CQU Noosa Institute - Wide Bay Health Symposium

‘Thinking innovatively in collaborative health care practice’

18 and 19 September 2019, CQUniversity Bundaberg

Discover the latest trends in health innovation with interactive workshops and presentations from national industry leaders. With topics including MEDIFARM Australia’s medical cannabis, the increasing use of robotics in healthcare, how to lead and coach health teams and the latest research in health leadership and innovation, this is a professional development opportunity not to be missed.

Get your tickets for the Wide Bay Health Symposium - two days of professional development - for only $599.

Keynote Speakers

Day 1 - 18 September 2019

Adam Benjamin - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Adam Benjamin

Mr Adam Benjamin
Founding Director, MEDIFARM

Presenting: From plant to patient: MEDIFARM Australia’s medical cannabis

Adam Benjamin is the founding director of MEDIFARM, Australia’s first licenced medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing company. Adam founded MEDIFARM to help Australian patients who seek improved health outcomes with leading medical cannabis treatments. Adam holds an undergraduate degree in science and a postgraduate qualification in International Commerce from the University of NSW. All throughout his studies and early career, he maintained a strong personal interest in medicine, with many of his family members being specialist doctors. He is particularly interested in the commercial aspects as well as novel treatments in improving patient health outcomes. In 2013 this led him to start up an innovative chain of primary healthcare clinics in Queensland with Specialist Doctors, GPs and Nurse Practitioners working in collaboration with one another, which he later sold. In 2015 he founded MEDIFARM to bring leading cannabinoid medical research, education and global patient treatment options to assist Australian Doctors to help their patients. Adam believes MEDIFARM now has a duty of care to the Australian patient to deliver the best in cannabinoid treatments based on 15 years of advanced international Intellectual Property and unique medical cannabis plant strains clinically proven to lead the world in their medical applications.

Preethi Preethichandra - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Preethi Preethichandra

Associate Professor Preethi Preethichandra
School of Engineering and Technology CQUniversity Australia

Presenting: Robotic Applications in Healthcare and Biomedical Fields

Associate Professor Preethichandra graduated in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from University of Peraniya in Sri Lanka and received his Masters and Doctoral qualifications from Japan. He has been working as a chartered engineer in the field and in academia in Sri Lanka, Japan and currently in Australia. He was the recipient of prestigious JSPS postdoctoral fellowship(Japan) and subsequently received FAIS (Japan) postdoctoral fellowship and JSPS invitational fellowship. He held the position of head of discipline in electrical engineering and is currently the head of discipline in mechatronics engineering at CQUniversity. He has been developing conducting polymer-based nano-biosensors for biomedical and environmental parameter measurements and conducting research on development of robotic systems and their applications in society.

Thinking Innovatively in Collaborative Health Care Practice is proudly supported by

Kathy McKenzie - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Kathy McKenzie

Mrs Kathy McKenzie
Director, FIREUP Coaching

Presenting: Conversational Intelligence - the key to successful innovation and collaboration

Kathy has been a pioneer in the field of coaching in Australia. She is an innovator and entrepreneur who loves seeing others evolve. She has seen thousands of people change their lives through the coaching and training FIREUP conducts. She continues to be an active member of the International Coach Federation, currently as the Sunshine Coast Chapter Leader.

Kathy founded FIREUP Coaching which has evolved to become one of the leading Australian Registered Training Organization’s in the area of Accredited Leadership and Coach Training. Kathy designed and developed FIREUP’s flagship programs, a Diploma of Leadership Coaching and Mentoring (10714NAT) and Certificate IV in Business and Personal Coaching (10547NAT), some of the most comprehensive and practical accredited coach training programs in Australia. Kathy brings passion, energy, enthusiasm to every topic she presents and is experienced nationally and internationally.

Dr Matthew Thomas
Dr Matthew Thomas

Associate Professor Matthew Thomas
School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences, CQUniversity Australia

Presenting: Risk-based Approaches to Managing Fatigue in Healthcare and Beyond.

Dr Matthew Thomas is one of Australia’s leading scientists in the field of Human Factors and safety management in high-risk work environments. For several decades he has provided expert advice and Human Factors solutions to airlines, the road and rail industry, healthcare, mining, utilities, construction and defence.

He currently holds a range of leadership positions in the Human Factors discipline internationally. These positions include:

  • Chair of Council of the Australian Patient Safety Foundation
  • Member of Australian Advisory Board of the Flight Safety Foundation
  • Vice President - Australian Aviation Psychology Association

After completing his PhD, he developed an international research and consulting profile in the field of Human Factors and fatigue management. As an accomplished scientist, he has published widely in the academic literature and brings a unique blend of scientific integrity and industry application to his work.

