The “Croakey Connective” is steered by public health journalist Melissa Sweet, in collaboration with many others. The team includes the editors, as well as contributing editors, columnists and people who collaborate on various projects.
Members of the Croakey team wear multiple hats, and the editors declare our conflicts of interest here.
Roles: Overall editorial responsibility; steering social journalism activities and development; outreach and sustainability; organisational development.
Follow her on Twitter: @MelissaSweetDr.
Melissa Sweet is an independent journalist, media columnist, author, blogger and researcher. She has been covering health matters for more than 30 years. She founded Croakey and @WePublicHealth. She is a Croakey editor, as well as contributing to various projects, including #JustJustice, #JustClimate and #IHMayDay. Melissa is a founding member and chair of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation. She is the author or co-author of several books, including Inside Madness, The Big Fat Conspiracy, Ten Questions You Must Ask Your Doctor, and Smart Health Choices (free). Before turning to a freelance career in the late 1990s, she covered health and medicine for the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Associated Press. She has an honorary appointment as senior lecturer in the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, and completed a PhD at the University of Canberra in 2017. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists (US-based), the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, and the Australasian Medical Writers Association. Read more here.
COI declaration: Melissa does occasional writing/consultancy projects for Dr Janine Mohamed (since 2017) and the Lowitja Institute (since 2019). Previously, she has provided writing and/or consultancy services to the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) (until 2019), the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (until 2017) , and the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (in 2019).
Her PhD supervisors at the University of Canberra (completed in 2017) were Associate Professor Kerry McCallum, Professor Matthew Ricketson and Dr Kate Holland, as well as Professor Pat Dudgeon at the University of Western Australia, and Dr Lynore Geia from James Cook University. Members of her PhD advisory committee were: Associate Research Professor Alwin Chong from the University of South Australia; Kathleen Musulin from Carnarvon; Richard Weston from the Healing Foundation; and Renee Williams from Cairns.
Roles: Commissioning, editing, writing and publishing articles. Contributing to social journalism activities and development. Secretary of Croakey Health Media, a non-profit public interest journalism organisation.
Follow her on Twitter: @mariemcinerney
Marie McInerney is an editor at Croakey and reports for the Croakey Conference News Service. She also contributes to various projects, including #JustJustice and #CripCroakey. She is a freelance journalist for a range of publications, including Croakey, BBC Australia, Thomson Reuters, the British Medical Journal, the Saturday Paper and Text Pacific publications, including the HCF member magazine. She is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and a former Board Member of ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) Australia. She has previously worked as a tutor on writing and journalism at RMIT.
COI declaration: Marie has received fees and travel related expenses for attending a number of conferences and events on behalf of the Croakey Conference News Service. Marie does freelance/casual work for not-for-profit organisations, including writing and editing reports and other communications. Current clients include Lowitja Institute (since 2020), Mental Health Victoria (since 2018), and Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) (since 2017). Other clients in the past five years have included the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Women with Disabilities Victoria, Victoria’s Commission for Children and Young People and ICAN.
Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferDoggett
Jennifer Doggett is an editor at Croakey and reports for the Croakey Conference News Service. She is a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development and a consultant working in the health sector for a number of professional, industry and consumer groups. She has previously worked within the Federal Department of Health, as a political advisor and in a community health organisation. She worked for Nicola Roxon when she was opposition Health spokeswoman and before that for Meg Lees when she was leader of the Democrats. Jennifer is the author of “A New Approach to Primary Care for Australia” and “Out-of-pocket: rethinking co-payments in the health system”, and a contributing author to CPD’s recent publication More Than Luck: Ideas Australia needs now. Jennifer’s chapter Getting health policy into shape argues for a sharper focus on addressing the issues which matter most to consumers: out-of-pocket expenses, co-payments, and unequal access to health-care providers. She has a Masters in Public Health and a Graduate Diploma in Health Economics.
COI declaration: Jennifer is Chair of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance. She provides (or has previously provided) consultancy services to a range of different organisations in the health sector including: Department of Health (Commonwealth), NSW Health, The Royal Australasian College of Psychiatrists (via CEG-AP), The Black Dog Institute, The Australian Commission on Quality and Safety in Health Care, the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute, the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance, Consumers Health Forum and Stryker Australasia (via CMAX Advisory). Jennifer has received fees and travel related expenses for attending a number of conferences and events on behalf of the Croakey Conference News Service, as well as a policy simulation exercise organised by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association. She has previously been employed by Client Solutions, the Australian Divisions of General Practice, a federal Senator (from the Australian Democrats), the AIDS Council of South Australia and the Federal Department of Health.
