2023 Cancer Innovations Conference

The Cancer Institute NSW proudly hosted the 2023 Cancer Innovations Conference. Find more details on the speakers, program and key highlights.

The Cancer Innovations Conference 2023 was held on 1 August at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. The conference brought together over 500 health professionals, researchers and patient advocates to hear and discuss the latest in cancer control, equity and person-centeredness in cancer care.

The event featured a dynamic speaker line-up and standout poster presentations that ignited important conversations about cancer inequalities and how we can work together to bridge the cancer care gap in NSW.

We heard from Aboriginal health leaders including Professor Gail Garvey, a distinguished authority in Indigenous Health Research, who delivered the keynote presentation. 

The program also included panel discussions exploring consumer experiences and conversations with health system leaders on the social and cultural determinants of health.

Delegates gained deep insights from a session co-designed with the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council NSW which profiled perspectives from the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector.

The program's concurrent afternoon sessions delved into the potential of AI in healthcare with presentations and an engaging debate from leading voices in applied artificial intelligence. We also showcased compelling oral presentations based on submitted abstracts. Conversations continued beyond the formal program, nurtured by the conference's networking opportunities. 

Watch the session recordings below to delve deeper into the dialogues.

Your continued collaboration is integral to overcoming obstacles and ensuring that cancer prevention, treatment, and care is accessible to all people, regardless of their background or location.


Watch the session recordings

Conference recordings

Watch the session recording titled 'Towards 2027: Delivering equitable, person-centred, and connected cancer care'.


  • Uncle Brendan Kerin 
  • Janice Petersen
  • The Hon. Ryan Park
  • Professor Tracey O'Brien
  • Professor Gail Garvey
  • Susan Pearce



Watch the mixed consumer panel session 'Shaping cancer services: A consumer perspective'.


  • Professor Tracey O'Brien
  • Janice Petersen
  • Elisabeth Kochman
  • Padmini Peris
  • Lucinda Hyde
  • Shanna Watson



A panel discussion on 'The social and cultural determinants of health: Shifting the mindset of the system and understanding the factors that impact diagnosis, treatment, and survival'.


  • Professor Tracey O'Brien
  • Janice Petersen
  • Professor Gail Garvey
  • Hayley Robertson
  • Wendy Hoey
  • Clinical Professor Grant Sara



A co-designed session including a presentation and panel discussion on 'Achieving equitable cancer outcomes for Aboriginal communities'.


  • Kristine Falzon
  • Dr Janelle Trees
  • Associate Professor Rowena Ivers
  • Nathan Taylor
  • Kyla Wynn
  • Trish Levett
  • Casey Armstrong
  • Janice Petersen



A dual keynote with fireside discussion on 'The future of AI in healthcare'.


  • Professor Amin Beheshti
  • Professor Ian Kerridge
  • Janice Petersen



Oral presentations on' Driving innovation, equity, collaboration and person-centred care in NSW cancer services'.


  • Dr Ru Kwedza
  • Brendan Goodger
  • Kirsty Baxter
  • Jordana McLoone
  • Associate Professor Cannas Kwok
  • Sylvia Giannone



Closing remarks and prizes.


  • Professor Tracey O'Brien
  • Janice Petersen



Gallery highlights

Keynote speaker

Professor Gail Garvey

We were honoured to have Professor Gail Garvey as our keynote speaker for the event.

Professor Garvey is a proud Goori woman from NSW, a National Health and Medical Research Council Leadership Fellow and Professor of Indigenous Health Research in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland.


Our speakers

View more information on our speakers

Casey Armstrong

Program Manager, Cancer Institute NSW

Strong background of over 15 years in NSW Government working closely with the Aboriginal communities within NSW.  

Passionate about making a difference and helping people and communities who are disadvantaged, in order to maximise control of their lives. 

A strong facilitator with ongoing commitment to promoting change in our communities. Providing attentive support to various individuals, facing various life altering challenges, who always leads with kindness and compassion in providing excellent quality of support, knowledge and advice. 

