The committee is pleased to be offering a plenary session to kick off the conference, bringing together a range of speakers from the most current psycho-social-spiritual initiatives across New Zealand.

Facilitator: Associate Professor David Perez
Associate Professor David Perez is a medical oncologist at Dunedin Hospital and is also the previous Director of the Early Learning in Medicine Programme [years 2 and 3] for the University of Otago Medical School.  His interests in cancer medicine include clinical trials in cancer therapy, quality of life in cancer care, the information needs of patients with cancer and palliative care.  In relation to medical education his interests have included promoting the patient’s perspective in medicine and promoting the welfare of students.


Stephanie Turner
Stephanie is the Director of Maori Health and Disability for Mid Central DHB. A large part of her work as a Director of Maori Health is about  raising awareness and understanding of Maori worldview; values, beliefs and knowledge, this increases people’s willingness and ability to encompass Maori ideas within health system development, structures and practice.
Stephanie believes an understanding of whakapapa in its broadest sense is important. The concept of relatedness or the belief that all elements of life are interconnected is fundamental to wellbeing, and both personal and collective accountabilities with people and the environment.  The stories of our tipuna teach us that knowledge comes in many shapes and forms.

Stephanie has had careers both in the arts and health sectors and has an MA (Hons) in Art Therapy.

Natalie James
Natalie James was seconded from Auckland District Health Board in 2013 to work with the Ministry of Health as National Nurse Lead for the cancer nurse coordinator initiative.  Natalie has an extensive clinical background in cancer nursing, having worked in both the paediatric and adult settings.  Natalie has a strong interest in developing the cancer nursing work force and has worked closely with the University of Auckland to develop their postgraduate cancer nursing curriculum.

Di Riley
Di has spent 30 years in cancer informatics primarily in the UK, initially in cancer research as a clinical trials coordinator and team leader with the Cancer Research Campaign Clinical Trials Centre, Breast Trials Team. Whilst there she coordinated many large phase 3 multicentre breast cancer trials, and was integral in establishing the British Oncology Data Managers’ Association (BODMA).

Following the publication of the Calman-Hine Report in the UK, she moved into the NHS, where she was a key leader in the development of integrating cancer data collection within hospital systems and processes, especially for Multi Disciplinary Teams, with the SE London Cancer Network, the Surrey, West Sussex & Hampshire Cancer Network and finally with the National Cancer Action Team.

Since January 2008, she was an integral member of the central coordination team for the National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), continuing her dual interests in the collation and use of cancer data for both patient management and to support clinical outcomes, along with the commissioning of cancer services. Her main lead areas for the NHS, using information to support quality and choice and working with both clinical teams and those who commission services for their population to ensure we use data and quality indicators to improve the quality of cancer care. She has also led the development and implementation of the Cancer Outcomes and Services Dataset (COSD), the Systemic Anti-Cancer Dataset (SACT) for chemotherapy and the e-learning training tool - Understanding Cancer for non-clinical staff.

Following the changes to the NHS in April 2012, Di took over as head of NCIN, and also take the lead for developing the NCIN contribution to NHS England for cancer information and intelligence, which will include the requirements of the new Strategic Clinical Networks and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Since July 2014, Di has relocated to Christchurch and is the Manager for the Southern Cancer Network.

Mike Kernaghan
Mike Kernaghan joined the Cancer Society in 2010 after 15 years working in the sports sector and is now Chief Executive of the Otago & Southland Cancer Society . A local lad, Mike is passionate about Otago and Southland and ensuring that all people impacted by cancer have equality of access to services regardless of where they live in the region. Mike is also very proud of the relationship the Cancer Society has locally with Otago University and the Otago Polytechnic, and the contribution students from  these institutions  make in volunteer roles.

Clare Possenniskie
Clare Possenniskie has worked at the Ministry of Health for over nine years in a variety of policy and implementation roles, including a secondment to Parliament as an advisor to the Associate Minister of Health, Hon Jo Goodhew, from 2011-14. Since returning from Parliament, Clare has held the role of Programme Manager, Faster Cancer Treatment, within the Cancer Services team in the Ministry.  Faster cancer treatment (FCT) is a key focus of the National Cancer Programme and aims to ensure all people have timely access to excellent cancer services that enable them to live better and longer. The cancer psychological and social support initiative announced in Budget 2014 is a key initiative in the FCT programme, along with Cancer Nurse Coordinators, national tumour standards, improving the coverage and functionality of multidisciplinary meetings and a service improvement fund.

Marj Allan
Marj currently runs a small fly fishing lodge just inland from Hokitika with her husband. She has always been involved in their own business, which exported all over the world. In 2003 she was diagnosed with Low Grade Non Hodkinson Lymphoma. They were in the process of moving to their West Coast home at this time and have been there ever since. The experience of being in a rural area and requiring support without family nearby was and still is an interesting challenge. Hence when she was able, she was keen to help put something back into the system. Cancer Voices training opened the doors for this.

Current Involvement:
Nation Cancer Consumer group, Central Cancer Network Supportive Care Project Steering Group, South Island Palliative Care, Southern Cancer Network Consumer since 2004, Work Stream Lymphoma, National Tumour Standards Working Group, West Coast Local Cancer Network, ACP Round Table Group, CTAG, Art in the Hospital Convenor Health,  Navigator Consumer Panel, Chair South Island Cancer Consumer Group.

Marj is positive that consumers can make a difference by becoming involved in different groups who have the same passion.