Our Therapeutic Teams

At the Gawler Cancer Foundation we’ve been helping people to reach a new level of wellbeing for over 30 years. We’ve seen hope restored and lives transformed. But who are we?

We’re a highly skilled team of dedicated and passionate therapists. We believe in what we teach at The Gawler Cancer Foundation and we see the difference it makes to the lives of those who walk through our doors. We work as a team to bring the very best educational lifestyle support and services to people faced with life threatening illness’.  We’re also dedicated to building strength and resilience in individuals who are at a cross roads or simply want more out of life.

Program Facilitators & Therapists

Maia Bedson
Therapist Mentor
DipHol Couns, Grad DipCounsHS, Grad DipClinNut

Our zen master. Passionate about food as medicine and sustainable living. Loves spending time creating new recipes and fermenting foods to share with her friends and family.

Maia is a counsellor, meditation instructor, a practitioner of various forms of natural therapies who has worked in the area of energetic healing for over 25 years and has worked at The Gawler Cancer Foundation since 2000. She has a Graduate Diploma in Clinical Nutrition as well as formal qualifications in counselling, psychotherapy and plant-based nutrition with Cornell University. Maia uses her various skills and the experience gained from her own healing to inspire and support others on their path to wholeness and has a particular interest in helping people to access their own inner wisdom.

Expand to learn more about Paul & Maia Bedson's private therapeutic offerings.

Dear Friends,

In these changing times, Maia and I would like to reach out to past participants and thank you for your on-going support to The Gawler Foundation. Our lives have certainly been enriched by the contact that we have had with all the program participants at the Yarra Valley Living Centre’s retreats.

We would also like an opportunity for potential new participants to find and explore on-going courses with us.

Maia and I intend to continue to facilitate meditation and healing retreats as well as Meditation Teachers’ Training programs. After all, this is our calling!

Our on-going programs will be delivered in person, on-line or both.

We are still awaiting more clarity about this, however, our strong intention is to continue.

Maia will also facilitate her twice-monthly Mindfulness-based Stillness Meditation sessions on Zoom – first and third Wednesday of the month.

If you would like to stay in touch and/or express your interest in our on-going programs, you can contact us:

email:- paulandmaia1@gmail.com

Facebook:- Paul Maia Eartheart

Daniel Cerny Mindfulness Retreat Victoria

Daniel Cerny
Senior Therapist / Facilitator
BHSc(Nat), AdvDip(Nut)

Loves using food as a medicine and mindfulness as a basis for wellbeing. Passionate about bringing the best out of people, and helping them to live meaningful lives.

Daniel is a clinical naturopath, nutritionist and herbalist. He is also an experienced restorative yoga teacher, and a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), acceptance commitment (ACT) and mindfulness-integration cognitive behavioural (MiCBT) therapist.

Daniel’s diverse skill set, along with his commitment to an evidence-based approach, imparts a profound therapeutic formula for optimal health and wellbeing, which includes therapeutic nutrition, mindful living strategies and lifestyle counselling.

Liz Stilwell
Senior Therapist / Facilitator
Dip OT, Meditation Teacher, Spiritual Carer

Liz is passionate about working with emotions and the emotional challenges that come with a diagnosis and change in life circumstance, assisting people to transition into a place of thriving through resolution and release of past events, and deeper understanding – free to engage much more  strongly with life in the present.

She has been a keen traveller, singer, meditator and besotted gardener over several decades, and has a well-developed sense of humus.

Liz has an extensive background in Health spanning over 35 years – Occupational Therapy in Psychiatry in NZ, Counselling, Clinical Hypnotherapy and NLP in private practice, and  with TGCF she has led Lifestyle change programmes for people with cancer, taught Mindfulness meditation courses and groups, and counselled many people  affected by cancer.  As a Spiritual Carer, Liz works in public Hospitals and Palliative care, carrying a compassionate holistic approach to counselling individuals and their families through significant life changes. She has a deep interest in how our spiritual growth can flourish through the illness experience.

