Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research researchers

Our researchers are co-partnering with communities to translate healthcare findings into practice.

Professor Jane Mills

Professor Jane Mills is Acting Director of the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research, and Dean and Head of the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She is one of Australia’s most experienced primary healthcare academics having led and managed teams in both government and tertiary sectors. She is an experienced clinician and researcher with over 32 years’ nursing experience, mainly in rural health services. She is also an internationally recognised grounded theorist and expert in qualitative methodologies including action research. Professor Mills’ research focuses on rural health, the health workforce, health system strengthening, and nursing education.

Professor Hanny Calache

Professor Hanny Calache is a paediatric dentist, with extensive public dental health experience. He is Academic Lead in Paediatric Dentistry, the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University; and Head of the Oral Health Research Stream, Deakin Health Economics at Deakin University. His research interests include health promotion, paediatric dentistry, geriatric dentistry, workforce development and public health, and he has published extensively on these topics. Professor Calache also has extensive translational research experience in public dental programs in Victoria and nationally.

Professor Mark Gussy

Professor Mark Gussy is the Global Professor in Rural and Social Care at the Lincoln Institute for Rural Health. His research has made significant contributions to the evidence base for child oral health and its interface with general health and wellbeing. Two major nationally funded cohort studies have allowed early childhood cavities to be tracked longitudinally in rural children, quantifying the independent and interactive contributions of the oral environment, fluoride exposure and socio-economic factors to levels and rates of change in oral health from birth to six years of age. Professor Gussy has also worked with rural communities, exploring the broader social and structural determinants of participation, and challenging entrenched systems that disadvantage the most vulnerable.

Emeritus Professor Amanda Kenny

Emeritus Professor Amanda Kenny was the inaugural Violet Marshman Professor of Rural Health and Director of the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research at La Trobe University, 2019-2020. She is a registered nurse and midwife with 40 years’ experience in rural health services and is an expert in primary health and rural health policy. Emeritus Professor Kenny is internationally recognised for her expertise in multidisciplinary participatory research, co-design and integrated knowledge translation. She has attracted almost AU$105 million in grant funding for research and major strategic initiatives. Emeritus Professor Kenny has built strong international partnerships, currently holds international grants, and mentors senior leaders in several countries. She is the Editor-in-Chief of Nurse Education Today, sits on the editorial board of Collegian, International Journal of Qualitative Methods and the Advisory Board of the International Institute of Qualitative Methodology, Canada. She is also a member of the Board of Directors at Rural Northwest Health.

Associate Professor Carol McKinstry

Associate Professor Carol McKinstry is an academic in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University, with a background in occupational therapy. Her research focuses on the rural workforce including the preparation of graduates to work in rural practice, transition to practice for students and graduates, and recruitment and retention of rural health professionals. Rural workforce service delivery and emerging areas of practice are other research areas. Associate Professor McKinstry is President of Occupational Therapy Australia and is a Board Director at the Rochester and Elmore District Health Service.

Associate Professor Rachel Martin

Associate Professor Rachel Martin is Head of the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She is a registered Dental Practitioner and experienced public health professional whose research focuses on improving access for vulnerable communities through the integration of oral health and general health. Her expertise is in clinical and public health research, innovative program development, strategic planning, oral health and clinical supervision. She has worked in private and government-funded dental clinics, undertaken dental research, and managed various community health projects.

Dr David Azul

Dr David Azul is a Senior Lecturer, Discipline Lead in Speech Pathology and Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. His research takes a transdisciplinary approach to the nexus between voice, communication, sociocultural belonging and wellbeing using theoretical, qualitative and creative methods of inquiry.

Dr Kerryn Bagley

Dr Kerryn Bagley is a Lecturer in Social Work in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. Her research focuses on social work and interdisciplinary responses to Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), disability and inclusion in education and mental health, and consumer participation in research. Dr Bagley is the Chair of the Victorian FASD Special Interest group, was the inaugural Chair (now steering committee member) of the Australia and New Zealand FASD Clinical Network and is an ambassador and clinical advisor for the National Organisation for FASD Australia.

