Meet Our Staff

Gail O’Donnell

Executive Officer

Bachelor of Applied Science (Physiotherapy); Master of Public Health

Career summary: I joined HealthWest Partnership as the Executive Officer in July 2011. Previous employment included five years at Quality Improvement & Community Services Accreditation (QICSA) as the Operations Manager and Deputy CEO. During this period I undertook over 60 accreditation reviews of health and community services. Prior to this I was an Executive Manager of Community Care in a large rural community health service, with organisational responsibility for quality.

Professional interests: My strongly held belief is that a shared commitment to quality systems can deliver positive outcomes for individuals and organisations.

Something you didn’t know: I continue to work as an auditor for Quality Improvement Performance (QIP) in my spare time.


Estelle Donse

Systems Integration Manager

Bachelor of Human Nutrition; Master of International Health

Career summary: I began my public health career with the Australian government working on health policy and projects. I later made the move to international health to work on community health projects in India, Haiti and Laos. In these roles I’ve worked on a range of issues and in a variety of positions. To date my most valued experience has been working with community health workers in rural Haiti, where I observed firsthand the positive impact that comes when communities are placed at the centre of the development and delivery of health projects.

Professional interests: My personal and professional interests have always centred around health and other cultures. My career choices have been influenced by my desire to be a part of movements that work to improve population health through community empowerment and which seek to address the social determinants of health.

Something you didn’t know: Over the years I’ve developed a fascination for food; how it’s grown, cooked and eaten, the factors that influence what we eat, and the effects of food on our bodies and minds. My favourites places to be are in a veggie patch or an international supermarket.


Shelley Hewson

Working with Men & Momentum Project Manager

Bachelor of Social Work; Master of International & Community Development (Ongoing)

Career Summary: I have worked in the community and human services sector for over 12 years, providing support to individuals and families living in some of most diverse and at-risk communities around Australia, including CALD and refugee, as well as remote Aboriginal communities in SA, WA and the NT.

Much of my work has been supporting projects and programs directly related to family violence and violence against women and children, including also working with men and young men who use violence. This has also included providing family violence and trauma counselling to men, women and children, as well as complex care coordination, creative art and play based therapy and community mobilisation initiatives.

Professional interests: I am passionate about supporting grassroots innovation to establish safe and creative spaces for communities and individuals to thrive and reach their full potential, regardless of their lived experience.

Something you didn’t know: Alongside of my role here at Health West, I am also an Academic Teaching Scholar and Lecturer in Social Work at Victoria University, in the college of Health and Biomedicine.


Tanya Sofra

Strategic Projects Manager

Bachelor of Arts (Aboriginal Studies)/ Bachelor of Health Sciences (Public Health) with Honours

Career summary: I started my career in health promotion, working in a hospital and community health. I then transferred my project management skills into volunteer management and community development within the aged and disability sectors. A stint as a complex case manager gave me invaluable insight into the complexities of the service system, leading me to join the systems integration team at HealthWest in 2012. I have managed a number of projects and teams at HealthWest covering a range of topics spanning the public health spectrum such as Aboriginal health, paediatric pathways and workforce mutuality. Over the years I have also worked casually for research teams at Universities in Victoria and NSW.

Professional interests: I am drawn to the bigger picture and working together with community to get better outcomes. I am particularly passionate about projects which extend beyond the traditional health and community sectors, such as the workforce mutuality project.

Something you didn’t know: I spent half my life and career working in rural areas around Victoria.


Deb Tan

Communications Officer

Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours); Master of Arts (Intercultural Studies).

Career summary: Before joining HealthWest I worked at a not-for-profit organisation that supported minority language communities in language development and related matters. My various roles there included communications, event management and administration. I previously worked as a pharmacist at a public hospital in Adelaide, and particularly enjoyed connecting with and supporting patients and families on the ward.

Professional interests: I have an ongoing interest in the integral role language and cultural identity plays in a person and a community’s wellbeing.

Something you didn’t know: My ideal holiday is turning off my phone/email/Facebook/etc and finding a quiet nook to read. I really enjoy fantasy, particularly Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.


Anna Vu

Prevention Manager

Bachelor of Asian Studies (Vietnamese); Graduate Diploma of Asia and The Pacific Studies (Community Development Stream)

Career summary: I started my career in Vietnam, working for local and international NGOs on community development, reproductive health and HIV prevention. Since 2009 I have been in Melbourne working in the local prevention sector for community and women’s health, largely with a focus on sexual and reproductive health and respectful relationships. Along the way I’ve loved meeting and working with a huge variety of people. I’m always amazed at the skills people offer and enjoy the opportunity to learn something from everyone.

Professional interests: I have a keen interest in equity and human rights and how these relate to health outcomes. I’m excited to be part of the prevention sector as we continue to learn how we can make an impact at a systems level, and show the outcomes of what we do.

Something you didn’t know: I am very interested in data and statistics and how these can help to tell a story about equity, health and how the world works. I’m currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Statistics so that I can properly call myself a data nerd.