Our Staff

Kristine Olaris – Chief Executive Officer

Kristine commenced at Women’s Health East in February 2012. She has much experience in the health sector including in the acute, subacute, private, Aboriginal health and community health sectors. Kristine holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy and a Master of Health Administration. She has robust leadership and management skills and knowledge developed through her studies and through many years in senior management positions. 

Kristine is passionate about health promotion and has been responsible for many innovative and responsive programs targeting disadvantaged populations. Kristine sits on the Independent Advisory Board implementing recommendations of the VEOHRC report into sex discrimination and sexual harassment in Victoria Police. She is also a member of the Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality.

Melissa Tully – Finance Officer

Melissa started at Women’s Health East in October 2012.  She holds a Bachelor of Business (Accounting) and has been a practising CPA for over 10 years.  Melissa has worked in various industries including Printing, Pharmaceutical and Internet Service Provider and is passionate about now being part of the non-profit sector and the team here at Women’s Health East.

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Colleen Russell – Quality/Project Officer

Colleen started at Women’s Health East in December 2003. She has had a diverse career in the local government, state government and not-for-profit sectors, as a social worker, social planner, program manager and consultant. Colleen has degrees in Social Work and Arts and a post-graduate management qualification. Her work with Women’s Health East includes compliance and risk management, development and review of policies and procedures and continuous quality improvement.

Autumn Pierce – Health Promotion Manager

Autumn Pierce joined Women’s Health East in April 2018. She has a Master of International Public Health and her overseas health promotion work has shaped her commitment to resource maximisation, strategic partnerships and sustainable impact. She has experience working across the prevention spectrum in Australia, previously supporting affected and at-risk communities with the Australian Red Cross in Sydney and more recently for Positive Women Victoria, where she focused on multi-leveled advocacy and organizational and community capacity building. With a background in Public Relations she most enjoys applying her change management communication skills within a rapidly evolving interdisciplinary sector. Autumn holds a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment and is an Our Watch endorsed trainer. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Women’s Liberation Halfway House.

Samantha McGuffie – Manager, Prevention of Violence Against Women

Samantha McGuffie brings a wealth of experience to Women’s Health East. Her most recent role was the  Health Promotion Team Leader at Banyule CH where she also participated in the PVAW partnership led by Women’s Health in the North. She has also worked in refugee health, in local government roles including at Knox City Council, and some years back was a Health promotion Officer at Women’s Health West.

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Vanessa Czerniawski – Health Promotion Officer

Vanessa began at Women’s Health East in 2011 as a volunteer helping to organise International Women’s Day, and later that year joined the health promotion team as a Research Assistant. Vanessa was appointed as a Health Promotion Officer after she completed her Bachelor of Health Science Degree at Deakin University at the end of 2013 where she majored in Health Promotion. Vanessa grew up and currently lives in the EMR, and is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of women in the region through her role as a Health Promotion Officer at Women’s Health East.

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Claire Butselaar – Health Promotion Officer, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Claire began her career as a registered nurse, working in several of Melbourne’s major tertiary hospitals before completing a Master of Public Health, specialising in Sexual and Reproductive Health.  Claire worked as a SRH nurse and clinic manager with Marie Stopes International Australia for several years before spending a year working as quality assurance advisor to Marie Stopes International Vietnam’s clinic network.  She has gained considerable experience in sexual health and family planning education and advocacy through her work at Marie Stopes International and then as National Peer Education Program Manager with YEAH (Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS), before joining WHE in August 2016.

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Ari Milecki – Speaking Out Coordinator and Communications Coordinator

Ari has a Bachelor of Journalism and is currently finalising a Master in Public Health. She has worked in a variety of roles in corporates and community organisations (in strategy, communications, management and operations) and has been involved in the provision of support to women who have experience violence through WIRE – Women’s Information and Referral Exchange phone service. Ari is a passionate feminist and human rights advocate, and through her varied experience and studies, she is dedicated to addressing the social determinants of health. Working with women, combating gender inequality and preventing violence against women is her goal and she is very excited to join the Women’s Health East team.

Georgina Nix  – Health Promotion Officer

Georgina began at Women’s Health East in late 2018 as a volunteer, helping the communication team with an in-depth social media analysis.

Georgina completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in early 2019, with majors being Health Promotion and Family Studies.

Georgina joined the Women’s Health East team as a Health Promotion Officer. Georgina is looking forward to putting her newly achieved skills and knowledge into practice, to help achieve gender equality for all women and girls.

Emily Kate Cowan – Executive Assistant

Emily Kate started at Women’s Health East in November 2018. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Musicology, Ethnomusicology, and Chinese Languages) as well as an Honours Degree of a Bachelor of Music.

Emily Kate has previously worked in the university sector and was also the administrator of the Music Department at a Girls’ School. While still completing her studies Emily Kate was a Women’s Officer at Monash University.

Emily Kate has lived all her life within the Eastern Region and is proud to be working in the non-profit sector, contributing to an organisation that aligns strongly with her values.

Katie McKee – Health Promotion Officer

Starting in April 2019, Katie is a Health Promotion Officer at Women’s Health East.

Katie has a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion with a major in Physical Activity. Previously working in as a Gender Equity Health Promotion Officer at Women’s Health Loddon Mallee Katie is keen to transfer her skills and passion into the Eastern Metro Region. Katie is an Our Watch endorsed trainer  with extensive project management, training and facilitation experience working across a range of community and professional settings and is excited to continue to apply an intersectional feminist lens within her work to lead long term sustainable change for women of the east.

Rhiannon Taggart – Health Promotion Officer

Rhiannon joined the team with Women’s Health East this April, volunteering Young Leader with the Voice for Equality and Respect project, and has now been employed as a Project Officer to continue to work with VFER.

Rhiannon grew up and currently lives in the Outer Eastern region, and has previously worked in varied volunteer positions with community projects to support mental health organisations in the South East and Eastern regions. Rhiannon is passionate about working with a proactive, intersectional lens in the effort to improve women’s health and wellbeing.

SJ Matthews – Communications Coordinator

SJ started at Women’s Health East in August 2019.  They hold a Graduate Diploma of Science Communication, and are currently studying a Masters of Public Health at The University of Melbourne. Their thesis is examining how a LGBTIQ+ sexual health clinic has embedded principles such as bodily autonomy and trauma-informed practice into the clinical framework and everyday processes to improve patient experience.

They have worked in digital communications positions for non-profits for over 10 years, and are passionate about helping organisations get the best out of their digital engagement with stakeholders. They volunteer with Thorne Harbour Health, sit on the LBQ Women’s Consumer Advisory Group and are a peer facilitator for workshops on healthy queer relationships.