As keynote speakers are confirmed, their details will be added below. 

Associate Professor Vernon Lee

Director, Communicable Diseases Division, Ministry of Health, Singapore

A/Prof Vernon Lee is a preventive medicine physician and Director of the Communicable Diseases Division, Ministry of Health, Singapore. He is also adjunct Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore; and President of the College of Public Health and Occupational Physicians, Academy of Medicine, Singapore.


He has previously worked in the WHO Office in Indonesia and WHO headquarters in Geneva, and continues to contribute to international working groups on infectious diseases.


A/Prof Lee graduated from medical school at the National University of Singapore. He also holds a PhD in epidemiology from the Australian National University, and the Master in Public Health and Master of Business Administration degrees from the Johns Hopkins University, USA.

​Dr Babatunde Olowokure

Regional Emergency Director, World Health Organization (WHO)

Dr Babatunde Olowokure was appointed in October 2020 as the Regional Emergency Director, World Health Organization (WHO) Health Emergencies Programme and Director, Division of Health Security and Emergencies of the WHO Regional Office of the Western Pacific, Manila, Philippines. Dr Olowokure is a medical doctor, epidemiologist and a trained public health practitioner. Prior to this appointment, Dr Olowokure was Chief, Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department, WHO Health Emergencies Programme, WHO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, from 2018-2020. During this time he worked on several public health emergencies of global importance including the COVID-19 pandemic. He previously worked in the WHO Regional Office of the Western Pacific where he had particular responsibilities for managing the surveillance, alert, and response capabilities of the regional office, with a focus on supporting Member States to identify, assess, report and analyse data related to epidemic-prone diseases, outbreaks and public health emergencies. During this time, he played a key role in developing and implementing the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases and Public Health Emergencies (APSED III), and managing the Regional Field Epidemiology Training fellowship programme (FETP). From 2013 – 2015, Dr Olowokure served as the first Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control of the Caribbean Public Health Agency, and established the Agency’s Regional Global Health Security programme, supported the development and implementation of the Caribbean Regional Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme (CR-FELTP), as well as developing and advancing partnerships and collaborations with countries, bilateral organizations and public health agencies within and outside the Caribbean region. Dr Olowokure has been professionally involved in public health, epidemiology, surveillance, and response to public health emergencies for more than 25 years. He has worked in a variety of countries and settings in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific. He has published extensively on various aspects of infectious diseases and pandemic preparedness and response in international peer-reviewed journals.

Dr Gina Samaan

COVID-19 Incident Management Team Pillar Lead, World Health Organization

Dr Gina Samaan is an Australian field epidemiologist focusing on influenza and pandemic risk management. Her public health career started in surveillance and emerging disease response at the Australian Department of Health and Ageing. In the last 15 years, she has worked internationally for WHO and other agencies including US-CDC, DFAT Australia, IOM and USAID. Recently, Gina has been managing the WHO Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework Partnership Contribution for strengthening country capacities. Within WHO's COVID-19 Incident Management Team, she coordinates the COVID-19 response with regional and country offices, and leads on the COVID-19 technical monitoring and reporting.

Dr Lorraine Anderson

Medical Director, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services

Lorraine Anderson, Medical Director at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS).   At KAMS Lorraine provides clinical governance and support to the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations for the Kimberley Region.

Lorraine speaks with a slight Kiwi accent but traces her Aboriginal heritage through her father and his mother to the Palawa people of NW Tasmania and the Bass Strait.  Aa a rural and remote GP, Lorraine has lived and worked in remote WA, including the Indian Ocean Territories for the past 12 years, predominantly working in Aboriginal Health.

Dr Lucas de Toca

Acting First Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Primary Care Response at Australian Department of Health

Dr Lucas de Toca is a doctor and public health expert focussing on health systems improvement and health equity.

Lucas currently works as an Acting First Assistant Secretary in the Australian Department of Health, leading the COVID-19 Primary Care Response.

Outside of COVID-19 work, he is an Assistant Secretary in the Indigenous Health Division of the Department, where he is responsible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child, family and sexual health policy, sector and stakeholder engagement, and the development of the next National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan in the context of the refreshed Closing the Gap agreement. Previously, he was leading the taskforce addressing the syphilis outbreak in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Prior to his work in the Commonwealth he worked for nearly five years as the Chief Health Officer at Miwatj Health, the regional Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Service for East Arnhem Land.

