National Allergy Strategy Project Leads

To help support the projects that have received federal government funding, each project has Project Co-leads who have expertise in the area of the project. The Project Co-leads work with the NAS Manager and Senior Project Officer and help guide the projects in a voluntary capacity.

Maria Said

Project Co-lead – 250K youth project, Anaphylaxis register project, Drug allergy project

Maria SaidMaria Said has been a member of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) since 1993. As a volunteer, she became national President of the organisation in 1999 and then in 2004 she became a paid employee of A&AA.Maria is also a registered nurse with experience in emergency and paediatric nursing.

As well as being the project lead for the NAS teen project, Maria is also Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy.

As an advocate for individuals who live with the risk of anaphylaxis, Maria has presented on the recognition, management and emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. She shares information on the mission of the organisation, the consumer perspective and, allergic disease including food allergy and anaphylaxis, to teaching & health professionals, the food industry, federal and state government departments and the Australian community.

Maria is a member of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and holds a position on several working parties. She has co-authored several publications in medical and food industry journals. Maria is a member of the International Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Alliance Committee and a committee member of the European Academy of Clinical Immunology and Allergy Patient Organisation Committee.

As president of A&AA, Maria has been called to assist State Coroners as an expert witness in five inquests. The unfolding of these investigations has resulted in change throughout Australia.

Merryn Netting

Project Co-lead – 250K youth project

Dr Merryn Netting Dr Merryn Netting is a paediatric dietitian and NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow based at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute and Adelaide’s Women and Children’s Hospital.

Merryn graduated from Flinders University with a post graduate Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. Her PhD was awarded in 2015 by the University of Adelaide for her thesis “Nutritional Strategies for Allergy Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment, with a Specific Focus on Egg Allergy”.

Merryn is an Allied Health member of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology (AAAAI). She was inaugural chair of the ASCIA Dietitian’s subcommittee, and currently serves on the National Allergy Strategy Steering Committee. 

Merryn enjoys translating the science of nutrition into the practical aspects of the food that we eat, including the dietary management of children with food allergy. Her research focuses on the influence of early life nutrition on long term health, including infant feeding advice for prevention of food allergy.

Preeti Joshi

Project Co-lead – Food allergy prevention project

Dr Preeti JoshiDr Preeti Joshi is a paediatric clinical immunology/allergy specialist. Preeti is a Staff Specialist at the Department of Allergy and Immunology at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead. Preeti is currently the Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy.

Preeti graduated with honours from the University of Sydney in 1990 before completing her specialist training in paediatrics. She was awarded her fellowship in 1997. Preeti completed a PhD in the development of allergy in children before working in New York with Professor Hugh Samson, a world expert in food allergy.

Preeti has an active role in teaching and research in addition to running a busy practice in clinical allergy and immunology. Her special interest includes paediatric food allergy, eczema and allergic rhinitis. She has wide experience in the management of many allergic and immunologic conditions in children.

Preeti is currently the chair of the Australasian Society Allergy and Clinical Immunology and Allergy Paediatric Committee and the chair of the Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia Medical Advisory Board.

Debra Savage

Project Co-lead – Food allergy prevention project

Debra SavageDebra Savage is a Registered Nurse and Midwife with more than 40 years’ experience, including 20 years specialising in child and family health. She is a health educator at Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA).

Debra’s involvement in A&AA dates back to 1994, when her son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies and she became one of its first members. By 1995 she was volunteering as an educator, and she became a co-director in 1999.

Over 20 years Debra has worked to support people with severe allergic disease and to apply her strengths as an advocate for parents. She is passionate about helping parents navigate the challenges of daily living with food allergy. A long-term focus has been to counsel parents on practical strategies that are informed by the latest research. Most recently, she was a founding board member at A&AA for four years.

In addition to Debra’s work in allergy she provides guidance to parents of young children at Tresillian, a residential unit in Nepean where she has worked for 20 years.

Kirsten Grinter

Project Co-lead – Food service project

Kirsten GrinterKirsten Grinter has several years’ experience working in food industry both in Australia and New Zealand. Kirsten has worked in Product Development, Quality, Manufacturing, Research and Regulatory departments. Her current role is as Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Manager Nestlé where she has responsibility for a team of people who together manage regulatory and scientific affairs across the vast Oceania Business.

Kirsten represents Nestlé on the Australian Food and Grocery Council’s (AFGC) Health Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Committee and takes part in many AFGC food industry working groups to drive solutions in the pre-competitive industry arena.

Kirsten has been involved with the Allergen Forum at its inception and has retained a significant interest in driving through industry allergen initiatives. Kirsten was the chairperson of the Allergen Labelling project team, initiated in 2004 which surveyed the food industry approach to allergen labelling and used this information to develop an industry allergen labelling strategy.

Kirsten’s experience with allergen issues from manufacturing, regulation and through to contact with consumer groups gives her a unique perspective with regard to the needs of the food industry and the allergic community.

Kirsten considers that working in partnership for a whole of industry approach is the key to driving allergen management initiatives and key for the industry to remain a competitive and successful food industry globally.

Ingrid Roche

Project Co-lead – Food service project

Ingrid RocheIngrid Roche is an Accredited Practising Dietitian who graduated from Curtin University in 1995. She works clinically with children and families with food allergy in her role as Senior Paediatric Dietitian in the Immunology Department at Perth Children’s Hospital in Western Australia, as well as in her private practice. Ingrid has been heavily involved in ASCIA, serving as the Chair of the Dietitian Committee for six years and led the development of online training for dietitians, as well as an advanced face to face food allergy training course for dietitians which is a partnership between ASCIA and the Dietitians Association of Australia.

