Keynote speakers


Caleb Ferguson


Dr Caleb Ferguson RN BScN MHlth PhD FCSANNZ FACN FESC is an Associate Professor at Western Sydney University and Western Sydney Local Health District. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (University of Stirling, 2005), Master of Health Leadership (University of Tasmania, 2011) and a PhD (University of Technology, Sydney 2015). A cardiovascular nurse researcher by background his research program is designed to improve the lives of people living with atrial fibrillation and heart failure, with a focus on the use of technologies to support self-management for stroke prevention. With expertise in translational health research and implementation science, his research spans ageing, frailty, cardiovascular disease, health technologies and consumer engagement.

Tara Willemsen

Williamson, Tara PhotoTara Willemsen is a Perioperative Registered Nurse supporting healthcare products as a Scientific Affairs specialist within the 3M™ Medical Solutions Division. Tara’s 20 years of experience draw from the various positions she has held as scrub and circulating nurse, educator, manager, and director, ranging from University to Community hospitals, across Canada and the United States. Her focus on promoting continual process improvement to benefit patient and staff safety, while overseeing Perioperative and Medical Device Reprocessing services has made her an expert in the field. ¿Tara has a passion for teaching and supporting clinical teams in their drive to provide excellent best practice patient care.

Georgie Carroll

Nurse A


“Nurse / Comedian Georgie Carroll will be bringing the lols to this year's ACORN 2022 Virtual Conference series. Author of ''Off the Charts'' and creator of the viral stand-up clip ''3 stages of Nursing'' is happy to show you her funniest bits in this session. You won't be learning, you will be in stitches, the good kind...”



Gail O'Brien AO

Gail Obrien

Gail O'Brien AO is a director of Chris O'Brien Lifehouse and prominent advocate for holistic and integrated cancer care.

A health professional of 40 years, Gail trained in physiotherapy and is skilled in a diverse range of therapies including orthopaedic rehabilitation, gerontology and women's health. For 20 years she was practice manager of a large head and neck surgical practice at Royal Prince Alfred and St George Private Hospitals.

Gail’s late husband, Professor Chris O'Brien AO, is the celebrated surgeon, cancer specialist and visionary behind the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, an integrated cancer centre and not-for-profit hospital in Sydney, Australia.  Since his death from brain cancer in 2009, Gail has dedicated herself to bringing Chris's vision to life – a purpose built, state-of-the-art complex that offers everything a cancer patient needs in one place from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy to allied health, education, complementary therapies and psychosocial support. 

Amidst her grief for her husband and also her eldest son, Adam, who died suddenly in 2011 from undiagnosed epilepsy, Gail stepped forward to fill the gap left without Chris, as well as harness the lessons of her husband's and son's illnesses and deaths. She joined the Board of Directors in 2009 and took on the role of steward for the culture and vision of Chris O'Brien Lifehouse.  Today, she works in the hospital in an  executive role as Patient Advocate. She continues to serve as an active member of the Board of Directors, public advocate and spokesperson, patron of the Bequest Society, and member of the Chris O'Brien Foundation.  On Australia Day 2018, she was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the community as an advocate for and supporter of cancer sufferers and their families.

Allison Evans

Acting COO Allison Evans Bio full (003)Hailing from a clinical background with a Bachelor of Nursing, Post Grad Diploma in Advanced Nursing and Diploma of Business, Allison Evans’ career commenced as a registered nurse, working for major Victorian healthcare organisations across the public and private sector.  Allison’s career path since joining Epworth HealthCare has seen her career progress across different Epworth hospitals sites, working most recently in roles of Director Perioperative Services; Chief Operations Manager at Epworth Richmond, Executive General Manager – Epworth Richmond, and her current role; Acting Chief Operating Officer, Hospitals. Regularly called upon for her extensive Healthcare knowledge, clinical knowhow and operational nous, Allison plays a role in offering her guidance across all Epworth sites. Epworth Richmond is a 480-bed acute site and Allison’s role provides operational oversight of a myriad of departments, managers and daily on-goings at Epworth. Allison is also a Fellow of the Australasian College of Health Service Management and a mentor for future healthcare leaders. Allison also sits on Safer Care Victoria’s recently formed Victorian Perioperative Consultative Council.

David Camilleri

david camilleri

David Camilleri joined ACORN as Operations Manager in January 2022 and comes with extensive experience in diverse senior management roles within the health care, finance, and telecommunications sectors. Prior to joining ACORN, David spent over 12 years at MedHealth, a global health care business, and served as the companies Group Executive General Manager and CIO in charge of global operations. While at MedHealth, David developed and launched a new business for the MedHealth group, mi-Support – a leading practice management partner to the health care industry, supporting over 35 000 medical specialists globally.

With over 25 years in operational and senior executive leadership roles, David is recognised globally for influencing and implementing process reengineering and transformational change within large scale multinational organisations. Extensively trained in information technology, business management, leadership and ISO standards, David aims to develop strategic plans that build ACORN’s capabilities to provide better outcomes for members and the perioperative profession.  

Janet Prust


Ms. Janet Prust is the Global Standards Director for 3M Health Care She has  thirty+ years of health care and industrial sterilization industry experience and spent 10 years in clinical practice prior to joining 3M. She educates globally on disinfection and sterilization, reprocessing standards, processing practices and infection prevention topics.  Janet holds degree in Clinical Science and several healthcare related certifications.  She is currently chair-elect of the US AAMI Board of Directors and leads the US delegation for the Sterilization of Medical Devices Technical Committee at ISO.



Catherine Smith

Cath SmithCatherine has 35+ yrs in nursing, and10 yrs in her 3rd nursing career as an Advanced practice nurse. Now working in both Perioperative and Bariatric areas of health care as a Nurse Practitioner(NP). She has  20+yrs as a Perioperative Nurse she having worked in several theatre roles until training to be a Perioperative Nurse Surgical Assistant (PNSA) and then Perioperative NP.

Quality and safety, access to healthcare and nursing leadership are key themes of Catherine’s current nursing practice.

This has included representation at both local (workplace) committees to national committees /boards in perioperative, bariatric and advanced practice nursing.

Practicing nurses voice should be key in nursing practice evolution and healthcare changes.