He also teaches at the University of Melbourne, where he is an Honorary Senior Fellow within the Department of Medical Education of the Melbourne Medical School

Mr Joe Buffone

Director General -Emergency Management Australia, Emergency Management Australia -Department of Home Affairs

Joe is the Director General of Emergency Management Australia (EMA). He has been with EMA since December 2016 and has held multiple roles within the organisation. As Director General, Joe is responsible for overseeing Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre, Coordination of Australian Government Disaster Assistance (non-financial), Physical Security for Australian Holders of High Office, Major Events Security and Commonwealth Disaster Recovery funding. 

Joe has more than 30 years’ experience in security and disaster management and has held a number of key senior positions.

Joe was the lead for two major national projects

  1. National Project Director for Emergency Alert –National Telephone Warning System Project post Black Saturday. $60m nationally led from concept to operationalization in 7 months.

  2. Development of the road map for the Next Generation National Fire danger Rating System.


Joe has had direct involvement in coordinating and responding to major emergencies in Australia and internationally, at the Strategic, Operational and Tactical levels.  Some examples are; Leading the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre 2020, Black Summer 2019-20, Far North Queensland Floods 2018-19, Cyclone Debbie 2017, Tasmanian Bushfires 2016, Wye River Bushfires 2016, Nepal Earth Quake 2015, Somerton Building Waste Fire 2015, Hazelwood Mine Fire 2014. NSW Bushfires 2014, 2011 Victorian Floods, 2009 Black Saturday Fires in Victoria. Joe has also served in the Australian Defence Force.

Academic Qualifications: Masters of Business, Graduate Diploma in Disaster Management, Diploma in Security Management.

Associate Professor Marion Kainer

Head, Infectious Diseases, Western Health

Dr Kainer returned to Australia from the United States in 2019, as the Head of Infectious Diseases at Western Health (Melbourne). Since January 2020 she has taken a leadership role in the preparation for and response to COVID-19, including providing advice to executive leadership. Western Health has been at the epicenter of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria. She previously served as the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) liaison to the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) Change Control Board and the Public Policy, and Governmental Affairs committee of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA). Dr. Kainer has been a member of the antimicrobial resistance surveillance taskforce and co-chair of the Council for Outbreak Response: Healthcare-associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistant Pathogens (CORHA). She was a member of the antibiotic resistance work group for the President Obama’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology (PCAST). She was honored by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change for Prevention and Public Health, and awarded the CSTE Pump Handle award in 2019 for outstanding achievement in the field of applied epidemiology.

Adjunct Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Commonwealth Department of Health

Alison McMillan commenced as the Australian Government Department of Health’s Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in November 2019. 

Alison is a Registered Nurse with a Critical Care Nursing Certificate, a Bachelor Degree in Education, a Master of Business Administration and was awarded a National Emergency Medal in recognition of service following the 2009 Victorian Bushfires. She is an experienced executive manager with more than 30 years’ experience across the public health system. Alison has held senior executive roles in government and health services within Victoria including the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and Director of Quality, Safety and Patient Experience. 
Alison is a member of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee contributing to key advice provided to the National Cabinet during the COVID-19 pandemic and, as a member of the Infection Control Expert Group providing advice and information on best practice on infection prevention and control in the community, hospitals, aged care, schools and community sport. 

In mid-February, Alison was the nurse team leader for an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) deployed to repatriate Australian’s from the Diamond Princess Cruise ship in Japan.
Alison has collaborated with state and territory Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers and other key stakeholders including the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Australian College of Nursing, Australian College of Midwives and Australian College of Critical Care Nurses to ensure sufficient nursing and midwifery capability and capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dr Jeremy McAnulty

E/Director COVID-19 Public Health Response Branch, NSW Ministry of Health

Dr Jeremy McAnulty is a public health physician and usually the Executive Director of Health Protection NSW, overseeing the public health aspects of communicable disease control and environmental health. He is currently directing the COVID-19 Public Health Response Branch at NSW Health. Following an MPH at the University of Sydney, he trained with NSW Health public health training program and the US CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service.

