Return to work conference logo

Program and Speakers

The Return to Work Conference Program is now available!

The program consists of thought provoking and interactive local and interstate speakers.

The program explores current themes and trends in injury management and claims management, providing delegates with the opportunity to learn about challenges and developments in return to work practices.

Over two days, delegates will have the opportunity to choose from a range of sessions across two streams, catering for specific areas of interest.

Click here to see the
Conference Program

Keynote speakers

Dr Rory Gallagher

Dr Gallagher is the Managing Advisor and Director of the Behavioural Insights Team for the Asia Pacific region. The organisation originated in the UK and aims to use academic research in behavioural economics and psychology to encourage and support people to make better decisions.

Dr Gallagher leads the team's international partnerships with the NSW Premier and Cabinet and Singapore, and was originally seconded from the UK to help set up and run the NSW Behavioural Insights Unit. He led BX2014 - the world's first behavioural insights public policy conference in Sydney in 2014, and provides advisory support to government departments in Singapore.

Dr Gallagher has previously worked at the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit and also holds a PhD from Cambridge for his work on HIV/AIDS and behaviour change.

Claire Madden

Ms Madden is a social researcher, media commentator, keynote presenter, TEDx speaker, business consultant and founder of the strategy and communications agency, Hello Clarity.

Ms Madden is an expert on communicating how to best attract, engage and retain Generation Z as staff, students and customers. She is highly regarded for her skill in effectively identifying the emerging trends and assisting business leaders to strategically respond to them. With academic qualifications in communications and postgraduate studies in leadership, Ms Madden brings robust, research-based content to her engaging presentations and consulting.

Ms Madden is on the board for a financial services company and on the Advisory Board of UTS Business School. She is uniquely placed as an expert on social trends, organisational culture and generational engagement.

Dr Jordan Nguyen

Dr Nguyen is a biomedical engineer, keynote speaker, TEDx speaker, TV writer and presenter and futurist. He is the founder of Psykinetic, a social business that creates futuristic technologies to improve the lives of those living with disabilities, and his work has been featured in a range of television and radio programs, including ABC’s Catalyst and Channel TEN’s The Project.

Dr Nguyen has presented at the world’s largest annual biomedical conference, the Engineering for Medicine and Biology Conference (EMBC) and in 2016, he collaborated with Australian production company The Feds and the ABC to produce the TV documentary Becoming Superhuman.

Dr Nguyen has a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Technology, Sydney, and his development of a mind-controlled smart wheelchair for people with high-level physical disability was acknowledged in the Chancellor's List for the top theses across the University. He was also a NSW finalist for Australian of the Year 2017.

Laureate Professor Sharon Parker

Laureate Professor Parker is a Professor at the Business School, The University of Western Australia, and the Director of UWA's Centre for Transformative Work Design.

She is the current holder of the highly competitive 2016 Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellowship, and her research focuses on how transformative work design promotes meaningful, healthy and productive work.

Professor Parker is an Honorary Professor at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield, UK and was the recipient of the 2016 Academy of Management Organisational Behaviour Mentorship Award. She is also a Fellow of the Society of Industrial/Organisational Psychology and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences.

Professor Parker has published several books, including a Sage publication on job and work design, as well as over 80 refereed journal articles, 50 book chapters, and numerous practitioner publications.

Presentation not available

Dr Norman Swan

Dr Swan was one of the first medically qualified journalists in Australia, and is a multi-award winning producer, broadcaster and investigative journalist. He has worked for the ABC for 35 years, and is best known for his award winning work as the presenter of the Health Report on ABC Radio National and Tonic on ABC News24.

Dr Swan has hosted ABC Television programs Quantum and Health Dimensions, and been a guest reporter on Catalyst and Four Corners, as well as the medical host on Channel TEN’s The Biggest Loser. He wrote and narrated a four part series on disease and civilisation, Invisible Enemies, for Channel 4 in the UK and SBS, and also co-wrote and narrated The Opposite Sex, a four part series for ABC Television.

Dr Swan was named Australian Radio Producer of the Year in 1984 and was awarded a Gold Citation in the United National Media Peace Prizes for his radio work. He has also won three Walkley National Awards for Australian journalism, and has won Australia’s top prize for Science Journalism, the Michael Daly Award, twice.

