About Us

The Australian Doula College (ADC) is an integrated organisation working in collaboration with Preparing the Way, providing education, support and continuity of care for Birth and End of Life Doulas and anyone needing support through any one of life’s many transitions.
Through our network of qualified and experienced educators, doulas and other practitioners, we can offer a variety of services, training and information programs and support.

At the ADC we believe that the first and last breath are the biggest life transitions you make and that you and those around you deserve to understand your choices and feel supported, ensuring you and your family has the best experience possible.

We provided up to date information in a relaxed and caring environment over several teaching spaces around the Country, offering a broad range of groups, classes and sessions. We also can offer some sessions, support and treatments in your home or office, if you would prefer.

We want to share our experience with you so that you can be better equipped to make informed decisions that are right for you and your family. At the ADC we take a holistic approach to life’s transitions, believing if you have a better understanding of your options and ‘what to expect’ you can have a more positive experience. We will support and empower you on your journey, however that journey unfolds for you.

Call us on 02 8036 5580

About our founder

Renee Adair

Founder of Australian Doula College

Renee Adair

Renee Adair is the founder and principal educator of the Australian Doula College, The Groundwork Program and our charity-arm Doula Heart Network. She first began working with women and babies in 1994 as a massage and Aromatherapist and Reiki Practitioner and in 1998 began studying and working as a Doula, Childbirth and Early Parenting Educator and Birth Counsellor.

For three and half years Renee then worked for the Australian Red Cross at their young women’s health program/refuge and set up both the outreach and childbirth and early parenting education programs for that service. Renee has spoken on a variety of Radio programmes on the subject of both birth and end of life Doula support. She also presents at conferences and seminars and is currently sitting on the Consumer Advisory Board of the Australian College of Midwives.  Renee has been a regular contributor in pregnancy and parenting publications and websites over the years and under the ADC banner created the first Doula research in Australia which was published in the Journal of Perinatal Education in 2013. In her career she has supported hundreds of women, their partners and families through pregnancy, birth and the early parenting phase.

In recent years Renee has moved to change the way we think about Doula support and helped launch Preparing the Way – End of Life Doula Training, in collaboration with its founder Helen Callanan which has created the space for the wider community to see Doulas as a support though both the first and last breath and any one of many lifes transitions in between.

Renee has trained thousands of doulas since 2004 and continues to doula for both birth, post natal and end of life. Renee lives happily on the south coast of New South Wales with her beloved family and pets.

“I am passionate about the training we offer, the services we offer families and also about sharing the benefits of doula support for the incoming and outgoing to other health professionals.  The College foundation is all about offering more carers, kindness, information, love and compassion to people trying to navigate their way though lifes biggest transitions.”

The Team

Our team is made up of a group of dynamic, diverse, positive and passionate women. We are all trained, certified educators and doulas and all of us hold a variety of other qualifications.

Collectively we have over 100 years of experience!

We work together to enhance your experience with the Australian Doula College. 

Hellen Callanan

Founder of Preparing The Way

Helen’s many years working with people in both public and private palliative/hospice situations have provided Helen a unique perspective and experience into the precious journey that life is whether at the beginning or end of life.

Initially practicing in Chinese Medicine & body work along with almost 30 years as a professional Reiki II practitioner and 20 years teaching Reiki has given Helen extensive experience and insight into all aspects of health and healing, including end-of-life, mental/emotional and spiritual development.

Additional training through Death Midwifery, working in hospitals, extensive volunteering in acute/chronic care and eastern practices give Helen a very practical and down to earth approach to her work.

Ashleigh Dodd

Groundwork Program Manager and Victorian Educator

Ashleigh begun her career volunteering in the USA, working with people who required support from all walks of life including disabilities, mental health, youth, AOD dependencies, criminal justice, aged care, child protection and women in crisis. Ashleigh has been working in the Community Services Sector since 2005, supporting people to achieve what is important to them.

This stemmed into support worker roles through to management of state wide organisations striving to empower and support individuals on their journey.Throughout this work Ashleigh has complemented experience with studied obtaining degrees in Community Services, Management, Business and is a qualified Trainer and Assessor.Ashleigh’s passion really begun to focus on women and babies as she embraced her own journey to start her family.

Ashleigh has newly completed her Doula qualification and has ecstatically empowered women to have the best birthing experience possible. Ashleigh will be furthering her studies by undertaking the Cert IV in Doula Support Services and Child Birth Educators training. Ashleigh passionately believes families have the right to be informed, educated, supported and empowered to pave the way of their own journey. Ashleigh is dedicated to supporting people to strive for what is most important to them. 

Ashleigh is based in Victoria keeping busy whilst raising her young babes with her loving Hubby!

Laura Ventura

Brisbane Educator

Laura has always had a passion for educating and supporting women in all aspects of their lives but specifically fertility and pregnancy support, and has done so as a Naturopath and Homeopath and Lecturer since 2000.