Professor Benjamin Cowling

Professor, The University of Hong Kong

Ben Cowling is currently Professor and head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong, and co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control. He conducts research into the epidemiology of influenza and other respiratory viruses, with a focus on transmission dynamics and the effectiveness of control measures including vaccination. Since early 2020 he has conducted research on the epidemiology and control of COVID-19 including a series of highly cited publications in NEJM, Science and Nature Medicine. He has authored more than 450 peer-reviewed journal publications to date. He is Editor-in-Chief of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses, and an Associate Editor of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. His work is supported by a number of major grants from funding bodies in Hong Kong and the United States.

Professor David Durrheim

Professor of Public Health Medicine, University of Newcastle

David Durrheim, DrPH, MPH&TM, MBChB, FACTM, FAFPHM, FAAHMS, is Director of Health Protection, Hunter New England Health, New South Wales, Australia and Professor of Public Health Medicine at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He currently chairs the Western Pacific Regional Measles Rubella Verification Commission and is a member of the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) working groups on COVID-19 and Ebola vaccines.

His public health research is operational in focus and translational in nature and has assisted public health programs to improve their surveillance and service delivery. He has been instrumental in developing novel surveillance systems to detect and facilitate responses to emerging infectious disease risks. Professor Durrheim is an outspoken advocate for equitable global access to effective public health measures, particularly immunisation.


Professor Durrheim’s research interests include vaccinology, novel infectious disease surveillance methods, control of zoonotic diseases, and strategies for reducing inequity in public health service delivery. He has over 300 peer-reviewed publications, and has published several scientific monographs and chapters in leading public health texts.

Professor Kristine Macartney

Director, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS)

Prof Kristine Macartney is a paediatrician specialising in infectious diseases and vaccinology She is a medical graduate of the University of New South Wales and undertook her specialty training in Sydney and in the United States at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her Doctorate of Medicine was on rotavirus infection, in particular the mucosal immune response to novel vaccine candidates. She was a foundational member of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Kristine is currently the Director of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), a paediatric infectious disease consultant at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and a Professor in the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney. Her research interests include translation of evidence into policy and practice, vaccine safety, and most other areas of vaccine preventable diseases research, particularly in relation to rotavirus, varicella zoster virus and influenza. She is the senior editor of the Australian Immunisation Handbook (9th and10th Editions and online) and has authored >130 peer-reviewed publications. She is a member of the Advisory Committee on Vaccines (ACV) of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). She has acted as an expert consultant to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Kristine leads the Australian national AusVaxSafety and Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) networks, and is the founding chair of the Australian Regional Immunisation Alliance (ARIA).

Ms Lisa Schofield

First Assistant Secretary, Health Economics and Research Division, Australian Government Department of Health

Ms Lisa Schofield, First Assistant Secretary of the Health Economics and Research Division at the Australian Government Department of Health, where she has responsibility for the Medical Research Future Fund, the whole-of-government taskforce on a COVID-19 vaccine, and health economic and data analysis. Lisa has over fifteen years experience working in the Australian Government where she has held policy leadership roles in health, resources, innovation, and higher education sectors.

Lisa spent almost nine years in the Industry, Science and Resources portfolio where, among other things she managed Australia’s offshore oil and gas sector, led implementation of the Maritime Boundaries Treaty between Australia and Timor-Leste, and managed the Commercialisation Policy Branch, delivering the National Innovation and Science Agenda in 2015.  

Previously, Lisa led the taskforce to develop the new quality assurance and regulatory framework for Australian higher education, including the successful establishment of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency and the development of the Higher Education Standards Framework.

Lisa was also the Higher Education Advisor to the Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations during the 2010 Australian federal election. Her other significant roles include Director of the Education Investment Fund in DEEWR, various roles in the Australian Government Department of Finance and Deregulation, and a key role in the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at Charles Sturt University.

Ms Schofield holds a Bachelor of Arts – Communications (Media and Cultural Studies). She has been serving on the board of Charles Sturt University since 2016, has been a local City Councillor and the Chair of a number of community organisations.

Dr Katherine Gibney

Infectious Diseases Physician, Doherty Institute

Dr Katherine Gibney is an infectious diseases physician, public health physician and medical epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute and Royal Melbourne Hospital. She has contributed to Australia's response to COVID-19 through her roles as ASID representative on CNDA and as a member of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). She is the Optimise study (Optimising isolation, quarantine and distancing for COVID-19) co-lead, and leads the Diagnostics and Intervention working group of the Optimise study.