Her Counselling specialises in trauma recovery, anxiety, depression and insomnia, her approach influenced by her meditation practice of mindfulness. For 5 years, Liz assisted Drs Ian and Ruth Gawler in leading annual Mindfulness Meditation retreats in NZ and now facilitates our Cancer and MS retreats.

Stephanie Dierich, Retreat Facilitator, Yarra Valley, Vic

Stephanie Dierich
Retreat Facilitator
Bachelor of Naturopathy (BNat), Meditation Teacher, Yoga Teacher

Passionate about food and meditation as medicine. Committed to healing in all aspects of being – body, mind, emotions and soul. Loves yoga, swimming, cooking, her home by the beach and her fur-baby Chilli, the golden retriever.

Steph is a university trained naturopath and nutritionist with a passion for whole food plant based nutrition. She is also a qualified meditation and yoga teacher. She is passionate about lifestyle medicine and mind- body medicine as a path to wellness, particularly through food, meditation, yoga and the emotional healing.

Steph views her first visit to the Yarra Valley Living Centre as cancer retreat participant in 2015 as a profound blessing. Her time there precipitated a dramatic shift in how she approached her illness and her life. She continues to apply the principles of healing she learnt, both on herself and with others.

Sandy Clinton
Overnight Supervisor 

Dip Soc Wk, Certified Ageless Grace ® Educator, Graduate of Neuroscience Academy

Passionate about empowering people to live their best life, Sandy loves life and laughter, enjoys reading, yoga, qi gong, chanting, cats, being in nature, traveling the globe, singing with joy, and knitting till her heart’s content.

Sandy joined the Gawler Cancer Foundation in 2006 and has deepened her interest in and appreciation for the mind-body connection since then. She assisted hundreds of people in the Client Services role until late 2017, which gave her a unique experience of the challenges people face when diagnosed with a chronic illness, or wanting to learn how to maintain their wellbeing. This led her to train as an Ageless Grace ® Educator, and she rejoices in delivering this brain health fitness program as often as possible. She is delighted to have the opportunity to interact with participants as Overnight Supervisor, and takes true joy in being part of their journey of discovery.

Guest Facilitators & Therapists

Assoc Professor Craig Hassed
Facilitator Essence of Health and Mindfulness Meditation Training

A General Practitioner and Associate Professor at Monash University, Dept of General Practice. Craig’s teaching, research and clinical interests involve mindfulness-based stress management, mind-body medicine, meditation, holistic healthcare, integrative medicine and medical ethics. Craig is a regular media commentator and author of New Frontiers in Medicine, Know Thyself, The Essence of Health, Mindfulness for Life, Playing the Genetic Hand Life Dealt You, and co-author of General Practice: The Integrative Approach.

Ruth Gawler Meditation Retreat Yarra Valley

Dr Ruth Gawler
Guest Facilitator / Therapist

Dr Ruth Gawler is a General Practitioner with a specialised interest in Mind-Body Medicine, meditation and Psychology. Ruth worked as a facilitator and therapist at the foundation for 12 years and currently guest-facilitates regular retreat programs there with her husband Ian. The paradigm Ruth works from is that good health and healing involves a process of integrating the physical, psychological, and spiritual aspect of one’s life, and that meditation is key to this process. Dr Gawler holds a Masters in GP Psychiatry and was on the Board of the Meditation Teachers Association for 8 years, and served as President of the Association for 2 years prior to stepping down at the end of 2016. Ruth offers private consultations during some residential programs, as well as through a clinic in East Melbourne.

