Our staff have complementary skills and experience in research, clinical treatment, policy, service development, education and communication.


Our people include clinically trained researchers and specialist psychologists, who are supported by our professional services team. Our specialist practitioners maintain their clinical skills in their private psychology and psychiatry practices.




Professor David Forbes

BA (Hons) MA (Clin Psych) PhD


Professor David Forbes is the Director of Phoenix Australia, and Deputy Head, Department of Psychiatry, the University of Melbourne. David is a clinical psychologist with extensive experience in the assessment and treatment of mental health problems following trauma, and he has worked in both acute crisis and continuing care settings across the community mental health system and in specialist traumatic stress services. David is an international expert in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and military mental health, with strong national and international links with other researchers and experts in the field. He was Chair of the Working Party for the inaugural National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) approved Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in 2007, co-chair of the steering group for the revised Guidelines in 2013, and he is also the Vice Chair of the international PTSD Guidelines Committee developed by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). David has published more than 130 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and sits on the editorial boards of leading international journals. He has been awarded in excess of $8.5 million in competitive research grants, and more than $16.4 million in research translation grants. David is a member of many advisory committees for governments and other organisations, including the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence, and the Australian Psychological Society. He has a strong track record in leading initiatives to improve outcomes for people affected by trauma through the translation of research into effective policy and practice. David is a passionate advocate for the use of evidence-based responses following trauma in order to reduce the mental health effects on survivors, their families and communities.

Greg Ridder

BBus(Acc) GradDip(Mktg) GAICD CPA

Executive Manager, Business Planning and Strategy

Greg joined Phoenix Australia in September 2012 as interim CEO. His role has evolved as Phoenix Australia’s needs have changed, and he is currently Executive Manager, Business Planning and Strategy, and a Director of Phoenix Australia. Greg is an experienced business and strategy advisor, with a strong business background in strategy, finance, and general management both in Australia and Asia, having previously been President of NYSE listed packaging company Owens Illinois’ Asia Pacific regional operations. He is an Associate Director at strategy consultants, Bevington Group; serves on the Business Advisory Councils of World Vision Australia and Greenfleet; and is a mentor at Kilfinan Australia. Greg is a past president of the Packaging Council of Australia, a Graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a CPA.

Dr Andrea Phelps

BA (Hons) MPsych (Clin) PhD

Deputy Director

Dr Andrea Phelps is the Deputy Director of Phoenix Australia. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in treating posttraumatic mental health problems. Andrea has led a number of major Phoenix Australia projects including the development of the Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (2007, 2013).  She was also the executive lead on the Trauma and Homelessness Consortium project, which developed a framework and practitioner workbook for trauma-informed care in homelessness populations. Andrea has consulted to a range of industry partners and government on research, service development and policy issues regarding organisational responses to psychological trauma. Industry partners include Tracksafe Foundation, state rail organisations, state police, fire and ambulance services; Government departments include Veterans’ Affairs, Defence, Health and Human Services, Australian Border Force, and Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Andrea has also led research into innovative treatments for trauma populations, including the evaluation of an online early intervention “wellbeing toolbox” for military personnel with adjustment and subclinical problems, and imagery rehearsal therapy for posttraumatic nightmares.

Associate Professor Meaghan O’Donnell

BAppSci BSci (Hons) MPsych (Clin) PhD

Director of Research

Associate Professor Meaghan O’Donnell completed her postgraduate clinical psychology training at the University of Western Australia and her PhD at the University of Melbourne (under the supervision of Professor Mark Creamer). Meaghan has published widely in the area of posttraumatic mental health, holds a number of large research grants, and is involved in both national and international research collaborations. She is President-Elect of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), and is on the editorial board of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology. Meaghan is involved in a number of research projects that encompass a range of areas including epidemiology, phenomenology, intervention, and biology of posttraumatic mental health, and the mental health issues in military and veteran populations. She has recently been awarded a prestigious Humboldt Experienced Researcher Fellowship to foster research collaborations in Germany.

Associate Professor Darryl Wade

BA (Hons) MA (Clin Psych) PhD

Director of Education and Training

Associate Professor Darryl Wade joined Phoenix Australia in 2008 after many years’ experience as a clinical psychologist in a range of mental health settings. At Phoenix Australia Darryl has developed and managed a range of mental health initiatives to improve access to effective treatment and support for people affected by trauma and disaster including past and present defence force members and their families, and survivors of the 2009 Victorian bushfires. His current research interests include screening and brief interventions for substance use and translating research findings into practice. He completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2006 and has published widely on mental health issues affecting young people. Darryl is a member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the APS College of Clinical Psychologists.


