Our People

Our Board

The Institute for Creative Health’s Board brings together a unique set of high profile individuals from business, science, research, the arts, academe and health to provide expert, non-partisan and evidence -based strategic advice which informs our work.

Michael Brogan Chairman


Michael is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. Michael was a partner in a firm of chartered accountants for 14 years and has over 20 years experience as a senior executive in international and domestic banking. Michael is a former senior executive director of the FirstRand Banking Group. He is the immediate past Chairman of FirstRand International Limited and the RMB Australia Group. Michael is the non-executive Chairman of a number of public and private companies.  He is also a director of the Indochina Starfish Foundation (Australia) Limited.  Michael has extensive domestic and international business experience in the areas of strategic business development, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, audit, compliance and risk management.

Dr Emma O’Brien (PhD RMT) Executive Director and Board Member


Dr Emma O’Brien PhD RMT was appointed The Institute’s Executive Director in February 2014. She has extensive experience in Arts and Health projects as a music therapist, health manager, composer, researcher and an internationally renowned innovator in the role of music in wellbeing; specialising in acute health care. She has pioneered methods in guided facilitated songwriting across music genres and her work was the subject of the multi award winning SBS/f-reel documentary, ‘Opera Therapy’ (2005). Emma was awarded the Victorian Public Health Care Award in 2011 for her pioneering methods of songwriting in enabling person and family centered care in music therapy by giving patients a voice. In March 2012 Australian singer /songwriter Pete Murray released two songs written by Emma with two young women with cancer ‘Red’, and ‘Kate’s Song’ which were featured in the media and prompted an overwhelming response from people online whose lives had also been touched by cancer. Emma was named in The Age Melbourne Magazine as one of Melbourne’s Top 100 provocative, passionate and powerful people of 2012. She was awarded her PhD at The University of Melbourne  December 2014. Her Phd was centred on the effect of her specialised method of guided songwriting on cancer patients’ quality of life, mood states, distress levels and satisfaction with hospital stay. She has published widely on her research and programs and has presented at national and international Conferences.

Lisa Colley Board Member


Lisa is the Director of the Creative Industries Innovation Centre. She has extensive experience in government relations, policy and program development at a senior management level in the Arts and Cultural sectors. Prior to this (until June 2005), Lisa was the Executive Director, Policy, Communications and Research at the Australia Council for the Arts.

During her 13 years work at the Australia Council, Lisa developed networks across the arts, government, research and community sectors that position her well to build strategic alliances to develop effective arts and health programs.

Alan Deans Board Member

Alan Deans Partner, Last Word Corporate Communications

Founder and joint partner of Last Word Corporate Communications, a specialist corporate communications firm that advises companies, organisations and individuals on media, investor and government issues. Alan worked for more than 30 years as a journalist and editor for publications including Bulletin with Newsweek, The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.

He also represented Australia’s largest magazine publisher, ACP Magazines, on the Australian Press Council, has written several books and has previously been a director of a homeless kids charity.

Professor Elizabeth Elliott AM Board Member

Photo- Prof Elliott

Elizabeth Elliott AM is a distinguished Professor in Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Sydney and Consultant Paediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead. She is a research leader internationally and holds a prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Practitioner Fellowship. In 1993 she founded the Australian Paediatric Surveillance Unit (APSU), to facilitate study of rare childhood diseases, and has since been its Director. She established and co-leads the Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) system for inpatient disease surveillance. Community contributions include: Expert Panel of Baya Gawiy, the Children and Family Centre, Fitzroy Crossing; SMILE Foundation Board; Hoc Mai Australia-Vietnam Medical Foundation Board; Steve Waugh Foundation Medical Advisory Committee; the Council of the Women’s College, University of Sydney; Cure Kids Australia Board; and Ambassador, NSW Guides. Elizabeth is Team Leader of the Hoc Mai Maternal and Child Health Program in Dien Bien Province Vietnam. In 2008 she was selected for the Prime Minister’s 2020 Summit and made a Member of the Order of Australia. In 2011 she won the John Sands Medal from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and in 2013 was named one of 100 Women of influence in Australia. Elizabeth is an advocate for children, particularly those with rare diseases and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, Indigenous children and children in immigration detention.

Claude Gauchat (BScAg, MBA, FAICD) Board Member


Claude Gauchat (BScAg, MBA, FAICD) is the Managing Director of direct2, a corporate advisor on reputation management. He has extensive international business and board experience, with expertise in strategic planning, government policy development, corporate governance and change management of not-for-profit companies.

Claude is currently the independent chairman of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council of Australia, Vice-President of Science & Technology Australia and acts as a non-executive director of several other small-to-medium sized public companies. He is an accredited facilitator with the Australian Institute of Company Directors to deliver the strategy & risk modules in directorship programs.

