Our People

Board Directors

Chair Grampians Health

Bill Brown is a proud regional Victorian, having grown up on a dairy farm in the Otways and is currently living in Warrnambool in the south west of the State.

Bill is a seasoned director, executive and advisor with international experience who can confidently combine business insights and legal knowledge to add value in large, complex, regulated enterprises.

Over the last three decades Mr Brown has specialised in risk management and governance with a particular emphasis on regulated industry sectors. He is the owner of Orange Advisory Pty Ltd, operating in Melbourne and Warrnambool, and has had partnership level roles with leading Australian law firms and businesses. He holds a series of other directorships and is a member of the board of South West Healthcare.

Bill is determined to ensure rural communities receive safe, quality healthcare, equal to those in metropolitan areas.


Anthony Schache is an innovative and outcome driven leader, focused on achieving exceptional results in a range of highly competitive environments that demand continuous improvement. He has a background in financial reporting and budgeting for both small and large accounts and contract and risk management. 

He has served on multiple Boards with a focus on improving services, financial restructuring, stability and innovation. Anthony brings a wealth of strategic and business planning to the table. Since 2001 he has bought, restructured and sold a number of businesses, across a wide range of business models and modalities. Considering every business and committee as an opportunity to engage, promote and strengthen each one on an individual basis, has served to further underpin his business expertise.

Anthony values integrity in all personal and professional relationships and has the knowledge and experience to engage and contribute valuably to a Board environment.


Avril Hogan brings a wealth of experience and expertise, especially in the field of marketing research and governance, to the board. She has more than 15 years’ experience in market research consulting, business strategy, international marketing and business ownership. Her expertise covers industries including Agriculture, Education and Government research departments.

Avril was the runner up in the 2014 Rural Women of the Year, as part of this achievement she was able to participate in the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.

Currently Avril is the general manager, at Longerenong Agriculture College. She is very active in her local community and is a founding member of the ‘Foreign Wives Club’, a social group for women who move to rural areas to build connections and enhance the social fabric of the community. Avril has previously been a Board member of the of Wimmera Centre for Participation.


Cora Trevarthen chairs the Australian Institute of Company Director’s Committee in Ballarat and serves on two private company boards in the commercial and residential property sectors. Cora has previously served on boards of business, advocacy, sporting and cultural organisations in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.

Following her successful tenure as a group agribusiness executive at Webster Limited, Cora has had more than fifteen years’ experience in strategic advisory roles in agriculture and regional development, creative industries, higher education and innovation. A corporate communications and government relations specialist, Cora has contributed to the successful development, funding and execution of major projects involving multiple government, private sector and community stakeholders.

Cora is passionate about ensuring that all Victorians, regardless of location, have equal access to safe, high quality medical and health services where patient care is ‘true north’.


David Anderson recently retired from Peninsula Health, where he worked as Chief Financial Officer from 2002 to 2018. He retains an active interest in the health sector with short-term roles and is currently a Director of the Royal Eye and Ear Hospital.

At Peninsula Health, David was responsible for all finance and accounting functions, payroll, supply and corporate services, and managing the Finance and Resources Committee and Audit and Risk Committee. He also held portfolio responsibility for risk management.

David has been actively involved in the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA), serving as a Board member of the association from 2013 to 2017. He has previously worked with the Department of Health and Human Services, with responsibilities for financial analysis of health services, budgeting and health funding matters. David also has experience in water resources and irrigation, and economic and financial evaluation of projects for international aid agencies.


Heather Pickard is a Registered Nurse with postgraduate qualifications in Addiction Studies and Organisational Management. Over the past twenty-four years, Heather has worked as a registered nurse in drug treatment and managed the suite of withdrawal services at Monash Health. Heather established the Hospital Liaison Team in Acute Services (now known as Addiction Medicine) and oversaw the formation of the Community Based Primary Health Care Clinic within the existing needle and syringe exchange program for substance users in the southern region.

