Our Committee 

Meet the Committee Members of the Lymphoedema Association of Queensland. They volunteer their time, expertise and services helping to shape the vision and continue the mission of the organisation.

Uff. Hon. Teresa Gambaro GAICD
 

President

Teresa Gambaro has been a federal member of Parliament and a member of the ministry, having served in two metropolitan Brisbane seats including Petrie from 1996 -2007 and Brisbane from 2010-2016.

Stepping down from her political career in 2016, Teresa now heads up her own specialist advisory and consulting firm Gambaro Consulting. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the QUT Business School on the Advisory Committee for the Pathways to Politics Program for Women.

In 2017 Teresa was awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Ufficiale) in recognition for her service to the Australian Parliament primarily in defence and foreign affairs.

Teresa has been a Patron of the Lymphoedema Association of Queensland (LAQ) since 2003 and is herself a primary Lymphoedema sufferer. Teresa became interested in joining LAQ after she had seen her mother suffer from the condition for many years.

 

Teresa was elected President for the LAQ in 2018 and is committed to providing ongoing support for members and raising public awareness of a condition that affects close to 300,000 people in Australia.

Mary Stewart

 

Vice President

At the age of just 24 whilst working as a flight attendant Mary developed Lymphoedema in her right leg. Passionate about finding a suitable treatment or cure it was Mary’s own personal journey that inspired her in 1989 to co found the Lymphoedema Association of Queensland (LAQ).

Growing up in a sporty family, Mary has never been one to allow Lymphoedema to define her. Showing her strength and determination in battling the challenges of Lymphoedema, Mary went on to positioned herself as one of Queensland’s top four squash players.

In addition to her career in the airline industry, Mary also established her own retail business and has held senior operational management positions in food retail sector.

Mary continues to exercise and has even taken up kayaking, competing in the World Masters Games, proving that Lymphoedema will never stop her living life to the fullest. To her credit over several years Mary has received 12 gold medals along with several silver and bronze.

Reflecting on all that LAQ has achieved over the past three decades, Mary salutes everyone who has volunteered their time and effort to assist LAQ’s in its mission to support those suffering from Lymphoedema.

Peter Halpin

 

Committee Member | Treasurer

Peter has held the position as Treasurer on the Lymphoedema Association’s Committee since 2017.

Retiring in 2018 from his career as a Chartered Accountant, Peter shares the vision and commitment of the other Committee Members in supporting LAQ Members with managing their Lymphoedema.

Peter’s journey with Lymphoedema commenced back in 2012 whilst taking a relaxing Sunday afternoon walk when unfortunately, he and his two pooches were attacked by a stray dog.

Peter’s pooches healed with no long-term consequences, however, due to the injuries he sustained, Peter developed secondary Lymphoedema in his left leg.

It is a chronic and uncomfortable condition, however Peter has moved forward learning to accept and manage the challenges. His mantra is to get on with life by not allowing Lymphoedema to stop him from doing the things he enjoys.

An enthusiastic golfer with a keen sense of humour – Peter jokes that he certainly can't blame his Lymphoedema for the continuing deterioration of his golf handicap.

Jess Billiau

 

Committee Member | Secretary

Jess is the founder and chief executive officer of Karma Therapies and an ATMS 2019 Finalist - Practitioner of the Year recipient.

Jess specialises in Remedial and Lymphatic Therapy and treatment. She holds a Bachelor of Nursing, Graduate Diploma in Education, Diploma in Remedial Massage Therapy, Smith and Vodder Lymphatic Certification, Body, Mind and Soul Mentor and Rayid Practitioner.

Jess provides a holistic approach as she believes there are no right or wrongs when it comes to Lymphoedema. Her philosophy is that each person is an individual and so are their treatment regimes.

Having both primary and secondary Lymphoedema as well as Lipoedema herself, Jess joined the Lymphoedema Association of Qld (LAQ) as a member in 2015.

Becoming actively involved across various aspects of the organisation she was appointed as a Committee Member in 2018. Jess was nominated and accepted her new position on the Committee as Secretary in 2020.

Pamela O’Connor

 

Committee Member | Media and Publicity Officer

Pam became a Member of the Lymphoedema Association of Qld (LAQ) after developing secondary Lymphoedema in her right leg due to cancer treatment.

Pam’s personal experience with Lymphoedema became the catalyst for a career change. Having spent many years working in the media as a newspaper journalist, Pam made the decision to pursue a career path where she could support and assist those with Lymphoedema.

She became a remedial massage therapist and undertook further studies in manual lymphatic drainage  and lymphoedema management (Vodder-trained). Her ultimate goal is to specialise and become a lymphoedema therapist.

She never wants anyone to face the challenges she endured herself in obtaining a diagnosis and early treatment.

Appointed to the Committee as Media and Publicity Officer, Pam is passionate about lifting the level of awareness about Lymphoedema. Utilising her background in journalism she creates content for LAQ’s newsletter, and social media platforms, keeping members informed on issues about Lymphoedema, treatment, prevention, early intervention along with self-management and education.