To find out more about Dr Ian and Ruth Gawler’s work, visit their website www.iangawler.com and newsletter/blog: www.gawlerblog.com

Integrative Neurologist Sanjay Raghav Retreat Facilitator Yarra Valley Victoria

Assoc Prof Sanjay Raghav
Guest Facilitator
MBBS, MD, DM, FRACP Certified Level 2 Yoga Teacher

Sanjay Raghav is a Senior Consultant Neurologist at Monash Health and Peninsula Health. He manages an integrative neurology practice at Dandenong Neurology since 2006.  He holds academic positions at RMIT and Monash University where he is actively involved in neuroscience research.  He is also visiting Professor for the division of “Yoga & Life Sciences” with the S-VYASA Yoga University in Bangalore, India where he helps PhD yoga research programs.  Sanjay has a keen interest in holistic living and is proactive in teaching his patients and students how to enrich their lives through an integrative approach to health and wellbeing.

Michelle Woolhouse Retreat Facilitator Yarra Valley Living Centre

Dr Michelle Woolhouse
Guest Facilitator
MBBS, FRACGP, FACNEM, FASLM, GradDip MBMed/NutMed, Dip. HT, Dip. Viet Acu

Dr Michelle Woolhouse is a General Practitioner, who has worked in clinical practice for nearly 20 years. She is passionate about helping people find their own style of health and healing. She has post graduate qualifications in mind-body medicine, meditation, sound healing, and nutritional and environmental medicine. She loves teaching people about the interconnections of being a woman and how by embracing these scientific understandings, you can find the inspiration to transform, say “Yes” to life and be the best you can be.

Caroline Hales Retreat Facilitator Yarra Valley Living Centre

Caroline Hales
Guest Facilitator
Hd SPHE, Dip. BrennanHealingSci, Dip. KiMassage

Caroline Hales is an intuitive therapist and a graduate from the “Barbara Brennan School of Healing”. In her work, she combines energy healing and integrative counselling. She began her journey in meditation, mindfulness & healing in 1982 and has since studied and practiced a variety of natural therapies, meditation and personal development. Her other qualifications include Diploma of Ki Massage, Reiki, Art & Creative Expression, Higher Diploma in Arts, Social, Personal & Health Education. Caroline is passionate about supporting people to find their sense of self, and values the wisdom of their lived life. She has a full time healing and personal development practice within “Mornington Healing & Wellbeing Centre” and facilitates women’s circles and meditation groups. www.morningtonhealingcentre.com.au

Dr Helena Popovic
Guest Facilitator

Dr Helena Popovic is a medical doctor, leading authority on how to improve brain function, international speaker and best-selling author. Helena is unique in bringing the latest discoveries in brain science to the field of weight management and she is the founder of a groundbreaking weight loss program called Winning at Slimming thinking the light way. She is also the author of two books: NeuroSlimming and In Search of My Father. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 1995.

Michael Johnson
(Harpist and Composer, Music and Mindfulness)

As well as a concert performer and composer, Michael has been working in the field of therapeutic support through music.
His tranquil harp music has been an integral part of the retreats at the Gawler Foundation for over thirty years. He is also the Music & Mindfulness coordinator at Delmont psychiatric Hospital and Road Trauma Support services Victoria. He runs seminars, workshops and inservices for businesses for staff professional development.
Michael has been the resident composer at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne for over twenty years, running the Harp in the Gardens concert program. The Botanic Gardens have also embraced Michael’s therapeutic background and host Michael’s Harp Meditations in the Arid garden, Fern Gully, Mueller Hall and the ornamental lake.

Dr Richard Chambers Mindfulness Retreat Facilitator Yarra Valley, Victoria

Dr Richard Chambers
Guest Facilitator

Dr Richard Chambers is a clinical psychologist and internationally-recognised expert in mindfulness. As outlined in his TEDx Talk, he is helping lead a university-wide mindfulness initiative at Monash University. Since 1999, Richard has helped some of Australia’s most prominent businesses and educational institutions enhance their performance, resilience, emotional intelligence and leadership. His highly engaging workshops and keynotes are regularly cited as the highlights of offsites and conferences, and he is highly sought after as a speaker, trainer and coach.


Richard was one of the original developers of Smiling Mind, a free mindfulness app with 4 million downloads. He also co-created the Mindfulness for Wellbeing & Peak Performance and Maintaining a Mindful Life free online courses, which have had over 380,000 users and are rated the #1 online courses of all time by Class Central. He has published three books, Mindful LearningMindful Relationships and Mindful Origami, regularly features in mainstream media and is actively involved in research at a number of universities around Australia.

