Our Team

The Core Team
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Amy Dawes

Co-Founder, CEO, Director

In 2017, Amy launched the Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA), she has established a for-purpose organisation focused on the recognition and understanding of birth-related trauma.

With a multi-disciplinary advisory group of clinicians, Amy has developed the resources and strategies to better prevent, diagnose and effectively manage birth-related trauma.

Amy’s understanding of the issues many birthing families face, has come from her own experience with the forceps delivery of her first child. Amy’s vision is to make the invisible, visible and is passionate about educating health professionals about trauma-informed practice, so to continue driving change in current maternity practices in Australia and New Zealand.

Amy is a proud member of the RANZCOG Informed Birth working group and The Caesarean Delivery at Maternal Request working party. 

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Christine Pistone

Company Secretary & Projects

Christine is mum to her boisterous son who was born in 2014. As a result of her birth-related injuries, she discovered ABTA and joined the team in 2019 as a volunteer supporting project development. She has recently completed the AICD Company Directors course and was appointed as Company Secretary in 2020. Christine holds a Diploma of Financial Services with over 20 years experience in insurance and management. Christine is passionate about the prevention of birth trauma and her vision is to use her experience to help drive change on how information is delivered to women pre, during and post-childbirth. 
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Currently Recruiting

Volunteer Coordinator

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Rhiannon Pohlman

Marketing Assistant/Peer

Facilitator

Rhiannah is a mum of two boys, who’s births did not go to plan. She experienced birth trauma both times, both physically and psychologically. Her first birth resulted in a fourth-degree tear and her second was an emergency c-section. Postpartum she experienced incontinence, a fistula, PTSD, postnatal depression and anxiety.

Rhiannah has overcome her traumatic birth experiences and now puts her energy into advocating for women in the birth, pregnancy and postpartum space, both with ABTA as a Peer Support Mentor & as a Naturopath helping women through their trauma and their postpartum experiences.

She has huge goals to revolutionise the way women experience pregnancy and birth to prevent trauma, postnatal depression & anxiety in the first place. Rhiannah doesn’t want other women to feel the way she did in the depths of her trauma and this motivates her to continue sharing her story, so other women know they’re not alone.

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Brendan Lonergan

Finance Manager

Following his and his wife’s experience with birth related trauma Brendan reached out to the ABTA to offer his help in any way he could. He brings skills and experience in financial bookkeeping which is an essential role within the ABTA. When asked what he would like in his bio he simply said 

“Louise’s Dad, ABTA’s new Finance Manager”

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Mary Graham

Program Coordinator

Mary is the coordinator of ABTA’s peer support program, Peer2Peer Meets, a program designed to be a mother’s group for women that have experienced birth related trauma.  Mary has a Bachelor of Public Health and is passionate about health promotion, health advocacy and consumer engagement.

During her first pregnancy Mary developed severe pre-eclampsia and went on to have a traumatic emergency c-section, after her own experience of post-natal depression and PTSD she joined the ABTA community to seek support. Mary began volunteering with the team at the beginning of 2022 and is grateful for the opportunity to support other parents and families who have experienced birth trauma. 

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William Teng

Website Digital Analyst

We are so grateful to have Will volunteer his time for this role. The information he will provide will be priceless in this web based world. Here is a little about Will.

“I’m a STEM enthusiast, if it means coding up programs to order me UberEats or building robots from junk that shoot playing cards – I’m your guy! And if you want to see any of my creations, hop on over to my YouTube channel! (https://www.youtube.com/c/WilpoMillow/videos)”

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Lisa Griffith

Social Media

Lisa is passionate about supporting people with birth-related trauma, having experienced two traumatic births of her own. With a background in marketing and communications, Lisa plays a cruical role in managing ABTA’s social media accounts. 

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Laura Hewitt

Advocacy

Laura discovered the ABTA when seeking support for the psychological birth trauma she encountered with the birth of her daughter in 2019. She joined the volunteer team in 2021 in an advocacy role, whilst also supporting the ABTA’s development and review of materials for clinicians and consumers. Laura has a clinical background, practicing as a physiotherapist for over a decade in tertiary health services before taking up roles within government which focus on improving quality and safety in healthcare. Laura is passionate about improving the healthcare system to prevent the occurrence of birth trauma, as well as providing better support for women and families who have experienced birth trauma.

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Gabby Beard

Partnerships and Advocacy

Gabby came across the work of the ABTA after experiencing a traumatic birth with her first child. Passionate about making changes to better support birthing women and families and reducing the trauma that can go along with giving birth, Gabby reached out to ABTA to see how she could contribute to their mission of better births and safer healing. After completing the peer mentor training in 2020, Gabby shifted focus to use her skills in strategic policy, advocacy and stakeholder engagement to support ABTA’s operations and impact in the community.

