ABOUT OUR CONSUMER ADVISORY COUNCIL

Asthma Australia is a for-purpose, consumer organisation with a history of improving the lives of people with asthma since 1962. We have a bold mission to help people breathe so that they can live freely.

We lead education and training in evidence-based prevention and health strategies to more than half a million people each year across Australia.

We work with people with asthma, their carers, health professionals, researchers, and governments. We find the best treatments and practices to make sure life with asthma is the best it can be.

In 2018, we formed the Asthma Australia Consumer Advisory Council as part of our Consumer Engagement Strategy with an aim to better engage with consumers and carers.  We are strongest when we share information, and those closest to people with asthma share information with us.

Our Consumer Advisory Council has been fundamental in our strategic direction, and we thank them for the critical role they play in advising, informing, and guiding Asthma Australia, its Board, and management. 

You can find our Consumer Advisory Council’s purpose and objectives, roles and responsibilities, guiding principles and membership composition, as well as the terms of reference here.

 

Members of Asthma Australia’s Consumer Advisory Council

CHAIRPERSON

Judith-Wettenhall

Judith Wettenhall

Judith Wettenhall is the Chair of the Holbrook Local Health Advisory Committee, a role she has held for more than a decade.

She operates a farm in southern New South Wales and teaches in a casual role in a local school, where she has presented the Asthma Foundation’s Asthma Education package to teachers and students.

Ms Wettenhall holds a Graduate Certificate in Asthma Education and herself has asthma.

Jessica Leung

Jessica is a passionate Dentist and Pharmacist based in the ACT, and as a person who has lived with asthma since she was a child, she can appreciate some of the unique challenges of achieving and maintaining good asthma control. Her experience in community pharmacy and in public health service has demonstrated the successful outcomes that can be achieved through grass-roots engagement and proactive communication. In particular the challenges to receiving comprehensive and timely healthcare faced by members from a non-English speaking background. She believes her background and experience will provide unique insights to the Consumer Advisory Councils outputs which will promote deeper engagement and ultimately better health outcomes.
Tracy-Ellem

Tracy Ellem

Tracy Ellem is an educator in Asthma and Anaphylaxis management and First Aid.

With a background in early childhood education, she specialises in early intervention, especially working with vulnerable families as a peer support facilitator.

She has broad experience working with not for profit, private companies, and government sectors. Ms. Ellem experiences allergies and has a child who has asthma.

Kym-Holden

Kym Holden

Kym Holden is an advocate for asthma education, for people with asthma and those who care for them.

She has a long association with the Health Consumers Forum and ACT Asthma. Ms. Holden was involved in the territory-based organisation merging with Asthma Australia.

Ms. Holden has a strong family link to asthma. She says the importance of asthma education was highlighted following a personal experience with asthma that required her to be hospitalisation in the intensive care unit.

Helen-Murray

Helen Murray

Helen Murray is a retired nurse who has worked as a service provider in both public and private sectors, in paediatric practice and in aged care.

She has served as a committee member, a researcher, and an advocate, notably for people living in regional and remote areas. She has undertaken a number of volunteer roles in community organisations, sporting and arts groups.

Ms. Murray developed asthma as an adult and commends the services of the former Asthma Foundation in South Australia.

Lynda-Whiteaway

Lynda Whiteway

Lynda Whiteway is an experienced advocate in the health sector.

She performed the voluntary role of Queensland Cancer Fund Community Educator, informing consumers about prevention and early detection of some cancers, and influenced the expansion of the SunSmart schools project on the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay.

She is a member of the Making Care Better Group based at the Royal Adelaide Hospital encompassing the Central Adelaide Local Health Network Hospitals. 

Dr Sundram Sivamalai (PhD)

Sundram was born in Malaysia he maintains his conversational language interest in Tamil (mother tongue) and Malay (national language of Malaysia).  He was the Foundation Chair of the Ballarat Regional Multicultural Council, and served two terms as the Victorian Multicultural Commissioner. He has also been on the Ministerial Advisory Council for Responsible Gambling in Victoria, and maintains his interest and passion to advocate for CALD communities. Sundram has held senior academic positions including Adjunct Professor with University of Manipal, India and Associate Professor at James Cook University in the School of Medicine and Dentistry. He has been a local and international consultant on community engagements and has conducted Intercultural Education for health professionals and organisations. He has conducted health education training and workshops for health professionals in Australia, Japan, Indonesia, China and Malaysia. He still presents at international, national and regional conferences upon invitation. Sundram has completed several projects on multicultural aspects, and publishes widely in journals, magazines and in books. Currently he is about to launch his autobiography, ”One Dream, Four Countries”. Sundram was awarded the Centenary Medal from the Commonwealth Government for his work with migrants.
Karen

Karen Bembridge

Karen Bembridge is a special education teacher for Education Queensland and works with a diverse range of students, with special needs. Prior to this Karen worked as a registered nurse, working in a variety of settings, such as hospitals and in the community as a remote area health nurse, across Australia. Karen has lived with severe asthma most of her life, and many of her family members, also have asthma. She has had numerous hospitalisations and been in intensive care, and for her this highlights the importance of having asthma education and resources, particularly in rural and remote areas of Australia. Currently she is undergoing therapy with monoclonal antibodies to improve her quality of life with severe asthma. Karen recognises the difficulty for many people with accessing appropriate medical, hospital care, education and supportive resources in regional Australia and is keen to advocate for greater access to ensure improved outcomes for people of all ages living with asthma.

