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Meet the team

Our team is made up of a group of dynamic, diverse, positive and passionate women. Among us you will find trained, certified educators and doulas and all of us hold a variety of other qualifications. Collectively we have over 100 years of experience!

We love what we do and it's our joy to work together to enhance your experience with the Australian Doula College and as a doula in whatever space you work in.

Renee Adair

Founder and Director of The Australian Doula College

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Renee Adair is the founder and director of the Australian Doula College, the Groundwork Program and the ADC’s charity-arm Doula Heart Network. She first began working with women and babies in 1994 as a massage and Aromatherapist and Reiki Practitioner and in 1998 after the home births of her two biological children she began studying and working as a Doula and Childbirth and Early Parenting Educator. 

Renee then worked for the Australian Red Cross at a young women’s health program/refuge in Sydney’s East, setting up both the outreach and childbirth and early parenting education programs for that service. 

Working In collaboration, Renee helped produce the first research on Doulas in Australia which was published in the Journal of Perinatal Education in 2013. She has spoken on a variety of radio programmes, at conferences and seminars and is a regular contributor for a range of publications, websites and podcasts. 

Renee has worked to change the way we think about Doula support launching an End of Life Doula Training for the College in 2021 with a view for the wider community to see Doula support though a broader lens, supporting all major life transitions, not just in the birthing space. 

In 2019 Renee proudly partnered with Charles Darwin University to co facilitate Accredited Doula training for Indigenous women in the remote First Nations community of Galiwin’ku. She now sits on the official Galiwin’ku steering committee to restore Birthing on Country. Renee has sat on the Consumer Advisory Board of the Australian College of Midwives, trained thousands of Doulas and supported hundreds of women, their partners and families through pregnancy, birth, early parenting and end of life over the course of her career. 

A fierce advocate for human rights, the proud mother of three adult children and three grandkids, blends her life’s work, spending downtime with her family, friends and fur babies. 

Ashleigh Dodd

Chief Executive Officer

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Ashleigh began her career volunteering in America, working with people who required support from all walks of life including disabilities, mental health, youth, dependencies, criminal justice, aged care, child protection and women in crisis. Ashleigh has been working in the Community Services Sector since 2005, supporting people through life’s transitions ever since.

 

Throughout this work Ashleigh has complemented her experience by obtaining degrees in Social Work, Community Services, Management, Welfare, Business and is a qualified Trainer and Assessor. Ashleigh’s passion really begun to focus on women as she embraced her own journey to start her family, facing hurdles she never knew existed which led to her burning passion being ignited deep within.  

Since completing her Doula qualifications Ashleigh firmly believes and educates anybody who will listen, that families have the right to be informed, knowledgeable, validated and supported to pave the way of their own journey. Ashleigh is dedicated to supporting people to strive for what is most important to them in all aspects of life from first breath to last breath in her own uniquely fierce badass way. 

Ashleigh’s experience and love for business paired with a mission to achieve total world domination, finds her leading our team under the wing of our founding director as our CEO, based in Victoria keeping busy raising her children, loving and appreciating every second of life!

Bronwyn Dunlop

Doula Services Manager

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Bronwyn brings with her a wealth of experience polished over 15 years of behind the scenes action, scheduling and coordinating a variety of television productions across New Zealand, UK, Europe and Australia.

Bronwyn lives in Melbourne with her family.  When she’s not being her best doula self, she’s loving spending time with family and friends and both playing & coaching field hockey.

The birth of Bronwyn’s first child didn’t go as expected. This triggered something inside of her as she begun educating herself and researching all things labour and birth. As her family grew, so did her passion. Bronwyn felt her calling to work in this sacred space - honouring women and their families as they go through the amazing journey of pregnancy and birth.

After following her heart, Bronwyn is now a fully certified ADC doula. Bronwyn is passionate about empowering women and their families through emotional and physical support and sharing evidence-based information. 

Her personal message to share is; “The ADC completely changed my life and I’m so excited and proud to be part of this team that is changing the world for so many others”

Kylee Shepherd

Administration and Student Liaison

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As a cultural exchange student in high school, Kylee learnt that being outside of your comfort zone can be very…uncomfortable yet incredibly powerful. It can build you from the inside out and create resilience as well as a thirst for knowledge. About people, places, history and culture, all of which play more of a role in childbirth than you may imagine. She’s been a people person ever since and an avid traveller.

 

Kylee started in childcare and hospitality, and then worked overseas as a nanny and mothercraft nurse in her 20s. Returning to Australia after a family tragedy, she training as an interior decorator before finding her way into decorator retail. Over the next 16 years she worked her way up to executive assistant at the corporate head office (which was almost all female!) and during the pandemic, followed her heart and came full circle; training as a doula with the College and returned to working with mothers and babies.

 

She loves talking to women about where they’ve come from and their choices in the birth of their baby. Kylee enjoys sharing knowledge and supporting women to know what they want and to help empower them to get there. 

