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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 0417 627 916.

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 Department of Health media: 1300 758 551 (24-hour media phone) or email [email protected]

Dr Sandro Demaio

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.

Kristine Cooney

Kristine Cooney

Executive Manager, Future Healthy

Kristine joined VicHealth in August 2021, bringing with her over 20 years’ experience in leadership, strategic customer and operations management in both Australia and the UK. 

Kristine is an authentic, passionate and values-based leader with a strong track record in driving strategy and building motivated and high performing teams.  

Kristine is available to comment on the challenges and experiences of young people when it comes to enjoying good health, and how VicHealth’s newest initiative, Future Healthy, is creating a healthier future for those aged 0-25. 

Kristine holds a Bachelor of Politics and History from Monash University and has qualifications in Executive Leadership and in addition to having served as a Non-Executive Director. 

Mel Fineberg

Melanie Fineberg

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.


Headshot of Liss Gabb, she is wearing a black top, large silver hoop earrings

Liss Gabb

Manager, Social Connection and Mental Wellbeing, Future Healthy Group

Liss Gabb has worked as a specialist community development practitioner, arts manager, creative producer and educator in the fields of community development, social connection and mental wellbeing, participatory arts and social justice. Liss has worked in Naarm (Melbourne) for the past 25 years and has developed a socially engaged practice that is focused on anti-oppressive models of partnership with communities that experience structural discrimination.  

Prior to joining VicHealth Liss has worked in local government, community health, and a range of arts organisations. Liss has extensive experience in the design and delivery of social connection and mental wellbeing programs in partnership with young people.

She holds qualifications in Early Childhood Education, Drama in Education and has a Masters of Arts - Art in Public Space from RMIT University. Liss’s Masters research focused on the ways that art, made by and with communities, can tell stories that can shift perceptions to build empathy in public spaces.   

Headshot of Dheepa Jeyapalan, she is wearing a navy top, orange earrings and silver rimmed glasses.

Dheepa Jeyapalan

Manager, Healthy and Sustainable Food Systems, Future Healthy Group

Dheepa Jeyapalan is a dietitian and public health professional with a passion for addressing health inequities and working with communities in a way that centres self-determination. Having previously worked in the NGO sector, both domestically and abroad, and in academia, Dheepa has been involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of programs that address the structural barriers many face in accessing and enjoying nutritious food. Dheepa has worked across the food system throughout her career to centre the needs and voices of communities to ensure equitable practices are foundational to the health promotion programs she has led. 

Dheepa holds a Bachelor of Science (Nutrition and Dietetics) Hons and a Masters of Public Health. 

Sean O'Rouke

Sean O'Rourke

Manager, Grants and Partnerships

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.

Emma Saleeba

Emma Saleeba

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.