Dr Dan Bendrups

Dr Dan Bendrups lectures in research development in the Research Education and Development Unit at La Trobe University. His work is informed by nearly two decades in academia, including teaching and research roles, research-only positions, and contributions to executive leadership as a Deputy Head of School and Research Director. His disciplinary background spans anthropology, cultural studies, and creative practice, and he is known internationally for his work on Rapanui (Easter Island) cultural heritage. Dr Bendrups also provides broad-based doctoral supervision in ethnographic methods.

Dr Carina Chan

Dr Carina Chan is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at La Trobe University. Her research focuses on health promotion and disease management and has been involved in research projects in both developed and developing countries. Her current research has extended her expertise in the regional/rural context and focuses on psychosocial issues associated with ageing, chronic disease prevention and management, and oral health.

Dr Brad Christian

Dr Brad Christian is a Research Fellow in the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. He is a dentist with public health and epidemiology qualifications and has both Australian and international experience in managing large epidemiological studies as well as analysing large quantitative datasets. Dr Christian’s research focuses on public oral health service delivery models and oral health inequalities.

Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift

Dr Virginia Dickson-Swift is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research. She is a public health researcher with over 20 years’ experience working in rural communities. Dr Dickson-Swift specialises in public health approaches to health and wellbeing challenges, oral health, qualitative research methodologies, sensitive research, ethics and working with vulnerable rural communities to solve local health issues.

Dr Nastaran Doroud

Dr Nastaran Doroud is a Lecturer in occupational therapy in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. Her experience working with complex-needs patients in community health in Tehran (Iran) led to her interest in research. Her PhD explored mental health issues using a participatory photovoice method. Dr Doroud’s current research focuses on innovative and participatory research approaches and co-production in mental healthcare.

Dr Susan Furness

Dr Susan Furness is Senior Lecturer, Course Coordinator, and Discipline Lead of Paramedicine in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. Her research is phenomenologically-oriented and relates to health workforce practice and wellbeing. Dr Furness is an Institution Lead for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency National Competency Assessment Consortium for Paramedicine.

Dr Lisa Hanson

Dr Lisa Hanson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rural Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She is also a physiotherapist and experienced clinician. Dr Hanson is an expert on the role of exercise and activity for people with chronic conditions and sustainable models of healthcare that support people with chronic conditions who live in rural and regional communities. She is passionate about advancing and extending the scope of allied health rural practice.

Dr Brad Hodge

Dr Brad Hodge has a broad range of experience within the higher education and community sector. He brings with him research expertise in social psychology, leadership, project management and communication skills. His research focuses on the evaluation and development of effective training activities to enable rural communities to improve their health and wellbeing.

Dr Nerida Hyett

Dr Nerida Hyett is a Lecturer in occupational therapy in the Department of Rural Allied Health and Bendigo Occupational Therapy Course Advisor in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She has a clinical background in community-based alcohol and other drug services, and mental health. Her research focuses on consumer and community participation that targets complex population health issues. Dr Hyett has expertise in qualitative and participation-based research methods using action research, co-design and co-production.

Dr Sue Kidd

Dr Sue Kidd is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Department of Rural Nursing and Midwifery in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University, and Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at Victoria University. She is an experienced mental health clinician and registered nurse with over 30 years’ experience working in a range of inpatient and community mental health settings. She has worked with mental health consumers, carers and peak consumer bodies and has experience in leadership within health organisations.

Dr Ron Knevel

Dr Ron Knevel is a Coordinator of Oral Health in the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. With over 30 years’ experience as an international oral health academic, he has a passion for community-based research. His PhD explored dental hygiene education in Nepal. He has been awarded the Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education and a Social Responsibility Award from the Global Child Dental Fund and International Federation of Dental Hygiene.

Dr Natasha Long

Dr Natasha Long is a Lecturer in Social Work and Social Policy. Natasha has over 15 years’ experience as a lecturer across the program with a focus on co-ordinating and teaching social work field education curriculum. Her research interests include exploring graduate preparedness for professional practice with a focus on professional identity development and resilience; the development of culturally safe curriculum and classrooms; and teaching critical reflection in field education.

Dr Mohd Masood

Dr Mohd Masood is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. He is an expert in dental public health and oral epidemiology. His current research focuses on improving oral health and reducing oral health inequalities in rural populations.

Dr Yaghma Masood

Dr Yaghma Masood is a Lecturer in the Department of Dentistry and Oral Health, La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University. She is a dentist with a Masters in Oral Pathology and PhD in human genetics. Her current research focuses on improving oral health in rural populations.