Furthermore, I continue to serve the community and advocate on behalf of those who may be vulnerable or find themselves in vulnerable or adverse situations.

Professor Amin Beheshti

Professor and Director of the Centre for Applied Artificial Intelligence, Macquarie University

Prof.Dr. Amin Beheshti is a Full Professor of Data Science, the Director of the Centre for Applied Artificial Intelligence, the head of the Data Science Lab, and the founder of the Big Data Society at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at UNSW Sydney, Australia.

Amin completed his PhD and Postdoc in Computer Science and Engineering at UNSW Sydney, and holds a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, both with First Class Honours. Alongside his teaching activities, Amin has made significant contributions to research projects, serving as the R&D Team Lead and Key Researcher in the 'Case Walls & Data Curation Foundry' and 'Big Data for Intelligence' projects. These projects were awarded the National Security Impact Award in both 2016 and 2017.

As a distinguished researcher in Big-Data/Data/Process Analytics, Amin has been invited to serve as a Keynote Speaker, General-Chair, PC-Chair, Organisation-Chair, and program committee member of top international conferences. He is also a leading author of several authored books in data, social, and process analytics, co-authored with other high-profile researchers. To date, Amin has secured over $21 million in research grants for AI-Enabled, Data-Centric, and Intelligence-Led projects

Kristine Falzon

Executive Project Manager, Waminda South Coast Women Health & Welfare Aboriginal Coorperation

Kristine Falzon is a Walbunja woman living with her family on her Grandmother’s Country South Coast NSW, connection to Jerrinja, Wreck Bay and Wallaga Lake communities. 

She is part of the Executive leadership team at Waminda, South Coast Women’s Health & Wellbeing Aboriginal Corporation based in Shoalhaven, where she has worked across various health roles for the past 14 years.

Kristine is passionate about advocating for my community for Culturally informed, holistic strength-based Health & Wellbeing care and Equality, specifically in regard to eliminating the existing generational health disparity gaps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Professor Gail Garvey

Professor of Indigenous Health Research, The University of QLD

Professor Gail Garvey is a proud Kamilaroi woman from NSW's mid-north coast with wide experience and expertise in leading successful national research programs, including the current Centre of Research Excellence – Targeted Approaches to Improve Cancer Services (TACTICS) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

She was among the first researchers to recognise the substantial impact of cancer on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and her work has contributed greatly to key policy and practice change to improve their cancer outcomes.

Professor Garvey leads work in psychosocial aspects of cancer care for Indigenous Australians. For example, she developed and validated a new tool to measure the unmet support needs of Indigenous cancer patients, which is now a recommendation in the Optimal Care Pathway guidelines. She also leads a program of work to understand and measure the relevant dimensions of wellbeing for Indigenous adults and adolescents, which is important for developing/evaluating health interventions.

Originally trained as a teacher, Gail began her research career at the University of Newcastle in the 1990s where she was one of the first researchers to examine issues around the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students. Since then, she has been involved in a wide array of research collaborations both within Australia and overseas spanning three decades.

Along with her research expertise, Gail's strengths lie in her leadership and her collaborative approach to bringing key stakeholders - Indigenous consumers, researchers, and clinicians - together to achieve common goals.

Wendy Hoey

Chief Executive, Justice Health, and Forensic Mental Health Network

Wendy is currently the Chief Executive of Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network in New South Wales, Australia.

Justice Health NSW provides Health and Mental Health services to both Adult and Youth in over 30 secure settings across the State of NSW. Wendy is a registered Nurse with a Clinical Background in Mental Health Nursing and over 20 years’ experience as a senior leader in mental health, hospital executive and health in secure settings.

Wendy is passionate about providing equivalent care in secure settings to that in the community, to address the social determinants that cause disadvantage and close the gap in Aboriginal Health outcomes whilst ensuring that all care including mental health care is provided in the least restrictive environment and way.

