Board of Directors


Emeritus Professor Ian Wronski AO

Chair, Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre

Emeritus Professor Ian Wronski AO has over 40 years’ experience in rural, remote, tropical, public and Indigenous health. His career has been focused on the health needs of underserved populations. The main dimensions of activity have included health policy development at local, national and international levels, the development of health workforce capability through the expansion of health professional programs and building health and medical research capacity relevant to tropical, Indigenous, and rural and remote populations, particularly in northern Australia and Australia’s neighbours. He was the first Director of Health Services, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council and Medical Director of the Broome Regional Aboriginal Medical Service.

Having held senior management positions within the university sector, health system and Aboriginal Medical Service settings, Professor Wronski retired as Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University (JCU), in late 2020. Whilst at JCU he led the development of research, education and training programs designed to develop regional research and ameliorate health workforce shortages in regional communities. He was a strong advocate for the foundation of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (AITHM) and for the establishment of the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre. Professor Wronski also provided intellectual leadership, nationally and internationally, in focusing attention on health issues of importance to rural, remote, regional, Indigenous and tropical populations.

Ian has Fellowship status in public health, tropical and rural and remote medicine through the relevant Australian specialist colleges. In 2014 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to higher education, particularly in the areas of tropical and rural health and the health of Indigenous Australians. A recipient of the Australasian College of Tropical Medicine Medal and the Life Sciences Queensland Industry Excellence Award, he was invested as a Life Fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Ms Cheryl Vardon

Board Chair, North West Hospital and Health Service

Cheryl Vardon led the creation of a contemporary Children’s Commission as the inaugural Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner of the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC). She left the role in December 2021 after more than six years.

Cheryl has a distinguished career in education, community and children’s services developing complex public policy, with a sound track record of leadership and expertise in policy implementation. In 2018 Griffith University awarded Cheryl an Honorary Doctorate of the University for her community work. Cheryl is also lead ambassador for Children’s Rights Queensland.

She is an experienced reviewer of systems and services using case studies and stories to influence and change system and policy directions.

She has held Chief Executive, Director-General and senior leadership positions in a variety of private, public and not-for-profit organisations across several states.

Currently Cheryl is Chair of the Queensland Child Death Review Board which reviews the deaths of Queensland’s vulnerable children.

Cheryl has held board and university council positions and statutory roles on tribunals and commissions including the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and the Commonwealth Safety and Rehabilitation Compensation Commission.

She has been a member of an expert advisory group for the Australian Institute of Family Studies and a member of the Teachers’ Disciplinary Appeals Board for the Victorian Education and Early Childhood Development Department.

Cheryl is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management and a Fellow of the Australian College of Education. She also is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Her work in Indigenous education and services for Indigenous children and young people has received a Prime Minister’s Reconciliation Award.

In 2017 Cheryl participated in an executive education course at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, studying case teaching and case writing for public policy. She has degree level qualifications in Arts and Education.

Mr Christopher Boland

Board Chair, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service

Christopher Boland is the Chair of the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Board.

Chris has been Chief Executive Officer of the Far North Queensland Ports Corporation (Ports North) since 2009.

He’s a member of the Queensland Ports Association and Director of Advance Cairns and Ports Australia. Chris was previously the General Manager Seaport for Cairns Ports (formerly Cairns Port Authority).

Chris has 2 adult children who are both practising as doctors.

Ms Helen Darch OAM

Board Chair, Mackay Hospital and Health Service

Helen is Managing Director of Nedhurst Consulting, a Queensland based consultancy that focuses on strategic planning, facilitation, and mentoring.

She has over sixteen years’ experience as a Non-Executive Director on large Not-for-Profit and Government boards, primarily in the Health, Disability and Philanthropy sectors.  She has held a range of leadership roles from Board Chair to Chair of Board Nominations, Executive Appraisal, and Fundraising and Marketing Committees, and has also been a Director on Board Finance, Quality and Risk, as well as Research Committees.

In addition to her Mackay Hospital and Health Board Chair role, she is currently an Ordinary Commissioner of the Crime and Corruption Commission, Chair of Health and Wellbeing Queensland’s Research Advisory Committee, and an advisor for McCarthy Mentoring.

In 2022 she was awarded an order of Australia for service to community health.

Helen’s professional qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Graduate Diploma in Library Sciences
  • Masters of Education (Training and Development)
  • Fellow – Queensland Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Member – Australian Institute of Company Director

Ms Renee Williams

Board Chair, Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service Board

Renee brings over two decades of experience dedicated to advancing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs. She is an experienced health executive with a focus on empowering communities across the health, research, and not-for-profit sectors.

Currently she is serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Torres Health Indigenous Corporation. In her role Renee spearheads initiatives aimed at fostering healthy lifestyles and providing vital educational resources to the vibrant community of Torres Strait Islands.

Renee has a Masters in Public Health, an Associate Degree in Business Administration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies) and an Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management.

Renee is a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman. She has cultural links to the Bindal and Juru people in North Queensland and maternal linkages to the Wakka Wakka people, along with Mer and Erub Islands in the Torres Strait.

Mr Tony Mooney AM

Board Chair, Townsville Hospital and Health Service

Tony Mooney was a Councillor and Deputy Mayor of the Townsville City Council and was elected Mayor in 1989. He held the position of Mayor of Townsville until 2008. In 2008, Tony was made a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. In 2011, Tony was awarded an Order of Australia (AM) for services to local government and the community.

