Conference Speakers 2023
MARK SPENCER
Mark is a recently retired dentist who has delicately balanced two vocations: the demanding practice of dentistry and his exploration and documentation of the ocean world. He first ventured into the ocean under-world in 1975, during his university years and took his first photographs underwater in 1978. He won Australian Geographic’s “Best Photographer” award in 2022.

Mark-the author of the book ‘Ocean of self’- will talk about some of his shipwreck and cave diving adventures and some marine wildlife encounters. His book examines the nature of consciousness using the ocean as a metaphor.

In 1997 and 1998 Mark led an Australian contingent on two expeditions to Turkey to examine the alleged discovery of the Australian WW1 Submarine AE2. He will also discuss how these experiences have shaped his world view and his understanding of the connectivity between all things.
DR VIJAY KAPADIA – FIJI HEART
 
Dr Vijay Kapadia, a former Fiji resident, has been a practicing Cardiologist on the Gold Coast for over 25years. He has a special interest in all aspects of cardiology including clinical assessment, diagnostic imaging, pacing, paediatric cardiology and intervention. He regularly performs angiography, angioplasty and pacemaker implantation.
Dr Kapadia has a strong interest in global health and is committed to improving cardiac care in Fiji. He established the South Pacific’s first tertiary cardiac unit with its cardiac catheter laboratory at the CWM Hospital in the capital, Suva in 2009, where he is now a visiting cardiologist. Further updating and supply of vital equipment has occurred in 2014 and 2022. Services and procedures such as cardiac stenting and installing pacemakers are carried out through the assistance of volunteer doctors and nurses from Australia, New Zealand and other countries. He is working towards making this a national and regional cardiac centre. Fiji has one of the highest incidents of heart disease in the world – four times of the heart disease incidents in Australia and many unnecessary lives are lost.
Curtis McGrath OAM Biography:
Curtis McGrath OAM has served in the Australian Army as a combat engineer for 6 years where he served with honour in East Timor, Indonesia and Afghanistan.
On the 23rd August 2012 Curtis was on a patrol where he stepped right on an improvised explosive device (IED) which detonated beneath him taking both his legs.
Only 20min after the explosion, Curtis famously said that “you will see me in the Paralympics”.
Since losing his legs Curtis has not looked back 18 months after this fateful day Curtis was crowned World Champion at the World Sprint Canoe Championships in Moscow, Russia.
This had started his path to the Paralympics.
In 2016, just over 4 years after losing his legs, Curtis true to his word, not only made it to the Paralympics but made to the top step of the podium with a gold medal around his neck.
Although the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games were postponed, the goal remained the same.
Curtis went into his events as the favourite and did not let the pressure get to him. He defended his Rio Gold medal and added another Gold to his tally.
Tokyo, although different, Curtis maintained his gold medal winning ways, now with three Paralympic Gold medals next to his name.
Curtis has used sport to help him recover and go on to become Paralympic champion. This is the reason he is an advocate for sport and its ability to bring communities and people together to live a healthy active lifestyle, as well as bridging gaps that society has throughout the globe. He has truly lived the Invictus life.
ROTARY CLUB OF KINGSCLIFF AND STUDENTS FROM KINGSCLIFF HIGH SCHOOL
The Rotary Club of Kingscliff has been working closely with the students at Kingscliff High School, mentoring and assisting in the making of four films. We will proudly present two award winning four minute films which highlight the importance of maintaining respectful relationships amongst all people and also touch on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Dr Dinesh Palipana

Dr Dinesh Palipana was the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland, and the second person to graduate medical school with quadriplegia in Australia.

Dinesh earned a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), prior to completing his Doctor of Medicine (MD) at the Griffith University. He has completed an Advanced Clerkship in Radiology at the Harvard University. Halfway through medical school, he was involved in a catastrophic motor vehicle accident that caused a cervical spinal cord injury.

Dinesh is currently a resident medical officer at the Gold Coast University Hospital. He is an ambassador for Physical Disability Australia. He is a founding member of Doctors with Disabilities Australia.

Dinesh was the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service’s Junior Doctor of the Year in 2018. He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2019. He was the third Australian to be awarded a Henry Viscardi Achievement Award. He was the 2021 Griffith University Young Alumnus of the Year and 2021 Queensland Australian of the Year

Dr Heena Akbar.
 
 Dr Heena Akbar’s research is shaping how indigenous knowledge is used to address the heath and wellbeing of Māori and Pacific peoples, particularly women with Type 2 diabetes. Her research seeks to understand the social cultural determinants that contribute to health and wellbeing, integrating community participatory action research and indigenous perspectives and knowledge systems with social justice principles.
Heena as been awarded several grants and fellowships that focused on Pacific Health and Indigenous Wellbeing. Her co-developed solutions lead Heena to be being awarded the auDA Foundation fellowship in 2017 to co-design an e-health family-centred diabetes self-management intervention with Māori and Pacific Communities in Queensland.
Heena recently received a 2021 Women’s Health Translational Research Network (WHTRN) Early Middle Career Research Award to pilot the Pasifika Wellness Program in Queensland. Her research serves to reduce the social and economic burden from diabetes and its related complications, and impact policy development that translates to better health outcomes for Māori and Pacific peoples in Australia.
Heena’s research now develops community-based strategies that provide access to affordable food for a health and active life so as to reduce the burden of chronic diseases for Māori and pacific families and communities.
PROFESSOR SUZANNE CHAMBERS
 
Professor Suzanne Chambers AO is a health psychologist who has been working as a practitioner-researcher in for over 30 years. She is one of the world’s foremost experts in the psychology of cancer and is recognised internationally for her work in helping people to cope with illness, manage stress, improve health and well-being and navigate life changes. 
 
She was awarded her PhD in 2004 within the School of Psychology at Griffith University and has over 300 peer reviewed publications and numerous books, book chapters and monographs. 
 
She is currently the Executive Dean of Health Sciences at the Australian Catholic University and over her career has held senior executive roles at University Technology Sydney, Griffith University and the Menzies Health Institute of Queensland, and Cancer Council Queensland. She is the author of Facing the Tiger, A Survivorship Guide for Men with Prostate cancer and their Partners and The Health Professionals Guide to Delivering Psychological Care for Men with Prostate Cancer.
 
Suzanne was appointed an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) 2018 for distinguished service to medical research.
 
She is the founder and President of Open Eyes Global an incorporated association registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission that raises funds to provide customised eye prostheses to disadvantaged children in Nepal with retinoblastom. 
Rick Morton
 
Rick Morton has been a journalist and writer for over 15 years. His first book, One Hundred Years of Dirt was shortlisted for the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards and the 2019 National Biography Award, longlisted for the 2018 Walkley Book of the Year and longlisted for both Biography of the Year and the Matt Mitchell Award for the New Writer of the Year at the 2019 ABIA Awards.
 
Rick is the winner of the 2013 Kennedy Award for Young Journalist of the Year and the 2017 Kennedy Award for Outstanding columnist. In 2016 Rick left the Australian where he worked as the social affairs writer with a particular focus on social policy and is now a Senior reporter for the Saturday Paper.