Creating healthy food environments for all Queenslanders.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland leads A Better Choice, a Queensland first public health approach designed to make it easier for Queenslanders to access healthy food and drink options in places outside the home.

The inaugural A Better Choice Conference and Expo (ABC Expo) was held at the iconic Pat Rafter Arena, located in the Queensland Tennis Centre on Tuesday 30 May 2023.

Did you miss the Expo? Take a look below at the day that was.

The event brought together over 280 attendees in-person and online from school, sport and recreation, and healthcare sectors looking to provide healthier food and drinks in their settings. 

We received amazing feedback from attendees, exhibitors and speakers, showing the event was a huge success. 

“I loved it all. The speakers were amazing. The vendors were very helpful.
I’ve left with a heart full of knowledge. Can’t wait to implement changes for the benefit of the kids.”
ABC Expo attendee 

Watch a summary of the highlights here

Keynote Speakers

Anna Peeters

Alfred Deakin Professor Anna Peeters, PhD, is Director of the Institute for Health Transformation and Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health at Deakin University. She is Principal Research Translation Investigator at Western Alliance, an NHMRC Investigator Grant fellow, Board Member for the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), and Western Health, and Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society. Anna is Chair of the Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research Advisory Board and a member of the World Cancer Research Fund’s Policy Advisory Group. She is internationally recognised for her work building the evidence for effective and equitable policy and practice to improve health outcomes. Anna has overseen a number of large programs of research focused on food and health system transformation including an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (RE-FRESH, for which she is Director). Anna has published over 250 research papers. She was the recipient of the prestigious World Obesity Federation Andre Mayer Award (2014) for research excellence and a Churchill Award (2014) for innovative work in equity and population prevention. 

Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly is a seasoned Managing Director with over 25 years of experience leading CPR Group, a company dedicated to empowering not-for-profit organisations through effective planning, training and mentoring of volunteers. His passion for helping organisations achieve their best results and creating a positive impact in the community has made him a go-to expert for clubs, associations, Councils, government and universities seeking to grow their membership and increase revenue and profit. 
Michael is committed to driving innovation in not-for-profit governance, ensuring long-term sustainability and viability in a transforming community sector. As an advisor, facilitator, club mentor and trainer, he brings high-energy and entertaining governance seminars that effect change and are embraced by participants. With his expertise, Michael has helped literally thousands of organisations achieve first-class governance, making them more efficient, resilient and fun! 

Tarah Ferguson

Tarah has successfully managed/led volunteer programs at all levels of development, from grassroots organisations to well-established programs of Foodbank Queensland. A lifelong volunteer, she understands how vital it is for organisations to acknowledge the gift of time and understand volunteer motivations. Her multidisciplinary career in volunteer management, fundraising, visitor experience, public programming, and events across the arts and nonprofit sector has informed her insightful approach to attracting and retaining volunteers. 

Denise Cruickshank

Denise is an Advanced Accredited Dietitian with many years of experience in public and private hospitals, lecturing at university and running a private consultancy business. While foodservice dietetics is her current area of expertise, Denise has had significant experience in the public health sector establishing the first Qld School Tuckshop project jointly funded by health & education. This role involved working with food industry to champion healthier options for schools, providing resources for tuckshops and P&Cs and establishing the first Tuckshop Expos.

Denise was also part of the group that established QAST and served as the first President. In addition, Denise worked on the first iteration of the ABC Healthier Food & Drink supply for Queensland Health hospitals, supporting the then Project Officer in implementation and supporting sites.

Currently, Denise heads up Statewide Foodservices for Queensland Health which hosts the current ABC Project Officer and continues to champion food industry to provide healthier products for all Queenslanders.

Dr Eleanor Glenn

Dr Eleanor Glenn co-directs Common Cause Australia, an organisation that helps social change agents to put values at the heart of their work. Eleanor is a researcher and communications expert, with a PhD in climate change communications and engagement. She provides tailored training and advice to a range of cause-based organisations on strategy and communications for social change. She has led the development of evidence-based message guides on a range of health topics, including health equity, walking and bike riding, COVID vaccination and healthy workplaces. 

Dr Paul Wilkinson

Dr Paul Wilkinson is a Dietitian with over 25 years’ experience. Originally qualified in the UK he came to Australia in 2007. He has worked in research, regulation, publication and leadership positions across various local, national and international projects. Paul is a previous chair of the DNSC and a current member of the Health Practitioner Research Advisory Group. He is currently the Director of Allied Health Services at Bundaberg Hospital in the Wide Bay and continues to work clinically when time allows.  