Dr Richard Cash

BA (Hons) PsyD

Senior Clinical Specialist

Richard joined Phoenix Australia in 2012 as a Senior Clinical Specialist. He is a psychologist with vast experience in the treatment of posttraumatic mental health problems within the Veteran community. Prior to his appointment to Phoenix Australia, he was the Deputy Director of the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service in Victoria. Richard has extensive training experience and is passionate about championing evidence-based interventions within allied health. He is involved in policy and service development as well as education and training activities at Phoenix Australia.

Dr John Cooper


Consultant Psychiatrist

John Cooper is a Consultant Psychiatrist who has worked part time at Phoenix Australia since 1999, providing psychiatry expertise across the policy and service development, training and education, and research domains. During this same period, John has held senior clinical and advisory positions in posttraumatic mental health at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), as well as maintaining a busy private practice specialising in the treatment of posttraumatic mental health problems. John’s particular expertise is in veterans’ mental health, assessment, pharmacotherapy, and service development. Recently, John has moved much of his clinical work into youth and community clinical settings where high rates of posttraumatic mental health disorders impact upon all aspects of patient care.

Anne-Laure Couineau

BA (Psych) MA (Psych) Grad Dip (Psych)

Senior Clinical Specialist

Anne-Laure is a psychologist with extensive experience in the treatment of posttraumatic mental health problems in hospital and community settings. She has specialised in the treatment of war veterans and emergency personnel diagnosed with PTSD and the effects of long-term childhood sexual abuse and neglect. Anne-Laure has a strong background in education and knowledge translation and has led several projects aimed at improving the uptake of evidence-based practice among mental health practitioners. Recent projects led by Anne-Laure include a Department of Veterans’ Affairs national training initiative to up-skill mental health practitioners, and an ADF national training program. Anne-Laure has also completed a fellowship with the National Institute of Clinical Studies focusing on the implementation of evidence-based treatment of PTSD.

Dr Lisa Dell

BAppSci (Hons) PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Lisa joined Phoenix Australia in 2009, having previously worked as Director of Training with the Canadian Air Force managing a range of projects including the development of a comprehensive e-learning training program. She has a PhD in stress management and emotional intelligence, and developed one of the first Australian workplace emotional intelligence training programs. In her role as a Research Fellow, Lisa is responsible for the design, implementation and oversight of a range of policy and service development projects and evaluations.

Jane Nursey

BBSc Grad Dip Child & Adol Psych MPsych (Clin Neuro)

Senior Clinical Specialist

With 25 years’ experience as a clinician and manager/director of programs and services in the public hospital acute and mental health sectors, across the lifespan, Jane brings a wealth of experience to her role at Phoenix Australia. Her clinical experience includes delivering evidence-based assessment, clinical treatment and secondary consultation to sufferers of trauma-related mental health disorders including children, adolescents, veterans, current serving members of the defence force, police and other emergency service personnel and disaster survivors. She has also worked in the alcohol and drug, traumatic brain injury, aged care and developmental disability sectors. Jane is an experienced trainer, developing and facilitating training workshops to health professionals on evidence-based neuropsychological and clinical assessments and treatments for trauma-related mental health disorders, as well educational workshops on trauma response and recovery. Since joining Phoenix Australia, Jane has led and contributed to a range of service development and training and research projects that focus on translating evidence into practice, improving community and industry’s knowledge of and capacity to manage the impact of traumatic events, and enhancing the capacity of mental health practitioners to deliver evidence-based treatments. Jane’s training in Clinical Neuropsychology and Developmental Psychology fuel her research interests in exploring the neurobiological and neuropsychological aspects of trauma and exploring innovative treatments that help to improve the clinical and cognitive symptoms of PTSD.

Nicole Sadler

MPsych (Clin)

Senior Specialist, Military and High Risk Occupations

Through her 23-year career as a full-time Army psychology officer, Nicole has developed considerable expertise in military mental health, including in the issues and challenges for serving and ex-serving military personnel and their families, and the systems and services to improve and maintain mental health and wellbeing within high risk populations. Nicole has worked in psychology service provision, training, research, policy development and strategic planning, and has deployed in support of numerous Australian Defence Force operations. She held the senior psychology position within the Australian Army from August 2012 to January 2017. Nicole continues to serve as a Colonel in the Army Reserves and she is one of the Defence investigators on the joint Departments of Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme. She is currently completing a PhD.


Renée Armstrong

BA (Hons) PGDip (Psych)

Research Assistant

Renée joined Phoenix Australia in 2012 on the Trauma and Homelessness Initiative (THI) project both as a Research Assistant and a PhD candidate. Her PhD is investigating Complex PTSD. Prior to her degree in Psychology, Renée was a case manager in the homeless sector for seven years. At Phoenix Australia, she works on the clinical data collection project for DVA-funded Trauma Recovery Programmes.

