Epilepsy WA welcomes new CEO   
  Epilepsy WA has announced the appointment of   Emma Buitendag as its new Chief Executive   Officer.   

Mrs Emma Buitendag EMFIA, MICDA has more than 15 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector and has held a number of senior executive and management roles at   Alzheimer’s Australia WA, The Disabilities Trust, Epilepsy QLD and HEART UK.  Epilepsy WA President Deborah Martens said the organisation was delighted to have appointed Mrs Buitendag to this important role as it continues striving to improve the quality of life of people living with epilepsy in WA.  “Emma has a reputation of achieving positive outcomes in the organisations she been involved with and her capacity to work collaboratively with various stakeholders will be a vital asset to Epilepsy WA,” Ms Martens said.  “The Board and I are looking forward to working with her to raise community awareness of epilepsy, reduce stigma and provide a network of support groups." Mrs Buitendag said she was honoured and humbled to be leading an organisation that is making a difference for people living with epilepsy, their carers and families.  “I am excited to be working with the Board and my colleagues, consumers and other partners to deliver programs, services and advocacy for people impacted by epilepsy,” she said. “Epilepsy WA has been at the forefront in ensuring West Australians with epilepsy can live without fear and discrimination and I am committed to carrying on this good work.”


Our Board of Management, elected at the Annual General Meeting for 2016/17 is:

President: Deborah Martens

Vice-President: Andrew Crean

Committee Members: Catherine Harrison
Harriet Chan
Peter Kilkenny
Grace Dunn
Claire Meiklejohn
Mark MacLeod

Dr Catherine Harrison

Deborah Martens

Deborah Martens is a Chartered Accountant; has been in public practice for over 25 years and currently is a Director of Blue Ink Accounting Pty Ltd based in Subiaco, Western Australia.  Deborah specialises in Taxation and Business Advisory Services providing advice to a wide range of private enterprises.  Business management, restructuring  and strategy are areas of special interest.  Deborah joins the board of Epilepsy W.A. as a supporter of people with Epilepsy.

Andrew Crean

Andrew Crean is an experienced corporate and commercial lawyer based in Perth, Western Australia. Currently a Special Counsel in the Corporate Advisory group at Mills Oakley, Andrew’s professional experience includes 10 years at an international law firm, plus policy, regulatory & litigation experience derived from roles with the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department, and the Takeovers Panel executive.  In addition to his corporate and commercial work, Andrew regularly provides pro bono legal services to incorporated associations and not for profit organisations, and also presents on topics in his field of expertise in Perth, both for specific client engagements and at industry conferences and seminars.
Andrew joins the board of Epilepsy W.A. as a parent experiencing the day to day wonders and challenges of a child with epilepsy.

Mark Macleod

Mark is a family man, 58 years old, a member of the Securities Institute of Australia and has been a financial planner and stockbroker for 26 years, the last thirteen with Patersons Securities Limited.

He plays golf at Mosman Park and tennis regularly at a local club, enjoys an active social life and has a reasonably healthy attendance record at a local gym.

Mark has been on the Board of the Epilepsy Association since 2000, President for the past three years and in that time has seen the organization become not only financially viable, but also increase its profile to the point we are now receiving some financial assistance from the State government. He is very keen to ensure the Association continues as an effective voice for those living with epilepsy and maintains its independence as a state body to ensure there is a focus on local issues.

Peter Kilkenny

Peter has been in Real Estate since 2001, is a Licensed Agent and has his own Real Estate business in High Wycombe.

Peter had a Brain Aneurism in 1998 which caused a major trauma and turning point in his life. He ended up with Epilepsy from the brain operation. He joined an Epilepsy Support Group in 2000, through which he achieved considerable benefit and was able to help others around him. He realised that he wasn’t on his own with this condition that nobody understands or wants to talk about, and least of all, admit that they’ve got it.

Peter decided he wanted to do more after four years in the support group, so he filled in an application to become a Board Member. He remains a Support Group Member and continues to help people with this condition. He sees Epilepsy as a condition that we need to educate and make more people aware of, which we can only do by talking about it.

Harriet Chan

MSc Medical Neuroscience GDipEd Cert IV WTA
PG Cert Neuroscience Nursing B.nurs

Harriet is a health professional with enormous passion in neurosciences health management. She has held positions including clinical nurse specialist, clinical nurse consultant and educator, and university lecturer postgraduate neuroscience programs within Western Australia; in addition to clinical and teaching work Harriet has delivered a number of blended neuro education programs to neuroscience nurses in Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and Indonesia; and has a number of published research papers in international nursing journals.