 

Merging her administration skills with her calling to support birthing families, Kylee joins the Australian Doula College staff in 2022 and is looking forward to talking to future students about the College, the courses and what a difference they can make as a doula in a world that sorely needs them, while continuing to support mamas and families bringing their babies Earthside.

Maria Garangarriwuy Gurruwiwi

First Nations Cultural Support 

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Maria is a proud First Nations woman who was born and lives in Galiwin’ku (a remote Aboriginal Community on the beautiful Elcho Island 550 kilometres north east of Darwin). Maria is a mother and a trained Djakamirr (Indigenous Doula) who loves supporting and caring for the women in her community. Maria is thrilled to be working with the ADC as our Aboriginal cultural support and connection. Maria works closely with our Director Renee Adair on the College Reconciliation Action Plan plan and assists us to purchase hand made goods from the women of Galiwin’ku which are available in our online store. 100 percent of all monies paid go back to the women in the Galiwin’ku community. 

Maria is always keen for more training to continue to grow and help the young mothers of Galiwin’ku. 

Maria has written a wonderful story about her beautiful daughter, sharing with us about what it is like to grow up as a young Yolngu girl, living in two worlds. You can view this interactive story by clicking through here - https://read.bookcreator.com/Lnpdp7hCWAMf07ZWTaYU7FFcMbo1/ZHIE2JwATYKR6Qm6A55gjQ

Liz Di Qual

End Of Life Doula Liaison

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Life changing events such as pregnancy, a new baby, a serious illness, divorce or approaching your end of life are all major life transitions. These times can cause us to re-examine ourselves and our present state of being, making it challenging to navigate all that is happening around us.

 

A doula during these times, can help you ensure continuity of care, and give you a sounding board to help you navigate, find your voice, feel empowered and bring comfort to you and those closest to you. No matter what road you find yourself on.

 

I have completed my training as an End of Life doula and Birth and post-natal doula.  I provide heartfelt emotional and practical hands on support to all my clients ensuring that their individual needs are met . 

 

I also have a role at the Australian Doula College as their End of Life doula, providing necessary support to other doulas  and  helping the college stay up  to date with current information, so we can support our community in the best way.

 

I approach my doula role in the same way that I approach all facets of my life, by bringing a strong sense of commitment, compassion, good humour, and informed knowledge.

Jacki Haywood

Lead Educator

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Jacki began working with pregnant women as a volunteer for ‘Pregnancy Support’ in the 1980’s. As her family grew so did her belief that support through pregnancy, birth and beyond was imperative to informed choice, mental health and parenting with purpose. 

 

When Jacki discovered the world of Doulas and their role in providing education as well as physical and emotional support to pregnant women and their families she knew she has found her calling. Jacki signed up to complete her Doula training and after supporting several clients through their births decided that she wanted to further her ability to teach and undertook the ‘Childbirth Educators Course’ offered by the Australian Doula College (ADC). The completion of this course saw Jacki being offered the role of face to face educator in the Sydney branch of the ADC.

 

In 2017 Jacki completed her Diploma of Nursing which brought further awareness to her role as educator as she gained experience of working within the hospital system and all this implied for birthing women. 

 

Jacki is currently the Lead Educator at the ADC with more than 12 years experience of teaching both face to face and via distance education. She lives in Brisbane with her super supportive husband and 4 of her 8 children and feels blessed to work within an industry that nurtures, nourishes and supports.

Gaby Rodgers

Educator

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When a friend asked Gaby to be a support person for her and her husband for their first child’s birth in 1991 her passion was ignited. Gaby has five beautiful children and because all her births were so different (hospital, medicated and natural) she feels that she can offer a lot to expectant mothers and their partner with her patience, flexibility, guidance and full individual attention.

Gaby is passionate about helping, nurturing, educating and guiding women in birth so that they can have the birth THEY want. Providing enough information to the expecting mum and their partner so that they can make informed choices is central to Gaby’s philosophy on childbirth. She believes when you are fully informed you can take a more active role in the decision-making regarding the birth of your child.

Gaby studied to be a Doula with Birth Central in 2004 and qualified as a certified Doula in 2005. She then studied to become a Childbirth Educator and Postnatal Doula with the Australian Doula College in 2006 and is now teaching at the College in Sydney.

Deborah Nolan

Groundwork Program Manager and Accounts

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Deb began her journey with the Australian Doula College in 2018 on the Groundwork program. At the time, as a mother of a 3 year old and a 7 month old herself, Deb understood the need for support and attention, that all Mothers and their babies require postpartum and saw that these vulnerable members of our community were especially in need of the ADC’s wealth of knowledge and their specialised approach to motherhood.

 

The following year Deb was welcomed into the college in the capacity as the Events Co-Ordinator, but soon her ability and attention to detail, saw her move into all things Accounts and finance.

 

4 years on, with three beautiful children and 2 fur babies, she is still the accounts mistress, as well as becoming the Groundwork Program Manager in 2022.