Alastair McLeod

Alastair McLeod is a chef, television personality, ambassador and corporate host with unbridled enthusiasm for all things food. Bestowed with the gift of the gab and a quick wit, Alastair is a popular master of ceremonies and guest speaker who brings his unique humour and professionalism to any event. Best known for his roles on Channel Seven’s Great Day Out and Network 10’s Ready Steady Cook, Alastair also has a recipe column in the Brisbane News and his Irish brogue is frequently heard on ABC and 4BC radio.  

He travels around Australia on a regular basis to host large corporate functions, food shows and outdoor events. Alastair was the national MC for the Good Food and Wine Show for over 10 years and continues to present at a large number of festivals and events around the country, including the Noosa Food and Wine Festival, Bundy Flavours, Regional Flavours and City Good Food Month. Alastair has worked with the Lockyer Valley region for a number of years and is responsible for hosting media functions, attending regular events and raising awareness for the region dubbed ‘The Salad Bowl of Queensland’.  

His Australian tenures have included roles as executive chef at the Brisbane stalwart Baguette which, under Alastair’s stewardship, won back-to-back Restaurant and Caterer awards and saw the restaurant inducted into the hall of fame. After a lengthy spell at Brett’s Wharf, he established Tank Restaurant and Bar in Brisbane’s CBD that was named in Australia’s hot 50 restaurants two years running, achieved 17/20 in the Courier Mail, 4/5 in The Australian and a coveted chef’s hat. More recently, Alastair launched Al’FreshCo; his own business that provides small and large scale catering to private and corporate clients. 

Gretel Bueta

Sporting super-mum Gretel Bueta established herself as the leading goal attack in Australian netball after a stellar first full campaign following the birth of son Bobby. 

The Queensland Firebirds star made her return for the Australian Diamonds in quad series in England at the start of 2022, going on to claim the player of the tournament and player of the final honours as Australia defeated the hosts to win the series. 

Bueta continued her fantastic form for the remainder of the Firebirds’ Suncorp Super Netball season during which she reached her 100-game milestone in the number one netball competition in the world and ended as the top-ranked goal attack. 

That form made Bueta a lock for Australia’s 12-strong squad for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, during which she featured in all seven of the Diamonds’ matches on their way to gold. 

Bueta ended that tournament with 253 goals at 96.2 per cent accuracy including 37 from 37 in the gold medal match against Jamaica. 

The 29-year-old, whose brothers Kurt and Joel both played AFL, is currently taking a break from playing after announcing in January she and husband Niko are expecting their second child. 

Program Summary

Opening Session

  • Welcome and Introductions, Victoria Carthew, Sports Journalist and Television Presenter (Master of Ceremonies)
  • Welcome to Country with Aunty Debbie Sandy
  • Welcome on behalf of Health and Wellbeing Queensland, Dr Robyn Littlewood, Chief Executive Officer, Health and Wellbeing Queensland

Keynote Address: Why we need healthier food environments

  • Anna Peeters, Alfred Deakin Professor, PhD, CF, GAICD
    Director, Institute for Health Transformation
    Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health, Deakin University
  • Denise Cruickshank, Dietitian Consultant, Queensland Health Statewide Foodservices

Panel Discussion: Why we need healthier food options

  • Deanne Wooden, Senior Project Officer, Queensland Association of School Tuckshops
  • Brooke Maund, Senior Dietitian, A Better Choice Strategy, Statewide Foodservices
  • Dawn Amit, Senior Community Development Officer, Good Sports Program, Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Keynote Address: Marketing your healthy options and boosting revenue  

  • Michael Connelly, Managing Director, CPR Group

Keynote Address: The volunteering journey

  • Tarah Ferguson, Volunteer/People & Culture Coordinator, Foodbank Queensland

Panel Discussion: Success stories/case studies showcasing what others have done and how

  • Madonna Jardine, Tuckshop Co-convenor, Cavendish Road State High School
  • Sara Begg, Tuckshop Convenor, Freshwater State School (Cairns)
  • Jasmine Johnston, Dietitian – Adults Team, Primary & Community Care / Roma Health Precinct
  • Paula Sale, President, Western Districts Netball Association

Keynote Address: Influencing leaders

  • Dr Eleanor Glenn, Co-Director, Common Cause Australia
  • Dr Paul Wilkinson, Director of Allied Health Services, Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service

Panel Discussion: Success stories/case studies showcasing what others have done and how – Part 2 

  • Carolyn Brewer, P&C President, Beerwah State School
  • Scott Wiseman, Chief Executive Officer, P&Cs Queensland
  • Alison Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer, Toowoomba Hospital Foundation
  • Natasha Szathmary, Secretary, Caboolture Sports Softball Association

Closing Address

  •  Dr Robyn Littlewood, Chief Executive Officer, Health and Wellbeing Queensland 

Thanking Our Sponsors and Supporters

Platinum Sponsor

As the country’s leading foodservice distributor, for over 20 years Bidfood has been the one-stop supply solution distributing food, meat and liquor to the foodservice and catering industry across Australia. Bidfood supports healthcare and aged care organisations with a wide variety of cost conscious, high quality food and beverage options across Australia. Schools, TAFES and universities are moulding our future workforce. Allow Bidfood to supply your kitchen with cost-effective, nutritious ingredients so that you can focus on maximising learning outcomes. 