Internationally, Dr Swan has been the Australian correspondent for the Journal of the American Medical Association and the British Medical Journal, and has consulted for the World Health Organization in Geneva.

He has a medical degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and postgraduate qualifications in Paediatrics.

Mr Chris White

Mr White is A/CEO and General Manager Legislation and Scheme Information at WorkCover WA and has more than 30 years' experience in workers' compensation and occupational safety and health policy in Western Australia.

Mr White has held senior policy and management roles at both WorkCover WA and WorkSafe WA. Mr White holds a Master of Arts (Public Policy) from Murdoch University.


Invited speakers

Mr Robert Aurbach

Mr Aurbach spent 15 years as the chief legal and policy development officer for an American statutory compensation authority. During the last 11 years, he has assisted ten governmental entities in reviewing and revising their workers' compensation systems. These projects have resulted in significant improvements in economic performance. The development of systems that minimise secondary psychological overlay to the original claim has been a major part of those successes.

Mr Aurbach was the editor from 2003-2015 of a peer reviewed international professional journal focused on workers' compensation topics. He has written more than 50 published articles and book chapters and speaks internationally on resilience, rehabilitation, disability management and personal injury compensation system design.

In Australia, he organised and ran a unique series of compensation scheme stakeholder engagement sessions resulting in a national report published by Deakin University. Mr Aurbach has worked as a consultant for private and governmental clients, including WCD Workers' Compensation Solutions, Comcare, the Department of Veteran's Affairs, the Department of Employment and WorkCover NSW.

His independent research focus has been on understanding the factors that allow some people to recover from physical and psychological injury as expected, while others do not.

Dr Darren Beales

Dr Beales is a Senior Research Fellow at Curtin University and a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist.

His research interests include improving understanding of the multidimensional nature of pain disorders from a lifespan perspective, and facilitating integration of this knowledge into clinical practice and public policy. He is a director and a specialist physiotherapist at Pain Options, which provides specialist physiotherapy services for compensable and private patients.


Dr Jenny Brockis

Dr Brockis is a medical practitioner, writer and speaker, and has worked as a health professional for over 30 years. Currently, she's a regular columnist for The CEO Magazine and Gloss Magazine, and is a regular guest on 6PR 882 and Channel 9. As an accredited member of the Professional Speakers Australia, she speaks with audiences at events in Australia and overseas, and she works with business leaders, educators and individuals to boost mental performance through better thinking, learning and remembering what matters.

Dr Brockis has written three books, with her most recent Future Brain: The 12 Keys to Create Your Own High-Performance Brain translated into three languages and becoming a bestseller. She has also worked as the principal of her own Group Medical Practice.

Dr Brockis' interests include brain fitness, practical neuroscience, and effective and enduring positive behavioural change.

Ms Candy Choo

Ms Choo is the Divisional Manager of WorkCare Services at LGIS - a self-insurance scheme owned by WA local governments who work together in achieving positive risk and insurance outcomes. She has the responsibilities of overseeing the management of workers' compensation claims, injury management services as well as a suite of people risk solutions delivered to 138 members.

As a registered psychologist specialised in the area of Organisational Psychology, Ms Choo has worked with a wide variety of organisations and dealt with employees across all levels over the last 10 years. She has extensive experience and an in-depth understanding of some of the most common workforce related issues in the workplace. Her key areas of expertise include general HR risk management, conflict resolution, performance management, safety and health, change management, organisational climate and culture, and employee engagement.

Ms Choo is a highly skilled group facilitator, trainer, coach and mediator, and has successfully transformed organisational culture and mitigated organisational stress with these skills for a number of organisations in both private and public sectors.

Professor Alex Collie

Professor Collie is Head of the Insurance Work and Health Group in the Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University. The Group conducts applied research projects that support employers, insurers and government agencies to make positive changes for the community.

Professor Collie currently leads numerous large applied research projects in the fields of workplace health and injury compensation, within Australia and internationally. These include Compensation Policy And Return to work Effectiveness (ComPARE) project, a national comparative policy effectiveness project supported by nine Australian workers' compensation regulators.

Associate Professor Peter Connaughton

Associate Professor Connaughton is the President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. He works in private practice in Perth, Western Australia and he is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Medicine, the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle.

Professor Connaughton graduated from the medical school of Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and later studied occupational medicine at the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh. He has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Australia and has a special interest in Corporate Social Responsibility.