Lucinda Hyde

Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Carer and Project Manager Cancer Institute NSW

Proud Wiradjuri woman from Forbes NSW. Daughter, Mother, Sister, Aunt, Community Member, Aboriginal Health Practitioner and Project Manager. Lucinda is most passionate about her family and changing outcomes for Aboriginal people across the health care setting and enabling her non-Aboriginal colleagues to be culturally confident.

Caring for her father who had a cancer diagnosis and navigating the health system whilst working in the system, struggling to be the voice for her father led Lucinda to a career change, starting with CINSW in October 2022 as a Project Manager Aboriginal Coordination of Care giving her the opportunity to make a change in culturally safe and appropriate services and care while also being a part of improving access to Cancer Services for our Aboriginal people.

Beginning her health career in 2013 as a Trainee Aboriginal Health Worker and progressing to a Registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner where Lucinda spent nine years working in Western NSW LHD. Having the opportunity to work across different teams and projects with one of her highlights being a part of the Ngangkari healing clinics that has been the most rewarding work she has been a part of, providing a service that our Aboriginal communities have asked for rather than the health system telling us what we need. Seeing the results firsthand and being a part of the patient experience in a traditional practice and connection to culture.

Ian Kerridge

Ian Kerridge is Staff Haematologist/Bone Marrow Transplant physician at Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney, Professor of Bioethics and Medicine at Sydney Health Ethics at the University of Sydney and Honorary Professor of Philosphy at the Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University.  

He is also Chair of the Southeast Sydney LHD Clinical Ethics Committee, a member of the Health Ethics Advisory Panel of NSW Health, Steering Committee member of the Australian Ethical Health Alliance (AEHA) and a Director of Praxis Australia.

He trained in philosophy at the Universities of Sydney, Newcastle and Cambridge, medicine at the University of Newcastle and BMT at the Royal Free Hospital in London. He is the author of 6 textbooks of ethics and over 500 papers on haematology, BMT, ethics and philosophy. His current research interests in ethics include VAD, clinical innovation and research translation, clinical ethics, transplantation, AI, clinical trial methodology and secondary use of data and in haematology include myeloma, GvHD, survivorship, apheresis and late effects of BMT. 

Associate Professor Rowena Ivers

Academic General Practitioner and Public Health Researcher

Associate Professor Rowena Ivers is an academic GP who was worked for 20 years at the Illawarra AMS and was part of its Cancer Care Team. She also is based at UOW, where her research interests focus around prevention.

Rowena is committed to justice and equity in delivery of health services and to research that improves the lives of communities.

Elisabeth Kochman

Chair, Cancer Voices NSW

Elisabeth Kochman is chair of Cancer Voices NSW, an independent cancer consumer advocacy organisation, which was established in 2000.

Her personal experience with cancer, has included her own experience, as a three times breast cancer survivor, as well as with members of her family.

Elisabeth continues to ensure that Cancer Voices has sound relationships and partnerships with decision makers at both a state and national level, across the cancer and broader health continuum, to ensure consumers are to the forefront in shaping our health system, to deliver person centric care, with access and equity in outcomes.

Elisabeth is a member of the Intercollegiate Advisory Group (ICAG) at Cancer Australia, the NSW Cancer Plan Governance Committee, and the Cancer Council Australia cancer organisations collaboration, convened in response to COVID-19. She also works with researchers through the Cancer Voices NSW Consumer Involvement in Research Program.

Elisabeth has applied her commercial and corporate experience in her 25 plus years as a consumer advocate, which has also included working with other organisations, including Cancer Council NSW (10 years) and the former Breast Cancer Action Group (10 years).

Dr Ru Kwedza

Associate Director Strategy, Quality and System Performance, Cancer Institute NSW

Originally from Zimbabwe, Dr Ru Kwedza is the Associate Director, Strategy, Quality and System Performance at the Cancer Institute NSW. She is an experienced health professional, strategic and operational leader with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. Ru has worked as a clinician, researcher and administrator in remote, rural and metropolitan settings across Australia. Ru lives in Sydney, NSW with her husband, energetic toddler and equally energetic puppy.