Wellbeing Retreat Yarra Valley Victoria

Michael Bartura
Guest Facilitator

Michael Bartura has been involved in lifestyle education, health & wellness promotion, training and organisational development since the mid-Eighties. With close to 20 years of management experience in four continents, he brings to the table a well-refined cross-cultural mentoring capacity and a managerial acumen amassed in both not-for-profit and business contexts. He has extensive experience in Mindfulness practices and delivers insightful and engaging training seminars and groupwork through nondenominational science-based methodologies.

In earlier years, Michael worked as a therapist and a trainer in clinics and centres in Australia, UK, the US and Canada. Later, he undertook senior managerial roles in international businesses and charities.

In his last full-time role, as a manager for the East West Learning Centre in Singapore, he focused on designing platforms to deliver an integrated Mind-Body approach to leadership education. Last year he oversaw the TeamUp program – a unique coaching journey designed to counter stress and build resilience in charities. In Australia, he runs his own coaching practice based on Mindfulness-based Leadership and Positive Neuroplasticity to work with individuals, organisations and Startups. He is a member of the core faculty of the School of Life in Melbourne and the development team for the new Ripple Affect Institute.

Besides a variety of certificates and diplomas in holistic therapies, Michael holds a Master’s degree in Management from Macquarie Graduate School of Management. He is a passionate and skilful coach and has been an associate of the Asian leadership Institute for close to 20 years.

Yoga Retreat Facilitator Emma Strembickyj, Yarra Valley, Vic

Emma Strembickyj
Guest Facilitator

With a practice of 18 years plus of yoga and a ballet background, Emma found yoga to compliment movement with mindful awareness. The practice became more than just physical as returning time and time again onto her mat she began to discover more about herself. The things she was comfortable accepting and the things she didn’t quite want to face but did. As the Bhagavad- gita; “yoga is a discovery of self through self to self. Recognising the freedom between the thoughts and the affects of the body Emma decided to complete 500YTT at Byron Yoga Centre in 2012/13 and has since completed many hundreds of hours of training in yoga, yin, anatomy, prenatal, meditation and classes range from Beginners to Advanced.

Currently teaching at highly respectable studios such as Happy Melon, Yoke yoga of the heart and Lyfe Yoga. Her teachings extend to drug and alcohol recovery centres, High schools for teen challenges, corporate for peace of mind in the workplace and Prahran Mission aiding in yoga for mental health.

Katie Underwood Retreat Facilitator Yarra Valley, Victoria

Katie Underwood
Guest Facilitator

Katie Underwood is a Meditation Teacher, Sound Healer, Multi-instrumentalist and Recording Artist. She trained with Lama Tendar in traditional Tibetan Sound Healing, completed The Healing Sounds Intensive training with Jonathan Goldman in USA and Level 1 & 2 in Yoga of Sound with Mei Lai Swan. She also holds a Diploma of Sound Healing Therapy, certified Reiki 1 & 2 and completed Meditation Teacher Training with Melbourne Meditation Centre. With over 30 years’ experience in singing and music performance, Katie combines her skilled musicianship with a passion for healing to deliver a powerful session of guided meditation and sound healing. Katie weaves an intuitive soundscape for deep healing and meditation using her voice, native drums, handpan, chimes, crystal and Tibetan bowls. These sessions may also include guided group toning – empowering each person to create their own healing sounds and release their voice. A grounding, uplifting, heart-opening and relaxing experience.

Amanda Spencer

Guest Facilitator

MBSR , Educator Training for Mindful Schools

In addition to running meditation, mindfulness and Reiki at a (mental health & physical) disability employment service, Amanda Spencer also offers mindfulness courses, self-care retreats, conscious parenting workshops, one-on-one mentoring and is the mind facilitator of The Prosperity Project.