He serves on the boards of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and the charity CINI Australia.

Presentation not available

Ms Melissa Cribb

Ms Cribb is the Train Control Superintendent at Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s Remote Operations Centre. In this role, Ms Cribb works with a team of Train Controllers responsible for managing the safe and efficient movement of trains across Rio Tinto’s 1700km of rail network. Prior to her current role she worked in health and safety and holds a Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Occupational Therapy.


Mr Michael Francis

Mr Francis is the General Manager for Insurance at ReturnToWorkSA, where he leads the premium and underwriting, agent assurance, EnABLE (serious injures) and risk management functions. He has 16 years of workers' compensation experience across management, allied health and consulting roles, and has previously worked for Queensland’s workers' compensation regulator Q-COMP as an Executive Manager, and as the Secretary for the Medical Assessment Tribunal.


Ms Dorothy Frost

Ms Frost leads the development of strategic innovative solutions and an active research agenda as Group Manager, Research and Innovation for the Work Health Group. In partnership with industry and academia she is able to build customised, evidence-based service models to achieve positive outcomes for the personal industry sector and individuals impacted by injury or disability.


Presentation not available

The Hon. Bill Johnston

Hon. Bill (William) Johnston is a Western Australian politician and has been a member of the Legislative Council of Western Australia since 2008 for Cannington. He is the State’s current Minister for Commerce and Industrial Relations; Mines and Petroleum; Electoral Affairs; and Asian Engagement.

Mr Johnston has previously spent seven years as the State Secretary of the Australian Labor Party for the Western Australian Branch, and was a former senior official of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association, the union representing retail and warehouse workers.

Presentation not available

Mr Michael Keig

Mr Keig joined Rio Tinto Iron Ore in 2011 as an Injury Management Advisor, having previously worked in private practice physiotherapy.

He now leads a team of Injury Management Advisors that support the iron ore business across Perth and the Pilbara, working closely with leaders, medical and allied health professionals and insurance companies.


Dr Roger Lai

Dr Lai is an Occupational Physician in private practice.

Through his personalised and collaborative approach Dr Lai has built respected partnerships with a range of large and small government and private organisations along with other specialist service providers and consultants. Dr Lai has a particular interest in helping organisations develop a wellness culture around mental health based on raising awareness, peer support, early intervention, management development and physical activity.

He is also an active educator, adjunct clinical associate professor at Curtin University Medical School, occupational physician trainee supervisor and AFOEM examiner.

Presentation not available

Ms Jean Mangharam

Ms Mangharam is the Principal Scientific Officer of the Human Factors & Ergonomics Team at WorkSafe WA. WorkSafe's Human Factors and Ergonomics Team is a multidisciplinary team made up of Scientific Officers and Inspectors that address hazards that lie within the realms of physical, cognitive and organisational ergonomics.

Ms Mangharam has a background in Physiotherapy (BSc Hons- Curtin University, WA- 1992) and Ergonomics and Industrial Hygiene (MSc EnvHlth- University of Cincinnati, Ohio- 1998). Since commencing her professional career in 1993, she has practiced as a clinical physiotherapist and consultant ergonomist in Australia, UK and USA. She has published several articles and chapters in the field of ergonomics and was a recipient of a NIOSH academic scholarship in 1998. She is currently conducting epidemiological research at Curtin University in the area of occupational slips, trips and falls.

Presentation not available

Commissioner Lex McCulloch

Commissioner McCulloch has occupied the position of WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner since February 2011 and has been in the Western Australian Public Sector since 1978 when he joined the Department for Community Welfare. He has worked in a variety of locations and roles across the State including Derby, Kalgoorlie, Port Hedland and Perth.

Commissioner McCulloch's various roles have provided him with a range of experiences such as leading restructuring processes, delivering on significant projects, and leading service delivery units, all of which have been aimed at improving the wellbeing of people in Western Australia. The role of WorkSafe WA Commissioner allows him to pursue his passion of improving the wellbeing of Western Australians through the creation of safe and healthy workplaces.

Commissioner McCulloch has a Social Work Degree from Curtin University.

Dr Tim Mitchell

Dr Mitchell is a Specialist Physiotherapist and director of Pain Options, a private clinic with a focus on the management of complex and chronic injuries and pain disorders. He is involved in the ongoing care of patients as well as providing second opinions on more complicated cases.