When she is not working, Gabby enjoys getting out in the garden and having dance parties with her husband and two kids.

 

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Amy Mulder

Events Coordinator

Amy joined ABTA to create something positive from her own traumatic forceps delivery. She has an events management and communications background and is excited to contribute her skills to ABTA.

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Sascha Callaghan

Research Support

Dr Sascha Callaghan is an academic researcher, policy advisor and writer in health law and bioethics. Her research interests include women’s health and well being, reproductive medicine, and mental health. Her interest in birth trauma was deepened after the birth of her first son in 2006. The birth was obstructed and culminated in a complicated forceps delivery that left Sascha with permanent injuries. This experience has made her a strong advocate for women’s voices in child birth decision making and for supporting women following difficult or complicated births. Sascha is a member of the Ethics of Clinical Practice Committee at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Working Group into “informed birth”. She lives in Sydney with her husband and their two teenage sons.

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Daniel Mastrorillo

Software Maintenance

As an avid believer in giving back to the community, Daniel has always been passionate about volunteering. He came across ABTA through his work and instantly knew this was the role for him.

Following the traumatic birth of his daughter, Daniel was no stranger to the lack of support for parents both during and after birth. As such, volunteering with ABTA was a chance for Daniel to be a part of something amazing; improving the experience both for his Fiancé as well as parents across Australasia by creating a safe space for parents to reach out and seek support should they need it.

With an exhaustive background in all aspects of Software Engineering, Daniel is extremely excited to be a part of ABTA and to support them in any way possible, so they may provide and extend their services across Australasia.

Our Board Members
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Jyoti Haikerwal

Risk Officer

Jyoti Haikerwal is a lawyer specialising in medical negligence litigation.  She has represented many women who have suffered from the psychological and physical effects of a traumatic birth.  Jyoti is passionate about being involved and contributing to the work ABTA does to support families after a traumatic birth experience.

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Venessa Wells

Non Executive Director

Venessa has over fifteen years’ experience driving community initiatives in the areas of health promotion, chronic disease, injury and violence prevention, mental health promotion, and disaster prevention, in Australia and overseas. 

She has held both board and executive-level roles, and has designed, managed, and evaluated evidence-based local, state and national initiatives.

Venessa is currently a non-executive director with a number of not-for-profit organisations, is a freelance consultant, and is completing a PhD exploring leadership and decision-making.

Venessa is a mother of two young children. She is passionate about empowering women and children, as well as prevention and trauma-informed recovery.

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Gemma Hudson

Non Executive Director

A scientist by background, Gemma has spent 20+ years working in health communications and marketing spanning the corporate and not-for-profit sectors in Australia and the UK. She is an Executive Director of the Australian arm of a global communications agency and during her career has worked with many of the world’s leading health organisations. Gemma has led teams delivering awarding winning health awareness and education campaigns targeting both the community and healthcare professionals.

Gemma had her own experience with traumatic birth when her daughter was stillborn in 2019 and then again when her son was born 11 weeks premature in 2020. It was this lived experience that led Gemma to join the ABTA board in July 2022 and makes her passionate about educating the community and reducing the stigma around traumatic birth.  

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Kate Waterford

Chair

Kate is a lawyer and mother to two young children. She has served as a non-executive director on the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (AHPRA) and as Vice Chair of Amnesty International Australia. Kate herself had a traumatic birth in 2015. She suffered severe, life-threatening postpartum haemorrhages, both at the time of her daughter’s birth, and again two weeks later, due to retained placenta. The experience – which affected her physically for years afterwards – has made her passionate about the importance of support for women who have lived through birth-related trauma.
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Professor Mary Wlodek

(BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD; GAICD) Non Executive Director

Professor Mary is an inspirational and visionary research leader and
executive who makes a real difference to the health and wellbeing of women, mothers and infants and aspiring scientists. She has been internationally recognised as a world leader in Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) research. 

Her research expertise informs global understanding of how early life environments impact lifelong health and disease risk. She is a highly respected, recognised and accomplished research fundraiser (~$10 million) and researcher (almost 200 publications). 

Mary was Professor of Physiology at University of Melbourne for 24 years where she has held senior executive roles including as Associate Dean and then Deputy Dean of the Melbourne School of Graduate Research; Coordinator Researcher Development; and Associate Dean (Research) Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. She is an experienced committee chair at University of Melbourne and across research disciplines. 

