This unique animal care event hosts speakers and presenters from around Australia and Internationally – covering topics on animals in need of care, their treatment, rehoming rescue animals, and ‘left field’ thinking to reduce intake and marketing initiatives that find homes faster.

This conference goes beyond the care of animals and includes the ‘care of your organisation’. Covering social media, public relations, marketing, fundraising and volunteerism – it presents case studies and initiatives that will help your services survive and thrive.


Our 2014 Keynote Speaker, sponsored by dlc Australia

Kit Jenkins, PetSmart Charities

Our Keynote Speaker is Kit Jenkins. Kit Jenkins, our International Keynote speaker, has many years’ experience working in shelters in the US. Kit currently works for PetSmart Charities where she actively supports animal welfare every day.

Kit will provide an overview of the changing face of animal shelters, give advice about introducing cats to foster and permanent homes, as well as discuss how to showcase pets as individuals. Other exciting speakers will cover animal emotions, how to use social media, domestic violence and much more.


Carey Edwards

Before Australian Working Dog Rescue (AWDRI), Carey was a qualified carpenter & registered builder. Other skills Carey has picked up along the journey of life, enabling him to design and implement the functions of AWDRI, include computer programming, project & disaster management in both the finance and building sectors, sports administration (having also founded a basketball club) as well as a love of all things Australian. This also led him to clamber over the Kokoda track in his grandfather’s footsteps. A love of photography has also been something enabling even further progression of AWDRI from the promotion of the dogs to the maintenance of the online presence in social media and displays at numerous live events and shows. His aim is to change the face and profile of rescue everywhere he can reach, from something that can be depressing and sad into an uplifting event for all those involved. Carey is a “NO KILL” advocate and firm believer that the often used term of “pet overpopulation” is merely an excuse used by those not willing to work harder to save the animals. As a lifelong dog lover he has lived with many different breeds, from Toy Poodles to German Shepherds but has found a special spot in his heart for our purely Australian working breed dogs.

Melissa Starling

Melissa Starling recently earned her doctorate working in the field of animal welfare and behaviour. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Australian National University where she did a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology. She spent approximately 4 years in the work force as an environmental consultant, building skills in animal identification, habitat assessment, and survey techniques, and then embarked upon her PhD in the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney in 2010. Her project was on cognitive bias as a measure of welfare and personality in the domestic dog, and covered such diverse areas as ethology, cognition, affective state, behaviour and welfare.

Renee Harris

With 30 plus years of professional animal sheltering experience Renee offers animal welfare consultation services, specializing in dog and cat behaviour, orphaned kitten care, shelter operations, and staff and volunteer training.

Renee is always pushing the envelope and taking an active leadership role in progressive shelter and animal welfare community activities.  In 2009, Renee developed and implemented the San Diego Humane Society’s Paws to Success program which included an orphaned kitten nursery program. The first of its kind, this nursery provides 24 hour care for orphaned kittens between the ages of one day old to eight weeks, and has subsequently provided SDHS the opportunity of saving over 8000 kittens to date.  In 2010 Renee developed and implemented a rehabilitation program for cats older than four months.  Through environmental housing changes and some minor behaviour modification she led the program to success which now boast a 90% life release rate.  In 2012 the behaviour modification was expanded to presumed feral & fractious kittens (12 weeks and under).  In 2013 Renee began and is still currently assisting the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA in the development, implementation, and review of behaviour-related protocols and programs at their behaviour centre for both dogs and cats.  Also in January 2013 Renee began working with the RSPCA of Queensland supporting their behaviour program through staff training in behaviour assessment, dog and cat behaviour, and assistance with the development of behaviour intervention plans.

Staff training has and will always be a passion for Renee who has developed and continues to provide a comprehensive, 250-hour animal sheltering curriculum including but not limited to extensive canine and feline behaviour; canine behaviour assessment; shelter sanitation, shelter veterinary practices; neonatal care for puppies & kittens; adoption, admission & euthanasia counselling; and specie-specific identification to shelters across the US.  Harris also provides other specialized presentations and workshops on local, state and international levels.

Dr Helen Scott-Orr

Dr Helen Scott-Or has a long career in veterinary and agricultural science and research management, including zoonotic disease and food safety research and management in the UK, Indonesia and Australia. Helen’s extensive experience has included the roles of Chief Veterinary Officer in NSW 1989-98; Executive Director for agricultural research, extension and vocational education in NSW Agriculture 1998-2005; Director of animal and plant health and invasive species R&D, strategic university alliances and economic evaluation programs in NSW Department of Primary Industries, 2005-09; and Honorary Associate Professor (Affiliation) with the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Veterinary Science.

