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14 Dec 2022
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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, Policy Strategy and Impact Group

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 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. 

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. 

Bonnie, blond hair, wearing a red top and a white printed cardigan

Bonnie Matheson

Manager, Commercial Determinants of Health

Bonnie Matheson is an experienced public health and social policy leader who has worked across local, state and federal governments, and the not-for-profit sector. Bonnie has focused her career on enabling Aboriginal self-determination, tackling systemic and structural racism and reshaping systems to protect and promote health for all. 

At VicHealth, Bonnie leads a team to address the systems, practices and pathways through which commercial and economic actors influence health, wellbeing and health equity. Prior to joining VicHealth, Bonnie has worked with Ministers, government departments, non-government organisations and communities to deliver social policy and self-determination reform, truth-telling, municipal public health and wellbeing planning and health promotion initiatives. 

Bonnie holds a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Public Health) and Bachelor of International Development.

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022

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Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.