Since Sabbatical in 2018, Mary’s preclinical research and reputation enabled smooth and successful transition to human cohorts In Australia and Singapore. She leads/co-leads human lactation research exploring breastfeeding and breast milk composition and production after pregnancy complications and implications for child growth and disease risk across many cohorts. Mary currently has many honorary prestigious appointments: Honorary Professorial Fellow, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne; Honorary Research Fellow, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), Australia; VisitingProfessor, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National University of Singapore; Adjunct Investigator, Singapore Institute of Clinical Sciences (SICS), A*STAR, Singapore; Adjunct Professor, University of Western Australia and Adjunct Professor, La Trobe University.

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Theresa Best

Non Executive Director

Theresa is an experienced Non-Executive and Executive Director with experience in the manufacturing, education, for purpose and sport sectors. Having had a career as a marketing, communication and brand specialist, Theresa has skills in governance, board management, public relations, strategic planning, stakeholder relations and philanthropic and capital fundraising.

A Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD) Theresa is currently Non-Executive Director on the Board of Cricket Victoria and the Barwon Health Foundation. Theresa has an active interest in and membership of a variety of community-based organisations, committees and boards with a commitment to building strong, resilient and thriving communities through business, social enterprise, volunteering, inclusion, opportunity and social justice.

Theresa is mother to two adult daughters and has recently welcomed her first granddaughter. Theresa’s birth experiences both required medical intervention and
post birth treatment for injuries and trauma sustained during birth. These experiences, and with her own daughters now having children, have inspired her
passion to advocate and provide support for women who experience birth trauma.

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Victoria Lindores

Non Executive Director​

Victoria is a Certified Financial Planner, Responsible Investment advocate and mother of two.

 With over 15 years in financial markets and experience in innovation and entrepreneurship, Victoria is passionate about helping organisations maximise their impact.

She is passionate about empowering families to make informed decisions that meet their needs and providing support for those who have experienced birth-related trauma.

Victoria is currently a Partner at Koda Capital, an independent wealth management firm, where she manages capital on behalf of individuals, families and non-profit organisations.

ABTA Alumni
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Prof Hans Peter Dietz

ABTA Co-founder, Prof. Hans Peter Dietz was born in Tuebingen, Germany, in 1963. After Primary and Secondary School he studied Medicine at Heidelberg University, Germany. He graduated in 1988 and obtained an MD at Heidelberg University in 1989. After emigrating to New Zealand in 1990, he arrived in Australia in 1997 and completed his FRANCOG training in 1998 at Royal Women’s Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland. Between 1999 and 2002, Dr Dietz undertook urogynaecology subspeciality training in Sydney at the Royal Hospital for Women, St Vincent’s Hospital and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and obtained a PhD with the University of New South Wales in 2003. Since 2008 he is Professor in Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney. He is active in a number of national and international scientific societies such as RANZCOG, IUGA and ISUOG and has published 351 peer-reviewed papers (H factor 70), and 18 book chapters, the vast majority relating to ultrasound imaging in Urogynaecology. Since 2002 he has organised over 50 imaging workshops at urogynaecological and imaging meetings. In 2016 he was one of the founders of the Australasian Birth Trauma Association. His current research interests include imaging in urogynaecology, pregnancy and childbirth- related pelvic floor trauma, and the ethics of professional conduct, especially as regards informed consent. He is married with two sons and lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia.
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Dr Elizabeth Skinner

ABTA Co-founder, Elizabeth is a mother to two grown up boys. She is a midwife, registered nurse, child and family clinician, lecturer and researcher with over 25 years’ experience working with mothers, babies and their families. She is passionate about raising awareness of birth trauma and its consequences and has completed a PhD on the ‘psychological consequences of somatic vaginal births’. Liz’s research has identified an urgent need for women to find a place where they can feel understood and get the help they need to address the after effects of a traumatic delivery. Her vision is to provide a safe space for affected women and their families to find support whilst also providing a direct source of objective information for clinicians.
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Prof Maya Drum

Associate Professor Maya Drum holds a Bachelor of Health Science (nursing), Masters of Health Science (primary health care) and Masters of Health Services Management, is a Registered Nurse and Midwife, an Associate Lecturer at the Western Sydney University (Australia) School of Nursing and Midwifery and a qualified Mediator and Conciliator. Maya has extensive experience in senior executive managerial and leadership positions in both public and private health services and she is currently the Manager, Raphael Services in Blacktown (New South Wales) for St John of God Health Care. Prof Drum was a foundation Board Member of ABTA and resigned from the board in 2019.
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Dr Jennifer Kruger

Dr Jennifer is based in New Zealand, she played a vital role in establishing the ABTA in 2016. Jennifer’s research focus is maternal/child health and she leads the Pelvic Floor Research group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, University of Auckland. Where they use a multi-disciplinary approach to pelvic floor mechanics and its relationship to childbirth and pelvic floor disorders, including pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence. Dr Kruger’s background is in nursing and midwifery, so she is able to recognise the need for evidence based research to better inform women of their choices in childbirth for optimal outcomes.