Ingrid has a strong interest in food allergen management in food service. She lectured in Food Service in the Master of Dietetics program at Curtin University from 2012 – 2105, and was heavily involved in the development of the new menu and food service system at the new Perth Children’s Hospital; overseeing several quality improvement projects to improve allergen management in the hospital. She has been involved in the National Allergy Strategy food service project from the start, with a focus on developing resources and training for hospitals.

Ingrid remains committed to helping families and individuals with the nutritional and practical management of food allergies and other medical conditions.

Richard Loh

Project Co-lead – Shared care model project, Anaphylaxis register project and Australian Digital Health Agency (My Health Record) project
Associate Professor Richard LohAssociate Professor Richard Loh is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia. Richard is a graduate of the University of Queensland and trained in Immunology and Allergy at the Children's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School.

Richard is Immediate Past Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy Steering Committee, a Past President of ASCIA and a member of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) Anaphylaxis Committee. 

Richard is actively involved in anaphylaxis management and chaired the ASCIA Anaphylaxis Working Party for 4 years during which time, ASCIA commenced the development of its online anaphylaxis training. Richard was the chair of the Anaphylaxis Expert Committee who developed an anaphylaxis model of care in Western Australia.

Richard has published and presented on food allergy, allergic rhinitis (hayfever), allergen immunotherapy (desensitisation), anaphylaxis, drug allergy, insect allergy, urticaria (hives) and immunodeficiency.

Richard was the project lead for the Food allergy prevention project from commencement in 2017 until the launch of the pilot phase in September 2018.

On the 4th September 2019, Richard was made Founding Patron of the National Allergy Strategy when he stepped down from the Steering Committee Co-chair position.

Wendy Norton

Project Co-lead – Shared care model project

Dr Wendy NortonDr Wendy Norton is a parent of 3 teenage boys, 2 of whom have multiple food allergies. She graduated from Monash University with honours in 1993 with a medical degree and then went on to train as a general practitioner. She has also done post graduate training in allergy through the University of Western Sydney.

She works part time in the allergy department at the Royal Melbourne hospital and does volunteer work at the Centre for Food Allergy Research (CFAR) which is part of the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne. She has delivered compulsory anaphylaxis training to Victorian teachers.

Wendy has been involved as a volunteer with Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia for over a decade. In this capacity, she has given lectures and allergy education sessions, as well as attending Coroner's cases and helping draft government documents.

She has been involved with the National Allergy Strategy from its inception and is passionate about improving the lives of people living with allergy.

Karen Wong

Project Co-lead – Australian Digital Health Agency Project

Karen WongKaren Wong is a parent of two teenage girls, one of whom has multiple food allergies and multiple allergic diseases. 

She holds a Bachelor of Economics from Macquarie University, a Graduate Certificate in Management (Performance Management) from Monash Mt Eliza and a Diploma in Financial Services (Financial Planning).

For the past 3 years, Karen has worked part time as the Operations Manager for Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and has a background in the financial services sector.

Karen is passionate about using her professional and personal experiences to improve the lives of people living with allergy.

Michaela Lucas

Project Co-lead – Drug allergy project

Michaela LucasAssociate Professor Michaela Lucas is a Clinical Immunologist/Immunopathologist at the adult tertiary Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and Pathwest Laboratory Medicine in Perth, Western Australia.

Her main research interests are in T-cell immunology, with special emphasis on interplay of innate and adaptive immunity during chronic viral infection, transplantation immunology and drug hypersensitivity. After a doctorate in Biochemistry, a European Marie-Curie Fellowship and a post-doctoral position at Oxford University, Michaela moved to Australia in 2004, where she completed her Basic and Advanced Physician training in Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology in 2012. Since early 2014 she has been the Group Leader of a Microsurgical Transplantation Immunology Laboratory with the School of Medicine and Pharmacology, UWA, at the Harry Perkins Institute in Perth.

Clinically, she overseas the Drug Allergy Services at two major hospitals, chairs the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy’s current working party for Drug Allergy and is the project lead for the National Allergy Strategy relating to Drug Allergy Management 

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NAS News

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    30 July 2019 A free, potentially life-saving online food allergy training program for cooks and chefs, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health, has today been launched by the National Allergy Strategy, a partnership between the Australasian S...
  • Nip Allergies in the Bub - Food Allergy Prevention Project

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Content updated November 2019

National Allergy Strategy Rationale

Allergic diseases have become an increasingly important chronic disease and public health issue in Australia and other developed countries over the last two decades, contributing to increased demand for medical services, significant economic cost of care and reduced quality of life of people with allergic diseases and their carers.

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National Allergy Strategy Websites and Courses

All about Allergens
All about Allergens
The next step for cooks and chefs
The next step for cooks and chefs
Authorised Officers Resources
All about Allergens
Food allergy prevention
e-training for health professionals
Food allergy prevention e-training for health professionals
Paediatric atopic dermatitis
e-training for health professionals
Paediatric atopic dermatitis e-training for health professionals
Food Allergy Education
for the community
Food Allergy Education
Food Allergy Aware - Hub
Food Allergy Aware - Hub
250K for teens and young adults
250K
Nip Allergies in the Bub

Lead organisations

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Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) is the leading medical organisation for allergy in Australia. 

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Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA) is the leading patient support organisation for allergy in Australia. 

The National Allergy Strategy has received funding from the Australian Government Department of Health for the following projects:
Food allergy prevention | 250K Youth Project | Food service | Drug allergy | Shared Care Model

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