About Us

Locals helping people affected by cancer

COUCH (The Cairns Organisation United for Cancer Health) is a purpose-driven organisation dedicated to supporting individuals and families impacted by cancer. Through generous donations and fundraising efforts, we continue to fuel integrated oncology and wellness services at the COUCH Cancer Wellness Centre. These evidence-based programs aim to alleviate cancer treatment side effects and enhance overall well-being, benefiting over 3,300 individuals in the last six months alone.
Founded in 2006 by Charles and Pip Woodward, COUCH was inspired by the fight for improved oncology services in Far North Queensland led by Cairns resident Liz Plummer. Our commitment is to bridge the gap in cancer support services for patients and families in our region. The lack of local oncology services has caused undue hardship, often forcing Far North Queensland residents to seek treatment in other cities. COUCH's advocacy efforts resulted in Cairns receiving radiation oncology services five years earlier than planned in 2010. The unwavering dedication and contributions of our volunteers, staff, and contractors are indispensable to our success. While achieving this milestone, our vision persisted. With support from the Federal Government and local community, we proudly launched the $3 million COUCH Wellness Centre in May 2019.

Today, our mission endures - to advocate for enhanced cancer services in Far North Queensland.

Join us in exploring the COUCH Year In Review, showcasing the collective impact, and comprehensive support we have received and provided for our clients and their families. We remain steadfast in our commitment to making a difference in the lives of those impacted by cancer.

Our Directors

Dr Scott Davis
Chair since November 2022
Director since January 2022

Dr Davis is an experienced CEO, Director, Health, and Regional Development Leader, having worked in complex cultural, political, and commercial environments, in Northern Australia, the Pacific, and Asia over the last 25 years. Dr Davis has held leadership roles in health service management, higher education, and vocational training sectors.  This has enabled Dr Davis to develop a reputation as a commercially astute, values driven leader who delivers in partnership with communities and industry.

In 2016, Dr Davis was commissioned by Mission Australia to author “The State of the Children Report: Cairns South and Yarrabah”. The report was endorsed by Government and enabled funding to be focussed on areas of need, drive social and economic development within the regions, and provided a baseline to measure outcomes. The report has also been leveraged to increase investment and improve the coordination of services to meet the needs of children.

Dr Davis was appointed Non-Executive Director of the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) in May 2016, then appointed Deputy Chair in October 2019. The TCHHS is one of Australia’s largest providers of health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples. Board governance is one area of expertise, with Dr Davis involved in numerous Boards over many years, across different sectors.  

Dr Davis went to school in Tully, and then University in Brisbane and Sydney, and returned to FNQ with his partner Tony 12 years ago after living away for many years. He and Tony love to sail, and have strong ties with the local community and are active in a range of community organisations.

“COUCH has an important role in supporting people and their families and careers recovering and living with cancer. Based on the belief that community coming together can take action where government often struggles. It was an honour to be nominated to the role of Chair, and privilege to be able to serve my community in this way.”

Vanessa Maruna
Deputy Chair
Director since 2020

Vanessa holds dual qualifications in law and town planning and is a partner of national law firm Holding Redlich.

Vanessa has managed the firm's regional Planning, Environment & Sustainability Practice since 2018 and become the national practice leader in 2021. 

Prior to joining Holding Redlich, Vanessa was the Managing Director of a Cairns base law firm and town planning practice. Vanessa has experience working on large scale master planned projects and has acted for local government, state government agencies, developers and publicly listed companies providing town planning and legal advice on a large range of matters in Queensland. 

Vanessa is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Company Directors Course. Vanessa is also the Deputy Chair of Ports North, the Chair of the Ports North Human Resources Committee, a former Chair of the Board of the JUTE Theatre Company and has served a number of not for profit boards. 

"I am passionate about regional Queensland and particularly the local community where I live and work. Regional cities such as Cairns face a number of challenges not even imagined by their city peers including a lack of resources, infrastructure and access to quality health services for people living with Cancer. It's a privilege to work with the COUCH Board and staff in supporting local people and providing a much needed local service." 

Vicky Johnston
Treasurer since 2019

Vicky is a Chartered Accountant with over 15 years experience in healthcare management and is passionate about healthcare and in ensuring that people have quality healthcare choices available to them within their community.

Vicky is the Executive Commercial Manager of the Ramsay Cairns Private Hospital group and is highly experienced in financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting, and cash flow management. 

Vicky has held previous leadership roles in not for profit organisations including the Cairns Regional General Manager of Holy Spirit Care Service and oversaw the contruction and commissioning of an 86-bed residential aged care facility and 52 independent retirement living units. Vicky also held the position of Chief Financial Officer for the Northern Queensland Primary Healthcare Network and was responsible for the commercial compliance and acquittal of Commonwealth primary healthcare funding contracts. 

“I have a passion for contributing to community based organisations that are committed to improving the community that we live in. As a local charity, COUCH has achieved significant improvement for the Cairns community and I am honoured to be a part of its future.”