 

Her dedication to help guide, educate and nurture the families involved in the Groundwork Program, as well as support the College graduates working within it, sees her tirelessly cultivating relationships with government and private agencies to meet the needs of these mums and bubs.

 

Outside of work, located on the beautiful south coast of Wollongong, there is nothing she likes more than spending time with her husband, family and friends …except for maybe, 15 minutes of alone time where her love of plants and gardening, will find her nourishing her soul, cultivating new growth and beauty.

Josephine Hipwell 

Media and Events Coordinator

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Josie has a colourful background in terms of where her work has taken her. She’s dabbled in graphic design, hospitality, IT, finance and local government to name a few. When she isn’t working she is undertaking her latest creative project, cooking, outside in nature, enjoying time with family and friends with good food and definitely a boogie. In her you’ll find a bit of an old soul that loves to be busy but is learning to love to be slow. A person who has reverence for life and for death and understands the value and power of human connection. 

 

She came to doula work after having her own children and being completely in awe and amazed by birth and motherhood; but also found postpartum difficult. Having had two of her own life changing and beautiful births, she was perplexed when this wasn’t the story she was hearing from many of those close to her. Conversely she kept hearing many stories of people struggling in motherhood and it just seemed like a problem that she wanted to be part of the solution for. 

 

She is passionate about all people having access to individualised maternity care, continuity of care and evidence based information. She hopes to continue to share with all who she meets how essential it is that we improve the way in which we care for and support women and birthing people in pregnancy and beyond; because the rite of passage of matrescence is at the centre of the family and therefore the centre of community.

 

Josie is currently the Media and Events Coordinator, behind the scenes she manages our Instagram, Facebook and is the go to for all of the College’s events and bookings and feels very grateful to be working with a talented team doing epic work in service of others.

Stevie Norris

Administration Support

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My name is Stevie and I was born and raised in the Illawarra. I currently reside in the lovely Northern Suburbs of Wollongong with my partner, two children, and two step children. As a student doula with the ADC, I am deeply passionate about supporting women and their families throughout pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

My personal experience of becoming a single mother with two young children, and the support I received from my community during that transition, inspired me to give back and provide support to other women in their journey to motherhood.

With a rich background in hospitality management, I have had the privilege of traveling across Australia for various challenging and rewarding roles, including memorable stints in Ulluru and Manly Beach. Throughout my 15-year career in the industry, I have had the pleasure of assisting brides on their special day, organizing and managing high-energy nightclub events, collaborating with renowned chefs, and connecting with people over drinks in country pubs.

Now that my children have started school, I am working in a supportive role at the ADC, where I have the pleasure of working alongside incredible and compassionate women. It brings me immense joy and hope for the future to be part of a team that is dedicated to helping birthing women and their families.

During my free time, I enjoy going to the beach to unwind, discovering new restaurants with my partner, planning vacations for my bucket list, spending time with friends, and baking with my children.

Ellie Knox

Doula Services Support

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Hi, I'm Ellie, a passionate and dedicated birth and postpartum doula based in Geelong, Victoria.  

 

When I'm not immersed in the world of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and motherhood, you can find me enjoying my love of coffee, cherishing moments spent with friends and family, enjoying connections with new people, or hitting the gym to nurture my physical and mental well-being. My sister holds a special place in my heart and is my whole damn village of support. Her unwavering love and encouragement have been instrumental in shaping the person I am today.

 

My journey began in a small country town where I learned the value of community and the importance of nurturing relationships. At the age of 18, I headed out into the wide world to take on a new adventure working as a lifeguard, swim teacher, and camp counsellor at a New Jersey, America based children's summer camp. This experience taught me the significance of trust, compassion and the transformative power of support.

 

Delving headfirst into the word of numbers and analytics, I studied and completed a degree in Accounting. Although this career path provided some valuable skills, I was fuelled with a desire for exploration and stepping outside of my comfort zone, leading me into a backpacking journey through South America. Ultimately, I found myself in London where I had the privilege of working at head office for renowned brands such as Aesop, Burberry and Gordon Ramsay.

 

My travels across over 40 countries in Europe, Asia, Central & South America have given me the opportunity to witness the strength and resilience of women across the globe. I believe these experiences have deepened my understanding of the diverse needs and nuances surrounding pregnancy, birth, postpartum and motherhood.

 

Becoming a mother of two children truly ignited a flame within me and while each pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience was so different, they both opened my eyes to the incredible need for support during such a transformative time. 

 

I’ve noticed that motherhood has prompted an evolution in my values, beliefs and emotions and I was lead to question my career path and dig deep to discover what my true passions were.  It quickly became clear to me that I was driven by the belief that pregnancy, birth and postpartum is not just about bringing new life into the world but also about birthing new possibilities within ourselves. 

​Working alongside extraordinary colleagues at the Australian Doula College, who hold deep appreciation for the importance of mutual support and extend it not only to each other but also to countless others, is an immense privilege.

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