Follow her on Twitter: @coopesdetat
Amy Coopes is an editor for Croakey and also reports for the Croakey Conference News Service. She is a seasoned reporter with more than a decade’s experience in news, including several years as Australia correspondent for Agence France Presse. She is now a medical student, but continues freelance work, contributing to the BMJ, Fairfax and various UNSW publications. Amy has a Bachelor of Arts (Communications – Journalism) and Master of Arts (Creative Writing) and is working towards a Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine.
COI statement: Amy is studying Medicine on a Department of Health scholarship and is also a John Flynn scholar with the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. She has travelled to the Northern Territory on a bursary from the UNSW Rural and Allied Health and Medical Students society and through the NT Rural High School Visits program, a workforce initiative of Health Network Northern Territory. She does occasional paid writing and editing work in the government and university sectors for clients including VicHealth, the University of Tasmania and the University of New South Wales.
Dr Ruth Armstrong
Follow her on Twitter: @DrRuthAtLarge
Ruth is an editor at Croakey and also the Croakey Books Editor. She reports for the Croakey Conference News Service, and offers medical storytelling workshops as part of the Croakey suite of professional services. With a background in general practice, she worked from 1997-2015 on the editorial team of the Medical Journal of Australia. Her long career at the MJA included working as Indigenous Health Editor, and undertaking special projects such as MJA books, supplements and theme issues. From 2011-2015 Ruth was the Medical Editor of, and weekly columnist for, the MJA’s online newsletter, MJA InSight. She has a passion for written communication of all kinds. From the poetical brevity of Twitter to the turgid tomes of academia, what we write, and the way we write it, has the power to inform, to persuade and to influence.
Follow him on Twitter @MarkRagg
Mark is a writer and editor. He worked as a doctor in emergency medicine originally, then as a journalist at The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald, before starting a consultancy, Ragg & Co. He has written a novel, The Dickinson Papers (Random House, 2009), and has had short stories and poetry published.
Mark works with people in governments, agencies and academia who he thinks are working for the public good. He finds that most people working in health are, broadly speaking, trying to improve the lot of others. But not all, and those ones need close attention.
COI statement: Mark has worked with all Australian governments at some time and with many agencies, and with many universities, and quite a few NGOs. A couple of times he has worked with the private sector, but it hasn’t gone well.
Follow her on Twitter @nmackee2
Nicole has worked in health and medical publishing for more than 20 years. She was Deputy Editor and sub-editor at Australian Doctor before taking the plunge into freelancing in 2011.
For the past eight years, Nicole has written for InSight+ – the Medical Journal of Australia’s online newsletter – and, since 2016, she has been a regular contributor to Medicine Today.
Nicole has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing (University of Canberra) and has a keen interest in public health, particularly the impact of climate change on health.
COI statement: Nicole is paid to write regular news stories for InSight+ and Medicine Today. She has been paid to write content for the Australian National University (Impact of Giving publications), Macquarie University, and the Sax Institute. Nicole was also commissioned to write copy for the relaunch of Kelso Lawyers’ website in 2016.
Follow him on Twitter: @PeterCMcInnes1
Peter McInnes worked at the Commonwealth Department of Health for over two decades. He also worked for a number of years as a knowledge exchange professional at the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute at the Australian National University. Peter is interested in combining research evidence and the power of storytelling to inform health policy development. He has broad experience in research engagement across a range of fields including urban water management, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health data and program evaluation, and primary health care policy. Peter has authored and co-authored a number of health and social policy related reports and academic articles and book chapters.
Creative director/web development
Roles: Website design and development; graphic design; contributing to social journalism activities and development.
Follow him on Twitter: @rocklilydesign
Mitchell is the creative director and website developer for Croakey. He is also principal of Rock Lily Design, and has vast experience in graphic design and web development across a multiple of industries including multinational companies, small boutique businesses, not-for-profit organisations, government and non government organisations and academia. Mitchell has creative skills in both website development, photography and videography and is a keen musician and artist.
Roles: Providing advice; contributing to social journalism activities and development; outreach and engagement.
