Our Team

We are a group of positive, proactive people who want to make a difference!

Professor Samar Aoun (Chairperson)

Professor Samar Aoun is Perron Institute Research Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Western Australia, Head of Palliative Care Research at Perron Institute, and Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University. Samar is an international leader in the promotion and advocacy of public health approaches to palliative care and led this approach for those living with grief and bereavement. She is known as an innovator and a champion of practice and policy translation of public health science for palliative care.

Her work on social models in bereavement support has provided empirical evidence to strengthen the Compassionate Communities approach. She co-founded and currently chairs the South West Compassionate Communities Network and leads the Compassionate Connectors program which offers the practical and social support needed by families with life limiting illnesses. This program has been embedded into standard practice by the health service, with volunteers working alongside the palliative care and chronic disease teams.

Samar currently chairs the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association in Western Australia, is Vice-President of MND Australia and a member of the Palliative Care WA board. She is a member of Public Health Palliative Care International and the Public Health Palliative Care reference group of the European Association of Palliative Care.

She was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2003 from the Prime Minister of Australia, received in 2018 the Medal for Excellence in Person Centred Healthcare from the European Society for Person Centred Healthcare and was recently awarded the 2023 WA Australian of the Year.

Dr Julieanne Hilbers (Deputy Chairperson)

Julieanne is a registered psychologist, educator and researcher who is passionate about supporting people and communities to flourish. She has over 30 years’ experience in the health sector with experience in aged and end of life care. Advocating for equity and celebrating diversity is important to Julieanne.  She is the co-founder and founding Chairperson of the South West Compassionate Communities Network (Feb 2018 – Dec 2019) and is committed to everyone being able to care, die and grieve supported by their community. She was the Project Lead for the Groundbreaker research project and the Compassionate Bunbury Charter project.

Heather Wade (Secretary)

As a volunteer, Heather was a Breastfeeding Counsellor with Nursing Mothers (now the Australian Breastfeeding Association) for 10 years.

Heather is one of the pioneer Connectors of the Compassionate Connectors initiative in the South West. She has played an integral role in supporting Dying to Know Day activities over several years.  Heather is also interested in local history.

Kristy Constantine (Treasurer)

Kristy Constantine is the Chief Executive at the Bunbury Cemetery Board. She was born in Bunbury and has strong family ties to the area. Her aim is to be pro-active in collaborating with like-minded organisations and to encourage community engagement within the Cemetery and Memorial Gardens as a place to celebrate the lives of those we have lost.

She believes the vision of creating a Compassionate Community will only enhance the quality of life of people who are living with chronic disease, life-limiting illnesses, bereavement and loss.

James Jarvis

James Jarvis works as the CEO of the Busselton Hospice Care Inc and is committed to working in partnership with people to create strong communities of connected and capable people. James holds a variety of committee positions with community groups, including Volunteer South West. His approach to developing communities is strengths-based and follows asset-based principles.

Crystal Mather

Crystal Mather is the People and Place Lead at Milligan. She loves hearing people’s stories and the compassion and empathy that flourish when a story is shared.

Crystal has been a longtime supporter and believer of the beautiful work that happens in this space and can’t wait to work together to see what we can achieve.

Josh Oakey

Being a part of the local community since 1995, Josh is proud to call Bunbury and the South West home. In his personal life he encourages meaningful conversations about how we can live full and content lives.

Professionally, he helps businesses and organisations communicate internally and externally to ensure their message is heard and is aligned with their purpose.

He looks forward to providing value to the SWCCN and learning more about how we can grow as a compassionate community.

Dr Kui Choon Yong (Dr Albert Yong)

Dr. Kui Choon, a family medicine specialist, hails from the beautiful country of Malaysia and is now working as a general practitioner in Bunbury, Western Australia.

Dr. Yong established the first Excellent Domiciliary Palliative Care Centre (EDPCC) in Malaysia, which provides comprehensive, holistic community palliative care services under the Ministry of Health Malaysia. He was appointed as the National Community Palliative Care technical member to develop the Malaysian National Service of Palliative Care. He was also a committee member, facilitator, and trainer for the Malaysia Community Palliative Care ECHO training project in 2022 and 2023 for healthcare providers in Malaysia.

Christine Morgan

Christine Morgan currently sits on the Morrissey Homestead Inc. Board as Chairperson. Morrissey Homestead Inc. supports older people and people with disability under the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care and the National Disability Insurance Agency Programs or as a private paid client. We partner with the Department of Communities to support vulnerable young people. We also provide respite beds from our Leschenault site for clients to access to allow carers time away from caring roles.

Christine has extensive experience in the field of Dementia Care and is a founding member of Bunbury Alzheimer’s Association. She managed the Home and Community Care Program, Dementia Specific Social Centre, National Respite for Carers Program, Aged Care Packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Program under the auspice of the Bethanie Group for 25 years to retirement.

Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is the Business and Service Development Manager at St John of God Bunbury Hospital (SJGBH) and has been since February 2020. She has extensive experience in St John of God Health Care having worked as a nurse within the organisation for many decades. With her nursing background and a special interest
in Cancer & Palliative Care Nursing, she has held several senior management positions at the hospital and has excellent healthcare provision knowledge and experience.
Nicole has voluntarily participated in other local committees including School Advisory Council, P&F meetings, Junior Hockey and has enjoyed roles as a sporting coach and manager.
Nicole is passionate about developing services that will serve the community in the South West and ensure where possible access to care closer to home.

Deanna Furze

Deanna Furze is a local with 25 years of work experience in the areas of community, regional and economic development at a not-for-profit, Local Government and State Government level. Deanna enjoys supporting positive outcomes for the South West region and her local area and has a strong sense of civic participation. In work life Deanna enjoys community engagement and consultation, governance, strategic planning, facilitation and working with diverse people

Deanna has experience in Board membership as a previous member of the ECU SW Advisory Board and also enjoys voluntarily delivering events and activities for the local community of Withers where she resides with her husband and young family.

Deanna sees an alignment between her own personal values as a practising Catholic and the aims of the SWCCN in the way it aims to preserve the dignity of all people within the community and to foster compassion and connections.

Michelle Elson

Michelle Elson has worked in the local area for the past 23 years in a broad range of industries from telecommunications, arts and culture, seniors living, politics and regional development.  She believes in great customer service, stakeholder and community engagement, good governance and teamwork.

Michelle is passionate about living and working in the South West.  She has volunteered in a variety of organisations and positions over the years and believes in making a positive contribution to her community.  She believes engaging with our neighbours and community enhances connection and compassion to make it acceptable to talk about illness, death and grief. 

Michelle first learnt about the Compassionate Communities Network when attending a Compassionate Workplaces workshop last year and since then has worked with a colleague on a fortnightly ‘Connection Café’ for staff in her workplace.  She is also caring for her terminally ill husband, who has been ill for some time and over this time has gathered a wealth of knowledge and lived skills in this space. 

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