Our Team

Led by globally recognised researcher in the field of gender and disaster, Dr Debra Parkinson, GADAus is made up of a growing team of highly skilled trainers, managers, researchers and administrators from a range of backgrounds across policy, emergency management, project management, and academia.

Dr Debra Parkinson

Executive Director

Dr Debra Parkinson (Deb) is a social researcher and globally recognised researcher in the field of gender and disaster. An Adjunct Research Fellow at Monash University Disaster Resilience Institute (MUDRI), Deb has led extensive research, policy and advocacy work in the women’s health sector for over 25 years and made significant contributions to shifting both public policy and perception on a wide range of issues related to women’s health and safety.

From environmental justice, women leaving violence, partner rape, women’s unequal access to financial resources, superannuation, and the legal system, Deb is driven by a commitment to gender equality and keen sense of social justice. She was inducted to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2022, and the recipient of the Victorian Resilient Australia Community Award (2019), the prestigious Mary Fran Myers Award (2017) and the Social and Political Sciences Graduate Research Thesis Award for her PhD on domestic violence after the Black Saturday bushfires.

Deb is the Executive Director of GADAus.

Rachael Mackay

Train the Trainer Manager

Rachael Mackay is an experienced social work practitioner, facilitator and trainer in gender equity, disaster and the prevention of violence against women. Currently the Manager of GADAus’ Train the Trainer program, Rachael has an extensive track record developing and facilitating training with emergency services personnel, local government, as well as local and community organisations. With expertise in homelessness, aged care, child protection, and the domestic violence sectors across various states and territories working directly with victim survivors in response and refuge settings, Rachael is passionate about challenging leaders to shift harmful gender stereotypes.

Steve O’Malley

EM Sector Consultant & Principal Trainer

Steve O’Malley AFSM is a Senior Leading Firefighter and the current Manager of Emergency Management sector engagement at GADAus. An operational firefighter for more than 30 years, Steve is an experienced trainer and passionate presenter on gender, diversity and inclusion and passionate advocate for a more equitable and fairer society for all. A long-standing presenter and advocate for prevention of violence against women, as well as the Pat Cronin Foundation’s ‘End the Coward Punch’ campaign, Steve has developed a reputation for driving critical cultural change, influencing policy, and achieving high levels of institutional support.

Emily Hedger

Executive Administrator

Emily Hedger is GADAus’ Executive Administrator, providing governance and operational support to the GADAus Executive Director, the Board of Directors, and the Expert Advisory Committee. With over 20 years experience across the education, union and not-for-profit sectors, Emily is committed to contributing to values-based organisations which work toward social justice and educational outcomes. She is experienced in the management of administrative, executive, project management and governance support functions, and in the review and development of quality and information management systems.

Asminah Cohen

Business Development Administrator

Asminah Cohen is the Business Development Administrator at Gender and Disaster Australia (GADAus). With vast experience across the women’s health and community sectors in office administration, executive support, and event planning, Asminah supports all aspects of GADAus’ growth and development, acting always with grace, warmth and integrity.

Melesa Osborne

Business Development Manager

Melesa Osborne is the Business Development Manager at Gender and Disaster Australia (GADAus). Bringing a sharp business acumen, leadership skills and a keen understanding of what makes people tick, Melesa seamlessly melds an eclectic professional background of over 25 years into strong relationships with our partners and strategic insights that improve every aspect of our organisation.

Loriana Bethune

Research and Innovation Manager

Loriana Bethune is the Research and Innovation Manager at Gender and Disaster Australia (GADAus). With almost two decades of experience in the emergency management and public sectors, Loriana is a Senior Board Member for Women and Firefighting Australia and deeply committed to improving disaster responses for people from all walks of life.

Ammie Howell

Finance and HR Administrator

Ammie Howell is GADAus’ Finance & HR Administrator, with responsibility for delivering key finance and corporate services’ to the organisation. Ammie has worked across many sectors within Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations over the last 20 years and has a strong passion for positive change on First Nations matters. A proud Arrernte woman who lives with her family on Wathaurong Country (Geelong, Vic), Ammie provides project support, advice, and strategies to inform GADAus’ engagement with First Nations communities and stakeholders. Ammie is currently a Board Director of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-operative.

Andrea Brereton


Andrea Brereton is the Accountant at Gender and Disaster Australia (GADAus). Andrea is a qualified Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) with more than 10 years work experience in the not-for-profit sector. After starting her career as an Auditor at Ernst & Young, Andrea moved into the role of Financial Accountant with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Following this, Andrea worked for several years in an accounting and business management role in early years education; until her most recent position as Accountant with the Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). Through this most recent role, Andrea was involved in reviewing charities financial statements and supporting them to meet their financial reporting responsibilities. She is glad to bring these skills to her role with GADAus and continue a career focussed on contribution to the community.