She is currently on the boards of Animal Health Australia and the Invasive Animals CRC. Helen also coordinates the NSW Committee of the Crawford Fund which promotes and supports international agricultural research training. Helen has maintained involvement with Indonesia through several recent projects on zoonoses and livestock production, as well as being a Commissioner on the board of EcoLodges Indonesia.

Dr Delisa Appleton BVSc (Hons) PhD

Delisa graduated as a Veterinarian from the University of Queensland with honours in 1987 after which she worked in mixed and small animal veterinary practice for 7 years before commencing work in the nutrition industry.  She then returned to the University of Queensland in 1999 to undertake research with Prof. Jacquie Rand into nutritional aspects of obesity and diabetes in cats and was awarded a PhD in nutrition in 2004.

Delisa is also an Adjunct Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland and has been delivering nutrition lectures and tutorials to the University of Qld Veterinary and Veterinary Technician students for many years.

With 15 animals to feed and 3 children to taxi around (12yo girl and twin 9yo boys) life is busy!

She is currently employed as a Senior Technical Services Veterinarian with Hill’s Pet Nutrition and has over 19 years’ experience in the field of small animal nutrition.

Catherine Tiplady

Catherine is a veterinarian who is studying for a PhD in Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse. Her research aims to educate veterinarians in how to identify and assist people and pets who are living with domestic violence.

Catherine’s postgraduate study is supervised by Professor Clive Phillips at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, and Dr Deborah Walsh, family violence researcher and lecturer at UQ’s School of Social Work and Human Services. Catherine has co-authored several papers and one book on animal abuse/human interpersonal violence.

Michael Pritchard

Michael Pritchard has been working in the biosecurity business for many years in the UK as Technical Director for Premier Foods, in South Africa as Operations Director for Rainbow Farms and as the Manager for biosecurity at Lienert-Australia for over 10 years. Michael advises clients on disease prevention and eradication , writes programmes , and provides occupational health and safety training in handling chemicals associated with disease prevention and eradication. Auditing facilities to advise clients on disease risk minimisation strategies is an important part of the job. Support and training has been provided to both AQIS facilities Teams at Spotswood in Victoria and Eastern Creek in New South Wales. Michael has an MBT from UNSW and strongly believes prevention (of disease) is always better than the cures in outcomes for animals and staff.


Dr Gaille Perry

A UQ graduate, Dr Gaille Perry worked in mixed practice for 10 years, as well as breeding, training and showing Border Collies, Old English Sheepdogs and Arabian horses. She returned to university to complete a Diploma of Education then a Bachelor of Educational Studies.  Her lifelong interest in animal behaviour led to a membership of the College of Veterinary Scientists in 1993 and a PhD in animal behaviour at UQ with Assoc. Prof. Judith Bradshaw in 1999.

For 26 years Gaille was a principal teacher at Brisbane North Institute of TAFE, retiring from that position in 2011 to pursue her other interests.  She continues as Director of Studies for the Delta Instructors Course, consultant at Sydney Animal Behaviour Service and to the RSPCA Queensland.  She is currently completing a project for the RSPCA to produce a national dog training course.

Gaille has held most positions in the Behaviour Chapter of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists and AVBIG and retains membership of both groups. She has been a member of the AVA conference organizing committee for 6 years. She regularly speaks at local, national and international behaviour conferences.

Corrine Alberthsen

Following the completion of a Bachelor degree in science, majoring in Zoology, at James Cook University, Townsville, Corinne spent a substantial amount of time participating in and conducting zoological field work and working in biological laboratories across several tertiary institutions before undertaking a post-graduate Certificate in Animal Welfare, Monash University, Melbourne. This further study inspired Corinne to think differently about how humans interact with the animals around us and to pursue a career in animal welfare based research.

Corinne has recently completed her PhD at the University of Queensland, School of Veterinary Sciences. Her thesis ‘The Australian Excess Cat Population: An Exploration of Cat Admissions and Outcomes to RSPCA Shelters ‘ is a veterinary epidemiology based project focussed on finding information that helps stakeholders develop programs aimed at reducing the excess cat population in Australia. In collaboration with the RSPCA and the Anthrozoology Research Group, Corinne has examined the cat population entering animal shelters to try and determine which cats are at highest risk of euthanasia on a national level.

