Staff member in Cath Lab in scrubsStaff in scrubs in the Cath LabStaff in scrubs in the Cath Lab


Our 2023 Inspirational Women

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Happy International Women's Day!

We are grateful to have so many incredible and inspiring women at Austin Health - today we celebrate them, and all that they do.

Annually, we host an event where we celebrate the amazing women that work at Austin Health, and recognise our 2023 Inspirational Women award recipients and nominees.

Six of our 2023 Inspirational Women award recipients holding their certificates with Chief Operating Officer/Deputy CEO Cameron Goodyear.
Six of our 2023 Inspirational Women award recipients with Chief Operating Officer/Deputy CEO Cameron Goodyear. (Absent: Yvonne Dunt and A/Prof Natalie Yang)

Congratulations to our eight 2023 Inspirational Women award recipients. Here are a few words from the nominations received for each award recipient.

Dr Danielle Ko

Palliative Care Consultant and Clinical Ethics Lead

Dani wears numerous hats across Austin Health and does so with the utmost devotion and consideration for both her work and her colleagues.

Dani is unique in her ability to not only bring people to the table but elevate their voices and ensure they are heard once there, particularly women. She does not hesitate to promote, validate, and encourage the women of Austin Health to reach their full potential and actively works with them to help them do so, both clinically and personally.

She is wholly committed to advancing the best interests and welfare of our patients, whilst considering at all times and without compromise the wellbeing and safety of staff.

Dani is exemplary in how she lives the Austin Health values and she does so in her everyday work and interactions with colleagues, patients and the community.

Dani was nominated by Dr Anita Stubbs and Michelle Cimoli.

Nicola Cowling

Clinical Nurse Consultant, Acute Psychiatric Unit, Mental Health

Nicola is a truly extraordinary woman who is endlessly bright, optimistic, kind, humorous and thoughtful, while also demonstrating excellent clinical judgment and unfailing commitment to patient-centred approach to care.

Nicola is compassionate, empathic and has a unique capacity to engage our most challenging patients. She is a fierce patient advocate and provides endless support to her colleagues at every level. Nicola will always take the time to ensure staff, patients and families feel comfortable, safe, heard, understood and supported.

Patients trust her because she consistently demonstrates genuine empathy, respect and trust in them. It is not uncommon to see her nipping off to purchase some unusual item for someone, because it might make them feel a bit more comfortable, or taking someone out for a walk on grounds, because no-one is available to take them on leave.

Nicola was nominated by Jessica Lee.

Lisa Origenes

Food Services Assistant, CPU Central Production Unit Medichef Kitchen

This year marks Lisa's 20th year working at Austin Health. Over the years Lisa has worked in all sections of large production kitchen. She has always been meticulous, precise and has a 'can do' attitude with everything she does. Lisa has always maintained perspective and gratitude, and continued to fight all challenges in her personal and professional life.

Lisa graduated from Melbourne Polytechnic in Hospitality in 2004 and joined Austin Health food services as kitchen hand casual, then gradually made her way to the CPU kitchen and was part of the preopening team. Since then she has been an asset and integral part of the CPU kitchen and has worked in all sections of the kitchen from dessert to the texture modified processing section.

She made her mark in a male-dominated profession 19 years ago, when women in the [professional] kitchen were even lesser than what the ratio is today. Lisa has done this through “sheer hard work”.

Recently Lisa was also awarded Employee of the Month Award in Medichef.

Lisa was nominated by Anuj Sood.

Nicole Hosking

Operations Director, Radiology and Molecular Imaging & Therapy

Nicole tirelessly works to make the hospital a better place for both employees and patients. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. She does this by constantly looking for ways to improve processes, systems and the patient experience.

She challenges, investigates, and goes out of her way to escalate and involve the right people to enact change. To do this, she gets involved in initiatives and committees across the hospital. She is the first to put her hand up to try something different or test a new system or process within her departments. Leading by example, she fosters the willingness to change, challenge and try new things in her staff. And as a result, staff feel supported to suggest new initiatives and ideas that make things better for themselves and the patients they look after.

Austin Health’s values underpin all of Nicole's day to day interactions and are the reason she works tirelessly to implement change and challenge the status quo.

Nicole was nominated by Michelle Esdale and Alan Pritchard.