Summer May Finlay
Follow her on Twitter: @OnTopicAus
Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman who grew up in Lake Macquarie near Newcastle. She engages with Croakey in a number of capacities, including as a contributing editor, and as a member of the #JustJustice project, and has reported for the Croakey Conference News Service. Summer is currently undertaking a PhD with the University of South Australia, has a Master of Public Health Advanced majoring in social marketing from the University of Wollongong and a Bachelor of Social Science majoring in linguistics from Macquarie University. Summer has worked in a number of different areas relating to Aboriginal health and social justice. Summer currently works in Aboriginal health in a policy and research capacity, and has also worked at the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples (Congress) in Policy and Communications roles. She spent two and a half years at the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW and at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation respectively. Summer also has four years’ experience as a youth and children’s worker.
Dr Tim Senior
Follow him on Twitter: @timsenior
Tim is a GP who works in Aboriginal health, and who crowdfunded the Wonky Health columns at Croakey, investigating the impacts of policies upon health. He is a contributing editor at Croakey, and also a contributor to the #JustJustice project. He has his own blog, and won the inaugural Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay Competition, writing about climate change and equity.
Dr Megan Williams
Follow her on Twitter: @MegBastard
Dr Megan Williams is the Research Lead and Assistant Director of the National Centre for Cultural Competence at The University of Sydney. From 2017 to early 2020 she was Head of Girra Maa, the Indigenous Health Discipline at the Graduate School of Health, UTS. Megan is Wiradjuri through her father’s family and has over 20 years’ experience working on programs and research to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people engaged in the criminal justice system. Megan has government and industry funding and collaborations for research, including about health service delivery, workforce development and facilitation of community driven research. Megan is an Aboriginal Family Wellbeing Program trainer, has contributed to defining pillars of government policy, and for program evaluation uses her Ngaa-bi-nya (said naa-bin-ya) Aboriginal framework published in the Evaluation Journal of Australasia. Megan is a commissioning editor of health media organisation Croakey.org, and is recognised for her commitment to conveying Indigenous people’s research, stories and expertise to professional bodies, communities, parliamentarians, students and the media.
Dr Lesley Russell
Follow her on Twitter: @LRussellWolpe
Dr Lesley Russell is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the University of Sydney. She is a contributing editor at Croakey, and also began contributing the regular Health Wrap column in early 2018. Her research interests include healthcare reform in Australia and the US, mental health, Indigenous health, addressing health disparities and health budget issues; her policy papers and annual budget analyses are available on the University of Sydney e-scholarship website. Lesley was previously a Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Fellow at the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute at the Australian National University. She has a PhD in biochemistry from the John Curtin School of Medical Research at ANU. Lesley has substantial experience working in health policy in the US and Australia, both in and out of government. In 2009-12 she worked in Washington DC on a range of issues around the enactment and implementation of President Obama’s health care reforms, initially as a Visiting Fellow at the Center for American Progress and later as a Senior Advisor to the US Surgeon General, Dr Regina Benjamin, in the Department of Health and Human Services. From 2007-2010 she was the inaugural Menzies Foundation Fellow at the MCHP and a Research Associate at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. Prior to that she was a health policy advisor to the Federal Australian Labor Party, working for Simon Crean when he was Leader of the Opposition and then Julia Gillard when she was Shadow Minister for Health. She worked for seven years (1984-1991) as health policy advisor to Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee in the US House of Representatives. Lesley is a keen skier (with a home on the slopes in Keystone Colorado) and hiker and a regular contributor to CroakeyGO.
COI statement: Lesley writes regularly for Inside Story and receives compensation for these articles. She undertakes occasional consultancy work, most recently for Oxfam Australia, Probity Australia, and the federal Department of Health. In the past she has worked as an employee or consultant for several pharmaceutical companies, including MSD Australia, CSL and Teva. She continues to provide policy advice to the ALP.
Director, Business Development and Relationship Management
Roles: Supporting financial sustainability and development; business planning; working with funders; and providing outreach and relationship management.
Follow on Twitter: @CroakeyServices
Laurell works as Croakey’s Director, Business Development and Relationship Management supporting financial sustainability and development; business planning; working with funders; and providing outreach and relationship management.
Laurell has a keen interest in participatory democracy supported by her previous studies in public policy. She is currently also working at General Practice Training Tasmania (GPTT) as project manager to the GPTT Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Training Initiatives Strategic Plan.
Beginning her career in nursing, Laurell returned to university to study public policy before moving into health policy roles. She has worked at senior levels at the Commonwealth, Department of Health within population health, health workforce regulation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce. Laurell has also held positions as Manager, Strategic Workforce at the Department of Health in Tasmania and as Principal Officer, Partners in Health, a conjoint position between the University of Tasmania and the Department maintaining the strategic relationship between the two organisations.
