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 not-for-profit organisation focused on the recognition and understanding of birth-related trauma.

With a multi-disciplinary advisory group of midwives, physiotherapists, obstetricians, gynaecologists, mental health clinicians and clinical researchers, she is working to develop the resources and strategies to prevent and effectively manage birth-related trauma.

Amy’s understanding of the issues many birthing families face, has come from her own experience, and the many people she has listened to and helped to find support. Amy’s vision is to break down the stigma attached to birth trauma, and empower people to feel comfortable speaking out, so to continue driving change in current maternity practices in Australia and New Zealand.

Amy is a proud mother of two young girls.

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Christine Pistone

Project Manager

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. 
Maria Bradshaw

Maria Bradshaw

Volunteer Manager

Maria is a mum of two girls and wife to her Kiwi husband Mark. After her own experience with post-partum PTSD she wanted to help other families who had experienced something similar and came across the ABTA. After volunteering with the ABTA in various capacities, she has now taken on the role of Volunteer Manager, bringing her experience as a Training Coordinator to the role. Maria is currently studying for a Bachelor in Psychology and Counselling which will make a valuable contribution to this role.

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Laurie Deans

Executive Assistant

Laurie is a proud mum of two. Laurie has a degree in Social Sciences and a background in administration, marketing and website management.
 
She had a traumatic birth in 2015 that led to postpartum anxiety. Her birth experience along with a lack of continued care post two Caesarean sections has driven her desire to contribute to change within the birthing realm. She hopes to see stronger pathways of care postpartum so women can be supported to heal both physically and emotionally while being able to enjoy their babies. 
Our Board Members
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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.
Venessa Wells

Venessa Wells

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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Sam Chadwick

Director

Sam Chadwick is a senior sports executive and commercial lawyer, and father to two beautiful boys. He has expertise across strategic planning, project management, business development, law, governance, operations, media/ communications and organisational development and has held a number of high profile roles and Directorships in the sporting and mental health spaces.

The births of both of Sam’s boys were traumatic. Sam’s children both spent time in the neonatal intensive care ward – which was something he was unprepared for and uneducated about. Sam’s vision is for parents – both mothers and fathers – to receive empathetic, transparent and objective health care education and support – both before and after birth – and for a society which is informed and compassionate with respect to the birthing experience.

Clinical Advisory Committee (CAC)
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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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Fiona Reid

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.

Sascha Callaghan

Sascha Callaghan

Dr Sascha Callaghan is a specialist in health law and bioethics at the University of Sydney. Sascha has a special interest in women’s health and mental health, and has researched, written and advocated for better women’s health outcomes for over a decade. Her technical skills are in legal advisory, policy writing, regulation, and corporate and government advisory on a diverse range of health matters issues including medical harm, Clinical ethics, public health ethics and use and access to novel technologies in health care. Sascha has provided specialist advice to public and private organisations across Australia, including NSW Health, the Mental Health Commission, and the Australian Human Rights Commission. Previously she was was a corporate lawyer in Sydney, Canberra and Hong Kong, specialising in technology and health care regulation for clients including Astra Zeneca, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the Commonwealth Department of Health.

Caitlin Davis

Caitlin Davis

Caitlin is a law graduate of the Australian National University. Caitlin has an interest in issues concerning health law and bioethics. She recently completed her Honours thesis which focussed on birth trauma litigation and judicial attitudes towards enhancing patient choice. In 2019, she presented my paper on informed consent in obstetrics at the Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law Conference in New Zealand. Caitlin is passionate about supporting women who have experienced a traumatic birth, and empowering women to be proactive in the decisions concerning their own care.