Alongside the ANMF, in 2004 Heather became involved with a forum that met with the aim of establishing a program for nurses experiencing substance use disorders and mental health issues. Heather became the Chief Executive Officer of this organisation and was responsible for establishing The Nursing and Midwifery Health Program (NMHP) in July 2006. NMHP has a strong focus on recovery and provides opportunities for supported change, as well as building resilience within the nursing community.

In 2009, Heather became the CEO of the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC), a role she currently holds today. During this time, she completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course and serves as the Chair of NMHP. She is passionate about governance in not-for-profit, advocacy for healthy workplace culture, and growing community partnerships that include service users in the design and delivery of quality care.


Marie Aitkin is a skilled Psychologist with expertise in workplace health and wellbeing. Previously working in a private practice in Warracknabeal, she now works as an external clinical supervisor in the community health sector.

Marie has extensive Board experience having served as Board Chair at Wimmera Health Care Group and Board Director and Life Governor of Rural Northwest Health. She is currently a Board Director at WestVicPHN and a member of Latrobe University’s, Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research, advisory group.

Marie is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of rural communities and hopes to achieve this through system reform, skilled listening and shared decision making becoming central to every interpersonal interaction that happens in health.


Meghraj Thakkar has more than 25 years’ experience working for clients in numerous industries including healthcare, telecommunications, banking, transport, software, education, aviation, media, utilities and government. He has worked all over the world in roles such as Board Director, Managing Director, Executive Technical Advisor, Gateway Reviewer, Consultant and Author. He has consulted for a number of major international and Australian companies.


Dr Nicholas (Nick) Jones is a specialist cardiologist and general physician. Nick completed medical school with Distinction at Flinders University in Adelaide before returning to Melbourne. He undertook his specialist training at Austin Health, Bendigo Health and Peninsula Health.

After attaining his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Nick undertook further subspecialty training at St Vincent’s Hospital with a focus on cardiac imaging. Nick has a keen interest in managing heart failure, valvular and structural heart disease as well as primary and secondary prevention of atherosclerotic disease.

Nick is an avid educator, currently completing a Master of Clinical Education through the University of Melbourne. Nick is the Director of Advanced Physician Training at the Austin and Northern Hospitals.

He holds public clinical appointments at the Austin Hospital and The Royal Melbourne Hospital and works at Warringal Private Hospital (Heidelberg), Epworth Eastern (Box Hill) and with I-Med Radiology.


Rhian Jones has served as a Board Director with Stawell Regional Health since 2012 and was elected Chair in 2016. During this time Rhian also Chaired the Grampians Region Board Chair Network.

Rhian joins Grampians Health with a community engagement and stakeholder background, drawing on her previous roles working with local businesses and voluntary organisations.

Rhian has a passion for rural equity and community engagement and loves her rural community of Stawell.
She has previously completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Course and is a graduate of the Wimmera Development Association’s Community Leadership program.

Lead Executive Officers

Dale Fraser – Chief Executive Officer

Dale has worked exclusively with regional health services for the past 26 years, including time within the Hume, Barwon and Grampians region.

Dale holds a number of external directorships associated with education, research, community engagement, and health workforce, and is an active contributor to the development of State health policy.

Bringing world-class public health care to the most needy in our community, regardless of their social status or capacity to pay, is at the cornerstone of Dale’s belief system.

Outside of work, Dale is a keen collector of Australian art and he is an avid traveller, with a goal to visit all seven continents.

Andrew Saunders

Over 30 years’ experience in the health industry,  Andrew Saunders commenced his career in catering  and has steadily progressed within Edenhope & District Memorial Hospital to Hotel Services Manager, General Services Manager and then Chief Executive Officer of the facility.

Andrew has played an integral part of the growth and development of EDMH over the years.  He has extensive project management experience and a proven track record of partnering arrangements, community engagement and has had success in funding applications.

During his time as CEO, Andrew has worked hard to foster a culture of kindness in the workplace and is passionate about rural healthcare and improving Mental Health outcomes for regional communities.