Laurell is excited about her role and looking forward to assisting to create sustainable environment for the Croakey team to deliver independent public interest journalism and contribute to the health and wellbeing of people, families, communities, policies, societies and the environment.
Director of finances
Roles: Financial management.
Follow her on Twitter:@paula_oconnell
Paula O’Connell is an independent business consultant. Her expertise includes business strategy, digital marketing and operations. In 2002 she created an executive search firm in the Netherlands that she grew to a team of 20 before selling and returning to Australia in 2017. Before this, she established the marketing contracting division for Morgan & Banks: Australia’s premier recruitment firm in the 1990s.
Paula is an MBA graduate of the University of Sydney’s Graduate School of Management. She also holds a Certificate III in Fitness and teaches Chair Yoga for Seniors. In her spare time, Paula is a Bushcare volunteer, a keen yoga practitioner, passionate cyclist, novice bridge player and rookie golf player.
Contributors, collaborators and columnists
Cate is an independent journalist with four decades of experience across print and broadcast media. Cate produces and presents Croakey’s podcast, CroakeyVoices, working with the team on joint projects such as #JusticeCOVID and the Croakey Conference News Service. A former journalist with ABC Radio, Cate has worked across the organisation as a news journalist, a specialist health reporter, a presenter/producer with ABC NewsRadio, a producer with both ABC Local Radio and RN, and as the Regional Program Manager and morning presenter with ABC South East (NSW). She has also worked with the ABC Audio team, the national broadcaster’s podcast unit. Cate has worked as a freelance print journalist, contributing articles to a number of publications including the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal. She has been a journalism teacher with TAFE NSW and a volunteer with the StoryFactory in Sydney, working with students at disadvantaged schools across the city.
Follow her on Twitter: @TheKooriWoman
Kelly is an award-winning blogger and writer. She crowdfunded to write a series of articles for Croakey, The Koori Woman columns, and is a contributor to the #JustJustice project. Kelly is also a judge of the Gavin Mooney Memorial Essay Competition. She took first place in the Australian Writers Centre’s ‘Best Blogs of 2014’ commentary section, and has written for The Shake, Monash University’s Castan Centre and Guardian Australia.
Dr Justin Coleman
Follow him on Twitter: @drjustincoleman
Dr Justin Coleman is a GP who works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in Brisbane, and contributes the Naked Doctor column to Croakey. He holds a Masters in Public Health, and is President of the Australasian Medical Writers Association.
Dr Lynore Geia
Follow her on Twitter: @LynoreGeia
Lynore is a Bwgcolman woman from Palm Island, Queensland, a mother, registered nurse, midwife, senior lecturer and researcher in Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition at James Cook University. She founded #IHMayDay – a day-long Twitter program of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people tweeting about health matters. It was held in 2014 and 2015 in collaboration with Croakey. Read more here and here. Lynore coordinates and teaches the Indigenous Health subject to undergraduate and postgraduate nursing and midwifery students. Her current research activity involves working with her home community of Palm Island in partnership with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector.
Follow her on Twitter: @bluntshovels
Award-winning writer El Gibbs, who writes from both a policy wonk and a disabled perspective, has crowdfunded #cripcroakey – a series of articles about disability and health. She has over 15 years experience in the community and not-for-profit sector, working in policy and advocacy on disability and other social issues. She has written previously for the Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian Australia, ABC RampUp, Crikey and the King’s Tribune. She won the 2014 Gavin Mooney Essay Competition with a strong piece about mental illness and housing and has been a contributor to US magazine Model View Culture on the topic of disability and technology. She also has a blog.
Dr Melissa Stoneham
Follow her on Twitter: @drmelstoneham
Melissa, Deputy Director with the Public Health Advocacy Institute of WA, writes the regular Journal Watch column for Croakey. Throughout her 25 year career, she has worked with local, state and national government agencies in the areas of environmental health, health promotion and public health policy. Melissa has also worked within the University sector teaching public health at QUT and is now based at Curtin University in Perth. Highlights of her career include humanitarian aid roles in Mozambique and in the Pacific. More recently, Mel has taken a keen interest and involvement in gambling from a public health perspective, Indigenous health issues and the art and science of public health advocacy.
Croakey Conference News Service
Journalists and others who have contributed to this service include:
Summer May Finlay
We also thank and acknowledge others who have contributed to Croakey in the past, including: Michelle Hughes, and The Health Wrap contributors Kellie Bisset, Ellice Mol, Megan Howe, Helen Signy, Barry Dunning, Frances Gilham