OTA Advisory Council

The Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Advisory Council (the Advisory Council) is appointed by the Federal Health Minister according to the terms of the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Act 2008.

In August 2012, the second term of the Advisory Council was appointed. The role of the Advisory Council is to provide advice to the Chief Executive Officer of the Organ and Tissue Authority on matters relating to organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

The Advisory Council has a breadth of skills and experience and offers advice in areas as diverse as clinical expertise in organ or tissue donation and transplantation, experience as a donor family, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, business, management, finance, health consumer issues, law, ethics, and public administration.

Advisory Council Members 

Ms Francesca Rourke

Francesca Rourke is a Donation Specialist Coordinator at DonateLife Queensland and has worked in the area of organ and tissue donation since 2002.  Ms Rourke is the immediate past President of the Australasian Transplant Coordinators Association (ATCA), a position she held for four years. ATCA, the peak professional body, represents donation and transplant coordinators and others working in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation sector in Australia and New Zealand.  

Ms Rourke has represented ATCA on the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) Council for the past four years and has established strong professional relationships with the Council and other transplant staff.  She is the inaugural ATCA representative, working with the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA) and TSANZ to implement a raft of donation improvement activities identified in the OTA/TSANZ/ATCA funding agreement. She is a previous and current member on several National Working Groups within the sector.  Francesca has post graduate qualifications in critical care and an international Diploma of Advanced Transplant Coordination.

Mr Jon Seccull

 Mr Jon Seccull is the father of the late Ethan James Seccull  (or Jimmy as he was affectionately known) who was three years old when he was tragically struck by a Ballarat train on October 3, 2011.  Ethan became the first paediatric person in Australia to become an organ and tissue donor after cardiac death (DCD).  Ethan’s gracious gift helped to save three lives.

Organ and tissue donation has become an important topic in Mr Seccull's life since the passing of his little boy.  Mr Seccull generously donates his time to publicly speak at numerous events and forums to help raise awareness about organ and tissue donation.  Mr Seccull has found that working to help promote such an important cause has helped him to “heal” and given some meaning to such a tragic event.

Mr Seccull now in memory of his son has started the annual “Jimmy’s Journey” motorbike rides to help continue to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation.

Mr Seccull is employed fulltime by the Victorian Department of Justice.  In 2013 Mr Seccull decided to also commence studying fulltime and hopes to complete his Bachelor of Arts in Community Development. Mr Seccull hopes this may better assist with his “mission” of assisting to raise awareness and increase organ and tissue donation rates.

Professor Jeremy Chapman OAM

Professor Chapman is a renal physician with a special interest in transplantation. He is Director of the Division of Medicine and Cancer Services at Sydney's Westmead Hospital, Clinical Professor in Medicine at the University of Sydney. He is also Chairman of the Australian Bone Marrow Donor Registry and the Australian Cord Blood Bank Network, and Past President of the Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ).

On a global level, Professor Chapman is a Past President of the Transplantation Society, Past President and current Secretary General of the World Marrow Donor Association and Co-Chair of the Declaration of Istanbul custodian group.

Professor Chapman's clinical work is in renal medicine, transplantation of kidney and pancreas, diabetic renal disease and islet transplantation. He is currently pursuing research interests in transplantation and has authored over 340 clinical articles.

Professor Geoff Dobb

Professor Dobb is Director of Critical Care at Royal Perth Hospital and Clinical Professor in the School of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Western Australia. He is also Chair of the Western Australian Southern Country Health Service Governing Council.

He is a member and past Chair of the Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society (ANZICS) Death and Organ Donation Committee, a member of the Western Australian Transplant Advisory Committee, and heavily involved with the Australasian Donor Awareness Program (ADAPT), as well as representing ANZICS at the WHO Forum on the Determination of Death. Research interests include aspects of the care of potential organ donors.

Professor Dobb is also Vice-President of the Australian Medical Association and has previously held Presidency of ANZICS, the Asia Pacific Association for Critical Care Medicine, and the Australian Medical Association in Western Australia, as well as Treasurer of the World Federation of Societies of Intensive and Critical Care Medicine.

