Our People

Our People

Dr Michelle Guerin

Physio (Hons), PhD

I have a curious nature, a thirst for knowledge, and a passion for uncovering the undiscovered; the life-changing, the better way, the innovative… I am a research nut, a highly-efficient problem solver and enthusiastic sharer of knowledge.

I always thought I was going to be a vet. I even began studying Veterinary Science. Then I discovered I preferred working with people more than animals. Physiotherapy became my focus – I graduated with honours in 2004, and worked as a clinician for a number of years. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with clients, and came to appreciate the day-to-day challenges of clinical practice and working within a complex system.

Combining my passion for clinical practice and leadership I continued to stretch myself and explore new opportunities. This included leading a large health service team, building innovative service development options and securing funding. During this time, I also became the first clinical research fellow of the Joanna Briggs Institute, where I developed and reviewed clinical care bundles. This role enabled me to see research implemented into practice, which is very satisfying and fulfilling.

Driven to make a greater impact, I ventured back to University full-time to complete a PhD focusing on Healthcare System Design. This experience enriched my life both professionally and personally. From a professional point of view, I learnt a broad range of research methodologies, and developed a greater appreciation for systems and the inherent complexities within the industry. I also became aware of the power of culture to influence change. On a personal level, I grew to be comfortable with the uncomfortable, to live the conviction of never giving-up, and to realise time is actually a very precious commodity. Within these experiences, the seed of Positive Practice was planted.

In 2010, Positive Practice officially became a business. Esther and I set-out to positively impact the industry, and, little by little, we’re making a big difference to the internal workings of organisations and, just as importantly, the impact they are having on the wider community.

Fuelled by my passion to positively impact the health, community & aged care sector, shape leaders of tomorrow and contribute to the world’s body of knowledge, I also work at the University of South Australia as a tutor and researcher in the School of Health Sciences.

Outside of work, I enjoy studying entrepreneurship, design thinking and disruptions in health. You may also find me in the garden, restoring old furniture or exploring nature. I am a Mum to two beautiful children, Owen and Marley, and married to an amazing man, Dave.

Esther Westra

B.AppSc. (Occ. Therapy)

I am an empathetic ideas person who makes order out of chaos. I’m a listener, observer, analyser and logical thinker. I love innovation, and am passionate about people experiencing better health care.

I graduated Occupational Therapy in The Netherlands. The Dutch Healthcare system embraces person-centred care, trans-disciplinary practice and innovation. After immersing myself in this progressive system, I moved back to Australia with my husband in 2003, bringing my knowledge and experience with me.

My time in The Netherlands shaped and influenced my approach to care, and helped broaden my perspective on what is possible. Returning to Adelaide (the place I grew up), I practiced as clinician, working as part of a multidisciplinary team, across both community and aged care. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and valued the connections I made with people facing all kinds of challenges.

After working as a clinician for a number of years, and undertaking various project roles, I became General Manager of a Health Service. Through this role, I expanded my knowledge and understanding of the complexities (strategic planning, financial management, marketing, human resources, and quality service provision) of managing a large health service.

The time came when I decided to refocus my energies, and pursue health from a research angle. I became part of a research team investigating stroke self-management strategies. The experience reinforced my belief in self-management and added significantly to my knowledge base.

After completing the research, I felt ready to share my skills with businesses and communities across the healthcare sector. Michelle and I combined our experience, knowledge and expertise and launched Positive Practice in 2010. It’s been inspiring and invigorating, we are making a positive impact, and we haven’t looked back.

When I’m not working, you’ll find me in the kitchen baking, reading a book or spending time with my husband, Jonathan, and two sons, Aaron and Jayden. Our sons have additional needs, so in recent years I have become an invested healthcare consumer. It has provided me with a greater appreciation of what it is like to be on the other side of the fence – I truly understand the difference between empathetic and procedural driven healthcare. I am more driven than ever to make a positive contribution, so that more people can access better care.

Join us on the journey.

Putting positive ideas into Positive Practice.

The more people who are informed, the greater the depth of understanding and compassion. The more people who share their ideas, the greater the potential is for change.

Together, we prosper with humanity.