Key people

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Della Forster

Professor Della Forster

RN, RM, DipAppSci (Nurs), BHealthSci (Nurs), MMid, PhD 

Della is a leading international researcher in maternal and infant care. She has a joint appointment as the Professor of Midwifery and Maternity Services Research with the Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University and the Royal Women’s Hospital, and extensive experience as a clinical midwife. Since completion of her PhD in 2005 Della has built up her research program and skills and developed extensive research networks with academic, community and clinical collaborations including the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), the Post and Antenatal Depression Association (PANDA) and prominent Victorian Maternity Services.  

Della has broad experience in a range of methodologies and large projects including RCTs, descriptive studies, cohort studies, focus groups and evaluation projects. Her research interests include models of maternity care, perinatal mental health, breastfeeding and maternal, fetal and infant health.

Associate Professor Lisa Amir


Lisa is a medical practitioner with a long-standing interest in women's health. Having qualified as a lactation consultant in 1989, Lisa continues to work in breastfeeding medicine at the Women's and as a private practitioner. She is conducting research in the area of breastfeeding – from rates and determinants of breastfeeding, to nipple and breast pain in breastfeeding women, to the use of medicines for breastfeeding women and breastfeeding in public. Lisa is Editor-in-Chief of the online journal, International Breastfeeding Journal.

Research Coordinators

Fiona McLardie-Hore


Fiona has worked as a midwife in a range of clinical areas for over 25 years. She is the Midwifery and Maternity Services Research Unit Research Coordinator,and is the project coordinator for the Baggarrook Yurrongi (Woman’s Journey), NHMRC funded partnership project- improving the outcomes of Aboriginal mothers and babies through continuity of midwife care. Fiona was the project coordinator for RUBY (Ringing Up about Breastfeeding), a randomised controlled trial exploring early telephone peer support for breastfeeding,and is a PhD candidate exploring the experiences and outcomes of women who received peer support in the RUBY trial.

Anita Moorhead

RN, RM IBCLC, CertNeonatPaed & CertHlthSerMan, PhD Candidate

Anita is the Clinical Midwife Consultant (Lactation), Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, trial coordinator for the DAME (Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing) trial and PhD candidate at the Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University. Anita has worked in midwifery, neonatal paediatrics, early parenting, lactation services, nursing management and has been a BFHI assessor and educator. She has collaborated on number of breastfeeding papers and reports, hospital and state clinical guidelines

Dr Touran Shafiei

B Mid, PhD

Touran has a clinical and research background in midwifery, and is a senior research fellow at Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University.  Touran has an extensive knowledge expertise of a range of research methodologies, and since completion of her PhD in 2010, has worked on a range of projects. Touran’s research interests include maternal health, perinatal mental health, maternity care and immigrant women's health. She is currently coordinating a large NHMRC funded randomised controlled trial of telephone peer support to reduce postnatal depression and anxiety in women at increased risk.

Helene Johns

Dr Helene Johns

RN, RM, DipAppSci (CHN), BHealthSci (Adv.Nurs), M.Ed. PhD

Helene has a clinical midwifery background and a keen interest in women's experience of birth and early parenting. Currently working in the Women's Health Information Centre, Well Women's and African Women's Clinic, she has developed a particular interest in breastfeeding influences and outcomes. Helene has recently completed her PhD exploring the frequency of breast milk expressing and the effect of expressing on breastfeeding outcomes and other factors through the MILC (Mothers and Infants Lactation Cohort) Study.

Dr Meabh Cullinane


Meabh has a background in microbiology and is currently involved in an evaluation of a maternity and neonatal emergencies education program delivered to maternity and newborn care clinicians at rural and regional maternity service providers across Victoria. This three-year evaluation is funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. Meabh also has a keen interest in breastfeeding research and has previously co-ordinated a breastfeeding longitudinal cohort study and a randomised clinical trial.

Research Midwives

Rebecca Hyde

BN, BMid      

Rebecca is a Clinical Midwife Specialist and Research Midwife/Nurse at the Royal Women’s Hospital. She also holds a part time position as a midwifery lecturer at La Trobe University. She is a PhD candidate exploring the views and experiences of families who have had a baby in the newborn intensive care. Her areas of interest are models of care, women’s experiences and the wellbeing of students and midwives into the future.

Robyn Matthews 

BN, BMid          

Robyn is a PhD candidate, exploring midwives' perceptions of their experience of work in a tertiary maternity service through the EXPert study. She is a research midwife/nurse and works clinically as a clinical midwife specialist across the continuum of pregnancy and birth. Robyn’s areas of interest are midwifery workforce, models of care and normalising pregnancy and birth for women with complex pregnancies.

Pamela McCalman 


Pam practices as a clinical midwife specialist while she is completing her higher degree which focuses on the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are having a baby in Victoria. Pam also works for La Trobe University and the Women’s Hospital on a NHMRC funded partnership project named “Woman’s Journey, Baggarrook Yurrongi & Nuraagh Manma Buliana”- Improving the health of Aboriginal mothers and babies through continuity of midwife care.

Dr Maggie Flood 

RN, RM, GradCertHlthSci (Clin Data Mgmt), DipArts (Prof Writ Ed), PhD

Maggie Flood is a nurse and midwife whose research interests include postpartum haemorrhage, breastfeeding, refugee and asylum seeker women’s health and women’s experience of pregnancy, birth and postnatal care. Maggie has worked on many studies at the Women’s since the ‘90s including the COSMOS RCT of caseload midwifery care, the CROss-Country Ultrasound Study (CROCUS), Parenting Kit, DAME, and currently, the IVY and DAISY projects.

For her PhD, completed in 2018, Maggie conducted a state-wide validation study of births in 2011 in the Victorian Perinatal Data Collection and analysed data for more than 760,000 births from this Collection to investigate the incidence, trends and risk factors for primary postpartum haemorrhage.  She is keen to find ways to reduce the rising incidence of postpartum haemorrhage and negative impacts for women and their families. Maggie is interested in exploring women’s and clinician’s views of their experiences of having or managing a postpartum haemorrhage.

Higher Degree Students

Nawal AbdulGhani
Jessica Bee
Sara Couch
Fiona Faulks
Heather Grimes
Sarah Hay
Rebecca Hyde
Robyn Matthews
Anita Moorhead
Pam McCalman
Fiona McLardie-Hore
Ranmali Rodrigo
Charlie Smithson
Stef Zugna