Dr Corina Modderman

Dr Corina Modderman is a Lecturer and Course Advisor in Social Work and Social Policy at the La Trobe Rural Health School, Shepparton campus. Dr Modderman has spent over 18 years as a senior manager and practice leader in child protection in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Australia. She brings extensive international social work expertise, demonstrated leadership capabilities and strong networks in the statutory and not for profit sector. Her research interests are in the areas of child abuse, child protection workforce development, transnational social work, Out of Home Care, and integrated health systems. Dr Modderman applies a strong feminist lens over her work and areas of practice. She is determined to see better outcomes for children and young people in out of home care and disadvantaged communities. She is currently leading research projects that focus on improving health outcomes for children in Out of Home Care and evaluating mentoring programs for First Nations young people in rural and regional Victoria. Dr Modderman is also Chair of the board at the Centre Against Violence in North East Victoria.

Dr Lyndal Sheepway

Dr Lyndal Sheepway is a Lecturer in the La Trobe Rural Health School, La Trobe University. Her professional background is in speech pathology and her PhD explored the development of competence in speech pathology student placements. Dr Sheepway is interested in research related to workplace learning, as well as rural workforce development.

Dr Evelien Spelten

Dr Evelien Spelten is a Senior Lecturer in Public and Community Health. Her move from the Netherlands to rural Mildura in Australia in 2016 sparked an interest in rural health and wellbeing, and in increasing academic opportunities in the regions. With a background in organisational psychology, she has worked as a researcher, a consultant and trainer. She is an experienced higher degree supervisor and has students from a range of health disciplines.

Dr Jacqui Theobald

Dr Jacqui Theobald is an interdisciplinary researcher with expertise in historical, sociological and social work research. She specialises in the historical and contemporary context of domestic violence services, gendered violence and homelessness, and their related social policy and practice responses.

Dr Emma Zadow

Dr Emma Zadow is an academic in the La Trobe Rural Health School at La Trobe University, with a background in Exercise Science and Haematology. Dr Zadow in an Exercise Scientist and completed her PhD investigating the role of haemostatic changes in response to exercise. Her research focuses on improving overall health outcomes via reducing blood clot risk associated with physical inactivity, rural and regional travel, and more recently, COVID-19 associated coagulopathies.

PhD candidates

Rachael McAleer is a PhD candidate and physiotherapist and has been a part-time lecturer at the La Trobe Rural Health School, La Trobe University, for 10 years, whilst working clinically as a cystic fibrosis specialist at Monash Medical Centre and in her own private practice. Rachael now lectures one day per week whilst completing her PhD full time with the support of a VVM scholarship. Her research interests are in cardiothoracic physiotherapy, rural health and rural education.

John Baker is a PhD candidate exploring the density and proximity of tobacco retailers in rural neighbourhoods. He is investigating the licencing of tobacco retailers and the relationship between the proximity of retailers in rural Victoria and community smoking behaviours.

Siann Bowman is a PhD candidate and experienced youth mental health clinician. She has worked with adults who have ongoing mental illness. She has extensive experience in case management, crisis intervention, group therapy, young people with complex presentations, post-traumatic stress disorder in young people and family interventions. Her PhD examines the impact of mental illness on secondary school participation and completion in rural and regional Victoria, Australia.

Rebecca Blake is a Doctor of Clinical Science candidate, and an occupational therapist at Assumption College in Kilmore. Her research focuses on evaluating the School-based Occupational Therapy AWARE program. This research closely relates to her work as an occupational therapist in supporting students and building teacher capacity to identify, and appropriately respond to student needs across all domains of students’ social, emotional, academic, physical and spiritual educational occupations within the secondary school environment.

Stacey Bracksley-O'Grady is an Oral Health Therapist and a PhD candidate. She has an interest in public health and health promotion within Dentistry and Oral Health. Her work includes the exploration of promotion content in dental and oral health courses; dental/oral health educator’s knowledge and skills in health promotion, and their preparedness to translate this into teaching and learning; and the perceptions of graduates and how prepared they feel to undertake health promotion in practice.

Sandra Connor is a PhD candidate at the Mildura campus and her project is titled “Adolescent Rural Males' Health: In the context of Emergent Masculinities”.