Victoria Adams

Victoria Adams is a university student currently studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Immunology/Pathology and Anatomy/Histology at the University of Sydney​. She aims to go on to complete a post-graduate Medicine degree. She is devoted to improving the lives of young people living with asthma and involving young people in discussions about their asthma and health with a focus on increasing health literacy. Through her volunteer work as a St John Ambulance First Responder she treats and sees many people with asthma providing an insight into the presentations of asthma out in the community. She lives with severe allergic asthma and avidly seeks to improve and advocate for better access to diagnosis and treatments for people living with severe asthma.

Mary O’Leary

Mary is a qualified company director, company secretary and scientist, she started her working life at the ACCC where she began her passion for consumer protection.  She continues that focus as the Chair of the Competition and Consumer Committee for the Law Institute of Victoria. Her past roles include Group General Counsel for EBOS Limited, where she was proud to contribute to healthcare service delivery through community pharmacies. In addition to consumer protection and healthcare service delivery, Mary is passionate about collaboration.  She was part of a team that won an Australian Institute of Project Management – Victorian ICT Team of the Year Award in 2016 and was internationally recognised by the Association of Corporate Counsel as Global Counsel of the Year in that same year.

As part of the Consumer Advisory Council, she hopes to continue to raise awareness and knowledge of asthma, supporting the organisation in achieving better outcomes for all.

Paula Swatman

Paula is a semi-retired Professor of Information Systems who now focuses on Human Research Ethics (she chairs Swinburne University’s HREC and is a Research category member of Bellberry Australia’s 12 HRECs).

Paula has many years of volunteering experience in community health and digital support for older people and is an active member of her Huon Valley community in Tasmania, as well as volunteering with Health Consumers Tasmania.

She has always had seasonal allergy, but only developed asthma following the 2019 Huon Valley bushfires. She has found it very challenging to manage her asthma effectively due to being sensitive to almost all asthma medications and has needed to make several lifestyle adjustments.

Puspa Sherlock

Puspa is a 50 year old single mum and primary carer of her two children who have chronic asthma. She has five children altogether.  Living on the North West coast of Tasmania, she is keen to represent her communities and foster inclusiveness and diversity.

Puspa is also a mental health practitioner and life coach and sits on various government and non-government boards and committees.

Puspa is a member of Consumers Health Tasmania and Flourish Tasmania, Tasmania Council of Social Services, and a consumer representative on the CALD and LGBTIQ+ committees.  She is also a board member of the Burnie Hub and a member of the Burnie Child and Family Center. She is actively involved in suicide prevention and mental health. Having an autoimmune disease and a sinus disease of the brain hasn’t slowed her down. She had a stroke two years ago and is grateful to be able to volunteer and help others.

In addition, Puspa has four 1st Dan black belts in four different styles of martial arts and is a volunteer senior karate instructor and she is the first female Vice President of the Tasmanian Martial Arts Council.

 

Board Representatives

James_Wright

James Wright

James is a founding partner at Sayers, an advisory and investment firm launched in 2020.

He has over 30 years’ experience in economics and investment markets working in senior roles in both the public and private sector. James has previously been the Chief Investment Officer of JBWere Ltd and ING Investment Management, where he led teams that managed considerable amounts of capital for clients. His previous roles include Treasury Corporation of Victoria and the Commonwealth Treasury in Canberra.

He has been active in Asthma Foundation New South Wales and Asthma Australia roles since 2014. He has a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from Monash University.

Find him on LinkedIn

Simone_Carton

Simone Carton

Simone is an experienced CEO, lawyer and governance professional. She has worked across a variety of sectors including legal, health, advertising, banking and the arts.

She is currently CEO of the ACT Law Society, the peak body for solicitors working in the ACT. Previously, Simone was CEO of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Palliative Medicine and worked as in-house counsel and company secretary for the Advertising Standards Bureau.

Simone previously served on the boards of the former Asthma Foundation ACT and the Australian Multiple Birth Association. As a parent to children with asthma, Simone also has personal experience with the challenges facing people with asthma.

Find her on LinkedIn

 

TESTIMONIALS

“A severe asthmatic myself I have always had a passion for asthma education and advocacy.

As a member of Asthma Australia and the Consumer Advisory Council, I have been given a wonderful opportunity to really make a positive contribution through the lived experience of an asthmatic’s life. Being part of the council has allowed me to play an active role in shaping the future of Asthma Australia’s rebranding and commitment to being a patient/consumer centered organisation. I feel extremely valued as a councilor and I am both humbled and proud of the achievements the council has accomplished in such a short time.

I would highly recommend anyone who is passionate about change and helping all asthmatics to live freely, to consider joining the council as you will foster amazing friendships while enduring a huge sense of self-satisfaction for the time and energy you give.” CAC Member Julia Ovens.