IAHA Homepage

Weenthunga’s governance

Weenthunga’s governance is a First Australian-led model which emphasises First Australian and Australian collaboration. The Committee of Management comprises a mix of health practitioners and a mix of First Australians and Australians. The position of President can only be held by a First Australian and there will always be a majority of First Australians on the Committee. 

The 2018 - 2019 Committee of Management:

PRESIDENT: Brenda McDermott 

VICE PRESIDENT: Jacqueline Watkins

TREASURER:  Kerrie Thomsen

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Colleen Kelly; Carol Mioduchowski; Melissa Deacon-Crouch; Meg Irwin.


First Australians in a health role in Victoria are encouraged to become Full Members with voting rights. Australians in a health role in Victoria are encouraged to become Associate Members and participate actively in the organisation – but without voting rights.  Health students are welcome as student members. 


Weenthunga Health Network aims to contribute to strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of First Australians in Victoria. To achieve this aim, Weenthunga’s primary focus is to contribute to:

-       Improving the uptake of health careers by First Australian school leavers; and

-       Improving the knowledge, competencies and collaboration of the Victorian health workforce working with First Australians, better equipping health workers to provide culturally responsive services. 


Brenda McDermott

Brenda McDermott is a proud Palawa woman whose ancestors lived at Arthur River in North West Tasmania and Bruny Island in the South East of Tasmania. Brenda has lived in West Gippsland for the past twenty years and raised 5 children. 

Brenda has an education background that encompasses teaching, child psychology and management. She has worked with many Aboriginal communities across Australia in early childhood education, mining and mental health services, and currently works at VACCA in the Family Violence sector. Brenda’s interests include Indigenous health and wellbeing policy, Indigenous self-determination, leadership and research.  She has been a member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) for 8 years, where this interest in Indigenous health led her back to Victoria, joining Weenthunga as Vice President in 2016 and following on as President in 2017 and now in 2018.


Jacqui Watkins

Jacqui was born in Darwin and raised in Alice Springs and is a descendant of Jingili and Mudburra people, N.T. She is currently the Manager, Aboriginal Health Policy and Planning at Western Health, based at Sunshine Hospital. Jacqui has a vast range of experience having previously worked as the Aboriginal Community Development Worker at Dental Health Services, Victoria and Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit at The University of Melbourne. She has also worked in Legal, Education and Child Protection fields. 


Kerrie Thomsen

Kerrie Thomsen is a descendant of Alice Thomsen and she belongs to the Gubbi Gubbi and Butchulla clans from Wide Bay region in South East QLD. Kerrie has enjoyed a fantastic 30 year career in Occupational Therapy which as a profession suits her well culturally as Occupational Therapy is truly holistic in its Frames of Reference and has a strong history in advocacy as a profession.

Kerrie now works in senior consulting roles for NDIS and Aged Care clients supporting transformational change in Community Development for these sectors. She launched her Lecturing role with the Australian Catholic University – ACU, Occupational Therapy Bachelor Program in Melbourne in 2018. Kerrie hopes to focus on supporting the health of First Peoples and non-Aboriginal people through her work with Students and new Graduates in there professional roles and skills development.

Qualifications held: B Occ Thy – Univ of QLD; Post Graduate Diploma Social Sciences (Counselling); Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management.


Carol Mioduchowski

Carol has been involved in Weenthunga since 2011. In this time she has seen it evolve from a fledging organisation whose mission, principles?and values have made it a passion for her to be involved in. The evolution of the two-way talking model has been amazing and seeing it being picked up with other organisations has been a privilege. Learning this process has been a big learning for her and she has found it immensely rewarding to be involved in and see the great work that Weenthunga continues to do. Carol has been very humbled in working with such a group of people and be able to learn aspects?of culture from her First Australian Colleagues.  

Carol’s background is as a Podiatrist. She works at Barwon Health where she is manager of Podiatry Services working and also an Area Health Manger where she looks after the operations and service development in the Northern Suburbs of Geelong. Carol has an extensive history of working with association boards, being on the Australian Podiatry Association (Vic) for 15 years where she was president and on the Australasian Podiatry Council for 10 years where she was also president. ?Carol also served on the board of Allied Health Professions Australia, where she was also chair for a number of years, during which her proudest achievement was the auspice of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (another Lin Oke idea) whilst it was beginning.


Melissa Deacon-Crouch

Melissa is a 2nd generation Australian. She is a senior lecturer and course coordinator of the Bachelor of Nursing and the double degree Bachelor Nursing and Bachelor Midwifery for the La Trobe Rural Health School, Department of Nursing and Midwifery at La Trobe University. Melissa was initially a medical research scientist and went on to complete qualifications in teaching, nursing and midwifery. Melissa is completing a PhD exploring Aboriginal Health and with particular focus on the relationship between sleep duration, obesity and chronic illnesses. 


Meg Irwin

Meg has been an Associate Member of Weenthunga since it started.

She has worked for many years in adult rehabilitation as a speech pathologist, and in speech pathology and other health service management roles. She now works in the Communication Access Network, which builds the capacity of individuals and local organisations so that people with communication disabilities can fully participate in their communities. She is based in the Loddon region. Additionally, she coordinates the Communication Access Network state wide.