Harriet, being called the “neuro guru” by all her colleagues, was allured by Kathy McCoy the Executive Director to the Neurological Council of Western Australia, where Harriet now works as a Workforce Development Consultant. In this role Harriet provides a consultation service in education and development to the NeuroCare Program interprofessional team and also the neurological community at large.

Harriet has professional affiliation with the Stroke Society of Australasia, Epilepsy Society of Australia, Australasian Neuroscience Nurses Association, Multiple Sclerosis Nurses Australasia, Community neurological Nurses network, World Federation of Neuroscience Nurses and International organisation of MS Nurses.

As a board member of the EAWA Harriet aspires to support the work of the Association in helping people to overcome challenges created by epilepsy.

Dr Catherine Harrison

Catherine is a U.W.A medical graduate (MBBS 1994) who retired from medical practice to care for her three children, one of whom has epilepsy. She worked mainly in psychiatry and palliative care and completed a Diploma of Gestalt Therapy (Gestalt Therapy Australia 2001).

Catherine joins the board of Epilepsy W.A. as a mother experiencing the day to day difficulties of a child with unstable epilepsy in a community where she has trained and worked in medicine. Her hope is that being on the board will help facilitate understanding and communication between patients, their families, and the professionals which treat them.

Grace Dunn

Grace is a part-time student but wanted to become involved with the Epilepsy Association because epilepsy is a BIG part of her life.  

She was diagnosed when she was fourteen and has been living and coping with the condition for the last 15 years. She studies, a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Arts and her background is in the arts, theatre and facilitation. Her experience in facilitating is in personal development and promoting awareness for young people. When working in facilitation in peer education forum theatre projects, she has been able to engage with a variety of people in the community. That key engagement (with a peer community) that Grace believes is necessary for people that live with epilepsy, was missed during her youth. Grace hopes that her background in community development and her personal experience with her own health will help further establish the support, needs and community that many with epilepsy require.

Claire Meiklejohn

Claire recently joined the Board as Secretary.  

Claire is a part time Secondary School Business teacher and full time mum.  Her special interest is supporting at risk youth, especially those who are reengaging in school and finding alternate models of education to meet their individual and varied needs.  Claire has extensive experience in volunteering, both in her four children’s schools and with vulnerable children and young adults in Perth and Jakarta, Indonesia. 

Claire grew up on a farm 55km from Esperance before studying in Perth. Living in the Pilbara, interstate and overseas means she is keenly aware of the difficulties of accessing health care in regional and remote areas.

Having her teenage son recently diagnosed with Epilepsy has meant a heightened awareness of the needs of young adults with this condition and the complex challenges they face.  As a teacher, her strong focus is on Epilepsy education programmes and continuing to build relevant support networks for those in need in all areas of WA.

Who We Are:

Epilepsy WA is run by a committee of volunteers (details above) who are elected as office bearers annually. Epilepsy WA has a seat on the Board of Epilepsy Australia, the national coalition of state epilepsy associations. 

Epilepsy WA is an associate member of the Neurological Council of WA, a group of organisations who work together to provide greater understanding of neurological disorders.

All our volunteers are motivated by improving outcomes for people living with epilepsy. As a not for profit organisation, Epilepsy WA is seeking to enhancing the wider community's understanding of the condition, to fight against stigma and discrimination and improve seizure management confidence.  

Our Mission:

We are committed to providing support to improve the quality of life of people with epilepsy and increase community awareness of the condition.

What we do:

Support Groups: We coordinate monthly meetings in various areas, to support people living with epilepsy. Details are available on our website

Information Seminars: We organise regular seminars for our community with expert speakers  including doctors, health care professionals and other service providers, to share the latest information on epilepsy, treatments, and other relevant topics.

Resources:  Epilepsy WA is able to provide links to many resources, that help people with epilepsy cope with the day to day challenges of the condition. For information, please contact our office or visit our website.

Library: We have a library of books and videos that may be accessed at our office. Our borrowing service is available to members free of charge.

How We  Conquering EpilepsyStarted

Our first meeting was held at Royal Perth Hospital in 1963.  The organiser, Ruby Hutchinson, MLC, called that meeting "to fight discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities.” Our name has changed from the West Australian Epilepsy Association and Ruby is now deceased, but that vision continues undiminished today.

We have grown since that first meeting. We moved to 14 Bagot Road, Subiaco in 1965, and we changed our name to the Epilepsy Association of Western Australia (Inc), (EAWA) in 1998. We moved into our present location adjacent to Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital at the corner of Aberdare Road and Hospital Avenue, Nedlands in June 2002. We share this location, known as the Centre for Neurological Support – The Niche with 14 other neurologically based organisations, the Independent Living Centre (ILC) and Cystic Fibrosis.


Lisa Scaffidi

The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor 
Lisa M. Scaffidi 

Lord Mayor of Perth

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