Associate Professor Julian Elliot

Executive Director, National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, Lead for Evidence Systems at Cochrane, Senior Research Fellow, Cochrane Australia, Physician, Department of Infectious Diseases, Alfred Hospital and Monash University

Associate Professor Julian Elliott is the Executive Director of the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce, Lead for Evidence Systems at Cochrane, Senior Research Fellow at Cochrane Australia, and a physician in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Alfred Hospital and Monash University.


Julian leads Cochrane’s development of innovative global evidence systems, combining machine learning, artificial intelligence and citizen science to improve the production and impact of systematic reviews. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Covidence, a non-profit online platform enabling efficient systematic review production.


Julian’s ongoing focus is the development and use of ‘living evidence’ to inform high quality, responsive and up-to-date health guidelines, policies and care around the world. Julian has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), UNAIDS and the World Bank, and in 2017 received the Commonwealth Health Minister’s Award for Excellence in Health and Medical Research in Australia.

Professor Deborah Williamson

Director of Microbiology, Royal Melbourne Hospital, University of Melbourne

Professor Deborah Williamson is a Clinical and Public Health Microbiologist, Professor / Director of Microbiology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Doherty Institute, Deputy Director of the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, and a laboratory head in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne.  She is an NHMRC Investigator Grant recipient, received a L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Fellowship in 2017 and was awarded the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases Frank Fenner Award in 2020. She was named as one of Australia’s top eight female scientists by Marie Claire magazine in 2020.

Ms Kristy Crooks

Aboriginal Program Manager & PhD Candidate, Hunter New England Local Health District; Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University

Kristy Crooks is a Euahlayi woman, Aboriginal Program Manager with Hunter New England Local Health District, and an APPRISE PhD scholar with Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University. Kristy has extensive experience in Aboriginal Health, public health, and cultural governance, facilitating organisational change to privilege First Nations voices at a strategic and service level.

Kristy’s research focuses on developing a process of how to prioritise and privilege First Nations voices in infectious disease emergency planning and response. She has been leading the local COVID-19 response, and has played an active role in the national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advisory group on COVID-19, as well as contributing to international working groups. Kristy’s formal qualifications, lived experience and working career has provided her with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the health and health related issues that Aboriginal people face

Ms Sonya Pemberton

Creative Director, Genepool Productions

Sonya Pemberton is one of Australia’s leading documentary filmmakers; an Emmy Award recipient and record-breaking five-time winner of the prestigious Eureka Prize for Science Journalism. Her forte is finding ways to engage the general viewer in polarising conversations, while satisfying the rigours of a scientific debate.

Sonya has written and directed over 60 hours of broadcast documentary and executive produced many award-winning factual series, her films winning over 80 international awards.  Previously Head of Specialist Factual at the ABC, Sonya created Genepool Productions to explore complex areas of science. Recent titles include 'Vitamania' (SBS/Arte/CuriosityStream), ‘Uranium - Twisting the Dragon’s Tail’ (SBS/PBS/ ZDF/Arte), ‘Jabbed - love, fear and vaccines’ (SBS/ARTE), and 'Vaccines Calling the Shots' (PBS NOVA, with Tangled Bank Studios). 

Genepool Productions is based in Melbourne, Australia, and works closely with global partners.

Associate Professor Jonathan Liberman

Associate Professor in Law and Global Health, University of Melbourne

Jonathan Liberman is an Associate Professor in Law and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, with a joint appointment in the Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health. Jonathan has over twenty years' experience in legal and policy research, teaching, advice, training and technical support relating to health at both domestic and global levels. Jonathan is currently leading a collaboration between the University of Melbourne and the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific on legal responses to COVID-19 in the Western Pacific Region.


Jonathan was the Founding Director of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, serving as Director from February 2012 to March 2020. Under Jonathan’s leadership, the McCabe Centre became a WHO Collaborating Centre for Law and Non-Communicable Diseases and a WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Knowledge Hub.


Jonathan holds degrees in arts and law (first class honours) and a Master of Public and International Law.

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