Maureen Dillon is a registered nurse and PhD candidate. Her project is titled “The impact of notification on the personal and professional lives of nurses and midwives”.

Marcus Gardner is a PhD candidate with a clinical background in podiatry, and is the Manager of Allied Health Education at Bendigo Health. His PhD work focuses on clinical supervision for allied health professionals. His other research interests include decreasing the burden of diabetic foot disease in rural settings.

Ruth Hardman is undertaking an industry PhD with Sunraysia Community Health (Mildura), where she has worked as the lead clinician in their pain rehabilitation service since 2015. She is an experienced pain physiotherapist and her research interests lie in the connections between the lived experience of chronic illness, the therapeutic alliance and the social determinants of health.

Kathy Jordan is a PhD candidate and her doctoral work focuses on loneliness of older people in rural areas. With a desire to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for older people, her work aims to explore prevalence, subjective experiences and impacts of loneliness for older people living in rural communities.

Dr Tejashree Kangutkar is a dentist and PhD candidate. She is an early career researcher who is passionate about achieving optimal oral health in vulnerable populations. Her doctoral work focuses on exploring, understanding, and addressing the barriers and enablers of achieving optimal oral health for people who use illicit drugs.

Nicola Lloyd is a part-time PhD candidate and a physiotherapist at Barwon Health. She has worked clinically in rural and metropolitan settings in Australia and in the United Kingdom, as well as working in a number of project and service redesign roles. Her PhD research is about evaluating the impacts of public involvement in health service design.

Jill Maglio is a PhD candidate and occupational therapist who uses circus in her daily practice. She works as a private occupational therapist in New York, working in a number of schools with students who may be disengaged and/or have learning difficulties. Her doctoral research explores how occupational therapists are using circus in their practice. She is also the force behind the charity CircusAid, which promotes positive social and emotional health for political and environmental refugees in Europe and Asia.

Angela Martin is a paramedic and PhD candidate focusing on the perspectives of Community Paramedicine.

Rebecca Millar is a PhD candidate and her work explores the clinical practice competencies required in forensic mental health nursing. The results of her study will be used to develop a Forensic Mental Health Nurse Competency Assessment Tool (FHMN-CAT) that can be used to evaluate these competencies.

Susan O’Neill is a PhD candidate with an educational background in Master of Science in International Health and Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion. Her research is focused on the high incidence of Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) hospitalisations in the Murray Primary Health Network (PHN) region of Victoria. She has previously worked in remote communities throughout Western Australia delivering community health promotion programs, and prior to her PhD research managed a women’s and children’s refuge.

Nicole Preston is a Clinical Doctorate candidate in the field of occupational therapy. Her areas of interest are social inclusion, human rights, community development and policy. Her research project aims to explore the concept of social inclusion across policy and practice.

Hannah Slootjes is an occupational therapist and PhD candidate. Her doctoral research aims to explore how occupational therapists are globally working to address ‘well’ women’s perinatal health issues and promote maternal wellbeing during matrescence.

Cathryn Street is a registered nurse and PhD candidate. Her project is titled “The impact of notification on the personal and professional lives of nurses and midwives”.

Dr Marietta Taylor is a dentist and PhD candidate. Her project aims to quantify the longevity and failure of complete dentures, and of complete dentures opposed to natural teeth, in a population of patients who have received care through the Victorian public dental service. Understanding the natural history of complete dentures, including their lifespan and failure rate, will help policymakers to develop a denture replacement plan.

Brodie Thomas is a PhD candidate located at the Mildura campus. He is a paramedic and his project focuses on organisational interventions for workplace violence in emergency healthcare.

Dr Rahila Ummer-Christian is a PhD candidate. She holds a Master of Public Health and has undertaken dental public health training at the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization, USA. Her PhD focuses on researching access to dental services for children with intellectual and developmental and disabilities in Loddon Mallee region.

Dr Prabhakar Veginadu is a PhD candidate with speciality training and academic experience in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics. His doctoral work focuses on the factors influencing dental service access among the refugee population by applying Geographic Information System-based spatial analysis techniques.

Tara Williams is a registered nurse and PhD candidate located at the Mildura campus. Her doctoral work focuses on the health impacts of loneliness and social isolation in rural populations.