Mr Chris Thomas

Mr Thomas is currently Chief Executive Officer at Transplant Australia, an organisation that aims to: increase the rate of organ and tissue donation; improve the community's understanding of transplantation; and provide members with support, education and guidance to improve their health and quality of life. He has previously held positions as the General Manager at Advertising Federation of Australia, National Corporate Affairs Manager at Heart Foundation, National Membership Marketing Manager at the Australian Medical Association and Communications Manager at the Australian Medical Association.

Dr Marisa Herson

Dr Herson graduated in Medicine in Brazil, 1979, and trained in General and Plastic Surgery in Israel. She returned to Brazil in 1990 and joined the Hospital das Clinicas University of Sao Paulo Plastic Surgery Department.

In 1999 she received a PhD from the Sao Paulo University following research into an innovative skin substitute. She was appointed Associate Professor of Surgery in 2004. Burn care, both acute and reconstructive surgery, became the focus of her surgical activity extending to the establishment and management of the Skin Tissue Bank.

From 2007 to 2011 Dr Herson was the Head of the Donor Tissue Bank of Victoria, and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University. Dr Herson is currently affiliated to the Skin Cell Culture Laboratory at The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, engaged in research on skin cell matrix substitutes and teaching as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Surgery, Monash University.

Professor John Horvath AO

Professor Horvath is Strategic Medical Adviser for Ramsay Health Global and was Principal Medical Consultant to the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing from 2009-2015 and Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government from 2003 to 2009.

Professor Horvath holds the position of Senior Advisor to the Dean of Medicine, University of Sydney and is Chair or a member of a number of advisory bodies to the Department of Health. Professor Horvath was Professor of Renal Medicine at the University of Sydney and Director of Renal Services at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. He was awarded an Order of Australia in January 2001 for his services to medicine.

Ms Francine Eades

Ms Eades is a Noongar woman from the South West of Western Australia and is currently the Aboriginal Health Management Advisor for the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network. Ms Eades is also a current member of the NSW Health Aboriginal Strategic Leadership Group.

She is a Registered Nurse and completed formal public health training in 2007 (Masters of Applied Epidemiology) through the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University in Canberra, and has previously been a Research Associate at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth (WA). The majority of her working life has been within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector at both the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service and the Aboriginal Health Council of WA in Perth.  

Ms Rachael Martin

Ms Martin is studying a double degree in education and arts. Concurrent to her studies, Ms Martin dedicates her time to working with children with special needs, providing early intervention, family support services and behaviour management courses.

The tragic loss of her brother, Ashley Cooper, at the Clipsal 500 motor race in 2008 led to Ms Martin's involvement in, and dedication to, organ donation. Ashley was an organ donor and was successful in touching many lives as a result of his gift.

As a teenager, Ms Martin represented Australia on youth leadership issues in the United States and Canada while visiting the United Nations. She was named Young Citizen of the Year on Australia Day 2001.

Dr Helen Watchirs OAM

Dr Helen Watchirs OAM was appointed as the ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner in 2004. Her work has focused on Human Rights Audits of ACT detention facilities, as well as supervising the handling of discrimination, vilification and sexual harassment complaints.

She has over 30 years’ experience as a human rights lawyer working for Federal Government agencies, and several UN agencies, including UNAIDS, WHO, ILO, UNDP and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Her ANU PhD and Masters in Public Law focused on HIV/AIDS human rights issues, and she was a member of the ANU Ethics Committee. Dr Watchirs is also a member of the Federal Ministerial Advisory Council on Blood Borne Viruses & STIs.

At the community level she chaired the ACT Disability Aged and Carer Advocacy Service, and was a legal member of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal. In addition, her late husband Terry Connolly was a tissue donor and she has been an active donation advocate in ACT, and has spoken about her experience at the DonateLife Annual Forum in 2011.

Mr David O'Leary

Mr O'Leary is President of Gift of Life Inc., an advocacy group promoting organ and tissue donation based in Canberra. He received a liver transplant over 20 years ago. During his career, he was a senior executive within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was Consul-General in New Caledonia and Hong Kong.

Ms Anne Wilson

Ms Wilson is the CEO and Managing Director of Kidney Health Australia, a national health care charity whose focus is to save and improve the lives of Australians affected by kidney disease.  This is achieved through the promotion of good kidney health through delivery of programs in education, advocacy, research and support.


OTA Advisory Council Communiqués

Read the OTA Advisory Council’s Communiqués.


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