialist paediatrician in (i) general paediatrics, (ii) respiratory medicine, and (iii) in the chapter for community and developmental paediatrics. Raewyn is appointed to Perth Children’s Hospital in General Paediatrics and Refugee and Asylum-Seeker Health. Raewyn works with culturally and linguistically diverse families, considering place, culture, social determinants, neurodevelopment, rights and justice. Raewyn’s track record includes research, research translation through publication, conference, workshop, teaching and yarning, clinical resource development for professional development across disciplines, invited for national and international advocacy and research collaboration, supervision and teaching. 

Dr Ivan Hanigan, Curtin University

Dr Hanigan is a senior lecturer in Health Impacts of Climate Change at Curtin University School of Population Health and leads WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health Impact Assessment (http://ehia.curtin.edu.au/). Dr Hanigan completed an NH&MRC fellowship with the Centre for Air pollution, Energy and Health Research, and applies a multidisciplinary approach to data science and drives his research into understanding health impacts of air pollution, socio-economic disadvantage, and extreme weather events. Dr Hanigan has experience in integration of health, social and environmental data which involves reconciling large and complex ecological datasets with information from health and socio-economic or population domains.

Associate Professor Alexander Larcombe, Telethon Kids Institute

Associate Professor Larcombe is Head of the Respiratory Environmental Health Team at the Telethon Kids Institute. His research focusses on increasing our understanding of how environmental factors impact lung growth, development and function. In recent years, his work has primarily focussed on electronic cigarettes, biodiesel exhaust and the effects of climate change on respiratory health.

Rebecca Watkinson, Telethon Kids Institute

Rebecca L Watkinson is a PhD student at the Wal-Yan Respiratory Research Centre, Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia’s Medical School. She is currently in her third year of candidature. Rebecca’s research involves investigating the effect of rhinovirus –C on airway epithelial cells derived from children with acute wheezing illness. Rhinovirus –C is associated with up to 80% of paediatric hospitalisations with acute wheeze. However, the reason for this is unknown. Rebecca found a passion for Asthma Research after completing an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology, and Honours in Respiratory Pharmacology.

Associate Professor Richard Norman, Curtin University

Associate Professor Richard is a Health Economist, based at Curtin University’s School of Population Health. He has ongoing interests in economic evaluation, quality of life, longitudinal data analysis, and measuring community attitudes towards different policy options. His work has been widely disseminated through both academic and non-academic pathways. He serves on the Economics Sub-Committee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. He is a former NHMRC Early Career Fellow, and is a recent awardee of the Western Australian Young Tall Poppy Science Award.

Northern Territory

Professor Alan Cass, Menzies School of Health Research

Professor Alan Cass is Director of Menzies School of Health Research, member of Governing Council and Management Committee for Central Australia Academic Health Sciences Network and Deputy Chair NT Clinical Senate. A clinician-researcher, he works to prevent and manage chronic disease and improve Aboriginal health and wellbeing, exploring innovative models of care for people living in remote areas and social and environmental determinants of kidney health. Professor Cass was President of ANZ Society of Nephrology (2014-16); Chair of Australian MBS Review Renal Clinical Committee (2016-17); Director of Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (2012-17); and Board Director Top End Area Health Services (2015-17).

Associate Professor Linda Ford, Charles Darwin University

Associate Professor Linda Payi Ford is a Senior Research Fellow at the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University in the College of Indigenous Futures, Education and Arts. She underpins her theoretical approach to projects with her Mirrwana and Wurrkama (2005) methodology to Indigenous research practice and theory across multiple disciplinary fields. Payi is a Rak Mak Mak Marranunggu Traditional Aboriginal Owner from Kurrindju. Ford’s Country is Kurrindju in the Finniss River and Reynold River regions southwest of Darwin. Ford balances her academic research career, teaching, and learning in higher education, family and caring for Country, threatened Aboriginal languages and culture.

Dr Supriya Mathew, Menzies School of Health Research

Dr Supriya Mathew is a multi-disciplinary researcher, specialising in mixed methods research at the Menzies School of Health Research. Her doctoral research developed a climate adaptation decision-making framework for local governments in India and Australia, a MS Excel based decision-making tool used by local governments’ nationally and internationally to prioritize adaptation options for extreme weather events. Her overall research interest is to address the gap between climate sciences and adaptation decision-making in rural and remote Australia. She currently leads the ‘Air in Alice’ project that aims to crowdsource air quality and temperature data in Alice Springs to improve environmental health surveillance.


Professor Cordia Chu, Griffith University

Professor Cordia Chu AM, Director, Centre for Environment and Population Health, Griffith University, has a background in medical anthropology and sociology with expertise in ecological public health, reproductive health, risk communication and community participation, health-promotion, and integrated health planning. An international consultant actively facilitating the development of healthy cities, hospitals and workplaces in many Asia-Pacific countries, her recent focus has been on building a research consortium for global health security, One Health, disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and sustainable development. She has graduated 48PHDs, published over 220 articles and book chapters, and presented over 80 conference keynote addresses.

Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Kerrie Mengersen is a Distinguished Professor in Statistics at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. She is the Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Mathematical Frontiers and the Director of the QUT Centre for Data Science. Kerrie is also an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a member of the Statistical Society of Australia and the IMS, ASA, RSS, ISBA and ISI. Her research focuses on Bayesian models and computational methods, and their application to challenging problems in health, the environment and industry.

Professor Wenbiao Hu, Queensland University of Technology

Professor Wenbiao Hu is an Environmental Epidemiologist and former Australian Research Council Fellow at School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia. Prof. Hu is the director of Australia-China Centre for Public Health, QUT. His research interests are on infectious disease ecology and epidemiology. He is a reviewer for prestigious journals including Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Lancet Planetary Health and PloS Med. His program of research focuses on developing early warning system of infectious diseases based on socio-ecological factors and big data.

Dr Aiden Price, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Aiden Price is a research associate in the Centre for Data Science, working as a project manager on the AusEnHealthProject: a national environmental health strategic planning digital twin. Aiden’s research is currently focused on spatial and temporal analyses of environmental and population health data, identifying the impact of bushfires on human health, and conservation-focused work through the lens of aesthetics in the Antarctic Peninsula.

Associate Professor Nicholas Osborne, University of Queensland

Professor Nicholas Osborne is an epidemiologist and toxicologist with research interests in using environmental epidemiology to examine aetiology and pathological pathways of disease. His current research includes using eDNA as a novel measure of exposure to pollen and biodiversity in the landscape and linkages to health outcomes including atopic disease. Professor Osborne has been Chief Investigator on grants from a range of funding bodies in the UK and US, and continues to collaborate on a range of projects with colleagues including DNA barcoding grass pollen and hospital admissions, effect of pollen and traffic pollution, and solar irradiance and bone health.