Tony served on the boards of numerous government and community entities, including Ergon Energy, LG Super, Townsville Entertainment Centre Board of Management (Chair) until 2008, and as the inaugural Chair of the Willows Stadium Joint Board (currently 1300 Smiles Stadium). In 2011, Tony was appointed by the Federal Government to the Board of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority where he served until 2016.

Ms Sharon Kelly

Board Director, Northern Queensland Primary Health Network

Sharon has more than 42 years of experience working in the health sector across a range of rural regional and tertiary health care services in the public sector for both Queensland and South Australia. She is an experienced and professional health leader who has delivered senior leadership, strategic, and operational expertise with strength and knowledge around corporate governance, community engagement, community and institutional (forensic) mental health, strategy and planning underpinned by years of primary, secondary, and tertiary health delivery and leadership. Having recently retired from her role as Executive Director People Strategy and Governance with Townsville Hospital and Health Service, she is a passionate advocate for strengthening partnerships and the delivery of health services to people across northern Queensland. Sharon is a Registered Nurse and Midwife by background, holds a Masters Degree in Health Administration, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She has most recently been a member of the Cootharinga North Queensland Board.

Professor Richard Murray

Professor Richard Murray

rofessor Richard Murray is the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University and member of the board of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand.

His career focus has been in rural and remote medicine, Aboriginal health, public health, tropical medicine, medical and health professional education and the healthcare needs of underserved populations. He has a national and international profile in rural medical education and rural medicine and has held a range of leadership positions.

Professor Murray is also a Director on the Board of the Mackay Hospital and Health Service and is a past President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine.

Prior to joining JCU as Planning Director of the Rural Clinical School in 2005, Professor Murray spent 14 years in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia, including 12 years as the Medical Director of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council, a position in which he had broad-ranging clinical, population health, teaching, research and medical leadership and management roles.

Mr Kieran Keyes

Chief Executive, Townsville Hospital and Health Service

Kieran joined the Townsville HHS as Chief Operating Officer in December 2012. Before taking up the role as COO in Townsville in 2012, Mr Keyes was previously interim HSCE at the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service. He has also held senior executive roles with Metro North Hospital and Health Service and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

He holds a Masters of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Nursing Science, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr Rex O'Rourke

Chief Executive, Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service

Rex O'Rourke began as Chief Executive of Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Services in January 2024.

Rex was previously the Regional Executive Director for WA Country Health Service in the Kimberley.

Rex holds a Juris Doctor, Masters-level qualifications in Administrative Law and Policy, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice and a Bachelor of Behavioural Health Science. He is also a Fellow and Certified Health Executive for the Australasian College of Health Service Management.

Rex has experience in the strategic leadership of health and human services in rural and remote areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. He has engaged with Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations in the NT, WA and the ACT.

He also worked in the United States to contribute to national health reforms.

Rex is passionate about health equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and working towards closing the gap for health outcomes.

Mr Sean Birgan

Chief Executive, North West Hospital and Health Service

Sean brings over 38 years of nursing experience, including 20 years in senior leadership and management roles. Recently Sean worked as the Health Department COVID-19 System Response Lead coordinating the state's COVID-19 operational response.

Sean holds post graduate qualifications in Critical Care Nursing and Masters in Health Management and is currently an executive member of the Queensland Clinical Senate.

Sean has a keen interest in the development of staff into leadership roles and the promotion of new models of care. He also has a keen interest in disaster management and preparedness. Sean provides ongoing support to Indonesian nurses and health executives working in Bali as part of the Bali Memorial Package. This role incorporates assisting in the improvement of health services in Bali and developing the leadership and management skills of Balinese healthcare workers. 

Sean is enjoying the challenges and opportunities of working in a remote environment at North West HHS.

Mr Sean Rooney

CEO, Northern Queensland Primary Health Network Board

Sean Rooney is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN). ​

 With extensive executive leadership experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, Mr. Rooney has a proven track record of achievement as a CEO. ​ He excels in designing and executing successful strategies, effectively managing stakeholder engagement in complex environments, and leading organizations through times of change. ​

 Mr. Rooney brings practical experience at the intersection of the health and aged care sectors, having served as CEO of member-based organizations such as the Australian Medical Local Alliance (AMLA) and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA). ​ Committed to improving the health outcomes for all North Queenslanders, he is focused on building on the strong foundations already in place, strengthening stakeholder and partner relationships, and working collaboratively with the NQPHN team.

  Mr. Rooney believes in making healthcare accessible to all and is dedicated to achieving the goals of the organization by working closely with teams, stakeholders, and communities.

Ms Susan Gannon

Chief Executive, Mackay Hospital and Health Service

Susan commenced as Mackay Hospital and Health Service’s Chief Executive in June 2023.

She was previously Chief Executive Hospitals at Tasmanian Health Services for three years and the Executive Director Operations for three years. Prior to this she was the State-wide Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery.

Susan has been on the Board of Directors for Women’s Health Care Australia since 2014 and has worked in policy, quality and education in both the public and private sector.

Her previous roles include several senior management positions, including medicine, emergency, cancer, surgical and women’s and children’s services.