Meet the team

Dr Alison Kennedy
Director / Associate Professor
BBSc (Honours), PostGradDipArts(Criminology), GCertHighEd, PhD

Alison is a Behavioural Scientist who has lived and worked in Victoria’s rural farming community for almost 2 decades. Her expertise in rural/farmer mental health and suicide prevention has drawn on a range of innovative techniques including digital interventions, digital storytelling, community education programs and peer support models. Alison has led numerous farmer mental health projects and continues to build the Centre’s capacity and reach by working collaboratively with researchers, farmers and industry stakeholders across Australia and internationally. Her expertise has been recognised through research awards, numerous advisory roles, peer review publications, international research consultation, invited presentations and expert witness testimony before the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. Alison is passionate about co-designing the Centre’s research, education and services in collaboration with the community and industry—to ensure the Centre’s work continues to be effective, relevant and tailored to the needs of rural farming communities.

Dr Susan Brumby
Professor/ Research Fellow
RN, RM, DipFarm M’Ment, GDipWomensSt, MHM, GCertHELT, PhD

Sue was the Founding Director of the National Centre for Farmer Health and brings a unique blend of practical and theoretical experience in both health care and agriculture. She is passionate about regional communities and the ability to make a difference to farmers’ lives through innovative service delivery, research translation and education and training. A Chief Investigator on numerous research grants and a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership program, Sue has presented and published nationally and internationally.

Dr Jacquie Cotton
Senior Lecturer/Researcher
BSc(AnimSc) (Hons), GCertHighEd, PhD

Jacquie is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Rural Health for Deakin University School of Medicine. She lectures and chairs the units HMF701 Agricultural Health and Medicine and HMF702 Healthy and Sustainable Agricultural Communities. She has completed a Graduate Certificate in Higher Education and is the Course Director of the Graduate Certificate of Agricultural Health and Medicine. She has multidisciplinary scientific and industry expertise, in particular, translational research within human population health, occupational health and safety, agrichemical exposure and culture/behaviour change. She contributes as a member of a number of advisory committees in the areas of Climate adaptation and farm occupational safety, including the Agriculture Safety Reference Group established by WorkSafe Victoria.

Cecilia Fitzgerald
Business Development & Industry Engagement Manager
Adv. Dip. Business

Cecilia has been part of the NCFH team since 2016 and has been responsible for implementing and managing service delivery offerings in line with the Centre’s values and strategic plan as Business Development &Industry Engagement Manager since 2019. 

Over the last 6 years she has experienced first-hand the importance of stakeholder partnership and engagement in building sustainable programs and she is committed to growing the Centre’s footprint by working in collaboration with farmers, industry partners, government organisations and the wider community.

In 2021-2022, she helped facilitate the delivery of the Gear Up for Ag Health & Safety program into Victorian secondary schools and thoroughly enjoyed working with the next generation of farmers to build their understanding and awareness of farm safety hazards.

Cecilia was Chair of the Combined Preschool of Southern Grampians Board of Management for 4 years and has also sat on the Hamilton (Gray Street) Primary School Council.  She enjoys cooking, keeping fit through Crossfit and spending quality time with her husband and two energetic children.

Dr Richard Lunz
BScHons, MBBCh, M PubHealth TropMed, PGCertPHC, DipOccupMed, ACCAM

Dr Richard Lunz is a South African trained doctor with experience in science/research/education and postgraduate degrees in Primary Care/Public Health/Occ Med/Aviation/Safety and risk joins NCFH for a return role after initial work with AgriSafe for a project support position.

Dr Jo Macdonald
Research Fellow (currently on maternity leave)
BSc, BHealth&MedSc(Hons), PhD

Jo is a Research Fellow who currently works on the evaluation of projects in agricultural communities across Victoria aiming to increase resilience. Born and raised in South West Victoria she is passionate about regional communities and is eager to help improve the health, wellbeing and safety of farming communities. When not at work you will find her spending time with her young family, renovating her home, baking or out and about enjoying good food and coffee.