Jennifer Gilbert

 

Committee Member | Education Officer

Graduating from the University of Sydney, Cumberland Campus as a Registered Nurse, Jennifer went on to specialise in Oncology (Cancer Nursing).

To build her expertise and experience, in 1997 Jennifer moved to the UK working in the Lymphoedema Clinic of the Royal Marsden Hospital London treating Cancer related Lymphoedema. There upon her passion commenced.

Jennifer’s next career move was overseas to the Foldi Klinic of Lymphology in Germany, where she graduated in 1999. Under the leadership of Professor Mortimer, Jennifer commenced working in the Lymphoedema Clinic at St Georges Hospital in London, where her interest in the areas of primary and syndromic Lymphoedema, and lipoedema continued to grow.

After 10 years, Jennifer took an appointment in the Nurse led Lymphoedema Service at University College Hospital London. However, following many years of living overseas the call of home became strong, along with the opportunity to further her career in Lymphoedema on Australian soil.

Jennifer was appointed to the Committee in 2019 as an Education Officer and  currently works in the Lymphoedema Clinic of a private hospital in Brisbane.

Hildegard Reul-Hirche

 

Committee Member | Education Officer

Involved in the treatment of Lymphoedema for over 25 years, Hildegard has been actively involved in the Lymphoedema Association of Qld (LAQ) since 1991 and sits on LAQ’s Committee as an Education Officer.

Hildegard gained her knowledge initially from a Lymphoedema training course facilitated by Drs Judith and John Casely-Smith and two years later she was able to attend a Lymphoedema course in Germany with Professor Michael Földi.

In 1995 Hildegard started to facilitate Lymphoedema training courses under the umbrella of the Physiotherapy Department of the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital where she was also employed. The courses are continuing and are accredited with the Australasian Lymphology Association.

In 2000 she established together with Dr Dianne Smith and Robyn Scheer the Multi-disciplinary Lymphoedema Assessment Clinic. The clinic provides assessment and advice for patients were the diagnosis of Lymphoedema is unclear.

Over the years Hildegard has been involved in many research projects and was  involved in the formation of the Australasian Lymphology Association where over the years she has also held various executive positions.

Robyn Scheer

 

Committee Member | Education Officer

Robyn is an Occupational Therapist who has worked extensively across the area of Lymphoedema Management for more than two decades.

Sitting on LAQ’s Committee as an Education Officer for the last decade, Robyn has a strong interest in sharing up to date knowledge about Lymphoedema management with health consumers and their families.

Although she gained her vast experience and training in Lymphoedema management across both Australia and Germany, Robyn says she has learnt the most about the impact of Lymphoedema from her patients.

Robyn is also an accredited Member of the Australasian Lymphology Association - the peak body for Lymphoedema health professionals in Australia which continues to provide her with insight into the issues commonly shared by those in Australia and New Zealand impacted by Lymphoedema.           

Mia Stemm

 

Committee Member | General

Retiring from her Obstetric and Gynaecological Ultrasound career in 2018, in 2015 Mia developed Lymphoedema post-surgery from gynaecological cancer and removal of pelvic lymph nodes. A challenging experience, she was left with Lymphoedema from the waist down to left foot - with only part of her right leg being spared. 

Before being appointed in 2017 as a Committee Member, Mia originally joined the Lymphoedema Association of Qld (LAQ) to connect with others, who like herself faced the daily challenges of living with Lymphoedema. She was eager to share and learn more about the condition, whilst accessing support, resources, and education.  She has been a point of contact and support for others dealing with Lymphoedema.

Being a Member of LAQ along with regular visits with her therapy team has benefited her journey in managing and maintaining the status of her own Lymphoedema.

Mia lives in Brisbane and is married with adult children. Since retiring, Mia now enjoys time with her family, friends, cooking, and a spot of gardening. A talented hobbyist her gorgeous patchwork designs allow her creative side to flow.

Avon Mills

 

Committee Member | General

Avon was diagnosed with secondary Lymphoedema following treatment for breast cancer. Prior to her diagnosis the only knowledge Avon had obtained about the condition was from a pamphlet she had been given prior to her chemotherapy treatment commencing.

Frustrated with the lack of information available, Avon set off on a mission to seek out support, resources, and treatment options. Through this process, she was introduced to the vast range of services and support on offer through membership with the Lymphoedema Association of Qld (LAQ).

Joining LAQ as a member in 2011, Avon quickly became actively involved and was appointed as a General Committee Member in 2015. As the LAQ’s Committee comprises both health professionals who treat Lymphoedema patients and those with the condition, Avon continues to learn and expand her knowledge.

Avon is dedicated to assisting others to cope with the challenges presented by a Lymphoedema diagnosis. By keeping up to date with the latest treatments and resources available, Avon is in prime position to share information with LAQ Members which brings her much personal satisfaction.

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