National Leadership Group

The National Leadership Group will oversee the work of four project implementation teams (PITs). Each PIT will focus on one of four workstreams relevant to promoting the ACORN Standards:

  1. research
  2. standards and the standard-setting process
  3. professional standards and training
  4. activation model through which ACORN promotes and markets the Standards.

The PITs will work over the course of 15 months to July 2021. Membership of the PITs will be announced shortly.

Deb_ThomsDebra Thoms is the immediate past Chief Nurse and Midwife with the Commonwealth Department of Health. Debra’s career in health care spans over 40 years and encompasses a wealth of experience in both nursing and health care leadership and management. Debra has worked in a range of settings across several states and territories during her career as well as undertaking postgraduate education to support her practice. Her contribution has been recognised with University of Technology Sydney awarding her an Outstanding Alumni Award, Australian College of Nursing awarding a Distinguished Life Fellowship and ACHSM awarding an Honorary Fellowship. In this next phase of her life Debra looks forward to engaging in areas of interest and is very pleased to be working with ACORN on this important project.

Kathy-BakerAs a registered nurse, Kathy Baker has over 50 years’ experience in the health care profession. Kathy has held executive management positions in Area Health Services and the NSW Health corporate office where she was the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer for NSW and is a former President and Director of the Australia College of Nursing where she has been awarded a Distinguished Life Membership. She has been awarded an Adjunct Professorship with Western Sydney University and the University of Sydney as well as an Honorary Fellowship with the University of Technology Sydney for her contribution toward nursing education reform within the health industry.

Kathy is also a former director on the boards of the Australian College of Nursing and RSL Care + Royal District Nursing Service and an advisor to Evercare Home and Health Care Hong Kong. She is also the nurse advisor at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare and director on the board of Western Sydney Local Health District.   

Kathy was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2010 for service to the nursing profession through contributions to education and the promotion of clinical excellence.

Allan Chapman PhotoAllan Chapman originally worked in corporate occupational health in Scotland before moving to Australia where he took a role in quality at the Royal Australasian College of Pathology. He is currently the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) States and Territories Coordinator as well as the RACS NSW State Manager. In his present role, Allan collaborates with other state and territory managers to promote best outcomes tailored to each jurisdiction and to have a clear advocacy voice around these results. As RACS NSW State Manager, Allan supports the RACS NSW committee in developing and achieving their goals through good governance whether driven by advocacy, workforce or patient outcomes. This entails engaging with stakeholders including state ministers and officials in NSW Health, local health districts, hospitals and elsewhere across the health sector.

Allan is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is part of the leadership group at RACS. He has previously been nominated for the Manager of the Year award given by the Australian Institute of Management. Allan is noted as a senior manager focused on people and outcomes and has spent much of his career involved in strategy and in the development of new initiatives.

Christine Dennis PhotoDr Christine Dennis DBA, MHSM, BN, FCHSM, FAAQHC, is Associate Professor in the Health and Aged Care Management program, College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University, South Australia.

Initially training as a registered nurse and midwife in the South Australian health system, Christine has over 40 years’ experience in health care delivery, the past 15 of which have been in management and leadership roles. Throughout her career, Christine has built skills in strategic and operational planning, quality and safety systems and in leading and implementing change.

Prior to her appointment with Flinders University in July 2019, Christine was the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) and ACHS International for five years. In 2018, she was elected as a founding member of the International Academy of Quality and Safety (IAQS), one of only 35 such members worldwide and received life membership of the Australasian College of Health Service Management (ACHSM). Christine is an active member of ACHSM where she serves on the State Branch Council and as the Chief Examiner (Australia) for the prestigious college Fellowship program.

Rebecca East PhotoRebecca East is ACORN's Chief Executive Officer (CEO). She has served ACORN as a volunteer on the board for nearly six years, from 2014 to 2016 as the Victorian Representative, then as Victorian Director from 2016 to 2018 and, until her appointment as CEO, as president, in which role she led the directors and staff for the past 18 months. Rebecca was honoured with a fellowship of the College in 2018.

Rebecca completed a Master of Nursing Practice (Perioperative) and Master of Nursing Practice (Nurse Practitioner) at Deakin University in 2013. She has worked in private practice for the past eight years and gained endorsement as a Nurse Practitioner in 2014. Rebecca now runs two private orthopaedic and sports injury practices in central Victoria. Rebecca is responsible for the management of the orthopaedic and sports injury patients and provides a surgical assisting role with her business partner and colleague an orthopaedic surgeon. 

Ruth Melville PhotoRuth has worked in the perioperative setting since 1983. After extensive clinical experience undertaking many clinical roles within the operating room and CSSD including anaesthetics, scrub–scout and recovery, Ruth moved into management and education. Ruth was the ORS Nurse Unit Manager at Nambour General Hospital for over 23 years and is currently the Clinical Nurse Consultant for Perioperative Services at the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) supporting patient safety initiatives in quality, redesign, innovation and compliance to standards across the health service. 

Over the past 15 years, Ruth has represented perioperative nursing on many committees and as a speaker at state, national and international levels. Ruth’s passion is patient safety in the perioperative setting, hence her strong advocacy for the standardisation of perioperative documentation. Ruth was pivotal to the Queensland statewide Perioperative Documentation project, including the implementation of the surgical safety checklist, and for driving the issue of patient safety in many political arenas. Ruth has reviewed many rural perioperative settings across Australia where she has strongly advocated for the adoption of the ACORN Standards and patient safety measures and has been actively involved with many hospital-wide accreditations. In her role with SCHHS, she focuses strongly on National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards and is undertaking her training as an Australian Council on Healthcare Standards surveyor. Ruth has also undertaken several volunteer surgical missions including working in Ethiopia for five weeks with local perioperative nurses in Arba Minch.

Ruth has been an active member of ACORN since 1985 and has held many positions at both state and national level, including ACORN president from 2012 to 2014, ACORN Director and Chair of the Standards Committee from 2010 to 2012, PNAQ (now ACORN Queensland) President and PNAQ representative from 2008 to 2010. Ruth was President of the International Federation of Perioperative Nursing (IFPN) from 2015 to 2018 and is an ACORN Fellow.

Peter R PhotoPeter Roessler MBBS, FFARACS, has worked in the public hospital system in anaesthesia, intensive care, neonatal anaesthesia and neonatal intensive care. He was deputy director anaesthesia Queen Victoria Medical Centre 1983, visiting medical officer at Monash Medical Centre and Alfred Hospital from 1984 to 1987 and regional education officer with the Faculty of Anaesthetists Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FARACS) from 1983 to 1985. Peter was primary examiner for FARACS and Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) from 1985 to 1997 and chair of the primary exam committee from 1992 to 1997. He was invited external examiner (physiology) for Hong Kong College of Anaesthetists from 1995 to 2007, has been specialist international medical graduate assessor (SIMG) for ANZCA since 2006 and Director of Professional Affairs with ANZCA, where he is responsible for professional documents, since 2010. Peter currently serves on a number of ANZCA committees including the Professional Affairs Executive, Safety and Quality, Continuing Professional Development and SIMG committees and the Mortality subcommittee. He has run a private practice since 1987.

Garry StrattonGarry Stratton joined the board in April 2017 and became ACORN President in October 2019. For the past six years, Garry has held the position of Clinical Nurse Manager of the perioperative unit at Calvary St Luke’s Hospital Launceston which specialises in orthopaedics, ear/nose/throat and oral surgery. He has 22 years of experience in the perioperative setting and is also an active member of ACORN Tasmania.