Jessie Adams
Associate Research Fellow
BPubHealth & HealthProm(Hons), BCom

Jessie completed a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion (Hons) and a Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University in 2017. Following this, Jessie made the move to Hamilton to work as a Research Assistant at the centre. In 2020, she commenced her PhD focusing on child safety on farms. Growing up on a beef farm in northeast Victoria Jessie is keen to help improve the health, wellbeing and safety of farming communities. 

Claire McKay
Project Officer
BSci, BHealth&MedSci(Hons)

Claire completed a Bachelor of Science at Deakin University Waurn Ponds, before completing an Honours in Health and Medical Sciences (2020), both with Deakin and the NCFH. Claire first joined the NCFH as a Research Assistant in 2021, and now works on the Shifting Gears and Gear Up projects as a project officer.

Dr Amity Latham
Research Fellow

Amity is an early career researcher and a grain grower from Telangatuk East. With extensive career experiences Amity has remained committed to working with agriculture-dependent communities to achieve economic development outcomes and capacity building through training and education. Following the completion of her doctorate, Amity joined the research team to support educational programs and to contribute to research in farm safety.

Tracey Hatherell
Program and Data Coordinator
Dip Bus. Management, CA Project Management, Cert IV Rural Bus.

Tracey joined NCFH in 2009 and lives and works with her husband on their sheep and cropping farm in Western Victoria.
Tracey is passionate about the health and wellbeing of our farming communities nationwide and works with the NCFH team to coordinate all health, wellbeing and safety programs including their award-winning Sustainable Farm Families™ program. This drives Tracey to promote all farm families and rural and regional communities to focus on improving their health. Tracey is also responsible for coordinating data and specific NCFH projects to ensure successful delivery and reporting of service strategies and objectives are achieved.

Megan Little
AgriSafe™ Clinician RN (currently on maternity leave)
Master of Nursing Practice

Megan is a Registered Nurse and has a Master of Nursing that includes the specialties of Agricultural Health and Medicine, and Critical Care Nursing. She lives on a small farm just out of Harrow with her husband and beloved dogs Ted – a big Huntaway, and Fred – the friendly Maremma. They run sheep and poddy calves amongst the red gums and rolling hills, and she grew up on a sheep and cropping farm at Balmoral. Megan also works in Intensive Care at Horsham. For Megan, being an AgriSafe Clinician is the perfect intersection between farming and nursing.

Megan is currently on maternity leave.

Jeanne Van Der Geest Dekker
AgriSafe™ Clinician RN
Bachelor of Nursing, Graduate Certificate in Agricultural Health and Medicine, Advanced Diploma in Agribusiness Management

Jeanne and her husband manage a 160-cow dairy operation in South Gippsland, Victoria.  She has worked off the farm as a Registered Nurse for over 20 years and has expertise in Agricultural Health and Medicine and understands the needs of farming communities.  Jeanne is passionate about farmer health and has been involved with the National Centre for Farmer Health (NFCH) delivering Healthy Lifestyle Assessments (HLA) for a number of years.  She now works full-time as an AgriSafe Clinician and looks forward to living and working in the Southern Grampians region and making a difference to the lives of farmers.

Sally Cunningham
Project/Extension Officer
B. Natural Resources, Cert IV Training and Assessment

Sally Cunningham is an environmental scientist with a strong interest in soils, waterway management and biodiversity on farms. She has worked for many years in community engagement around these issues in partnership with farmers, Landcare and industry groups. Sally has delivered significant on-ground works programs as well as a wide range of capacity-building events and courses for farmers She enjoys working with farmers to bring about positive change for their enterprises, communities and the environment. Sally has a Bachelor of Natural Resources (UNE) and Cert IV in Training and Assessment. She has worked on the NCFH Campfire and GearUp for Ag projects, prior to the current Building Farm Spirit (Flood Recovery) project.