Day 2 - 19 September 2019

Adrian Pennington - Keynote speaker Wide Bay Health Symposium
Adrian Pennington

Mr Adrian Pennington Chief Executive
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service

Presenting: Personal vision for health care in the Wide Bay region

Adrian has 40 years of healthcare experience and is recognised for his achievements in transformation and quality improvement. He led the Coronary Heart Disease program in the UK, which led to a reduction in mortality of 55,000 lives per annum. With over 40 publications relating to quality and operational improvement, he is widely regarded as a leader in the field of health care redesign. Adrian developed the quality accounts framework in England and has worked as an advisor to the Government of British Columbia. He is currently a member of the International Hospital Federation Council and a Board member of the Australian Hospital and Health Association. In 2018 he was awarded the Australian Healthcare Chief Executive of the year.

Kerry Reid_Searl - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Kerry Read-Searl

Professor Kerry Reid-Searl
Professor of Simulation,
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Sciences, CQUniversity Australia

Presenting: A journey of innovation in daring to be different

Dr Kerry Reid Searl is a Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at CQUniversity. Kerry has been involved in undergraduate nursing education at CQUniversity for the past 27 years and has assumed numerous roles in this capacity including Deputy Dean of Learning and Teaching, Deputy Head of Program and Professor of Simulation. Kerry has extensive teaching experience and has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards. Some of these include the CQUniversity Vice Chancellors Teaching Award in 2008 and 2010, a Faculty of Science Engineering and Health teaching award in 2008 and 2010, an Australian Learning and Teaching Citation for her outstanding contribution to student learning in 2008 and 2012, was named Pearson/Australian Nurse Teacher Society- Nurse Teacher of the Year in 2009 and in 2012 was awarded and Australian University Teaching Excellence Award. In 2013 Kerry received the Simulation Australia Achievement Award. Kerry is well published in international journals for her work around medication safety, patient safety and simulation.  Kerry has developed two simulation techniques termed Mask Ed and Pup Ed. These teaching techniques are now used across the world. Kerry has delivered a number of keynote addresses and speaker presentations globally for her innovative work. She has been the principal author, as well co-author, of several nursing textbooks.

Fiona Sewell - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Fiona Sewell

Mrs Fiona Sewell
Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service

Presenting: Leading with influence

Fiona Sewell is the Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services for Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service. She has more than 30 years of nursing experience and almost 15 years in nursing leadership, being honoured with an Australia Day Award for exceptional leadership during the Queensland Floods. Her experience and knowledge have been gained from working in both public and private healthcare facilities, international networking and successful completion of a range of postgraduate university study including orthopaedics; emergency nursing; investigations management and health leadership, management and quality. Currently, Fiona is in the final stages of completing a Master’s in business Administration. Fiona is a disruptive, highly motivated and driven leader. She understands her ‘why’, is not afraid to have the difficult conversations and is devoted to leading nurses to provide excellence in nursing standards.

Desley Hegney - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Desley Hegney

Professor Desley Hegney
Professorial Research Fellow, Research Division, CQUniversity Australia

Presenting: Burnout and resilience: does this differ across employment sectors

Professor Desley Hegney is employed as a Professorial Research Fellow in the Research Division at CQUniversity Brisbane. She has worked as a nurse for 50 years. Her research and teaching interests have been in rural health and the nursing workforce. She currently leads the International Collaboration for Occupational Resilience at CQUniversity. Her extensive work in the area of the workforce has led to her focus on resilience which includes the external as well as the internal factors influencing resilience. The current focus of her research is on building resilience in the health workforce with several projects involving nurses and rural doctors and most recently, the MSCR program at CQUni. She was the inaugural editor for the Australian Journal of Rural Health (1992- 2002) and has established several nursing organisations such as the Association for Australian Rural Nurses and Midwives (now a special interest group for the Australian College of Nursing) and the Western Australian Sigma Theta Tau Psi Alpha-at-large chapter. She is a member of several Editorial Boards and Grant Review Panels both in Australian and internationally.

Michael Cowling - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Michael Cowling

Associate Professor Michael Cowling
School of Engineering and Technology
CQUniversity Australia

Presenting: Technological disruption: AR/VR and immersive technologies

Associate Professor Michael A. Cowling is an award-winning technology educator and technology communicator with a keen interest in mixed reality education, computer science/technology education, and information technology in society. He is currently an Associate Professor in Information & Communication Technology at CQUniversity Australia and is the founder of The CREATE Lab, which focuses on collaborative research and engagement around technology and education. He holds an Australian Government National Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning and is an Advance Queensland Community Digital Champion, as well as a current partner in an Australian Office for Learning & Teaching Innovation & Development grant and an Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE) Community Fellow. His other appointments include as a consulting expert in information technology for the Australian Tertiary Education & Quality Standards Association (TEQSA), and an assessor for the Australian Awards for University Teaching. His workshop series “Weaving Technology into the Fabric of the Classroom” has provided training for over 200 Queensland teachers on innovative technology, and as a CSIRO STEM Professional in Schools he presents technology to students as part of the state member of parliament supported “Professor Tech” program, and has written opinion pieces for national publications including Education Matters, Education Technology Solutions, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Age, and the Brisbane Times. A/Prof. Cowling lives by the mantra “pedagogy before technology”, and believes in a pedagogy-first, technology-enhanced approach to technology adoption in society, if it is to truly enrich our lives.