Andrew, husband to Dianne,  is a father of 4 daughters and grandfather of 9. He enjoys racing motorbikes in his spare time and is very handy making furniture and building.  He is well know for his famous pizza nights and his ability to make great beer.

Kate Pryde

Kate has worked in healthcare management across the private and public sector both here and overseas. Having worked in the Middle East and China for 10 years Kate returned to Australia in 2015 to pursue a career in rural and regional health. A nurse by background Kate is committed to evolving healthcare systems that embrace innovation to serve the staff and consumers in the delivery of a safe, quality driven healthcare/ workplace experience.

Catherine Morley

Catherine Morley’s career has spanned a broad range of organisations, disciplines and opportunities in aged care, primary and community care, rural health and nursing. Catherine has worked for public health, private and not for profit organisations in key leadership roles.

Catherine’s strengths are her passion to improve the health and well-being of our community members with a focus on person centred care; to drive and deliver outcomes; to question the norm and develop innovative projects that are designed by the community and team members. 

Catherine joined Wimmera Health Care Group, a subregional base hospital in the Wimmera region as the Chief Executive Officer in September 2017. Catherine provided operational oversight of the health service and supports the Board of Management in their governance, policy, risk and strategic objectives. 


Implementation team

The implementation of Grampians Health will be undertaken by a project team supporting an Implementation Committee comprising of local board members, CEOS and stakeholders.

The project team is led by a Project Director, with Project Leads covering Corporate Services, Clinical Services and People, Culture, Change and Engagement.

Their role involves bringing together the right knowledge and experience from across the four health services to collectively determine best practices and implement the project.

Project Director

The COVID flavour of her first two years at Ballarat Health Services were definitely not the challenge Claire Woods was expecting after six years at a metropolitan health service and a range of People and Culture roles in the government, community services and banking industries. Expecting the unexpected has been a theme in her working life with two years as a secondary school teacher and a short lived and (thankfully) unsuccessful career in the hair replacement industry being two experiences that led her via a law degree to the people and culture space.

Claire is passionate about fostering work environments that encourage having the conversations that matter and finding new ways to work together to solve challenges. She’s also excited about the opportunity that we have to create a new proudly rural and regional health service that builds on the commitment, enthusiasm and expertise of the teams across the Grampians region.

Claire’s other passions in life include her two children, eating and drinking, and trying to offset the effects with Bikram Yoga Classes. She has a long line of failed hobbies and is currently looking for some 2022 hobbies to add to her list.

Joint Project Lead – Corporate Services

Chris Aylen has been Commercial Business Manager at Ballarat Health Services for the past three years. As Business Manager he works with the management teams to develop budgets for the organisation and provides management reporting services and advice/input into business cases that are being developed. Chris’s role as Project Lead – Corporate Services sees him looking after Corporate Services and Corporate Governance with Mark Knights and Peter Barton.

Chris has a background in financial services in Melbourne and moved to Ballarat to join Ballarat Health Services. Outside of work Chris has a number of passions including travel, dogs, horse racing, chocolate and Guinness. He is trying to recapture a past love of exercise with the prospect of a comeback to triathlon, dependant on the future level of chocolate consumption.

Joint Project Lead – Corporate Services

Peter Barton is a recent newcomer to Ballarat Health Services, having taken up the position of Manager Contracts and Tendering in May 2021. Previous to that he was Chief Operating Officer with Bellarine Community Health, which involved extensive community engagement along with the numerous challenges of running a community health organisation. He also spent two years with Wimmera Health Care Group based out of Horsham in a Finance and Corporate capacity, and prior to that with Hepburn Health Service in Daylesford for 15 years as an Executive.

Peter is a Board Director and has extensive experience in the strategic and governance arena, with a particular knowledge and passion for Corporate Governance. He has also been heavily involved with the Grampians region and has a particular interest in collaboration and integration for enhanced health outcomes, which resonates with the project agenda and the Project Lead position. Peter is married, has three adult children and has lived in Ballarat since 1992. A passionate and long-suffering Tigers supporter, the last few years have been nothing short of astounding. He also likes to fish out of his boat however the kingfish have continued to elude him.

