Program and Speakers

The WorkCover WA Conference 2019 will deliver an inspiring and interactive program of local and interstate speakers.


The program explores current themes and trends in injury management and workers' compensation, providing delegates with an opportunity to learn about developments in workers' compensation and discover how to adapt to the inevitable change of tomorrow. Over two days, delegates will have the opportunity to choose from a range of sessions across two streams, catering for specific areas of interest.

Master of Ceremonies

Karen Tighe
Ms Karen Tighe

Ms Tighe is an outstanding broadcaster, who is equally at home calling sport as she is on stage hosting or speaking at an event or conference. She is the anchor of the ABC Radio Grandstand sports program.

Ms Tighe has also hosted many of ABC Television's major sports broadcasts, including four Paralympic Games, ABC Sports Awards nights, golf and the Hopman Cup tennis.

She was the Master of Ceremonies at the 2015 WorkCover WA Injury Management Conference.

Keynote speakers

Michael Crossland
Mr Michael Crossland

Mr Crossland is an inspirational speaker who has presented to over 270,000 people worldwide in the past 12 months.

Despite spending nearly a quarter of his life in hospital, Mr Crossland has forged a highly successful career in the corporate world, represented Australia in his chosen sport and been presented with the Australia Day Ambassador role for seven consecutive years. Mr Crossland will use his personal story to discuss the importance and power of courage, resilience, optimism and determination in achieving the impossible.

Professor Niki Ellis

Professor Ellis co-developed and presented Stressbuster, a four-part series for ABC Television that focused on stress in the workplace.

An expert in occupational health, Professor Ellis advises companies large and small on how to address stress in the workplace. She was appointed as the Deputy CEO of the Australian Institute of Health Workforce Innovation at the University of Queensland and Visiting Professor London South Bank University.

Professor Ellis has also been appointed Occupational Health and Safety Expert Commissioner on the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

She will be presenting about occupational health with regards to changing the way work is organised and people are managed.

Professor Nick Haslam

Professor Haslam is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne. He received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993 and taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City before returning to Australia in 2002.

His research interests are in the fields of personality, social psychology and psychiatric classification, and he has published nine books and more than 200 articles and book chapters in these and related areas. In addition to his academic writing, Professor Haslam contributes regularly to The Conversation and Australian Book Review, and has also written for Time, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Monthly, and two Best Australian Science Writing anthologies.

Professor Haslam is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and of several professional organisations. He is currently a co-director of the Mental Health PhD program at the University of Melbourne.

Professor Haslam will be presenting on generations at work and returning to work.

Mark McCrindle
Mr Mark McCrindle

Mr McCrindle is an award winning Social Researcher, TEDx speaker and Principal of advisory, communications and research company McCrindle Research.

He is recognised as a leader in tracking emerging issues and researching social trends, and has appeared across many television networks and other media.

Mr McCrindle is also the author of three books on emerging trends and social change, and has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Arts.

He will be presenting on changing times and emerging trends.

Mr Theo Venter

Mr Venter has shared his story throughout Australia, New Zealand and Africa.

He suffered horrific injuries in a workplace accident in Western Australia whilst working as an electrical lines man, and endured a long physical and mental battle to survive and recover.

Mr Venter’s story is one of courage, determination and honesty, and his presentation will provide a worker's perspective about workplace injuries and the road to recovery.

Mr Chris White

Mr White has been Acting Chief Executive Officer since January 2017. Mr White has more than 35 years' experience in workers' compensation and occupational safety and health policy in WA. Mr White has held senior policy and management roles at both WorkCover WA and WorkSafe WA. Mr White holds a Master of Arts (Public Policy) from Murdoch University.

Program speakers

Rika Asaoka
Ms Rika Asaoka

Ms Asaoka is a cultural expert, having lived and worked in Japan, Malaysia and Australia for over 30 years.

Since returning to Australia, she has established Language and Culture, an organisation that provides services in cultural awareness, cross cultural mentoring and specific language development for businesses.

Ms Asaoka will be presenting about intercultural competency and communication, the importance of cultural awareness, and how to manage challenges they present.

Petrina Barrett
Ms Petrina Barrett

Ms Barrett is a member of QBE's Behavioural Insights team, where she uses behavioural economics on a country-wide scale to help people injured at work and in motor vehicle accidents recover from their injuries.

She has experience in dispute resolution as a Registered Agent at WorkCover WA on behalf of QBE, and as a Technical Services Officer at QBE. Prior to that, Ms Barrett worked in exercise physiology in the Pilbara region.