Kelly Barnes
Research Assistant

Kelly grew up on a family farm in the south of England and worked on farms and for shearing teams in the UK, New Zealand and Australia before settling permanently in Dunkeld in 2011. She transitioned to work in agribusiness roles including rural merchandise and farm management software and developed a passion for health and wellbeing in farming communities. Kelly completed modules in Agricultural Health and Medicine and Healthy and Sustainable Agricultural Communities and was honoured to be named the 2020 Victorian Agrifutures Rural Women’s Award winner with her pilot working dog training school, which encourages social connection and the use of working dogs as a support tool to build mental resilience in farming communities.
Kelly has enjoyed participating in co-design workshops and as a member of the working group for Mental Health 4 Ag and has joined the team as a research assistant working with the Agriculture-dependant Community Resilience Project Teams Community of Practice.

Kylie Hardy
Executive & Administration Assistant

Kylie is local to the area having grown up on a fine wool producing farm in Western Victoria and continues today to be actively involved with the family farm.  Kylie joined the NCFH team in 2021 after 20-plus years of working in the financial planning industry.  The opportunity to blend her financial and administration skills together with a love of farming brought about a new direction and career change. 

Kylie’s primary responsibility is to support NCFH Director, Alison Kennedy with the day-to-day operations of the NCFH centre.  She enjoys the diversity of her role, connecting with valued clients and the day-to-day dynamics of working in a busy office.  

Kylie, together with her husband, their two teenage children and much-loved dog Lexie enjoy working in their garden, sport, and spending time with family and friends.   


Matilda Dohle
Administration Assistant
Currently studying BBus and B.Sc(Psych)

Matilda has joined the team as an Administrative Assistant, where she will use knowledge from her ongoing Bachelor of Psychology and Business alongside her farming background to help support farmers mental health and wellbeing. She has grown up working in Agriculture and is eager to be a part of the team!

Suzy Malseed
Research Assistant
BMgt (IntelSt), GradDip SecEd, DipFinPlanng, MBus(Res)

Suzy is employed as a Research Assistant and is looking forward to sharing her mental strength and resilience gained as an international freediver to improve health and wellbeing in farming communities. Suzy grew up in New Zealand and is an adventurous spirit having lived and worked in multiple diverse countries (South Korea, China, Singapore, South Africa and Indonesia).

Suzy has a Bachelor of International Management Studies [First Class Honours] and Post Graduate Diploma in Secondary teaching. After 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry and then as a Financial Planner Suzy chose to focus on family life and she and her husband are loving life with their high-energy twins. Suzy also completed a Masters in Business [Research] and a Diploma in Financial Services.

On the weekends Suzy enjoys working outdoors on the Speckle Park cattle stud she and her family run or swimming in the beautiful beaches around Portland with her family.

Ivan Matovich
Research Assistant
M. Poli. Sci (Edu), Latin American Leadership Program – Georgetown University

Iván is a PhD in Education candidate at Monash University (Australia). His research focuses on the implications of globalisation and non-state actors on education policies.

He has a particular interest in understanding the dynamics of education, policy and inequities in Latin America. Since 2018 he has been a researcher at Think20, the G20 engagement group that brings together think tanks and research centers. He completed a Master’s Degree in Political Studies in Education at the Institute of Education at University College London (UCL) and the Latin American Leadership Program at Georgetown University. He joined the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) to put his experience and passion for research and social policy into practice through projects addressing farming, disabilities and mental health.

Jordan Petrov
Website Support

Jordan is a qualified ICT professional with deep experience in Engineering, Project management and Agile. He has worked in technical and leadership roles for more than 10 years across Europe and is now settled in Melbourne, VIC. He joined the National Centre for Farmer Health (NCFH) to help deliver the organisation’s new web platform and lead the digital transformation of new services. He has a sound track record of executing Agile transformations, mentoring highly efficient cross-functional teams and leading the execution of a variety of IT projects. Jordan is passionate about innovations and everything digital.