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Media Enquiries related to coronavirus (COVID-19)
VicHealth spokespeople are available for media interviews on managing health and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic, including how to stay active, eat a healthy diet and look after your mental health. To arrange an interview call 0435 761 732.
VicHealth cannot speak to:
• Number of cases and deaths
• Australia vs international response
• Medical treatment / vaccine for coronavirus
• Impact on health services.
For comment on the above contact DHHS media: (03) 9096 8840 (24-hour media phone) or email [email protected]
Dr Sandro Demaio
Dr Sandro Demaio is a medical doctor and globally-renowned public health expert and advocate.
Having held the role of Medical Officer for non-communicable conditions and nutrition with the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organization, Dr Demaio was previously the CEO of the EAT Foundation, the science-based, global platform for food systems transformation.
In his pro bono work, Dr Demaio co-founded NCDFREE, a global social movement against chronic disease which reached more than 2.5 million people in its first 18 months. In 2015, he founded festival21, assembling and leading a team of experts in staging an unprecedented free celebration of community, food, culture and future in his hometown of Melbourne. In 2018, he also established an independent, not-for-profit foundation focused on improving the health and nutrition of Australians.
He has published 30 scientific papers and more than 90 articles. He is also the author of the Doctor’s Diet, a cookbook based on science and inspired by a love of good food.
Besides his role as VicHealth CEO, Dr Demaio also co-hosts the ABC television show Ask the Doctor – an innovative and exploratory factual medical series broadcasting across Australia and around the world.
Dr Demaio originally trained and worked as a medical doctor at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. He holds a Masters degree in public health, a PhD in non-communicable diseases and has held fellowships at both Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Executive Manager, Social Marketing and Communications, and Head of This Girl Can – Victoria
Melanie is a passionate marketing communications professional with almost 20 years' experience in the government and not-for-profit sectors in Australia (Sydney, Perth and Melbourne) and in London.
Melanie has spent her career leading teams to deliver a range of high-profile behaviour change campaigns. From encouraging people to be safer on the roads and at work, to supporting people to make healthier choices and raising funds for life-saving research, Melanie’s goal has always been to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
During her time at VicHealth, Melanie has been responsible for leading the team to create the highly successful This Girl Can – Victoria campaign which inspired more than 400,000 women to get active in its first two years.
Melanie has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Technology Sydney.
Manager, Physical Activity and Sport
Chris is a respected community services senior manager and executive with over 25 years of experience specialising in community development, inclusive sport & recreation and program development. Chris's passion is in the development of projects and programs that positively impact the lives of people and communities living at the margins.
At VicHealth, Chris is responsible for a range of programs supporting Victorians to become more physically active to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Chris has previously worked at organisations such as Reclink Australia, Whitelion and Urban Seed where he was responsible for designing and rolling out innovative sport & recreation, youth, arts, community development and social enterprise initiatives aimed at engaging people experiencing significant disadvantage, including homelessness, addiction, mental illness and domestic violence.
Chris holds an Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from RMIT University.
Manager, Health Promotion Operations
Maya Rivis has over 15 years of experience working in health promotion and public health. Maya has led the development, implementation and evaluation of a range of tobacco control, public housing, perinatal mental health, diabetes prevention and population level health promotion policy and programs.
Maya is responsible for supporting effective health promotion program delivery, organisational strategy implementation and continuous improvements at VicHealth.
Manager, Alcohol and Tobacco
Emma has spent six years working specifically in tobacco and alcohol policy in government, and a further ten years in statutory agencies and the non-government sector across a range of public health roles.
Holding a Masters degree in Public Health, Emma’s experience spans health promotion policy and program development, project implementation and advocacy. Emma is responsible for VicHealth’s programs and investments in relation to preventing tobacco use and harm from alcohol.
Manager, Mental Wellbeing
Irene Verins has a 20-year background in the program design and management of community based initiatives within education, local government, the arts, health and workplace.
Irene is also responsible for the workforce development program at VicHealth which has designed and delivered training across Australia and internationally.
Irene has presented and published in the areas of mental health promotion, social determinants of health and workforce development.
Irene is a member of the Asia-Australia Mental Health Advisory Council and supports the activity of a range of state committees and working parties.
Principal Program Officer, Physical Activity, Sport and Healthy Communities
Melissa joined VicHealth in 2017 with more than 15 years’ experience working in the sport and physical activity industry at all levels, from grass roots to national.
Melissa has a passion for providing sport and fitness participation opportunities that encourage all people to lead active lives. Through various roles, including seven years at the Australian Sports Commission and as Board Director for state sporting organisations, she introduced new participation opportunities, focussed on customer-centric approaches, influenced participation and high performance strategy and led governance change. Most recently, she led the development and implementation of Swimming Australia’s first national junior program Optus Junior Dolphins and drove a shift in strategy towards an increased focus on recreational swimming.
Melissa also has a BA Commerce and Information Technology, is a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, and worked as a consultant to government with KPMG for seven years.
Principal Program Officer, Alcohol and Tobacco
Sean has worked in public health for the last 10 years, focusing on alcohol and gambling harm reduction and tobacco control.
Working with a number of agencies and through a consultancy, Sean has worked with community groups, local and state government and not for profit organisations to reduce the burden of harm from alcohol, tobacco and gambling products.
Sean holds a Masters in Policy and Human Service (RMIT) and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from Latrobe University.
Dr Annemarie Wright
Principal Program Officer, Knowledge and Health Equity
Annemarie is the content lead for research, evidence and evaluation, advising on projects across a range of illness prevention and health promotion programs. This work includes large population surveys, and development and design of population intervention programs.
She has particular expertise in the fields of health promotion and youth mental health having worked as a clinician, clinical trainer, health promotion program manager and population health researcher. Her research has published in a range of highly cited journals. Annemarie holds a PhD in in Public Health and Mental Health in addition to a Masters degree in Medical Science (Health Promotion).