She is a dedicated mother to three children, Mindfulness Facilitator, Co-founder of Present Mindfulness Academy, Conscious Parenting Mentor and Reiki Master.

Amanda believes self-care is crucial for a healthy mind and body. Since dealing with Post Natal Depression, Amanda has been practising Mindfulness, Meditation, Reiki and Conscious Parenting daily, to maintain her mental wellbeing.

Her own personal healing journey birthed a strong calling to help other struggling parents, which lead to the co-creation of the Present Mindfulness Academy’s signature ‘Parenting with Presence’ course. Amanda also shares her insights as a wellness guest speaker at events that donate a portion of their proceeds to PANDA – events include Mums Who Wine and Smiling after PND.

Amanda is very perceptive and uses empathy and understanding to connect with her students; this allows her students to feel supported and safe whilst on their journey of self-discovery.

Suzanne Marambio

Guest Facilitator

MBSR, Educator Training for Mindful Life

Suzanne Marambio is a conscious mother of two, Mindfulness Facilitator, Co-founder of Present Mindfulness Academy, and Conscious Parenting Mentor. She is committed to her spiritual and personal development through meditation and mindfulness.

In her early years of motherhood, Suzanne experienced postnatal mood swings of anger and resentment. She worked on managing her emotions using Mindfulness and Meditation, and now understands the importance of having a self–care plan. She follows a daily practice of meditation, Qigong, mindfulness, Reiki and magnified healing to nourish her mind and body.

Suzanne is dedicated in uplifting, inspiring and supporting parents to become the best versions of themselves as she understands that parenthood is the path to spiritual awakening. By using the practices of self-care, unconditional love, mindfulness and self-regulation, this leads to emotional intelligence.

Suzanne has studied Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Conscious Parenting by Dr Shefali Tsabary, Numerology, Reiki Level 1 & 2, Drumming and is also a Master Teacher of Magnified Healing.

Her PMA achievements include facilitating self-care retreats and stress reduction courses, teaching conscious parenting courses and being a wellness guest speaker at events that donate a portion of their proceeds to Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA), including Mums Who Wine and Smiling after PND.

As a retreat facilitator, Suzanne brings a nurturing and compassionate approach. She creates a sacred space for deep personal healing and transformation when sharing her passion for sound healing therapy and frame drumming.

Jennifer Bishop Mindful Leadership Training, Yarra Valley, Victoria

Jennifer Bishop

Guest Facilitator

B.Bus Mkt, Cert 1V Workplace Training , Mindfulness Facilitator

Jennifer Bishop has worked with corporate organisations, university and business groups for over 25 years in marketing, management, consulting and training. She has held senior leadership positions in AGL, and Assa Abloy and has developed and delivered Corporate Training programs for Microsoft, Toyota Australia and the RACV.

She has led teams through significant organisational change, including as a member of the Executive Leadership Team through merger and acquisition activity and held a range of roles with emerging and mature ASX business. She has been a regular guest speaker for conferences, exhibitions and national corporate training events for the automotive, university and education sectors.

Jennifer is degree qualified in Marketing (B. Bus Mkt) and has done Post Graduate training in Stress in the Workplace, Advanced Research Methods and is Cert1V Workplace Training qualified. She has also created Diploma level AQTF coursework for Marketing and Management programs.

She is certified by The Gawler Foundation as a Mindfulness Meditation Teacher and has completed the MBSR program and Google Search Inside Yourself Leadership Program. She has had 20 years attending Buddhist-based meditation programmes and continues her training in Neuroscience and Positive Psychology with Berkeley University.

She is the founder of Mindful Life Training that helps organisations to transform people leadership, workplace engagement and wellness through Evidence-based Corporate Health and Well-Being Training and Mindful Leadership training. Mindful Life Training have worked with NAB, L’oreal, Victorian Government, Tip Top Foods, Maurice Blackburn and Village Roadshow.

Learn how we are keeping our retreat participants safe by reading our Covid-Safe Policy.You can access the policy HERE.