Former WHO officer joins VicHealth

By Shannon Jenkins

September 25, 2019


VicHealth’s new CEO has started this week. 

Sandro Demaio

Dr Sandro Demaio was appointed to replace Jerril Rechter, who left the agency in March after a seven year stint as CEO, to take up the title with Basketball Australia.

The former World Health Organization medical officer trained and worked at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital. He has previously led the EAT Foundation in Oslo, co-hosted the ABC program Ask the Doctor and has even published a cookbook.

The appointment was announced in July. Dr Lyn Roberts, former CEO of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, temporarily filled the position until this week.


VicHealth Chair Fiona McCormack said she looked forward to Demaio taking the role.

“The VicHealth Board have a clear strategy in place for the next four years and I am excited to have Dr Demaio lead the organisation as we seek to achieve scale and integration of our work alongside our partners as we seek to prevent chronic disease and fast-track good health for all Victorians,” she said.

Jerril Rechter

Following the announcement of Rechter’s departure, McCormack praised her “powerful mix of strategic vision and innovative thinking” which has left the agency in a prime position for the future. 

“Jerril departs at a time of stability, with VicHealth well placed to implement a range of initiatives which will allow us to integrate our learnings and achieve scale with our programs in the final four years of our 10-year Action Agenda — our aim is for one million more Victorians to have better health and wellbeing by 2023.”

Rechter said she was privileged to lead the organisation.

“I am particularly proud of our significant program of work to promote women in sport and physical activity, with the acquisition and success of This Girl Can – Victoria a highlight. The establishment of our Leading Thinkers initiative is another highlight, which has seen us connect international thought leaders with senior policymakers and key local experts here in Victoria, championing the innovative role behavioural insights can play in enabling change across our communities.”

VicHealth was established in 1987 as part of the Tobacco Act, making it the world’s first health promotion foundation.

READ MORE: VicHealth’s citizens’ jury lessons: no censorship, impartiality

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