Geoffrey Hilton Board Member


Corporate adviser, company director and lawyer. Partner of Sydney law firm Henry Davis York 1978-2012, including terms as chair of its Board of Management and Chairman of Partners.

Chairman of Man Investments Australia Limited 2002-2013 and a director of Globalaw Limited 2002-2013, including a term as its President. Formerly a non-executive director of RMB Australia Holdings Limited and M-co International Limited.

Presently serving as a non-executive director of Copper Mines of Tasmania Pty Ltd, Syscon Justice Systems International Pty Ltd and Hubbell Australia (Holdings) Pty Limited.

Victoria Marles Board Member


Prior to joining Trust for Nature as the CEO in 2009, Victoria has held various positions including Victoria’s Legal Services Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Legal Services Board and the Deputy Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.  As a lawyer Victoria specialised in media and communications law and policy and spent 10 years at the Communications Law Centre.

Victoria has a background in the arts having graduated in drama from the Victorian College of the Arts.  She has held various board positions including those of the Victorian Arts Centre, the Victorian Women’s Trust and the Melbourne Writers Festival.  Victoria was chair of the Circus Oz Board for thirteen years and also chaired Vic Health’s Community Arts Participation Panel for 10 years.  Victoria currently chairs the Abbotsford Convent Foundation Board.

Professor Mathew Vadas (AO, MB BS,FRACP,FRCPA,PhD,DSc) Board Member


Professor Mathew Vadas is a medical researcher and Executive Director of the Institute of Cancer Medicine and Cell Biology.

Mathew has held senior positions on various scientific advisory panels and boards for leading research bodies including the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council and Sydney Institutes of Health and Medical Research.

Helen Zigmond (MA) Board Member

Helen Zigmond

Helen Zigmond has an extensive background in education and the arts, working as a practitioner and a consultant involved in training and policy development in school, universities and other community institutions.

Since 1995 she has worked in the Health sector believing health to be a cultural context. In 1997 Helen developed the innovative arts in health program Creative Well for the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW and the community based Clacia program for regional and rural communities . She has represented her work overseas and developed a number of working relationships in the UK. Helen has been a director of The Institute For Creative Health since 2009.

Our Staff

The Institute for Creative Health is a lean organisation with a small team of highly credentialed and passionate people supporting Executive Director, Emma O’Brien. With a skills set combining science, the social sciences, cultural and public policy and arts practice we have the ability to interpret and respond to the needs of the sector promptly and flexibly.

Our Ambassadors

Robyn Archer AO Ambassador

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Robyn Archer AO, the highly acclaimed and awarded singer, writer, director, Artistic Director and public advocate of the Arts has been an Ambassador of The Institute for Creative Health since 2011 when it was known as the Arts and Health Foundation. I wholly endorse the work of the Arts & Health Foundation. As a child who was born with every allergy known to man and developed severe chronic asthma at 2 years old, I know just how valuable the arts are in bringing hope, optimism and real improvement to those with health challenges. Drawing, painting and reading from my sickbed made me happier, and singing and swimming prevented my asthma from being so much worse. Through the arts I have a fantastic active life and have suffered absolutely no setbacks because of my health. I have been singing professionally for fifty years – and still going strong. I hope that that the Arts & Health Foundation can give such a gift to many others. Robyn’s other current roles include Creative Director of the Centenary of Canberra 2013; Artistic Director of The Light in Winter (Federation Square, Melbourne); Chair of the Artistic Advisory Board Adelaide College of the Arts and; patron to Brink Productions, Arts Law Society, Australian Art Orchestra, Australian Script Centre, Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Ambassador Adelaide Football Club, International Development Agency.

Professor Ian Hickie AM Ambassador

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Professor Ian Hickie AM, Director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney and Ambassador for the Institute for Creative Health.

Sally Francis (RGN, Grad Dip Management – Arts) Ambassador


Sally currently holds the position of Arts Coordinator, Arts in Health at FMC, Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia and has a background in community health, visual arts practice and arts management. She is an advocate for developing government support for arts and health in hospitals throughout Australia and in 2008 assisted SA Health with the development of the SA Arts in Health Partnership Agreement. Sally was a Board member of The Institute for Creative Health from 2006 -2013.

Sally is a Churchill Fellow and member Society for the Arts in Healthcare (US). She has presented widely at conferences in Australia and overseas on arts and health program development and management.

Professor Michael Kidd AM Ambassador


Michael Kidd is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University. Michael is a general practitioner and President of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA). He has research and education interests in primary health care and family medicine, e-health, health policy, medical education, safety and quality in primary care, and the primary care management of HIV, hepatitis C and sexually transmissible infections.

Michael was a founding Board Director for the Institute, he retired from this position in 2014 and in now a proud Ambassador.