Executive Oversight Committee

The Chief Executives from seven rural Local Health Districts provides executive oversight to the management of the NSW Rural Health Research Alliance. The Chief Executives will be supported by the Rural Research Development Committee and meet twice a year as part of the Regional, Rural and Remote Chief Executive Meeting.

The main functions of the Chief Executives are to:

  • Review and approve strategic directions for the Alliance
  • Nominate the members of the Rural Research Development Committee
  • Monitor and evaluate progress of the Alliance in building capability in rural health research
  • Monitor the budget and provide direction on funding of key initiatives of the Alliance


The member Local Health Districts are defined by the NSW Rural Health Plan. The membership and governance of the Alliance will be reviewed every twelve months. The members are:

  • Stewart Dowrick

    Stewart Dowrick

    Chief Executive lead for Alliance, Mid North Coast Local Health District

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    For more than 25 years, Stewart Dowrick has advocated for and worked towards greater access to quality health care for communities.

    Appointed the Chief Executive of the Mid North Coast Local Health District in January 2011, Stewart works with the region’s clinicians and the community to provide health care through strategic and quality management.

    Stewart began his career in health care administration at the then Children’s Hospital at Camperdown in 1989. He moved to the Central Coast Area Health Service in 1993 and the Mid North Coast Area Health Service in 1999.

    As Chief Executive, Stewart’s priorities for the Local Health District include overseeing a major capital redevelopment program and working within a multi-partnered approach to develop future opportunities for higher education and research in the region.

    He has taken a specific interest in improving information services and research opportunities in rural health and the MNCLHD is recognised as making important steps to implement a wide range of strategies towards "Closing the Gap". 

    The MNCLHD is an accredited White Ribbon Workplace and, as a White Ribbon Ambassador, Stewart is committed to working together to prevent violence.

  • Scott McLachlan

    Scott McLachlan

    Chief Executive, Western NSW Local Health District

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    Scott commenced as Chief Executive, Western NSWLHD January 2013. Scott has held leadership roles in health in both private and public health systems spanning across two decades. He has a keen focus on delivering high quality, responsible and sustainable services to rural people. Scott is passionately motivated to head up improving health outcomes for rural people through authentic community engagement, strong collaboration with clinicians, strategic partnerships and fostering and leading innovation.

    The challenges in closing the gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal people in Western NSW through developing respectful partnerships may well be our greatest challenge, one which Scott is committed to leading and making a real difference.

  • Jill Ludford

    Jill Ludford

    Chief Executive, Murrumbidgee Local Health District

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    Jill Ludford was appointed Chief Executive, Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD), in August 2014.

    Passionate about rural health, Jill leads healthcare delivery in over 44 health facilities and more than 3,500 staff across 125,500 square kilometres. Jill has recognised the potential of technology to improve access to timely assessment and care in rural and remote communities, leading to improved health outcomes. Jill is a strong advocate for NSW Health’s integrated electronic clinical programs, including electronic medical record (eMR) systems. She has worked with her team to overcome challenges such as establishing clinical grade wi-fi for every clinician, supported by State funding towards a faster, more secure network. As part of her commitment, Jill is the Chair of the Rural eHealth Governance Group and is a member of the NSW eHealth Executive Council.

    Linked to this innovation, Jill has sponsored new models of patient-centred care and worked with clinicians on the redesign of hospital functions, all aimed at improving the patient experience.

    Another of Jill’s passions is staff engagement, working to create a flexible and dynamic working environment so MLHD is an employer or choice. Under her leadership, MLHD has introduced staff wellbeing programs and recognition awards and implemented strategies to recruit and retain medical and nursing workforce.

    Jill has strong links with her regional community and fostered partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders, including government and non-government organisations, Aboriginal services and tertiary institutions, and is an Adjunct Lecturer at Charles Sturt University.

    Jill was proud to play a major role in the planning of the recently-opened $282M Wagga Wagga Hospital, which has embraced digital technology in providing innovative care in a state-of-the-art environment.

  • Wayne Jones

    Wayne Jones

    Chief Executive, Northern NSW Local Health District

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    Wayne started in health over 30 years ago undertaking his generalist nursing training. Over the next 10 years, Wayne obtained multiple post-graduate nursing qualifications in areas including Intensive Care and Cardiology, and also obtained a graduate qualification in Health Management. Wayne then progressed into a variety of nursing management roles and eventually came up to the Northern Rivers as the Executive Officer of Lismore Base Hospital.

    Wayne has held a variety of senior roles in the North Coast including Manager of Planning, Director of Clinical Streams and Chief of Staff prior to his appointment as Chief Executive of Northern NSW Local Health District.

  • Michael DiRienzo

    Michael DiRienzo

    Chief Executive, Hunter New England Local Health District

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    Michael is responsible for all health services across more than 120 health facilities from major tertiary referral hospitals to rural community health centres.

    Following an 18-year career in Finance, Supply and logistics in the manufacturing industry, Mr DiRienzo joined Health in 1999. He has since held various Executive Director and General Management positions throughout the Health Service. He was Executive Director Operations – Acute Networks from 2005 until his appointment to Chief Executive in 2011.

    Mr DiRienzo is a board director of the Hunter Medical Research Institute and Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network.

    As Chief Executive of Hunter New England Health, Mr DiRienzo has led the implementation of a range of initiatives that support staff to put patients at the centre of everything they do, provide patient-centred care and build a positive workplace culture.

    Excellence, Every Patient. Every Time is HNE Health’s approach to doing the right thing for patients, their families, and by our staff. Excellence provides staff with proven tools and techniques to align goals, behaviours and processes to improve patient-centred care, and to build the capability of leaders and staff to ensure everyone is working in the best interests of patients and the organisation.

  • Andrew Newton

    Andrew Newton

    Chief Executive, Southern NSW Local Health District

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    Andrew started his career as a student nurse in Sunderland in the UK before moving to Australia to start work in 1994 as a registered nurse in the operating theatres at Blacktown.

    He gained experience in rural health delivery through hospital manager roles in Cowra, Parkes, Forbes and other hospitals in Western NSW before being appointed as general manager at Dubbo Hospital in 2009.

    In 2012, Andrew moved into an Executive position with Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), where he gained redevelopment experience leading a major multimillion dollar capital works program. This provided him with valuable skills and experience in rebuilding Westmead Hospital, including working closely with staff, precinct partners and the community to ensure the redevelopment transformed the delivery of healthcare in area.

    He has been with Southern NSW Local Health District since November 2017.

  • Steve Rodwell

    Steve Rodwell

    Chief Executive, Far West Local Health District

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    Mr Steve Rodwell is the Chief Executive for Far West Local Health District. He was appointed in September 2017, and had been acting in that role since July 2017.

    Steve was previously with Mid North Coast LHD, where he was the Executive Director Nursing, Midwifery and Workforce since March 2011. Steve commenced as a student nurse at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in 1980. He subsequently moved to the Mid North Coast in 1986 working at Kempsey District Hospital and moving to Coffs Harbour Base Hospital in 1989 as a Registered Nurse at the Emergency Department.

    He brought to that role a great depth of Nursing and Management experience having been the Nursing Unit Manager, Assistant Manager Clinical Services, Care Centre Manager and the Director of Nursing and Manager of Inpatient Services at Coffs Harbour Health Campus.  Steve served as the Director of Nursing, Midwifery and Workforce at MNCLHD prior to taking up his role as Chief Executive of FWLHD.