Our Staff and Associates


Professor Warren Payne Executive Director

PhD, BSocSc (PE)

Warren has extensive experience in the tertiary sector and has researched and taught in a variety of exercise science and health promotion areas. He has written over 250 refereed publications, conference proceedings and major industry reports.

Warren’s work with industry has resulted in significant changes to a range of industry groups, for which he has received a number of awards. Since 2003, he has been awarded grants for consultancy based research totalling over $6 million for work in physical performance test development and health program evaluation.

He is a past chair of the Victoria University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Committee and an executive member of the Universities Australia Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Committee. He has been a board member and an advisor to a range of professional, industry, government and community organisations. In particular, he was a founding executive member of the Australian Association for Exercise and Sports Science. He has held numerous board positions with Sports Medicine Australia, resulting in him being awarded a Fellowship and President’s Award by Sports Medicine Australia. Warren has also received a number of academic and industry awards and he has also established a range of commercial and academic links in countries such as China, Sri Lanka, the United States and the United Kingdom.

In his previous appointment, Warren played a significant leadership role in Victoria University (VU) being ranked in the top 2 per cent of the world’s universities, including having the majority of VU’s research being assessed as being at, or above world standard. Warren recently led the establishment of VU Research. This is a unique, whole-of-University department responsible for the conduct and development of all of VU’s research and research training activities.

Warren provides advice to the Board on policy, planning and implementation and overseas the governance and performance of Western Alliance.

Email: warrenpayne@westernalliance.org.au

Drew Aras Executive Officer

BAppSci (Physiotherapy), MPH

Hailing from Ocean Grove, Drew started his career as a physiotherapist working in public health settings across Geelong, Melbourne, Sydney and the United Kingdom. He has since completed a Master of Public Health and has worked in health promotion and preventative health, health program and project management and extensively in health research and education.

Prior to commencing with Western Alliance in October 2018, Drew was the Associate Director of Education & Research at Northern Health, a large public health service in Melbourne’s north. Drew has a special interest in health services research, workforce development, preventative health, consumer and community involvement, health literacy and falls prevention.

Drew provides support and advice to the Board, including on policy, planning and implementation, and is also responsible for Western Alliance’s day-to-day operations, financial management and staffing. Drew also administers the research funding portfolio. Drew looks forward to helping to build research and improve health outcomes across western Victoria.

Email: drewaras@westernalliance.org.au

Cassandra Hamilton Administrative Officer


Cassandra provides administrative support and advice to the Executive Director, Executive Officer, the Board of Directors and the Research Translation Committee members, as well as general office administration, financial assistance, website maintenance, correspondence and all events coordination.

Cassandra has over 25 years experience in office administration. Prior to commencing with Western Alliance in March 2018, Cassandra worked at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for over 8 years in a variety of roles – her most recent role involved management of the whole secretarial team for the Haematology and Medical Oncology departments, overseeing all administration departments for the Division of Cancer Medicine and assisting the Divisional Director.




Email: cassandrahamilton@westernalliance.org.au

Dr Olivia King Research Capability Building Program Manager

PhD (Health), Grad Cert Diab Ed, BPod (Hons)

Dr Olivia King is the inaugural Manager of Western Alliance’s Research Capability Building Program. The key focus of her role is leading the development of the STaRR (Supporting Translation of Research in Rural and Regional settings) Program. 

Olivia has worked in a range of clinical roles as a podiatrist and diabetes educator, research roles and more recently as the Allied Health Research and Translation Lead with Rosalie Boyce, supporting allied health researchers at Barwon Health and South West Healthcare. Olivia’s research interests include health professions education, allied health workforce, and sociology of the professions.

In addition to her role with Western Alliance, Olivia is a Senior Consultant with AHP Workforce working on a research capacity building program and an Adjunct Research Associate with Monash Centre for Scholarship in Health Education. Olivia wears many hats, but all of her work relates to building research capacity and capability in the healthcare workforce – particularly in rural and regional settings.

