2018 Patient Experience Symposium


The Agency for Clinical Innovation, Clinical Excellence Commission, Health Education and Training Institute, Bureau of Health Information, Cancer Institute NSW, eHealth NSW, the Ministry of Health’s Mental Health Branch and Health and Social Policy Branch are pleased to include the following Plenary Speakers at the 2018 Patient Experience Symposium.



Luke Escombe is an award-winning songwriter, musician and comedian who has turned his 25 years of living with Crohn’s disease into inspiration for his art.

Luke’s breakthrough as a writer/performer came in 2011 with his one-man show “Chronic”, which combined multiple music styles with candid stand-up comedy about his many hospital stays. It was Luke’s ticket to festivals all over Australia, and led to him becoming an ambassador for Crohn’s and Colitis Australia.

The follow-up to “Chronic” was a show called “The Vegetable Plot”, which premiered at the 2014 Sydney Fringe. After years of speaking about illness, The Vegetable Plot was Luke's way of making a fresh start - a roots music show for kids, families, and foodies with an emphasis on having fun and being healthy. It won the award for the Best Kid’s show at the festival and has since played at major events all around the country, including at the Sydney Opera House and Splendour in the Grass.

Luke has spoken for three years in a row at Parliament House in Canberra, as well as at the New Zealand National Museum in Wellington, the 2012 and 2014 National Medicines Symposiums, the 2013 Pharmacy Australia Congress, and at conferences, workshops, support groups, Medicare Locals and training seminars across the country. 2017 saw him crossing the Pacific for the first time, speaking at events in Chicago and Miami and receiving standing ovations at both. His work was recognised at the end of the year by WEGO Health, who named him as the winner of their 2017 “Hilarious Patient Leader” award.

He was once described by John Shand in the Sydney Morning Herald as a “rock-soul singer, raconteur, blistering blues guitarist, comedian and songwriter...and very good at them all”, and is most often described by himself as the Mick Jagger of inflammatory bowel disease.

Luke Escombe lives on Sydney’s northern beaches with his wife and son.



Jessica Rowe’s passion for news and current affairs has seen her become one of Australia’s best-known TV presenters and admired by viewers for her warm, down-to-earth manner and infectious laugh.

Jessica is co-host on Network Ten’s morning chat show Studio 10 alongside Ita Buttrose, Sarah Harris, Dennis Drysdale and Joe Hildebrand. The show was recently heralded by TVTonight readers as the best morning TV show in 2016. Co-hosting Studio 10 marked Jessica return to Network Ten after eight years, where she was the news presenter on First At Five for ten years.

Prior to returning to Network Ten, Jessica was news anchor on Weekend Sunrise on the Seven Network and was co-host of The Today Show on the Nine Network. She has also competed on Dancing with the Stars in 2007.

Jessica began her journalism career in 1993 after graduating from Charles Sturt University with a degree in Communications. She has also studied at Sydney University, achieving a Masters of International Studies.

Jessica is also a published author. In August 2015 Jessica released her insightful and inspiring memoir Is This My Beautiful Life? (Allen & Unwin), which has proven to be a bestseller and is now in reprint. Jessica co-authored her first book with her mother, Penelope Rowe, titled The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times, an account of their family’s experience living with Penelope’s bipolar disorder. Her second book, the bestselling Love, Wisdom, Motherhood, reveals the struggles, joys and heartache of motherhood through the account of eleven women.

In December 2016 Jessica signed with Fairfax Media as a new weekly columnist for Sunday Life Magazine. Every week Jessica responds to readers' dilemmas in her column Dear Jess. Jessica also has her own website, craphousewife.com, where she shares all her amusing tales and misadventures of being a working mum and a terrible cook. Launched in June 2017, craphousewife.com is an extension of Jessica's hilarious posts on her social channels where she has gained a strong and loyal social following with her using #craphousewife.

Aside from news and current affairs, Jessica has made an indelible mark on Australian society with her advocacy work for mental health. She is a patron for the Mental Health Council of Australia, Mum4Mum, an ambassador for beyondblue, an ambassador for Camp Kookaburra and Welcome To Australia (an organisation assisting refugee families in Australia), a board member of the George Gregan Foundation, a member of the IVF Australia Ethics Committee and is involved with the Exodus Foundation and Community Brave (a campaign supporting bullied youths).

All of Jessica’s philanthropic endeavours saw her receive an Order of Australia for her work in mental health advocacy at the Australia Day honours in 2015.

In her personal life, Jessica is married to Nine News reader and 60 Minutes reporter Peter Overton. Together, they have two beautiful young daughters, Allegra and Giselle.




Doris was born and raised in Geelong, Victoria. She was educated at Monash University and began her career as a secondary school teacher.

In 1980, Doris' two month old daughter Claire died as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) - this became a life and career changing event.

Together with the local Coroner's department, Doris established a support system for bereaved parents and became a Home Visitor to all SIDS families in the Geelong region. This lead to a long involvement with the Melbourne based Sudden Infant Death Research Foundation where Doris was amongst the original volunteers who helped to launch Red Nose Day in Australia. During this time, she was awarded the Mrs Victoria Community Achievement Award (1987) for her services to bereaved families and SIDS awareness.

Doris wrote her first book on the subject of teenagers and grief in 1990 and this began a public speaking career around Australia and New Zealand. She now has seven books published and her best-selling book on empathy, Stuck For Words – what to say to someone who is grieving, is Doris’ most requested topic for professional training and development.

In 1994, Doris was employed by an American-based funeral company Service Corporation International (SCI) as National Training Manager for Australia and was also sent to the US and the UK to train funeral directors. SCI was the forerunner of InvoCare – Australasia’s largest operator of funeral companies, cemeteries and crematoria.

Still currently employed at InvoCare, Doris now holds the position of General Manager for Operational Projects. One such project saw her recently develop Australia’s first dedicated grief information website mygriefassist.com.au which focusses on a contemporary view of grief with a variety of free resources.

Today, she is widely known and respected throughout the funeral profession as a trainer and educator and is a Past President of the Australian Funeral Directors Association - Queensland Division. She spends much of her time travelling Australia presenting grief seminars for health professionals, corporate organisations and the wider community. She communicates a compelling message with a blend of humour, honesty, empathy and passion for her field.



Joe Williams is a Wiradjuri, 1st Nations Aboriginal man born in Cowra, raised in Wagga NSW having lived a 15 year span as a professional sports person. Joe played in the National Rugby League for South Sydney Rabbitohs, Penrith Panthers and Canterbury Bulldogs before switching to professional Boxing in 2009. As a boxer Joe was a 2x WBF World Jnr Welterweight champion and also won the WBC Asia Continental Title.

Although forging a successful professional sporting career, Joe battled the majority of his life with suicidal ideation and Bi Polar Disorder. After a suicide attempt in 2012, Joe felt his purpose was to help people who struggle with mental illness. Joe is also an author having contributed to the book "Transformation; Turning Tragedy Into Triumph" & his very own autobiography titled "Defying The Enemy Within" which will be released in February 2018.

Joe was recently named as finalist for the Courage Award in the 2017 National Indigenous Human Rights Awards


more keynote speakers coming soon.....