Associate Professor Natalie Yang

Director, Radiology and Chair of the Senior Medical Staff Association

Natalie has been an exemplary leader guiding the department through during the difficult times of the Pandemic and lockdowns. She is also passionate about teaching and caring for the trainees and getting the best out of them.

Her passion for teaching and support for research helps bring out the best from the trainees and staff. She has fostered a caring and collegial workplace environment which make the department a great place to work in. I have seen first-hand how she has tirelessly worked to inspire others at Austin Health to make it a better place for our patients and a great place to work.

She not only leads her department in an inclusive, compassionate way, always advocating for patient care, but she is now extending her leadership style to lead the Senior Medical Staff Association through probably one of the most challenging times in health care.

Natalie is recognised by her peers as being a modern, innovative and importantly, an approachable leader at Austin Health, frequently being contacted by medical staff outside of her formal roles for advice.

Natalie was nominated by Professor Elif Ekinci and Chee-Yan HIew.

Ivana Guastella

Ward Clerk, Ward 7 North, Renal

Not only is she a fabulous person and ward clerk, she is also a patient here so knows how important her role is, and the impact it can have on people in this organisation.

She comes to work always with a smile and a positive attitude, and a little bit of sass as well! Ivana would do absolutely anything for our ward and the people in it, and she is so very proud of working here. I look forward to seeing her every day as she brightens it right up.

Ivana is passionate about the patient experience, and how what we do or don't do has an impact on our patient group.

You'll often see Ivana pushing patients down to Vascular Lab for an ultrasound, or the coffee shop to keep some lonely patients company... her job description does not define what job she does! If something needs doing, she does it. If she doesn't know how, she finds out.

Together we achieve is definitely the value that Ivana exemplifies the most. She is the heart and soul of 7 North, and her attitude and spirit are what drives us all to be our best together.

Ivana was nominated by Suzanne Johnson.

Yvonne Dunt

Volunteer at the Friends of Austin and Austin Health’s Diamond Creek Opportunity Shop

The community work of Austin Health Opportunity Shop - Diamond Creek has been previously recognised in Parliament. During Members’ Statements in the Legislative Assembly, Vicki Ward MP for Eltham said the op shop has been an incredibly important and loved resource.

“After watching a film [A Day of Healing] in the early 1970s about the Austin Hospital seven women were so moved by what they saw that they decided to commit a significant part of their lives to fundraise for this much-loved hospital,” Ms Ward told the Legislative Assembly.

Fundraising started with packing show bags at the Whittlesea show, then went on to stalls at Northland, Chadstone, Greensborough and Diamond Creek.

“Over time these women’s efforts became widely recognised. The first Austin Health op shop was opened in 1981, and volunteer numbers have increased tenfold. Today the shop is a thriving business” Ms Ward said.

She paid special tribute to Yvonne Dunt, who has served in various roles including as president and secretary. “For over 50 years Yvonne has been a continuous joy to customers and is still a friendly face to many people who wander into the shop,” Ms Ward said.

Yvonne with like-minded volunteers embody the Austin value ‘Together we achieve’. By sorting through and selling pre-loved items for as little as a $1, they have raised millions for innovative equipment used at Austin Health.

Yvonne was nominated by fellow volunteer, Shirley Heard.

Dr Joanne Wrench

Clinical Manager, Psychology

Jo has an eye for research and service improvement having been successful in being awarded many Department of Health grants over the years, resulting in the improvement of patient outcomes and care for those accessing psychology services.

Jo's leadership style is characterised by her unwavering faith in her team and her genuine care for their success. She recognises that the success of her team is tied to the success of the hospital and she takes pride in supporting her team members to reach their full potential. She has created an inclusive and supportive work environment that prioritises the wellbeing of every individual.

Jo should be celebrated for her significant role in promoting equity and fairness throughout Austin Health. I believe that she draws on her experience growing up outside of Australia where she saw first-hand disparities in access to healthcare and education and the challenges that people face in receiving the care that they need.

These unique experiences have informed Jo's commitment to promoting equity and ensuring that all individuals, regardless of their circumstances or background, have access to resources and support that they need to maintain health. Further, she inspires us to take on this perspective in our own work as we care for patients and their families.

Jo was nominated by Leigh Seidel-Marks.