Email: olivia.king@barwonhealth.org.au 

Peter Kelly Program Officer, Research Capability Building

BA (Recreation)

Peter’s role is to support research capability initiatives of the STaRR programs, including strategy development, training content and evaluation.

Peter worked in several different sectors, including local government, family services and health services. The majority of his roles have been in project management, focussing on health promotion and community development. Specific areas of interest include prevention of violence against women, family violence identification and response and male health. 

Email: p.kelly@deakin.edu.au


Dr Michael Field Research Translation Coordinator - Barwon/Colac Region

MBBS, BA (Psych), BCom

Dr Michael Field is the Western Alliance Research Translation Coordinator for the Barwon/Colac region. Michael grew up on the Bellarine Peninsula and studied at Deakin University on Geelong before moving to Adelaide where he attended medical school. Michael worked as a junior doctor in South Australia in both city and country settings then returned to Victoria taking up a position in population health research at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Michael’s research experience spans clinical trials, cross-sectional studies and cohorts, and his research interests include childhood allergy and addressing rural health outcome inequalities. He also maintains part-time clinical practice in surgical assisting.

Michael joined Western Alliance in February 2020 and aims to build research capacity in the Barwon/Colac region through supporting clinical and administrative staff at Western Alliance partner sites in the region.

Email: MField@cah.vic.gov.au

Professor Anna Peeters Principal Research Translation Investigator

Anna is Director of the Institute for Health Transformation and Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health at Deakin University. She is Principal Research Translation Investigator at Western Alliance, Board Member for the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) and Obesity Australia, and Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society.

In 2014 she was awarded the prestigious World Obesity Federation Andre Mayer Award for research excellence in obesity and a Churchill Award for innovative work in equity and population prevention. She works to build the evidence for effective and equitable policy and practice to improve health outcomes.

Dr Ella Ottrey Research Translation Coordinator - Ballarat/East Grampians region

PhD, BNut(Hons), BNutrDietet

Dr Ella Ottrey is the Western Alliance Research Translation Coordinator for the Ballarat/East Grampians region.

Ella grew up in Gippsland, before moving to Melbourne to train and work as a clinical dietitian. Ella’s research career began eight years ago, completing honours and then a PhD, exploring mealtimes in hospital. In addition to her role with Western Alliance, Ella is a Postdoctoral Fellow with Monash Centre for Scholarship in Health Education.

Ella looks forward to building research capacity and capability within the health services in her region. She provides support to people conducting research, by reviewing protocols or ethics applications, accessing statistical support, navigating the pathway to publication, and in linking health services with universities.

Email: ella.ottrey@eghs.net.au

Alesha Sayner Research Translation Coordinator - Grampians

Alesha Sayner is taking on part of the Research Translation Coordinator role covering Grampians Health during the leave of Dr Ella Ottrey.

Alesha will be undertaking this role alongside her existing position at Grampians Health as Allied Health Research & Knowledge Translation Lead. Alesha is also a pelvic health physiotherapist and PhD candidate.

If you are from Grampians Health and want to get in touch with Alesha to discuss your research or translation ideas, you can do so at Alesha.Sayner@gh.org.au .

Dr Laura Alston Associate Research Fellow

Preventing chronic diseases in rural populations for future generations: The role of rural health services in guiding community efforts to improve the food environment

Laura is a clinical dietitian and qualified diabetes educator who is passionate about preventing and treating chronic diseases through better nutrition. Laura’s PhD focussed on the preventable inequalities in heart disease experienced by rural Australians. Laura received a Graduate Women’s Victoria award for her PhD progress in 2018.

Her fellowship project involves investigating the role of rural health services in assisting their community to improve the local food environment and will include the development of evidence-based guidelines for rural health services in Western Victoria and more broadly across the state of Victoria. Laura’s Fellowship represents a collaboration between Colac Area Health, The Global Obesity Centre, Deakin Rural Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.