Professor Tracey O’Brien

Chief Cancer Officer and Chief Executive Officer, Cancer Institute NSW

Professor Tracey O’Brien is a paediatric and adolescent haematologist and oncologist with more than 25 years of experience improving the outcomes of people with cancer in NSW, Australia and internationally.

Prior to her appointment in July 2022 as the NSW Chief Cancer Officer and Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor O’Brien was the Director of the Kids Cancer Centre at the Sydney Children’s Hospital for six years and Director of the Transplant and Cellular Therapies Program for 18 years, leading a team of more than 200 clinical and research staff. Professor O’Brien was instrumental in driving the vision for Australia's first Children's Comprehensive Cancer Centre at the Randwick Precinct and the Zero Childhood Cancer Precision Medicine Program.

Professor O’Brien has held numerous national and international executive and advisory board positions, including Chair of the Cancer Australia Advisory Board, Vice Chair (Asia, Africa and Australia) Advisory Committee of the Centre for International Bone Marrow Transplant Research, Vice Chair and Board Director, Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology and Oncology Group (ANZCHOG), Board Director, Australian & New Zealand Transplant and Cellular Therapies, and Board Director, Children’s Cancer Institute.

Professor O’Brien is a Conjoint Professor in Oncology within the School of Women’s and Children’s Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW, and has authored more than 110 publications on leukaemia, transplant, cellular therapies and health system research.

In addition to her medical qualifications and roles, she holds an MBA and Master of Law (Health). In 2019, Professor O’Brien was named one of the top 10 Australian Women of Influence, winning the Innovation category.

Padmini Peris

Padmini is a cancer survivor who has worked tirelessly to ensure successful cancer outcomes for people from the Indian sub-continent, particularly those from Sri Lankan background. Padmini is a driving force behind breaking down cultural taboos about cancer and encouraging more women to have breast screening mammograms within her community.

Padmini has worked in private and public pathology as a Senior Medical Scientist (Clinical Biochemistry and Endocrinology) and a Lab Manager. A proud member and ambassador of Pink Sari Inc, as well as a trained volunteer support person for Cancer Council NSW, Padmini has completed

TAFE training to support women undergoing domestic violence, is a motivational speaker, a nature lover, and spends most of her time tending to her family garden.

Janice Petersen

MC and SBS World News presenter and journalist

Janice Petersen has spent more than 15 years working as a cross platform journalist and news presenter, and currently presents SBS World News.

Janice brings to SBS a strong background in journalism after many years at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation where she reported on and covered breaking news events.

In her current role, she regularly interviews leading news makers and has contributed live updates on major national and international news stories. Janice has also lent her journalistic and presenting skills to landmark SBS programs including forum series Insight, international news and current affairs programme Dateline and Go Back To Where You Came From.

The mother of two is noted for her sense of style, featuring in leading fashion publications including, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Janice is the host of popular podcast, The Company You Keep where she interviews enterprising small business owners. She has also hosted numerous high-profile events, including the ANU Crawford Leadership Forum, Australia Day Lunch, the Australian Open Inspirational Series with Anna Wintour and INAS Global Games. She has featured as a presenter and judge at The Walkley Journalism Awards and has even flexed her comedic talents as guest quizmaster on Network Ten’s, Have You Been Paying Attention?

Hayley Robertson

Manager, Policy, Equity and System Enablement, Cancer Institute NSW

Hayley works with the Cancer Institute NSW in the newly formed Office of the Chief Executive and is motivated to improve equitable access and health outcomes for people of NSW. 

With more than 20 years’ experience working in senior health policy and strategy roles; Hayley applies experience from a range of settings and experiences to support health system change. 

Hayley was raised in regional NSW and has a strong interest in supporting health systems both listen to and adapt to the needs of the community we live in.