Dr Mitchell is also a Senior Lecturer at Curtin University where he is involved in clinical teaching and research. He has completed a PhD in the area of low back pain and has a special interest in the translation of logical reasoning into clinical practice.


Professor Michael Nicholas

Professor Nicholas is the Director of Pain Education at the Pain Management Research Institute, Sydney Medical School (Northern) at the Royal North Shore Hospital where he also directs several multidisciplinary pain management programs. He has a national and international reputation in this field, especially in relation to his work in developing and evaluating multidisciplinary pain management programs, and over 170 publications in scientific journals and books on pain assessment and management.

Professor Nicholas' current research interests include the self-management of persisting pain in both the adult and older adult populations, adherence to self-management strategies in persisting pain, and early psychosocial interventions to prevent long-term disability in injured workers. His most recent study on early intervention with injured workers in NSW has demonstrated that injured workers at risk of delayed recovery can be identified in days and return to work in half the time of those offered usual care. The protocol for that study has since been implemented as usual care by NSWHealth for injured health workers.

Mr Michael Playford

Mr Playford is the leader of the PwC Australia Actuarial Practice. He brings over 25 years' experience, providing actuarial advice to injury support, general insurance and government clients, specialising in workers' compensation, lifetime care and support, home building compensation, and victims compensation schemes. Currently he has an active role in PwC's actuarial work with icare NSW, NZ ACC, Worksafe Victoria, Victorian Transport Accident Commission and WorkCover WA.


Presentation not available

Mr Mark Stipic

Mr Stipic is founder and host of Australia's number one podcast about return to work - 'RTW Nation'.

His career in workers' compensation spans self-insurance, claims agents and employer-based roles. Today Mr Stipic provides consulting services to employers and training for rehabilitation professionals.

Mr Stipic is a previous winner at WorkSafe Victoria's Injury Support and Service Awards for his achievements with a large aged care provider. In 2012, he completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation Studies at La Trobe University.

Mr Stipic's mission is to use his passion for return to work to inspire and motivate others in the field of workplace rehabilitation.

Mr Chris Sutherland

Mr Sutherland is the Managing Director of Programmed, an organisation that provides staffing, maintenance and facility management services, and is an experienced executive who has held senior management positions in various engineering, maintenance and contracting businesses with operations in Australia, Asia, Europe and the USA.

Previously, he has worked as the Chief Executive of Integrated Group Limited and as the Executive Director of Asset Services for WorleyParsons.

Mr Sutherland has a Bachelor of Engineering from The University of Western Australia and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2001.

Dr Paul Taylor

Dr Taylor is an experienced surgeon specialising in spinal surgery. His extensive training and experience in both orthopaedic and neurosurgical spine surgery has been gained in Australia and internationally. He has particular expertise in adult deformity surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery, and anterior spine surgery.

Dr Taylor was born and educated in England and studied medicine at Sheffield University winning the Riker prize. His early surgical training in Sheffield and in Orthopaedics and Neurosurgery at the National Trauma Centre in Stoke where he worked under the world renowned Spinal Surgeon Mr John Dove, inventor of the widely used Hartshill systems of spinal fixation, began his interest in spine surgery.

After moving to Australia, Dr Taylor trained in orthopaedic surgery departments in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth gaining further experience in Spinal Surgery and in general orthopaedics before becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 2009 in orthopaedic surgery. He then returned to UK to work and train in some of the largest, busiest and well known centres for spine surgery in Europe.

Dr Taylor has been committed to scientific research and has published in various peer reviewed journals. His latest interests and publications include the application of biomechanical principles into surgical practice. He is also a frequent guest speaker at various medical and surgical meetings and conferences.

Mr Fab Zanuttigh

Mr Zanuttigh is the General Manager, Motor Injury Insurance Division at the Insurance Commission of WA and has 32 years' experience in injury compensation. Since 2003, he has been responsible for the operation of Western Australia's CTP scheme.

Mr Zanuttigh led the design and implementation of the motor vehicle catastrophic injury support scheme (CIS scheme), which came into effect on 1 July. Building on the success of Western Australia's CTP scheme, he has now taken on the challenge of delivering the new catastrophic injury support scheme on behalf of the WA Government.

Know someone who might like to attend?