Just like a truly great dish, a dynamic and successful foodservice partnership requires the right ingredients. Bidfood has come to understand this particular recipe intimately. It involves maintaining a balance between leading edge innovation and a consistent, reliable delivery of ‘the classics’. Bidfood offers Australia’s widest selection of products that have been tailored to suit all customer types – large and small. With a diverse range of products, national network of branches and commitment to innovation, you’ll see why so many businesses count on Bidfood to provide all the ingredients they need for success. Bidfood customers have access to myBidfood, a market-leading online store that is available in both browser and app versions. To find out more, chat to one of our friendly staff today. 

Gold Sponsor

SPC Global is a proud Australian food manufacturer with a rich history of inspiring taste creations across Australia for over 100 years.

Our leading brand portfolio includes SPC, Ardmona, Goulburn Valley and SPC ProVital as well as newly acquired brands including Helping Humans in the Beverage category and The Good Meal Co which manufactures ready-made frozen meal solutions. We develop and deliver Food Solutions that aim to inspire chefs with the goodness of Australian grown and made produce.

With a continued focus on developing innovative products that serve the needs of hospitality, healthcare, education, leisure & convenience markets. We produce a range of ingredients and finished goods including fruits, tomatoes, beans & spaghetti, ready-made frozen meals, snack foods, sauces & cooking condiments. We aim to capture the wholesome goodness of nature in easier and more convenient formats to help reduce food waste.

For more information, please contact our State Account Managers or visit our website

Silver Sponsors

The MOFFAT group designs, develops, manufactures and markets a comprehensive range of foodservice equipment globally, for the bakery, healthcare, QSR and hospitality industry. MOFFAT is not just about the products we offer; it is about providing a wide range of added value services to you the customer, one it is the skilled and experienced staff across the group that can assist the customer across the world to meet the ever changing competitive markets and with our dedication to working with our clients and their needs. With offices located across Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA. Moffat has a well-developed global distribution strategy with the group exporting to over 50 countries globally.

Activate! Queensland 2019-2029 is a 10-year strategy with a long-term vision to enrich the Queensland way of life through physical activity.

Activate! Queensland is being delivered through a series of multi-year action plans, with the first action plan, Our Active8 2019-2022, laying important foundations that are already contributing toward the 2029 vision of the strategy.

Accelerate 2022-2025 is the second action plan of the strategy, outlining the Queensland Government’s vision for the next 3 years.

YMCA Schools’ Breakfast Program is a mission-based activity of the Y Brisbane. Commencing 2006 in Logan with 5 schools we continue to support, we now provide program to 169 schools across SEQ in 8 local government areas. This year we achieve the incredible milestone of having served 7 million breakfasts since starting. We currently have 15,000 students attend each day!

The provision of the program is at no costs to the schools. We provide the food and equipment, which we deliver with our fleet of trucks. The schools focus on the recruitment of their volunteers, students and faculty to run the program.

We proudly implement the Queensland Government guidelines of Healthy Choices addressing food security, health and wellbeing, education and engagement at school for our children, partnering with Foodbank Qld.

Our current focus is on achieving sustainability for the schools registered with the program through community and business sponsorship.

Vending First covers the “Better Choice” in nutrition with healthy options made easy through Vending.  Allowing a 24/7 access to healthy alternatives in Vending. Covering affordable heat up meals/salads, sandwiches, in-house made fresh fruit salad, cheese packs, and much more. 

We understand that busy people on the go,  need healthy nutritious Snacks & Meals, these are sometimes hard to find.  Vending First simplifies this by giving a wide variety of options that can be accessed at all hours of the day. 

Creating healthy food options supporting people to make the Better Choice.  

Coffee Sponsor

At Sanitarium, we believe every person deserves the choice to live a healthier life. That’s why we’re passionate about creating affordable, nutritious products, so no matter what you do or where you’re from, you can enjoy them every day. Since 1898, we’ve used our business to share health with generations of Australians. Because when every person can access what they need to eat well, life becomes better for us all.


The ABC Expo is convened by Health and Wellbeing Queensland with support from the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops, Parents & Citizens Queensland, Department of Education and Queensland Health Statewide Foodservices. 

Last updated 11 October 2023