Advisory Group

The Pride in Sport advisory group is a body that provides non-binding strategic advice to the management and ongoing direction of our national program. Current members of the advisory group include;

Andrew Purchas

he / him / his

[Chairperson] –  Currently the Vice President of ACON Health, Andrew has over 15 years of experience as a senior executive in the legal, financial services as a senior associate with Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Chief Security Officer for the Westpac Banking Corporation. He has significant commercial experience in business process redesign, change management, risk management , software development and business development. He is currently the Commercial Director for Hivery, a data analytics start up. Andrew has had a long involvement with sports administration and is founder of the Sydney Convicts Rugby Club, co-founder of the Pride in Sport Index and was President of the Bingham Cup Sydney 2014 and Chairman of International Gay Rugby.


Merrilee Barnes

she / her /  hers

Currently the Director – Inclusive Sport for Sport Australia, Merrilee has more than 20 years experience working across multiple layers of sport including NSOs, clubs, education, sport stadia, athlete management, sponsorship, mega sporting events and government. Merrilee bring considerable experience in the areas of strategy, integrity, commercialisation and inclusion and in her current role at the Sport Australia, she provides support to NSOs and the sport sector to bring about sustainable, organisational change particularly in the areas of safe, fair and inclusive sport. She has led several important sector projects including: the development of a national framework to help sports at all levels improve their approaches to child safety, and collaborating with key stakeholders and the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop national guidelines for transgender participation in sport.


Ricki Coughlan

she / her /  hers

Widely recognised within the sporting industry as the worlds first public transgender athlete, Ricki brings a breadth of knowledge and life experience to this group. Ricki is the founder of Love Fitness. Two of her big passions are running and helping other people become their own champion through performance running, fitness and personal development. For over 35 years, Ricki has managed fitness centres and trained fitness leaders.

In her years of running and training Ricki has won State championships, and even been picked for State teams. She’s stood on the podium at fun runs, and won plenty of medals. However, the real rewards were perhaps less tangible on those days, like the work which went into achieving those things and the way that work moulded her character. The amazing self-esteem which evolved as every day she tore down negative self-belief and fostered a champion’s mindset. It was also the foundation for a life of amazing health and wellbeing.


James Selby

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James is currently the General Manager – Community Rugby at Rugby Australia. A highly professional and engaged leader with knowledge of working at all levels of the Australian sporting industry and experience in working with various international organisations. James has a driven understanding and working with organisations to develop their capability and capacity to succeed in a consumer driven environment and improving their overall business excellence. Equally, he is motivated by how an organisation goes about its business as much as what the business is trying to achieve. Additionally, James has extensive experience in the development, implementation and review of community programs with a strong emphasis on minority groups and children.


Lisa Laing

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Lisa has worked in the AFL industry for over 20 years across the consumer and community areas at the National Body and at the St Kilda Football Club. Lisa is General Manager of Community at the St Kilda Football Club, who have been championing diversity and inclusion to ensure the game of AFL is safe and welcoming for everyone who would like to participate, watch or administer the game at any level. St Kilda Football Club hosted the first ever AFL Pride Game in 2016 that has become an annual game in the AFL calendar. St Kilda Football club have been recognised for their work in LGBTQ+ inclusion through the Pride In Sport Index Awards; 2017 Inclusive Club Award, 2018 Highest Ranking Overall and 2019 Highest Ranking Professional Club.


Joelie Chisholm

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CEO of Water Polo Australia, and former CEO of Australian Taekwondo, Joelie was pivotal in the repair and re-invigoration of Taekwondo in Australia. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales and an Honours science graduate from Cambridge University. Joelie has been involved in sport from a young age and has been involved across many roles including athlete, coach, club committee member, board member and spouse of an Olympian. She brings a deep passion for sport and a commitment to making a difference by creating the experience of sport better for everyone who participates. Combined with her commercial expertise, this passion will enable Joelie to bring the focus on excellence in leadership and governance at the national level.


Kerry Tavrou

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Kerry has over 10 years of experience in creating welcoming, safe and inclusive sporting environments for people from diverse communities. Kerry is currently the Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Tennis Australia who are working hard to increase inclusive capacity through a range of initiatives targeting people with disability, multicultural communities, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders and people who identify as LGBTQ+. Tennis Australia has recently been recognised as the highest ranking sporting organisation at the Pride in Sport Awards for their work in LGBTQ+ inclusion and as the inclusive sport of the year at the Inclusion & Diversity in Sport Awards.


Chris Bunting

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Chris is the Pride and Diversity Coordinator at Melbourne University Sport. In this role, Chris acts as a leader, advocate and representative for the LGBTQ+ community regarding sport and fitness at the University of Melbourne. He is passionate about removing identified barriers to participation in sport specific to the LGBTQ+ community and empowering his colleagues at Melbourne University Sport to act as champions for inclusivity across the organisation. Through doing so, Melbourne University Sport was recognised as the equal highest-ranking organisation in Australia at the 2019 Pride in Sport awards following their first Pride in Sport Index submission. With a professional background in healthcare, Chris frames his inclusion work from a public health perspective – aiming to drive positive health outcomes within the LGBTQ+ community through increased engagement with sport and fitness. Chris also holds the position of staff representative for the University of Melbourne LGBTQ+ Ally Network, acting as an organisational wide advocate for the University’s 15,000+ staff members.