Ms Barrett will be co-presenting with Ms Renae Harris from QBE, and examine the application of behavioural insights to workers' compensation.

Mr Tim Blake

Mr Blake is the Managing Director of Semantic Consulting, a consulting firm focused on leading digital change in healthcare. In this role, Mr Blake helps organisations with digital health strategy, and advises digital health start-ups in Australia, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a focus on personalised medicine.

Mr Blake has previously held roles as Chief Information Officer for the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services, Director of Rural eHealth Strategy at New South Wales Health, and Strategic Advisor at Australia’s National eHealth Transition Authority and the Commonwealth Department of Health.

His presentation will focus on healthcare reformation, and how physiotherapy can harness digital health to deliver better outcomes for patients.

Dr JP Caneiro

Dr Caneiro is a Specialist Sports Physiotherapist, and has a PhD in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy.

He consults part-time at Body Logic Physiotherapy on complex musculoskeletal pain disorders, and lectures in the Master of Clinical Physiotherapy course at Curtin University.

Dr Caneiro was part of an international team of clinician researchers that developed Cognitive Functional Therapy (CFT) which is a patient-centred approach to managing back pain. He is also an Associated Editor for the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Dr Caneiro will be presenting on lower back pain and multidisciplinary care.

Mr David Colvin

Mr Colvin is an Orthopaedic Surgeon specialising in shoulder and knee surgery. He practices at Western Orthopaedic Clinic and St John of God Hospital, Subiaco.

Mr Colvin is also an Approved Medical Specialist with WorkCover WA and has previously served on WorkCover WA's Medical Advisory Committee. He has nearly 20 years of experience treating workers' compensation shoulder and knee injuries.

Mr Colvin will be presenting about degenerative injuries in the workplace and the challenges they present to parties involved in a workers' compensation claim.

Ms Sue Freeman

Ms Freeman is a Senior Consultant at Finity Consulting with over 25 years' experience working in personal injury claims practice and policy.

She has a background in psychology and rehabilitation, and has worked for providers, insurers and scheme regulators.

Ms Freeman was a co-author of the Green Paper on Mental Health and Insurance published by the Actuaries Institute in October 2017, and has a particular interest in improving the assessment and management of mental health claims.

Ms Freeman's work has included:

  • strategic reviews of claims operations, including injury management and dispute resolution models
  • claim leakage reviews
  • benchmarking against best practice principles
  • targeted reviews of high cost workers' compensation claims, and
  • psychological injury claims.

She will be presenting on common causes of poor claim outcomes and how to prevent them.

Dr Andrew Fronsko

Dr Fronsko is the Principal of the ADIIS Group, which provides consulting services to organisations involved in the personal injury and disability insurance sectors. He has over 20 years of experience in executive management roles within injury compensation schemes across Australia in areas including accident prevention, underwriting, claims administration, risk management and business intelligence.

Prior to establishing the ADIIS Group, Dr Fronsko was the General Manager of the Northern Territory Motor Accidents Compensation Scheme, and he has previously overseen the Victorian workers’ compensation scheme through the Department of Treasury and Finance. He was also instrumental in the conceptual design of Australia's National Injury and Disability Insurance Schemes (NIIS and NDIS).

Dr Fronsko will be presenting about the evolution of the Western Australian workers' compensation scheme, current and future challenges.

Professor Ian Harris

Professor Harris is a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of New South Wales, and an orthopaedic surgeon at Liverpool Hospital.

His research interests are in surgical outcomes.

Professor Ian Harris will be presenting about sham surgery trials and the placebo effect.

Renae Harris
Ms Renae Harris

Ms Harris is the Team Leader of QBE's Behavioural Insights Team, which blends behavioural economics and health sciences to empower customers to make better decisions and influence positive change. Under Ms Harris' leadership, the team has successfully partnered with Monash University's BehaviourWorks Australia to analyse how to best help people recover from injury.

She has previously worked in workers' compensation case management, service management, learning development and leadership development coaching at QBE.

Ms Harris will be co-presenting with Ms Petrina Barrett from QBE, and examine the application of behavioural insights to workers' compensation.

Ms Joanna Horton

Ms Horton is a Research Analyst for the Data61 Insight Team at CSIRO, and has a background in social science and a specialisation in anthropology. She has a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago, and has conducted and contributed to anthropological research projects in Chile, Australia and the US.