Eliza Pike

Eliza Pike

Eliza is a Clinical Social Worker, Owner of Blackbird House and Blackbird Counselling. Blackbird Counselling is a perinatal counselling service that assists new parents with the adjustment to pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. 
Eliza has worked across the mental health sector for the past 20 years.  
Eliza provides supervision and training to health professionals around Social Work Practice, Perinatal and Infant Mental Health and Master & Bachelor of Social Work students at The University of the Sunshine Coast. She provides a training facility for students to provide free counselling to clients through the Counselling, Social Work and Perinatal Peer Support student placement programs. 
Eliza has worked with the Gidget Foundation’s ‘Start Talking Program’ and Mindstar’s partnership with the Queensland Ballet. She is a Member of the Australian Marce Society.
Angela James

Angela James

Angela James is the founder of Sydney Pelvic Clinic and is a pioneer in the treatment of patients with pelvic issues using an evidence-based and patient-centred approach.  Angela is a passionate Pelvic Health Physiotherapist and has developed a team of like-minded, highly trained professionals at Sydney Pelvic Clinic. Her number one goal is to achieve successful outcomes for her patients and improve the profile of pelvic health physiotherapy. In addition to her clinical work, Angela teaches locally and internationally, striving to improve the quality of physiotherapy services beyond her own borders.
She’s an active member of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), Continence Women’s Health Group, Continence Foundation of Australia and she sits on the New South Wales APA Education Sub Advisory Committee. Angela is mum to two boys and understands firsthand the changes a woman’s pelvis undergoes during pregnancy, birth and post birth.
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Ellie Goss

Ellie is a Registered Nurse and has a Postgraduate qualification in Special Care of the Newborn. Ellie’s professional work has predominantly involved working as a Neonatal Nurse in Special Care Nurseries in Melbourne and surrounding areas, caring for premature and unwell babies and their families. 

Ellie resides in Geelong with her two children James & Mia. In 2018 Ellie gave birth to James and sustained a 3rd degree tear and retained placenta complications. This traumatic experience encouraged Ellie to seek out ABTA for support. Ellie is now at a point in her recovery where she is able to give back, as an active volunteer within the organisation. 

Alka Kothari

Alka Kothari

Associate Professor Alka Kothari is a Senior Staff Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Redcliffe Hospital and a Conjoint Site Co-ordinator for the Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland. She is an Examiner for the Royal Australasian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the University of Queensland. She is also a member of the Prince Charles Human Research and Ethics Committee.

 

She has significant research experience in the conduct of multiple systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials. She has published multiple papers in the field of perinatal mental health, Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and medical education. She regularly leads multi-disciplinary research collaborations and supervises research projects for RANZCOG and RANZCP trainee registrars and medical students. 

 

She is currently pursuing a PhD on “Forgotten Fathers in pregnancy and childbirth”.  This truly unique body of research work attracted recognition as the “Best Oral Presentation in Perinatal Mental Health” at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress in London 2019. She is regularly invited to speak at national and international conferences including the Australian and New Zealand Colleges of Anaesthetists, Psychiatrists and the Society of Obstetric Medicine Specialists.  

Amy Daly

Dr Amy Daly

Amy has an Advanced Diploma of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, is a GP obstetrics registrar, medical researcher and mother to two young children. It was during medical school, after the birth of her first child, that she realised her calling to continue her medical career into GP obstetrics. She continued on to win the Obstetrics Award, as well as other academic awards including a Deans Medal. She has presented her research work both domestically and internationally and published in peer reviewed journals.  Amy currently works in regional NSW in both private practice and a hospital setting. She enjoys providing whole person care to women and their families and is passionate about supporting and empowering women during their pregnancy and beyond.

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Dr Rosanna Pajak

Rosanna is a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in perinatal mental health and works in private practice in Sydney’s inner west. She is a member of the Australian Clinical Psychology Association (ACPA) and the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health (AAIMH). Rosanna has worked across numerous clinical and community settings in both the UK and Australia, including specialist trauma services and women’s health services. Previously, she has coordinated UNSW’s Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program and published numerous papers on trauma, PTSD, memory and emotion-regulation. As an experienced trauma-informed clinician – and a mother of two young boys – Rosanna is passionate about supporting parents through the experience of a traumatic birth.