Grant Sara

Director InforMH, System Information and Analytics Branch, Ministry of Health

Grant Sara is the Director of InforMH, the team responsible for NSW mental health and suicide data. A psychiatrist with a PhD in Public Health, his focus is on using data to support better care for people living with mental illness. He is principal investigator for the NSW Mental Health Living Longer data linkage project, Adjunct Professor, School of Psychiatry UNSW , Clinical Professor, Northern Clinical School University of Sydney, co-Chair of the National Mental Health Data Governance Forum and a member of the steering committee of the NSW Prostate Cancer Clinical Registry.

Nathan Taylor

Head of Member Engagement, Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of NSW

Nathan is a proud Tubba-gah Wiradjuri Man, born on Gadigal Land and raised on Dharug Land. Nathan is the Head of Member Engagement at the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW, providing support to 49 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services across NSW. Nathan has also been Professional Care Representative on the AH&MRC Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) since early 2021.

Nathan has previously worked as an Aboriginal Health Worker in a hospital and was a Project Officer in Palliative Care workforce development. Nathan holds a Bachelor of Human Science (Public Health: Policy and Promotion) from Macquarie University, a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Trauma and Recovery Practice from UOW, and a Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health Promotion from the University of Sydney. Nathan is currently undertaking a Master of Public Health.

Dr Janelle Trees

GP & Writer and Editor, Ngununggula, Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service

Dr Janelle Trees FRACGP, MBBS (Hons), BSc (Hons 1) is a Dhangatti woman from NSW.

She has worked as a remote GP, mostly in the NT and WA for over a decade.

She has energy for Indigenous health as well as knowledge and delight (and advanced skills training) in palliative care. Working this year as a palliative care doctor at Mercy Hospital, Albury NSW, she also enjoys medical, scientific and creative editing and writing. She travels everywhere with her wife, who is a nature photographer.

Dr Trees is currently studying for a certificate in Psychedelic Assisted Therapy with a view to using her skills in End of Life care.

Shanna Watson

Cancer survivor & Founder of the Trans & Gender Diverse Cancer Support Network

Shanna Watson (they/them) is a transgender horticulturalist and musician, born on Awabakal country and currently living on Gadigal land. In 2021, at age 35, they were diagnosed with estrogen-positive early stage 3 breast/ chest cancer. Their initial treatment included fertility preservation, a double mastectomy, axillary surgery, 5 rounds of chemo and 5 weeks of radiation. 

They now take daily hormone blockers and monthly injections. The challenges they experienced whilst navigating the medical system as a transgender person, especially one with a gendered cancer, led them to found the Trans & Gender Diverse Cancer Support Network (TGDCSN) in 2022. This peer-support network exists to help those living with a cancer diagnosis and their partners. It is a safe space for individuals to grieve and share frustrations, and to collectively process and heal. 

The network offers a discord group chat, video meetings, and a social media presence. Shanna also represents the group as a speaker on the challenges faced by Trans and Gender Diverse cancer patients. The network was founded thanks to a $10,000 grant from Trans Victoria, and is currently seeking funding opportunities and additional support to continue to offer this safe space, and expand its reach.

Kyla Wynn

Counsellor /Disability Worker, Illawarra Aboriginal Health Service

Kyla Wynn grew up in the Illawarra area. She lived and worked in Batemans Bay and Cootamundra but has now returned to Illawarra. Kyla’s career started as an Enrolled Nurse at Bulli hospital where the first Palliative Care Unit was established. She then went on to work in cancer and palliative care for many years.

Kyla seeing her child through cancer treatment played a crucial role in her education as a healer. The experience has enriched her understanding of the challenges patients and families face when on a cancer journey.

With a diploma in Counselling, she is able to draw on this knowledge as a disability support worker and coordinator, providing skills to care for Aboriginal community members navigating their cancer journey.


Get in touch

Have questions about the conference or want to know more? Contact the CINSW Events team.

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