Dr Di Vankan

Dr Dianne Vankan worked as a small animal practitioner and research officer before completing her PhD and establishing the University of Queensland’s Animal Genetics Laboratory in 1992. During her early career years, she gained some exposure to shelter issues through working as a veterinarian at RSPCA shelters and municipal pounds. That interest was rekindled four years ago when she joined UQ’s Centre for Companion Animal Health and became heavily involved in establishing the Veterinary School’s Shelter Medicine Program: the first of its kind in Australia. Dianne has subsequently been an academic supervisor for three PhD students undertaking research in a variety of areas pertaining to animal shelters. She is presenting one of these studies on behalf of the student.

Cybele May

Cybele May is a PhD candidate in the UQ Business School at the University of Queensland. Her research focus is exploring the application of social marketing to issues in animal welfare, particularly cat overpopulation. This research topic draws on Cybele’s education – she has a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Queensland – as well as her previous work experience.
Cybele’s professional background is in veterinary medicine, principally in the area of epidemiology. She has worked in companion animal population management in both developed and developing countries. While completing her PhD, Cybele currently works in small animal veterinary practice.

Dr Tania Signal

Dr Tania Signal comes originally from New Zealand where she received her PhD in Psychology from Waikato University (using behavioural techniques to find out what Brushtail Possums can, and can’t see and hear). In 2003 she moved to Australia and took up a Lectureship at Central Queensland University, since then has developed a comprehensive research program broadly investigating Human-Animal Interaction covering topics such as potential links between personality factors (especially empathy), interpersonal violence and the treatment of animals through to community attitudes regarding farm animal welfare and suitable penalties for individuals convicted of animal cruelty offenses. As well as publishing in academic outlets Dr Signal is committed to delivering ‘real world’ outcomes from her research and the ‘Happy Animals’ CD (and interactive resource aimed at addressing childhood cruelty to animals – funded by Voiceless, Australia) which is now freely available via the internet is one example. Dr Signal is a member of the Queensland Centre for Domestic & Family Violence, the Institute for Health & Social Science Research and a Charter Scholar Member of the Animals & Society Institute (USA). She is also on the editorial panel for the international journals, Society & Animals and Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin and regularly reviews for a number of international journals in Psychology and Education.

Dr Susan Dwyer

Dr Susan Dwyer is a technical veterinarian for Dermcare Vet. She has a Bachelor of Science (Science Communication) from the Australian National University and a Bachelor of Veterinary Science from the University of Sydney. She practiced in various small animal clinics in the Northern Rivers of NSW for 4 years prior to joining Dermcare Vet, and continues to see patients at a clinic there on weekends. She is currently completing her Masters of Veterinary Science through Murdoch University and has a special interest in endocrinology.

As part of her work at Dermcare-Vet Susan is involved in helping to develop regimes to improve the skin and ear health of our canine companions. Chronic ear disease is a common problem in canines and many suffer in silence as either their owners cannot find a suitable solution or are ignorant to the suffering of their pet. Susan believes education into ear disease will do much for improving the quality of life of many dogs and their human families.

Carole Harvey-Stevenson 

Carole has worked with the AIRC since 2001 as the resident technical advisor. Carole’s role involves developing on-line course materials, presenting workshops, webinars and in-practice training. Carole also lectures on a variety of in-depth topics throughout Australia and overseas. Carole has her UK nursing qualification as well as an Australian Diploma in Emergency and Critical Care. Her greatest achievement was obtaining the Veterinary Technician Specialist qualification in Emergency and Critical Care from the United States (the first person in Australia).

Carole still remains hands-on in the industry working at the Brisbane Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Centre.

Liz Miller

After a long association with several rescue groups, Liz co-founded Fresh Start Rescue alongside a good friend and rescue colleague.  Their aim in starting Freshies was to be able to save pound and shelter dogs whom were out of rescue options and faced euthanasia. This is still their main focus, however, over the past two years they have started a very active palliative care program, something they are passionate about. Sometimes stray dogs come into pounds and shelters whom are senior or not, and are considered adoptable in temperament, but have terminal illness. Fresh Start Rescue offers palliative foster care for these dogs, providing a loving, stable family environment for them to spend the rest of their days.

Recently Liz went full time as a Humane Advocate Officer with RSPCA Qld, between that and her roles as president and intake officer with Fresh Start, Liz’s life is all about rescue.

Our full 2014 Animals in Focus Conference Program can be found here.