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Dr Chris Gillespie

Chris attended medical school at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, graduating in 2001. After some time overseas, he underwent general surgical training at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne (2005-2011) but spent one year at King’s College Hospital in London for intensive care and emergency medicine training. During this time Chris received the Gordon Gordon-Taylor medal for the highest mark in Australasia for basic surgical sciences. Chris was then accepted to post-fellowship training in colorectal surgery under the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia & New Zealand, and spent 2 years undergoing subspecialty training at Auckland City Hospital and Gold Coast Hospital. Chris achieved membership of the CSSANZ and was awarded the Travelling Fellowship resulting in visits to St. Mark’s Hospital, Oxford and Basingstoke Hospitals in the UK in 2013.

Since completing training Chris works in Brisbane and holds public appointments at Princess Alexandra Hospital and Queen Elizabeth II Hospitals and started private practice at at Mater Private Hospital in 2014. In 2013 he set up the “Enhanced Recovery After Surgery” programme at Logan Hospital; this has gone on to result in improved outcomes for colorectal surgery patients at Logan Hospital, with reduced complications and hospital stay.

Chris enjoys teaching and has been senior coordinator of the Queensland CORE course for general surgical trainees, as well as being an instructor for the “Care of the Critically Ill Surgical Patient” course. He contributes to colorectal surgery in this region as a councillor for the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia & New Zealand. He has particular interests in minimally invasive surgery, anorectal fistula, and colorectal pelvic floor disorders including faecal incontinence and defecatory dysfunction. Chris set up the colorectal pelvic floor unit at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, now the Queensland centre for public patients with colorectal pelvic floor disorders. He has many years of experience in investigating patients with anorectal problems using anorectal physiology and endoanal ultrasound and is passionate about holistic multidisciplinary care for all patients. He is an accomplished laparoscopic and robotic surgeon, offering his patients a wide range of surgical options, with close collaboration with other specialities and allied health professionals.

Our Volunteers

ABTA is extremely grateful to the many volunteers that donate their time and expertise to ABTA projects and peer support programs. For information around volunteering for ABTA, visit our volunteer page.

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Dana Cross

Dana found ABTA in 2019 following the birth of her daughter when she was seeking advice and support to engage effectively with the health profession to obtain the specialist support she needed. Dana’s birth had resulted in a 3B tear and subsequent diagnosis of a perianal fistula. Dana’s struggles to obtain timely and accurate diagnosis fuel her desire to support the work of ATBA.

Dana is an Associate Director at Grosvenor Performance Group. Dana is a public sector expert, possessing over a decade of deep experience advising Government organisations on program evaluation, organisational review, optimisation and procurement projects. She supports the sustainability of ATBA through contributions to our fundraising efforts.

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Rachel Haywood

Rachel has been working with ABTA since January 2018, she has worked in marketing for over 22 years, 14 of those in healthcare communications, and 4 in the Not for profit sector. She has been involved in producing support materials for healthcare professionals and patients across multiple therapy areas and takes huge pride in her work. Her passion lies in health and well-being strategy and communications and she aims to create concrete and meaningful connections between doctors and patients. She understands the complexities of working with CALD communities and advocates for health communications methods to meet the needs of the individual.

Meet some of our

Peer2Peer Mentors

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Laura Hewett

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 occurence of birth trauma, as well as providing better support for women and families who have experienced birth trauma.

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April Hagen

April is the Founder and Director of May June Creative.

 

With a passion for all things design, April forged her career as a digital marketing specialist by helping business owners *kill it* on social media. 

 

In 2015, April had a traumatic birth experience during the birth of her first baby and found the support of ABTA invaluable during this time. In an effort to give back, April now provides Strategic Social Media Services on a pro-Bono basis for The Australasian Birth Trauma Association. 

ABTA Alumni
Prof Hans Peter Dietz portrait

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.
Prof Maya Drum portrait

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 Olivery 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.



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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.