Joint Project Lead – Corporate Services

Mark has worked in the health industry for 20 years in Horsham, Ararat and Stawell and has developed a passion for improving health outcomes for the communities of the Wimmera and Southern Mallee. His areas of expertise include corporate governance, risk management and financial management.

His current role as Director of Finance and Corporate Services at Wimmera Health Care Group is focused on providing direction and leadership on financial policy and corporate governance, ensuring the CEO and Board of Directors have comprehensive information, analysis and timely advice on these areas. Mark’s role incorporates the oversight of a wide range of corporate and support functions including finance, information technology, infrastructure and support services.

Outside of work Mark enjoys time with family and friends, often sharing a meal and a nice glass of wine. He has just built a house in Great Western and plans to remain in the Wimmera for the long term. On a weekend you will find him building a new garden, sailing a small dinghy at Lake Fyans, 4WD or camping.

Project Lead – Clinical Services

Rhys has been a member of the Stawell Regional Health Executive Team for the past five years, where as Director of Primary and Community Care he oversees allied health and community services, outpatients, oncology, and IT.

Rhys spent his early career working as a dietitian in Sydney and Hobart, and moved to the Grampians in 2013 to follow his passion and to climb on the world class sandstone in the Grampians/Gariwerd National Park. The one year adventure turned into a deep connection with the Grampians region, a passion for improving the health of rural communities, and a decision to pursue a career pathway in rural health.

Rhys jumped at the chance to become Project Lead, which for Rhys is a unique opportunity to influence the health of the Grampians region and people, and to support staff through the transformation.

When not in the office, Rhys spends his time with his wife Courtney and young kids Olive and Smith – growing veggies, exploring the Grampians and waking up at unruly hours to watch Liverpool FC dominate the English Premier League.

Joint Project Lead – People, Culture, Change and Engagement

Jennie Courtney has been Director of Community Engagement at Ballarat Health Services for the past four years. During this time, she has developed the fundraising, communications, volunteering and spiritual care functions under a comprehensive BHS community engagement strategy, along with serving as public information lead in the BHS COVID-19 incident response team.

Jennie looks forward to bringing her skills and experience as a drama teacher, engagement facilitator, careers advisor, leadership coach and strategy consultant to the project. Jennie grew up in Bunbury WA before moving to Perth, then Melbourne, then Oxford England – finally settling in Soldiers Hill, Ballarat. With travel to WA off the cards for a while, Jennie and her gold-rush historian husband, two daughters and two dogs are currently spending their weekends planting trees and camping on Betsy the bus – a 70s Bedford school bus from Derrinallum – on their small farm in Clunes, Vic.

Joint Project Lead – People, Culture, Change and Engagement

Ange Turley has been the Director of Workforce at Ballarat Health Services for the past four years, and has worked as part of the People and Culture team at BHS for 11 years. She also has a number of years’ prior experience working in People and Culture in the rural health setting. Ange has been responsible for a wide range of people-related areas, including workforce planning, recruitment, employee and industrial relations and organisational development and has a keen interest in HR systems development/improvement and employment law. Over the past 18 months, she has been heavily involved in the pandemic response as part of the BHS COVID-19 incident response team.

Ange is looking forward to bringing her 14 years’ experience working in rural and regional public health services to the project and working alongside new colleagues throughout the region. Ange lives in Castlemaine with her husband, two daughters (eight and five years old) and her King Charles Cavalier, Ruby. As a family they enjoy exploring the bushlands near their home and have a love of travelling. They are very much looking forward to being able to plan their next big adventure.

Share your needs with us

We want to hear from you – our community – so we can bring services to the area that meet the health needs of individuals and families in the region.

We’ll work closely with patients, residents, staff and groups in each local community to develop this exciting and much needed plan for the future, while retaining local ownership and identity.