Ms Horton will be presenting about her most recent work with CSIRO published earlier this year, which focuses on the future of work health and safety and workers' compensation in Australia over the coming 20 years.

Mr Rick Howe

Mr Howe is the Deputy Chief Executive of the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA), and has more than 25 years' experience in senior executive and consulting roles in insurance and financial services. He has previously worked as General Manager Insurance at ANZ, and Chief Manager Distribution at Westpac Insurance.

Mr Howe is also ICWA's representative on the Road Safety Council of WA, which provides advice to the Minister for Road Safety on strategies to reduce the impact of road trauma.

He will be presenting about the implementation and outcomes of WA's Motor Vehicle Lifetime Care Scheme.

Ms Nicole Hughes

Ms Hughes is a Registered Occupational Therapist and Principal Advisor, Psychological Health Unit at Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

She started her career as an occupational therapist working in adult mental health, and for the last 15 years has worked in workplace mental health where she has gained experience across psychological safety, injury management, employee support and early intervention.

Ms Hughes will be presenting Module 2 of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Toolkit - Early intervention and supporting recovery.

Karin Lee
Ms Karin Lee

Ms Lee joined WorkCover WA in 2015 and worked as the Manager Regulation and Manager Employer Compliance before being appointed General Manager Conciliation and Arbitration Services, and Director, Conciliation.

Ms Lee holds a Bachelor of Laws and has over 20 years' experience in various aspects of workers' compensation and injury management.

Ms Lee previously worked at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia in policy and consultancy, and prior to that in claims management and personal injuries litigation. Ms Lee was formerly a member of the WorkCover WA Board and the Commission of Occupational Safety and Health.

Ms Rachael Lincoln

Ms Lincoln is a Senior Consultant, Safety and Risk Services at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where she assists members and Western Australian businesses to provide a safe and healthy workplace.

Her role has also seen her assist with safe manual handling techniques for moving a sting ray, and risk assessing the filming of a high performance car advertisement.

Ms Lincoln has over a decade of hands-on occupational health and safety experience working with a diverse range of industries, and has a Masters in Occupational Health and Safety.

She will be presenting about telecommuting – the future.

Ms Kim McClean

Ms McClean is the Work Health and Safety Manager for the WA Country Health Service.

She is also currently completing a PhD examining the manual handling risks to nursing staff who manage obese patients.

Ms McClean will present about obesity and the risk management challenges it presents in the workplace.

Dr Tim Mitchell

Dr Mitchell is a Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist and Director at Pain Options, which is a physiotherapy clinic focused on complex pain and complicated problems. He is also a Senior Lecturer at Curtin University, where he is involved in clinical teaching and research.

Dr Mitchell's clinical work includes the ongoing care of patients, as well as provision of second opinions on more complicated cases.

He has completed a PhD in lower back pain, and has a special interest in the translation of logical reasoning into clinical practice.

Dr Mitchell will be presenting on research into the uptake of clinical practice guidelines in the workers' compensation sector.

Mr Rodney Powell

Mr Powell is a Senior Inspector and Senior Scientific Officer within the WorkSafe Division of the Department of Mines, Industry, Regulation and Safety with a specialty in human factors and ergonomics.

He has worked in the occupational safety and health industry for more than 30 years, and dealt with general occupational safety and health issues, civil construction, musculoskeletal disorders, violence and aggression, and stress and bullying.

Mr Powell will present on the future of risk management and the changing concept of hazards in the workplace.

Stephen Psaila-Savona
Mr Stephen Psaila-Savona

Mr Psaila-Savona commenced at WorkCover WA in May 2016. He has been employed in the public sector for 25 years, and has previously worked at the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office, Public Sector Commission, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, WorkCover WA (2005-2007) and the Disability Services Commission.

Mr Psaila-Savona holds a Bachelor of Psychology, Diploma in Education, a Graduate Diploma in Business and an Executive Masters (Public Administration).

Dr Mary Wyatt

Dr Wyatt is an Occupational Physician, with special interests in back pain and return to work management. She has seen thousands of injured workers over her career as a treating Occupational Physician and independent Medical Examiner Practitioner.

Dr Wyatt is the Founder of, an online resource for people involved in return to work management, and an Adjunct Lecturer at Monash University.

She is also active in policy development, and initiated the Health Benefits of Good Work agenda through the Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Dr Wyatt will be presenting about facing the past and the future, and examining what influences return to work for Australian claimants.

More speaker announcements to come. Keep an eye on this page.