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 community health and women’s 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 Olaris has dedicated much of her career to improving health and wellbeing outcomes for people who face barriers in their ability to reach their full potential; addressing health inequities influenced by gender, income, ethnicity, Aboriginality, sexual orientation, disability and geography.

Kristine is passionate about health promotion and has been responsible for many innovative and responsive programs targeting disadvantaged populations.


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.

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.


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.

Sam Wass – Marketing and Communications Officer

Sam joined the Women’s Health East team as Marketing and Communications Officer. With a background primarily within the contemporary music sector, Sam has contributed her marketing, communications and events management skills to several respected not-profits and peak representative bodies in Victoria for over 10 years.

She is passionate about gender representation and is driven by her commitment to community development through contemporary music and the arts with a particular interest in youth and cultural diversity.

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.

Avega Bishop – Margins to the Mainstream Coordinator

Avega is the Margins to the Mainstream Project Coordinator. She has substantial experience in working across the project cycle on programming to advance women’s rights and gender equality in international development, including in eastern and southern Africa.

Avega has a Masters degree in Evaluation and a particular interest in how valuing the perspectives and priorities of women from diverse backgrounds can foster project improvement and organisational learning. She is excited that the project will be enabling  women with disabilities as  experts by experience to co-design materials for the prevention of violence against women with disabilities, for use by TFER partners in the region.

Francesca (Franky) Kuperman – Peer Facilitator

Franky is the Peer Facilitator on the Margins to the Mainstream: Preventing violence against women with disabilities project. Franky has a background of working in community mental health, supporting students with a disability accessing university and youth mental health research. Her recent focus has been working in lived experience roles in mental health, including facilitating workshops and individual sessions for a Steps to Wellbeing program. Franky is passionate about elevating the diverse voices of women with a lived experience of disability, and excited to be a part of this project and Women’s Health East.

Annette Rudd – Senior Health Promotion Officer

Annette joined Women’s Health East in February 2020 as the Project Lead on the Women’s Financial Independence project. She has almost 20 years’ experience in community health in the outer east of Melbourne, including as Health Promotion manager at Knox Community Health Service.

Annette has degrees in Psychology and Social work and a post-graduate qualification in Strategic Foresight. She has worked in varied sectors including higher education, local government, health, homelessness and disability. She currently works as a consultant.

Annette is passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of all women. She served on the Board of Women’s Health East from 2012 -2016.

Isabella (Bella) Roxburgh – Senior Health Promotion Officer

Bella is a Health Promotion Officer at Women’s Health East. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and Graduate Diploma in Health Promotion and has experience promoting gender equality in research, international development and public health settings. Bella’s role will have an initial focus on women’s mental health and consider the role of COVID-19 in compounding existing mental health inequities. Bella is passionate about promoting gender equity and continuing to learn from women about their diverse lived experiences.

Vanessa Czerniawski

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.

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.

Laura Riccardi – Health Promotion Officer, Sexual and Reproductive Health

Laura joined the Women’s Health East team as a Health Promotion Officer (Sexual and Reproductive Health) in February 2020. Her primary responsibilities include the development of a Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, and the coordination of Sexual and Reproductive Health Week in September. She has a Master of Public Health (University of Melbourne), and has worked previously in research and content development in the alcohol and other drug sector.

Katie McKee – Training Coordinator

Katie is Women’s Health East’s Training Coordinator. With a Bachelor of Public Health and Health Promotion and Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, Katie leads the design, delivery and elevation of the WHE training portfolio. Katie also manages a range of gender equity and prevention of violence against women projects. With extensive health promotion, project management, training and facilitation experience in the women’s health sector working across a range of community and professional settings, Katie is excited to continue to apply an intersectional feminist lens within her work to lead long term sustainable change for women of the east.