Our Team

Associate Professor Julie Leask

Professor Julie Leask

“My entire professional life has been about supporting parents, both as a midwife and an immunisation researcher. Each day I see a parent or caregiver with a young child, I am feel a renewed sense of respect and commitment to them as a parent and as a researcher. I want to support them to make good quality decisions for their children.”

Julie Leask’s professional life has been all about supporting parents. Her undergraduate education was in nursing (UTS, 1990) then midwifery. She then completed a Master of Public Health at the University of Sydney in 1998 followed by a PhD in 2002 on Understanding Immunisation Controversies. She now works as a behavioural scientist specialising in immunisation. She is Professor in the Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney. She is also a visiting Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS). Currently, Julie leads a program of research on vaccination acceptance. She has held advisory roles with the World Health Organization, the US Government, and the Australian Academy of Science. In 2015, Julie won the PHAA NSW branch Public Health Impact Award and the Sax Institute Research Action Award.

Dr Nina Berry

Dr Nina Berry

“I am a researcher and a health communicator but I am a mother first of all. My research aims to help parents find the information they need to make decisions about their children’s health. I am also interested in helping health professionals to work with parents to protect their children’s health and wellbeing. Together with the SKAI team, I have spent the last three years working with parents, scientists, health professionals and communicators to put together the information parents are looking for in ways that make sense to them. I hope you find what you are looking for here.”

Nina Berry is a child health and nutrition social scientist with a particular interest in finding ways to support parents to protect their children’s health. Her research aims at improving children's health and nutritional status by improving health communication and supporting parents to raise healthy children. Nina’s PhD applied a social marketing framework informed by applied philosophy (ethics) to investigate the influence of the marketing of toddler milks on parents’ attitudes and beliefs about infant feeding in Australia. In addition to working on the SKAI Project, Nina works with the South Asian Infant Feeding Research Network to identify and test effective strategies for improving mothers’ and children’s health and nutrition in the Asia Pacific Region. She is a qualified breastfeeding counsellor and volunteers to take calls weekly on the National Breastfeeding Helpline. She is also a qualified trainer and assessor.

Professor Lyndal Trevena

Professor Lyndal Trevena

“Over the past thirty years of working as a GP, I have had many conversations with parents about immunisation. I’ve seen vaccine concerns and issues wax and wane, but today’s parents face an exceptionally complex maze of information to navigate. I’m striving to find better ways to support people in making health decisions that are well informed and am involved in the SKAI project because it does just that.”

Lyndal Trevana is Professor of Primary Health Care and Head of the Discipline of General Practice at the University of Sydney. In 2001, after 15 years working exclusively in clinical practice, Lyndal commenced her academic career. In 2006, she completed her PhD, which focused on the application and implementation of research evidence in general practice. Currently, she teaches within the Sydney Medical Program and the Masters of International Public Health at the University of Sydney. Clinically active throughout her career, Lyndal currently provides pro-bono clinical care to asylum seekers in Sydney.

Dr Margie Danchin

Dr Margie Danchin

“As a paediatrician who specialises in immunisation, and a mum of four, I have always been passionate about promoting the benefits of immunisation and confidence in the National Immunisation program for parents, which SKAI aims to do. I speak weekly with parents who have concerns about immunisation in our specialist clinic at the hospital and look after children who have vaccine preventable diseases, so I hope my experience and that of the SKAI team can provide a trusted voice to optimise childhood immunisation uptake for all parents.” 

Margie Danchin currently works as a General Paediatrician at Melbourne’s Royal Children's Hospital in the Department of Paediatrics and as a Senior Research Fellow at Murdoch Children’s Research Institute(MCRI). She obtained her PhD in 2006 after completing a fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. Margie has extensive expertise in vaccine research focused on clinical trials, vaccine safety and vaccine social science, and is a member of the Vaccine and Immunisation Research Group (VIRGo) and the Rotavirus Vaccine Research Group, MCRI.

Dr Holly Witteman

Dr Holly Witteman

“I am a mother of two, a researcher, and a friend or family member to people who have questions about vaccines. I care very much about supporting people in making high quality health decisions. By ‘high quality’ I mean decisions that are informed by the best available evidence and also aligned with what matters to the people, families, and communities affected by the decisions. I am involved with SKAI because I believe it offers a respectful way to support high quality decisions about immunisation and to help build and maintain trust between families and their health care providers.”

Holly Witteman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Emergency Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada. She directs the research unit within the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Education and Professional Development and is also a scientist at the Research Centre of the CHU (Centre Hospitalier Universitaire) de Québec-Université, at the new Institute of Primary Care Research affiliated with Laval University, and an Affiliate Investigator at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada. With an interdisciplinary background in human-factors engineering, human-computer interaction, and decision sciences, her research is concerned with the design and evaluation of digital and other media in health decision-making. Holly specialises in human-computer interaction in health education, risk communication and decision-making, including design methods to support broad, inclusive user-centredness and patient-centeredness.

Professor Paul Kinnersley

Professor Paul Kinnersley

“As a (retired) GP and also as a patient I know how important it is that doctors think carefully about what information they give to patients and how they discuss this information.  Clinicians often think it is just a question of telling people facts and this will ‘reassure’ them.  But patients know this is often not the case – and clinicians need to take on board patients’ (and parents’) concerns and worries. The SKAI team is helping clinicians and patients (parents) have open, supportive discussions about important decisions.”

Paul Kinnersley is Director of Clinical Skills in the Medical School at Cardiff University in Wales. Although retired from clinical work, he is continuing in his academic role. Paul’s particular area of interest is in clinician-patient communication and he has authored or co-authored more than 90 research papers, primarily on this subject. He also has extensive teaching experience with both medical students and healthcare professionals, focusing on how to communicate well with patients. In addition to teaching, Paul has also conducted ‘train the trainer’ workshops within the EU and Australia. He also teaches clinical skills more widely and contributes to the development of resources to support patients and clinicians in difficult conversations.

Dr Penelope Robinson

Dr Penelope Robinson

“I enjoy working as part of the SKAI team. We’re a diverse bunch of researchers with a joint goal of improving parents’ experiences of childhood immunisation. As a mother of two small children, I understand the need for quality, easy-to-understand information to guide my decisions.”

Penelope Robinson works in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and was Project Officer for SKAI, handling the day-to-day management of the project. She has a PhD in sociology and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons). She has worked in the university sector for over ten years on a broad range of interesting social research projects in sociology, education, public health and social policy. Her research interests include vaccination communication, feminism, motherhood and parenting, and popular culture studies. She is the social science representative on the ethics committee of the Red Cross Blood Service.

Other contributors

Many people have contributed to the development of the SKAI project along the way:

Kristine Macartney, Frank Beard, Penny Haora, Tom Snelling, Jessica Kaufman, Sue Randall, Harold Willaby, Kerrie Wiley, Melinda Hassall, Alex Henry, Cath Jackson, Helen Bedford, Francine Cheater, Nick Sevdalis, Annette Alafaci, Jo Lander, Marguerite Tracy, Marianne Trent and Ciara McDonald.

An advisory group advised the development of the SKAI package:

  • Terry Nolan, University of Melbourne
  • Greg Rowles, GP, Melbourne
  • Liz Marles, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Karen Booth, Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association
  • Catherine Hughes, Immunisation Foundation of Australia