Michael Woodward
Secretary since 2014

Michael Woodward was born in Cairns as the eldest son of Pip and Charles Woodward, the founders of COUCH, as well as the iconic CaPTA Group of tourism companies. Michael attended the University of Queensland where he completed a Bachelor of Commerce.

Michael has worked within the family business for over 22 years. He started his career as the group accountant and moved into various management roles for the business. One of his favourite projects was overseeing the construction and implementation of the Cairns ZOOM attraction.

After the success of the Cairns ZOOM project, Michael was promoted to his current role operations and projects director for the CaPTA Group.

Prior to joining the COUCH committee, Michael worked in a wide variety of roles within multiple committees. Within the COUCH committee, Michael is the secretary, chairs the Events and Fundraising Sub-committee, and sits on the Risk, Finance and Governance Sub-committee.

Michael resides in Cairns with his wife Darlene, and two spoilt rescue dogs, Theo and Mya. He is passionate about engaging with the community, which is a trait Michael has inherited from his parents.   

“Since becoming part of the COUCH committee, I have come to appreciate the immense efforts of this and previous committees. I am extremely proud of the efforts Mum and Dad have put in to lay the groundwork for the organisation COUCH is today, and look forward to contributing to COUCH’s continuing success. I am particularly excited by the events and fundraising aspect of my role, as COUCH has a history of attracting entertaining, motivating and inspiring people.”

Toni Sisson
Director since June 2023

Toni is currently a project manager for Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) and has responsibility for the accreditation of all Primary Health Care Centres within the HHS. Prior to this, Toni worked in cancer care in Australia and the UK before joining Radiation Oncology Queensland (ROQ) – now part of Icon Group.  She was instrumental in establishing cancer care centres in Toowoomba and then discovered the lure of Cairns when she led the team opening Radiation Therapy Services at the Liz Plummer Cancer Centre.

Toni went on to oversee the strategic development, design, construction and operational commissioning services of multiple cancer centres both domestically and internationally.  She led the team at Icon Group to become the first Australian Healthcare company to enter the Chinese market.

Originally from Mackay, Toni is a passionate supporter for regional Australia and delivering outcomes to those outside the metropolitan centres. Both professionally and personally, she understands the importance of services such as COUCH for cancer patients in regional settings.

Toni has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Radiation Therapy and a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Project Management.

Daniel Hughes
Director since June 2023

Daniel is an experienced CEO and director, with over 15 years in sports management and the tourism industry that followed a career in defence. Currently the Group CEO of AJ Hackett International, Daniel is skilled in leading diverse teams in international business, developing and executing strategic plans, and creating innovative and memorable experiences for customers.

Daniel enjoys new challenges and connecting with people in business and the community. His experience in business, management consulting and work growing community focused clubs have required strategic planning, a high level of accountability and demanded efficient organisation skills. 

Daniel is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors 'Company Director Course' and holds a Master of Applied Finance.

Community focused organisations are the backbone of a healthy society and it's a privilege to make a contribution to COUCH. The organisation and the amazing COUCH team are an inspiration, creating a positive impact, a sense of belonging, and a long lasting legacy of kindness.

Bill Davidson
Director since 2020

Bill is one of Australia’s most experienced service industry professionals. Bill has been in the forefront of outsourced service contracts, and has managed significant service providers both within Australia and overseas. He has been the CEO of Public companies, Private companies, and Social Enterprises, and remains committed to working in a collaborative manner with all stakeholders as a key component of achieving successful outcomes.

Bill was appointed as CEO of Worklink Group in April 2018. Worklink delivers Mental Health Services to clients in Cairns and surrounding locations in Far North Queensland and has been a leader in this field for over 20 years. Worklink also operates a number of Social Businesses offering employment and opportunity as appropriate.

Bill was previously Managing Director of Australian Hearing from October 2013 to April 2018, an International Leader in the delivery of Research and Services to those hearing impaired in every community in Australia. Australian Hearing is an organisation with revenue in excess of $260m and servicing well over 800 locations, from permanent sites to visiting sites, across Australia.

“I am drawn to people and organisations that are committed to making a positive difference in people's lives, and the COUCH ogranisation, its Board and its wonderful staff have that in spades. I am thrilled to be part of their journey.”


Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre

On 27 June 2011, the Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre welcomed its first patient for treatment.

The opening marked the completion of five years of an unrelenting campaign by COUCH to bring these services to Cairns Hospital, with hundreds of patients who would normally have to travel to Townsville and beyond for treatment now able to receive treatment and care locally. 

The centre was named after Liz Plummer, who shared her cancer journey with the public and crystallised the need for radiation treatment in Cairns.

With the backing of Charles and Pip Woodwood, along with a very motivated committee of people and a wave of momentum from the community of Cairns, the Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre demonstrates what can be achieved when a community truly believes in a concept and a cause.

COUCH and the broader community was devastated when Liz lost her fight with cancer in July 2009. The naming of the centre remains a fitting legacy for Liz and her family.

The Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre, located at Block E at Cairns Hospital, is one of the most modern and contemporary facilities to be offered to patients anywhere in Queensland. The centre is run by Icon Cancer Centre which has established itself as one of the first truly digital radiation oncology facilities in the world.

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