Dr Rachel Brand (On leave)

BSc (Hons) DClinPsy

Research Fellow I

Rachel is a Clinical Psychologist and joined Phoenix Australia in 2014. Rachel previously worked in clinical roles within the public mental health system in the UK in specialist psychosis and traumatic stress services. Rachel currently project manages an NHMRC-funded transdiagnostic treatment trial for emotional difficulties following traumatic injury. She is also involved in projects in the areas of refugee and veteran mental health. Rachel has a broad range of interests in the area of posttraumatic mental health, including trialling innovative cognitive behavioural treatment approaches after trauma, refugee mental health, and the interaction between trauma and psychosis.

Dr Katherine Chisholm (On leave)

BA (Hons) DPsych (Health)

Research Fellow I

Katherine is a psychologist and has completed a DPsych (Health) at Deakin University. She has clinical experience working with traumatic injury survivors. Katherine’s research interests extend to this area at Phoenix Australia, where she currently works on an NHMRC-funded randomised controlled trial in collaboration with the Royal Melbourne Hospital. This trial aims to evaluate the efficacy of a transdiagnostic therapeutic approach for people who have experienced anxiety, depression or posttraumatic stress following traumatic injury.

Suzie Firth

Executive Assistant

Suzie joined Phoenix Australia in 2010, has extensive experience in all facets of office administration, and is currently studying a BA (Psych) at Deakin University. At Phoenix Australia, she is responsible for providing executive assistance to the Director (Professor David Forbes). Suzie also manages human resources administration and provides administrative assistance to the Board of Management, the Finance Committee and Management Group.

Dr Julia Fredrickson

BSci (Hons) DPsych (Health)

Research Fellow I

Julia is a psychologist with a background in cognitive and health psychology, and over nine years of research experience. She previously worked in a clinical setting, assessing and treating individuals who had experienced a traumatic event in their workplace. Julia is experienced in conducting literature reviews, statistical analysis, and preparing research for publication. She has a particular interest in translating evidence to practice. At Phoenix Australia, Julia is involved in projects in the area of veteran mental health.

Jaiganesh G Swamy


Finance Officer

Jaiganesh joined Phoenix Australia in 2009, having worked with a number of accounting professionals for many years. He has previously worked in another area of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Psychiatry as Accounts Officer. Jaiganesh is responsible for managing Phoenix Australia’s day-to-day finances, year-end audit, project support and other administration- related work.

Kari Gibson

BA (Hons) MPsych (Clin)

Research Assistant

Kari is a provisional psychologist with a background in international development and refugee health. She previously worked in a clinical setting, assessing and treating individuals from refugee and asylum seeking background who had experienced torture or trauma prior to resettling in Australia. Kari is completing a combined Masters of Clinical Psychology and PhD program at the University of Melbourne. Her PhD examines the intersections of climate change and psychological distress in the South Pacific atoll nation of Tuvalu. Kari has experience conducting narrative literature reviews, rapid evidence assessments, clinical research assessments, statistical and qualitative analyses, and preparing research for publication.

Alexandra Howard

BPsych (Hons) MPsych (Clin)

Clinical Specialist

Alexandra joined Phoenix Australia in 2010, having worked previously as a clinical psychologist in the private, public and university sectors. In these roles she specialised in anxiety and youth mental health, and developed and facilitated group therapy programs. She also has experience in project management of clinical research trials and community health service program evaluation. She completed her Masters of Psychology (Clinical) from the University of NSW. Alexandra is currently working for Phoenix Australia on a research project providing psychological therapy to people who have experienced posttraumatic stress, depression and anxiety following trauma.

Maria Humphries

Communications and Project Coordinator

Maria is responsible for managing Phoenix Australia’s communications, marketing and brand. She oversaw the organisation’s recent renaming and brand identity development, as well as the redevelopment of the website. Maria is a skilful writer and editor, with a keen eye for detail. She provides high level support and advice to senior staff and projects. She has considerable experience in administration of post-graduate training and in project administration, and she manages Phoenix Australia’s nation-wide training programs.

Dzenana Kartal (On leave)

BSocSc PGDip (Psych)

Research Fellow II (Acting)

Dzenana joined Phoenix Australia in 2011 as a Research Assistant under the NHMRC Program Grant. She has worked in the public and university sectors since 2004. Her research experience includes working with victims of crime, refugees, culturally and linguistically diverse communities and preschoolers. She is completing her PhD examining psycho-social factors impacting the mental health of refugees.

