Our staff

Louise Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

Louise has been CEO for the Authority since 2005. She holds an Honours degree in microbiology, postgraduate qualifications in education and management, Masters in Regulatory Studies and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. She is a community member of the Occupational Therapy board of Australia, member of the NHMRC Embryo Licensing Committee, and a past chairperson for Women’s Health Victoria.

Darren Collins

Chief Finance Officer

Darren has nearly 20 years of commercial accounting experience, commencing his career in the UK before moving to Melbourne in 2006.  Darren’s career has seen him in senior accounting roles for a variety of organisations, ranging from small start-ups through to large listed entities.  Darren holds an honours degree in Business Management from King’s College London and holds the Certified Practicing Accountants (CPA) qualification.  In addition to this work, Darren runs a coaching and motivational speaking practice.

Tanya Thomson

Manager, Information & Knowledge

Tanya has worked for the Authority since 2005. She has a background in finance, information management/technology and marketing. She has developed an array of skills in these areas including project management, website management and process improvement and recently completed studies in Organisational Behaviour.

Julie Hassard

Manager, Health Promotion and Education

Julie joined VARTA in September 2016, bringing skills and experience in public health, health promotion and health education. She has worked with and consulted to many organisations in medical treatment and care, women’s health and in the disability and cancer sectors. A former nurse with a Master’s degree in Social Science, Julie managed public health education programs and campaigns including SunSmart and PapScreen Victoria. She also led a range of education and support initiatives that assisted individuals and families living with cancer to navigate complex situations to make informed choices to improve their quality of life. 

Michelle Gilmour

Principal Legal Officer

Michelle has worked in regulatory and legal roles for over 15 years at statutory authorities and government agencies. She has a particular interest in health and medical law, having also completed qualifications in nursing and health promotion. Since May 2019, she provides legal support and general advice to VARTA staff and the board. 

Kate Bourne

Donor Registers Service Manager

Kate has over 20 years’ experience in infertility and donor-linking counselling and chairs the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association (ANZICA). She has worked at VARTA for the last 7 years, developing resources and assisting people undergoing infertility treatment, donor treatment and surrogacy and those born as a result. Kate facilitates a support group of donor-conceived people. She has written the children’s book, ’Sometimes it Takes Three to Make a Baby’ explaining egg donation to young children and published a chapter in 'Relatedness in Assisted Reproduction: Families, Origins and Identities'.

Cathy Anderson

Senior Counsellor and Community Educator

Cathy is an experienced social worker with over 20 years' experience. She joined VARTA in February 2015 from Family Information Networks and Discovery (FIND), where she provided counselling support to people who have been affected by adoption and to Forgotten Australians/Former Wards of Australia. The development of public education information has been integral to her work.

Jacqueline Evans

Counsellor and Community Educator

Since graduating from Arts and Social Work from the University of Melbourne in 1998, Jacqueline has worked with children and families in a range of settings, including post adoption counselling and support of former Victorian Wards of the State at Family Information Network and Discovery (FIND). She also has recent experience working in a Victorian ART clinic. Jacqueline joined VARTA in November 2016.

Emily Hunter

Counsellor and Community Educator (maternity leave)

Emily started her career in child protection, specialising in the area of family re-unification. While living in the UK, she worked in children’s services (early intervention) for the local government. Emily worked as a counsellor for six years at Family Information Networks and Discovery (FIND). In this role she gained considerable experience working with grief and loss, identity formation and disruption, attachment and complex family dynamics as well as searching and preparation for reunions of those separated by adoption or wardship. Emily has a Bachelor of Arts/Psychology from Deakin University; she joined VARTA in December 2016.

Renee de Silva

Coordinator, Health Promotion

Renee is the coordinator of the Your Fertility program and joined the VARTA team in July 2017. She has over eight years’ experience in health promotion, health education and public health and holds a Bachelor degree in health sciences with majors in health promotion, nutrition and disability, from Deakin University. Renee has worked on various health promotion and education programs targeting risk factors contributing to chronic health conditions and encouraging healthy behaviour change at non-profit organisations and also holds a Certificate IV in training and assessment. 

Dr Karin Hammarberg

Senior Research Officer

Karin is a registered nurse with a PhD and 20 years' experience as clinical co-ordinator of IVF programs. She has clinical and research expertise in the psychosocial aspects of fertility, infertility, and assisted reproductive treatment, including donor conception. Karin works at VARTA a day a week to establish the evidence base and to review relevant research as part of the Authority’s public education and monitoring functions. In addition to this work, she is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Jean Hailes Research Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

Effie Lekkas

Registers Officer

Effie has more than 20 years of administrative and analytical experience.  Much of her work was in large corporate retail organisations.  Effie worked at an executive administrative capacity in a public hospital for two years before joining VARTA in November 2016.

Nicola Henry

Registers Officer

Nicola joined VARTA in August 2017. She has six years’ experience working in the private sector in administration, membership liaison and information maintenance, and recordkeeping. Nicola also has a Certificate III in business.