Fiona Coulsen - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Fiona Coulsen

Professor Fiona Coulson
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Development)
CQUniversity Australia

Prof Fiona Coulson is the CQUniversity Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Development), a role which sees her spearhead the University’s exciting Dare to Be Different agenda. Prof Coulson is responsible for harnessing CQUniversity’s pervasive culture of being bold and unconventional, directing this into projects which generate real impact, innovation or disruption within our communities. Prof Coulson is a strong believer in the need to be different in order to make a difference, and she leads an entire University community on this philosophical mission. Prior to this DVC role, Prof Coulson held previous roles at CQUniversity including Dean of the University’s largest School; the School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences. Prof Coulson has a background in biomedical research, primarily in the relationship between diabetes and inflammation and their effects on gastrointestinal motility and respiratory function. Prof Coulson’s biomedical research has spanned across multiple institutions, including The University of Queensland, Griffith University, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. Prof Coulson’s upbringing in small towns across outback Queensland has made her a powerful advocate for the role played by regional Australia in our national prosperity, and the transformative effect that training, education and research yields in non-metropolitan communities. Prof Coulson and her family proudly call Rockhampton, Central Queensland their home.

Mr Luke Sinclair
Mr Luke Sinclair

Master of Ceremonies
Mr Luke Sinclair,
Associate Vice-Chancellor (Wide Bay Burnett Region) and Manager – Academic Pathways and Engagement
CQUniversity Australia

Luke has been involved in the Education sector for over 10 years, incorporating primary, secondary and tertiary as well as the corporate sector. He has worked across the sector in both Australia and abroad, specifically the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. He has been with CQUniversity for almost 4 years working across the Student Experience, Tertiary Education and Engagement Divisions.

Peta Jamieson - Keynote speaker at the Wide Bay Health Symposium
Peta Jamieson

Ms Peta Jamieson
Chair, Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service Board

Peta has more than 20 years’ experience with the Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ), and is the director of her own management consultancy.  She has a breadth of both executive and operational experience, and a clear understanding of how government, its policies, and processes work. Since moving to the Wide Bay region Peta has been committed to securing community-based work that allows her the ability to achieve an improved work/life balance but also assist local/regional organisations achieve their goals. Peta is a strong advocate for the Bundaberg and Wide Bay Burnett Region. She actively works with community, commercial and government bodies such as the Wide Bay Burnett Regional Organisation of Councils on a range of local and regional projects and initiatives. Peta is also a Director on the Gladstone Ports Corporation Board and a member of its Governance & Risk Committee and People Performance & Culture Committee.

Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services Logo
Friendly Society Private Hospital
PHN Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast Logo
Best Practice - An evolution in medical software logo
Fire Up Coaching logo

The CQUniversity Symposium is now welcoming researchers to submit papers for presentations and workshops.

Topics of presentations should relate to the Symposium theme of Thinking innovatively in collaborative health care practice, but can address a wide range of relevant issues including (for example):

  • Healthy ageing
  • New ways of working in the sector
  • Education of the future healthcare workforce
  • Self-care and resilience for health practitioners


Workshops are to be in the form of an interactive lecture presentation of 90 minutes duration.

To submit a workshop for consideration please submit a brief outline of the workshop, including the key learning outcomes to


Research presentations will be structured as a 20-minute presentation with an additional 5 minutes allocated for question time.

To submit a presentation of new research, please submit a 200-word abstract outlining the research topic and findings to


Submissions for workshops and research presentations must be received by COB 28 June 2019.


If presenters wish to attend the rest of the conference, they’re eligible for a 50% discount on standard tickets.

For further information please contact:

Purchase prior to 16 August 2019: $499

If purchased after 16 August 2019: $599

Tickets include:

  • 2-day symposium pass including entry to professionally facilitated workshops and presentation of new research
  • Certificate of attendance

Group discount rates are available, please contact Mel Nunn for details: Ph: (07) 41507113

Book Now

Discounted rates are available for Symposium participants starting from $200 a night for a one bedroom apartment. Please contact Manta Bargara Resort directly to secure the best rates.