Dr Winnie Lau

BBSC (Hons) MPsych (Clin) PhD

Research Fellow

Winnie is a psychologist who has worked across academic, clinical and community settings. Having spent much time in the public child and adolescent mental health sector, she joined Phoenix Australia to work as a clinical specialist and project manager. Winnie has been involved in projects investigating the impact of trauma on injury survivors; the development of a treatment manual for use in the aftermath of the Victorian bushfires; and clinical intervention trials for traumatic injury patients. She has broad interests in trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural therapies, child and adolescent mental health, refugee trauma, complex trauma, and trauma-informed care.

Lee Merzel

Executive Assistant

With a passion for front line service delivery, a commitment to continuous improvement and an eagle eye for detail, Lee has built an enviable reputation in executive support. She is Executive Assistant to Professor David Forbes and Dr Andrea Phelps and also provides secretariat support to the Board of Management and the Finance & Risk Committee. Lee’s career has included experience in the disciplines of human resources, corporate and external affairs, and investor relations. Prior to joining Phoenix Australia Lee and her husband operated a boutique professional services firm.

Dr Olivia Metcalf (On leave)

BA BSc (Hons) PhD

Research Fellow I

Olivia has a background in cognitive and experimental psychology, as well as training in science communication. She is passionate about translating research findings to a wide audience, including trauma professionals and the general public. Olivia’s work at Phoenix Australia involves educating mental health professionals about the unique experiences of military and veteran populations and synthesising best-practice research for the treatment of mental health conditions resulting from trauma.

Amanda Pearce

BPsych (Hons)

Research Fellow I

Amanda completed her undergraduate studies in Adelaide and has since gained experience working in injury management and clinical research, in areas such as mental health following traumatic injury and assisting with rehabilitation and return to work. She is currently completing her Clinical Masters in Psychology with a particular interest in posttraumatic stress and health psychology. At Phoenix Australia, Amanda works as a Research Assistant on the SPRITE trial in collaboration with the Royal Melbourne and Alfred hospitals, evaluating a transdiagnostic therapy for traumatic injury survivors. Amanda’s Master’s thesis explores the relationship between PTSD, chronic pain, and sleep following traumatic injury.

Dr Naomi Ralph

BAppSc (Hons) PhD

Research Fellow I

Naomi has worked as a Research Fellow at Phoenix Australia since 2013. Her particular interest is in the area of Aboriginal trauma and healing in Australia. Naomi lived and worked for a number of years in the Kimberley region of Western Australia while undertaking her PhD which looked at the influence of trauma on Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal adolescents in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, in particular in relation to posttraumatic stress disorder and suicide. Naomi completed her PhD thesis in 2010.

Daniel Redman

Information Technology Officer

Dan joined Phoenix Australia in 2011 and has more than 10 years’ experience in all areas of information technology support and management. At Phoenix Australia, he is responsible for managing the IT network and systems and providing IT support to the whole team.

Rebecca Sheehan

Business Services Officer

Rebecca began working as Phoenix Australia’s receptionist in 2011. She has considerable experience in reception and administration, mainly in the real estate sector. Rebecca’s role is to provide general assistance, administrative support and respond to telephone and email enquiries.

Sonia Terhaag

BA (Hons)

Research Assistant

Sonia is a PhD student and Research Assistant. She completed her undergraduate studies in Canada, where she worked on various clinical research projects including a randomised controlled trial of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for recurrent depression. At Phoenix Australia, Sonia primarily works on the SPRITE trial in collaboration with the Royal Melbourne Hospital to evaluate transdiagnostic therapy after traumatic injury. Her PhD is on psychological and social contributors to mental health outcomes after burn injury.

Dr Tracey Varker

BSc (Hons) PGDip (Statistics) PhD

Research Fellow II

Dr Tracey Varker has over 10 years’ experience in posttraumatic mental health, and has worked with emergency services and military personnel, traumatic injury patients, and survivors of disaster, including the 2009 Victorian bushfires. She has considerable experience in literature review methodologies including rapid evidence assessments, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, as well as general literature reviews. Tracey is exceptionally skilled in working with clients to develop reviews that best suit their needs, and has published systematic reviews and papers on review methodology. Additionally, she has published many research articles on posttraumatic mental health and has presented her work at national and international conferences.

Loretta Watson

BBus (Acc) GDipPsychAdv

Research Assistant

Loretta is a PhD candidate and Research Assistant. Prior to completing her psychology undergraduate studies she was a Certified Practicing Accountant and worked for many years as a Financial Controller in the hospitality industry. At Phoenix Australia, Loretta is involved in a wide variety of projects in such areas as police and veteran mental health, and workplace violence. Her PhD is on promoting healthy ageing in Australian Vietnam Veterans.



Professor Mark Creamer

Professor Richard Bryant

Associate Professor Virginia Lewis

Associate Professor Reg Nixon

Dr Peter Elliott

Dr Lynda Matthews