About Us

A wonderful national movement that is enhancing so many symbiotic human/ animal partnerships that produce enormous benefits.

On 20 November 2014, Animal Therapies Ltd director Wendy Coombe went to work like any other day as a senior manager for a large ASX-listed corporation. However, that afternoon – with no memory of how she got home – her life took a dramatic turn. A critical path for Wendy’s recovery came in the form of an Assistance Dog called Jack.

The wide-reaching therapeutic benefits of  animal-assisted services are now well documented, but Wendy’s personal experience identified some major gaps in the sector within Australia.

Until now, there has been no national organisation advancing health through animal-assisted services as a whole.

Animal Therapies Ltd, a registered Health Promotion Charity, was established on 21 February 2018. It offers an impartial lens creating linkages, partnerships and joint initiatives between recipients, the private, public, education & community sectors.

OUR PURPOSE    Advancing the understanding, acceptance and accessibility of animal-assisted services for those suffering trauma, disability and adversity.

OUR VISION is to become Australia’s leading institution for promoting the prevention and management of mental illness, disability, disease and human suffering using animal-assisted services.           


  • Transparency
  • Health
  • Equality
  • Respect
  • Animals
  • Partnership
  • Yielding Positive Outcomes.

” The Animal Therapies Ltd conference was a most professional, engaging and collegiate experience.  I learnt a great deal, and am delighted to be part of this most important and developing area of care for others.”

Our Board Members

Brian Zanker

Brian has 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry, providing strong leadership over the course of his career. He is currently Chair of the NSW State Executive at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) & has an extensive network of corporate relationships throughout Australia.’

Wendy Coombe

Wendy is Director of Training For Success (Aust) Pty Ltd and is passionate about helping individuals and businesses achieve their goals. Wendy and has held board roles and senior management positions across a number of industries, including CEO of a not-for-profit business advisory service which held contracts with the government.

View Wendy’s Resume

Alex Gerrick
Director - Post Traumatic Stress

In March 2018, Alex completed a successful 30 years career in the federal public sector, working in agencies such as the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Workplace Relations and the Department of Defence. Alex was selected for the Senior Executive Service within the Department of Veterans Affairs in early 2012.
Alex joined FearLess as CEO in October 2018 and was responsible for delivering its first National Conversation on Post Traumatic Stress in August 2019.

Julia Weber

Julia has always dedicated herself to contributing to the community, with the publication of her self-help book for teenage girls at age 14, anti-bullying campaigning throughout her high school years and becoming a financial literacy ambassador at university. Her work in the financial literacy space saw her nominated for NSW Young Woman of the Year in 2020. Currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Bachelor of Business (Leadership and Management) at the University of Newcastle, her dream career is to advocate for disadvantaged Australians. Julia is also part of the Information Technology team at Newcastle Permanent Building Society.

Ric Lamont
Director - Digital

Ric is a startup and strategy professional who brings deep technical and commercial expertise to the board. Ric is responsible for guidance and oversight of the National Register which will connect those in need with animal-assisted services. Ric will also oversee the continued development of the ATL website.

View Ric’s LinkedIn

Scott Charaneka
Company Secretary - Legal Counsel

Scott has comprehensive experience in governance. He presently acts for many of Australia’s largest private and public sector institutions. Scott has previously worked as an in-house counsel at Legal & General and ING, is a regular speaker at conferences, has designed key training programs for boards and responsible managers and has received a number of awards.

View Scott’s LinkedIn

Jo Salgao
Public Officer

Jo joins with over 20 years’ experience supporting C-suite executives and boards across the Mining, IT and Financial Services industries. She looks forward to bringing her skills in project management to Animal Therapies Limited to aid in connecting animals and humans.


Dr Janette Young
Director - Health Promotion Policy / SA Co-chair

Janette is a researcher at the University of South Australia whose research focuses on the intersections of human health and animal lives in particular companion animals. She has had a varied career starting out as a Social Worker in community aged care, then policy and planning work and then academia.

Dr Susan Hazel
Director - Animal Wellbeing

Susan is Program Coordinator for the BSc(Animal Behaviour) degree at the University of Adelaide teaching animal behaviour, welfare and ethics. Susan is also a Board Member of the Dog & Cat Management Board of South Australia, RSPCA South Australia, and the South Australian Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. She engages internationally through membership of the Animal Wellness and Welfare group of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and as a Scientific Advisor for the Centre Companion Animal Welfare at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Associate Professor Carlie Driscoll
Director - National Standards

Carlie Driscoll is an Associate Professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland, where she teaches in Audiology. Currently, she is a Director of the UQ Animal-Assisted Interventions Alliance, a multi-disciplinary research organisation that investigates the unique effects of animal-assisted services.

Cheri Allanby
TAS Chair

True Trails supplies Equine Assisted Learning programs in the Australian Core Skills: Numeracy, Literacy, Learning, Communication and also Work Readiness. True Trails’ programs utilise horsemanship and hippotherapy as motivational means.

Dr Tiffani Howell
Vic Chair

Dr Tiffani Howell is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University. She is currently co-leading a trial, funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, to understand the effectiveness of assistance dogs as an adjunct to treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress.

Claire Dickson

Claire Dickson is an Occupational Therapist at Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA) based in Engadine, NSW. ADA offers occupational therapy and animal assisted therapy, alongside its core operation of training and placing assistance dogs.

Jay Anderson
WA Chair

Registered Counsellor, Psychologist and Play Therapist, Jay and her dog have a close connection that provides therapeutic benefits to others. Jay’s extensive experience in child protection involved working with children who experienced trauma.

Hannah Taino-Spick
NT Chair

Hannah is a canine-assisted social worker researching ADF veterans entering higher education after discharge. Hannah holds a Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying), with studies in Gender Studies, Mental Health Practice, International and Community Development and studies in Management. Hannah is also a lecturer in the Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) at Charles Darwin

Dr Jess Hill
QLD Chair

Jess is a paediatric occupational therapist who has worked with her three therapy dogs for the past six years. Jess recently completed her PhD at the University of Queensland exploring the efficacy of canine-assisted occupational therapy with autistic children and has public in a number of different journals. Jess is the co-owner of Therapy Dogs Australia.

Candy Gibson
Podcast Creator

Candy Gibson joined UniSA’s news and media team in August 2017 after a four year stint as a senior media officer at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), one of the highest ranked universities in the world. Prior to that Candy worked in the press team at the University of Adelaide for seven years following a career as a print media journalist, editor and publisher.