Skip Navigation

Organising Committee Members


Marc Zen

Marc Zen is originally from Perth where he studied an undergraduate degree in Health Sciences and postgraduate certificate in International Health. He now lives in Melbourne and works for beyondblue. Marc has been an active volunteer on several youth programs with the WA Aids Council, Freedom Centre (a youth drop-in centre for LGBTIQ young people) and the Leap Youth Leadership program in Los Angeles.

Marc was also one of two West Australians selected to represent Australia at the 2014 One Young World summit in Dublin, a competitive gathering of 1000 young leaders from around the world who are driving change in their local communities. He first got involved with the Australian Association for Adolescent Health in 2013 when he volunteered as a youth representative at that year's conference in Fremantle before joining the Youth Health Forum Organising Committee for the 2015 Melbourne conference.

Melissa Kang
President, AAAH Ltd; The University of Technology Sydney

Melissa Kang is currently the President of AAAH Ltd. Melissa works at The University of Technology Sydney in the Australian Research Centre for Public and Population Health. She is also a GP working with homeless and marginalized young people in western Sydney. Having been involved in research, policy, clinical practice and advocacy over many years, she is particularly excited about the theme of the 2017 Youth Health Conference. Melissa also has a strong interest in engaging with young people who are consumers, advocates and future health and educational professionals. She will utilise her university links to encourage students to participate fully in the 2017 conference.‚Äč

David Bennett

Clinical Professor David Bennett AO MBBS FRACP FSAHM AMUSA LMUSA
Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network; NSW Ministry of Health; University of Sydney

Clinical Professor David Bennett is an adolescent health physician with a major interest in the development of integrated, creative health services for young people and their families. He pioneered Australia's first hospital-based adolescent medical unit, was longstanding Head of Adolescent Medicine at The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children (1977 - 2004) and is currently the Senior Advisor, Youth Health and Wellbeing team at NSW Health. In the latter role, he is actively involved in wide-ranging efforts to improve the health and well-being of young people through applied research, professional education & training, advocacy and policy development.

David was honoured with an AO (Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia) in 1995 for 'service to medicine, particularly in the field of adolescent health and medical care'. He has been a Consultant with the World Health Organisation, foundation member and Past President of the International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH), Past President and Life Member of the Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Healthcare, and a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International. David has served on high-level State and Commonwealth government policy committees, is co-author of I just want you to be happy: Preventing and tackling teenage depression and the author of numerous other books, monographs, chapters and professional articles in the field of adolescent health. 

Jessica Harper
South Eastern Sydney Local Health District

Jessica completed a Bachelor of Health in July 2014 and a Masters of Public Health in July 2015. Jessica’s undergraduate studies focus on population health; exploring the social, political, cultural, economic and environmental determinants of health. Her postgraduate studies focused on a more in-depth understanding of the burden of disease, health promotion and epidemiology.

Jessica began working in the youth health sector in early 2015, starting out in a role as Youth Health Sector Support Project Officer at Yfoundations.  From here Jessica developed a keen interest in youth health research and took on a second role as Research Administration Officer at the Department of General Practice, University of Sydney Westmead assisting with a state-wide research project exploring how young people access and navigate the health system in New South Wales. This strong interest in youth health led Jessica into her current position at SESLHD, where she works to support the efficient and effective implementation of youth health policies, plans, services and projects in the district.

Geraldine Dyer
AAAH Vice President  - Queensland Department of Education and Training 

Geraldine Dyer is a Registered Nurse and Midwife from Mackay, Queensland. With postgraduate qualifications in Paediatric, Child and Youth Health Nursing, Geraldine provides education, training and support for Queensland Education staff to ensure the safe management of students with chronic illness or specialised health needs in Queensland State Schools.  She is passionate about the health/education interface, and the need to ensure the wellbeing and inclusion of all students with specialised health needs, mental health issues and disabilities in the education system.

Having lived and worked in regional, rural and remote communities, Geraldine has a wealth of knowledge regarding the issues facing youth in these areas. As a health professional and mother of two children with disabilities, she has been driven to be a fervent advocate and voice for children, adolescents and families with special needs and disabilities.


Kate Tolley

 Clinical Nurse Consultant - Youth Health/Child, Youth and Family Health Directorate

Kate completed a Bachelor of Nursing in 2002 and a Masters of Nursing – Advanced Clinical Practice: Child and Youth in 2011. Kate has worked in Adolescent health care settings since 2003 in both acute inpatient and community health settings in Australia and the Caribbean. She is currently employed as a Clinical Nurse Consultant Youth Health across Northern Sydney local health district and headspace Chatswood in addition to holding a position as a casual lecturer at Sydney University.

Kate is the current co-chair of the NSW Youth Health Committee and was recently co-commissioned to develop and present a 3 day education series on Adolescent Health Nursing to the Hong Kong Health Authority. Kate is passionate about supporting young people to achieve positive health outcomes and seeks to achieve this through working directly with young people and their health care teams, implementation of education and youth health policy and through ongoing service development and research. 


 Susan Towns

 MBBS MMH FRACP              

Susan Towns is a Consultant Paediatrician and Adolescent Physician, Head of Adolescent Medicine at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network and  Clinical Associate Professor, Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney

Susan has extensive clinical experience specialising in adolescent and respiratory medicine with special interests in chronic conditions, adherence to medication, transition to adult care, smoking prevention and cessation and chronic pain and fatigue syndromes.

Susan has continued ongoing clinical research in the complex chronic illness area and continues to advocate for adolescent health issues whilst actively involved in teaching and training in Adolescent Medicine and youth health. 

Colin Stokes

Education Manager at Yfoundations

Colin Stokes is the Education Manager at Yfoundations, the youth accommodation peak for NSW. He has worked in a variety of settings including youth health services, hospitals, local government and non-government youth agencies, providing youth work, community arts, resource production and project management.

Colin presents youth and health workforce capacity building training across NSW and contributes to government and service policy development.


Abstract Review Committee Members

Alison Hutton

Colin Stokes

David Perez

Donald Payne

Fiona Robards

Geraldine Dyer

Jessica Harper

Kate Steinbeck

Kate Tolley

Michael Kohn

Michelle Telfer

Susan Towns

Tanya Robertson

Contact Us
PO Box 576, Crows Nest, NSW 1585
+61 2 9431 8658
+61 2 9431 8677