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Prof Bryanne Barnett

Professor (Conjoint UNSW) Bryanne Barnett AM

 

MBChB, FRANZCP, MD

 

Bryanne is a child and family psychiatrist with a particular interest in prevention and early intervention in mental health.  Her doctoral thesis concerned anxiety and its effects on mothers and their infants. Those studies included the first Attachment research in Australia. In subsequent research she has focused on translating research findings into relevant mental health initiatives, including in primary care.

Currently she holds a conjoint professorial appointment with the School of Psychiatry at the UNSW, where she previously held the first Chair of Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry, establishing services in Sydney’s South West and with Karitane and then with St John of God Health Care, in Blacktown and Perth.  She is a Foundation Board member of both Gidget Foundation Australia and the Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA).

Bryanne is a foundation member and past President of the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health, the Australian Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and both the International and Australasian Marce Societies. 

In 2007 Bryanne was awarded Membership in the Order of Australia in recognition of her service to families and the profession.  In 2016, she received a Citation from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and in 2018 she was awarded the John Cox medal by the International Marce Society.

 

abta clinical advisory network

The ABTA Clinical Network has been established by the ABTA for the purpose of providing expert advice when needed and healthy discussion about clinical aspects of ABTA’s strategic pillars for awareness, understanding, support and sustainability and to help us achieve ABTA’s vision of Safer Births, Better Healing. Membership is private, please get in touch if you have interest in joining.

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Dr Danny Tucker

Danny is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist who has worked in the UK, New Zealand, and for the last 14 years, Queensland. He is passionate about improving communication between health professionals and consumers of maternity services. Danny delivers training on trauma-informed care and complex communication skills. He is a member of the faculty for Open Disclosure training with Queensland Health.

Danny is the collaborating obstetrician with an Indigenous-focused Midwifery Group Practice and works with a psychologist, offering a birth debrief program for women who have experienced a traumatic birth. His training in perinatal and infant mental health informs this work. Portrait photography is his passion, which he brings to families experiencing the range of birth experiences.

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Angela James

MACP, Pelvic Physiotherapist

Angela is the Founder & Principal Physiotherapist of Sydney Pelvic Clinic, a specialised pelvic health service for women, men and children. Angela has developed a team of like-minded, highly trained professionals committed to delivering an evidence-based and person-centred approach to improve their patients pelvic health. In addition to her clinical work, Angela teaches locally and internationally, striving to improve the quality of physiotherapy services beyond her own borders.

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Fiona Reid

Midwife

Fiona is a practising Midwife with over 34 years experience. She has worked in all areas of midwifery practice in New Guinea, India and Australia; in remote, rural, regional and urban settings. In low risk, all risk, high risk and continuity programmes. She is committed to Public Health and believes that care will be appropriate and best when individualised, provided by the right carer in the right setting and at the right time by people who place the woman at the centre of all care.

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Dr Oliver Daly

Oliver is a father of two amazing daughters and married to the wonderful Kathryn. He is a RANZCOG-certified Urogynaecologist and Obstetrician, and clinical lead for Urogynaecology at Western Health in Melbourne. Through his training and ongoing care of women at the Royal Womens Hospital, Monash Medical Centre, Royal Prince Alfred, Gold Coast University Hospital, and now Western Health, he has persevered to raise the important issue of preventable obstetric pelvic floor trauma to improve the care of women.

Through Western Health, the University of Melbourne and Monash University, he runs an active research programme currently undertaking a PhD to investigate obstetric pelvic floor trauma, methods of delivering patient information and improvements in the quality of care provided at a health-system level. To support this research Oliver has received numerous scholarships and grants from the RANZCOG, CFA, UGSA, IUGA and the federal government. Oliver is a member of the editorial committee for ANZJC and ANZJOG, as well as being a reviewer for BJOG, ISUOG and the IUJO. He has served in a number of leadership and representative roles at local, national and international level and serves on the International Urogynaecological Association’s obstetric pelvic floor trauma special interest group to promote improved care at an international level.

 

Oliver works directly with women both on the birth suite and postnatally to prevent and reduce the effects of trauma but also acts to increase clinician’s knowledge about the risk factors and prevention strategies, and skills to manage such trauma, also encouraging the empowerment of women to direct their care to reduce the risks of childbirth.