After attending the ADC retreat in 2013 she went on to completed her Cert IV in Doula Support Services followed by the Child Birth Educator qualification. This allowed her to transitioned into the role she didn’t realise she had been searching for all along. This journey has also led her to End of Life Doula training, which she completed with Helen Callanan in 2016. Laura now combines her passion as an educator as a member of the Brisbane team and continues to support individual clients from Birth to End of Life.

Laura says her journey can only be described as heart-warming and humbling… “When I am asked about supporting birth and death, I like to use the quote ‘same same different…One is breathing in and one is breathing out…One enters the world and one exits…’ The same support, information, love, and holding the space is required, and both are sacred and precious times in our lives that we all must travel through. It is an honour to give support and bear witness in such sacred moments… Every transition in life teaches us that love, compassion and understanding is the key….” 

Laura lives in Brisbane with her husband and beautiful son and step son.

Lucretia McCarthy

Sydney Educator

Lucretia (Lu) has been supporting women to have babies since 1998 and after attending many births, including 2 of her own, she trained to become a doula at the Australian Doula College, she then continued to complete her childbirth education training through the college 2 years later.

She has supported over 250 women and their families during their pregnancy birth and the postnatal period. It is by far the most rewarding work she has ever done. During this time, she has also loved having the opportunity to teach and mentor new doulas, with teaching being another passion in this incredible work.

Lu is currently in her 3rd year of her midwifery degree and will continue to provide continuity of care to women when she is a midwife, knowing the absolute value of this model of care. She believes women must be respected and listened to in labour and birth as this philosophy provides a strong foundation for women and their partners when entering into parenthood.

Lu lives in the lower Blue Mountains with her husband Greg, two daughters Brooke and Bailey and their beautiful dog Braxton.

Jacki Haywood

Correspondence Coordinator and Brisbane Educator

Jacki has had an interest in pregnancy and birth since the conception of her first child. She has seen childbirth through the 80’s, 90’s and now the honoured. Jacki has seen childbirth shift and change and when the opportunity to become a doula arose in 2007 wit the ADC Jacki seized it with an open heart. This journey led her to become an early parenting and childbirth educator with the ADC. The role of educating women struck a cord with  Jacki and has been her passion for a few years now.

Jacki attended the ADC retreat in 2014 where she was introduced to the idea of doulas for the dying by Helen Callanan. The premise that birth and death are very closely related resonated strongly with Jacki. While Jacki continues with her passion of providing education through the Brisbane arm of the ADC as well as supporting individual clients on their pregnancy and birth journeys, Jacki has decided to pursue her interest in palliative care.

Jacki is now studying with the Mater hospital to become an Enrolled nurse with the end goal to marry all of her other skills and work in palliative care. Birth and death….same, same….only different.

Gaby Rodgers

Sydney Educator 

When a friend asked Gaby to be a support person for her and her husband for their first child’s birth in 1991 her passion was ignited. Gaby has five beautiful children and because all her births were so different (hospital, medicated and natural) she feels that she can offer a lot to expectant mothers and their partner with her patience, flexibility, guidance and full individual attention.

Gaby is passionate about helping, nurturing, educating and guiding women in birth so that they can have the birth THEY want. Providing enough information to the expecting mum and their partner so that they can make informed choices is central to Gaby’s philosophy on childbirth. She believes when you are fully informed you can take a more active role in the decision-making regarding the birth of your child.

Gaby studied to be a Doula with Birth Central in 2004 and qualified as a certified Doula in 2005. She then studied to become a Childbirth Educator and Postnatal Doula with the Australian Doula College in 2006 and is now teaching at the College in Sydney.

Katie Manitas

Sydney Educator 

Katie Manitsas has been teaching yoga for over 20 years and practicing as a doula for over 10 years.  Katie is a published author of several books including ‘The Yoga of Birth’ and the more recent ‘Mindful Living’.  She is the mother of four young boys and lives with her loud and busy family in Sydney’s Inner West. Katie co-teaches on the Sadhana of Birth a prenatal yoga training combined with doula training and also teaches for the ACD as a trainer.

Carina Eggleston

Perth Educator 

Carina is married to an Australian Army soldier and has lived all over Australia. She became a registered Psychologist in 2003. In her capacity as a Psychologist she worked with many diverse individuals and cultures. These included indigenous people in the Northern Territory and NSW, inmates, geriatric and dementia clients, military personnel of all sevices and ranks and military families. She also worked with people injured at work in a rehabilitation capacity. Following the births of her three children, Carina developed a passion for birth, driven by the desire to help other military wives birth when their partners were deployed.

Carina studied her Certificate IV in Doula Studies through the Australian Doula College in 2014. She then continued her studies and completed her Certificate in Childbrith Education, develping her own 6 Part Childbirth Education Course.

Carina had the amazing opportunity to live in South Korea in 2016 and 2017, and practiced as a doula in this country. It opened her eyes to a wide range of practices, that she had not experienced before in Australia.

Carina has assited many couples on their journey to parenthood! She has been present at a variety of births, including vaginal, VBAC and caeseran. She has been privledged to be present in the operating theatre of one of her clients, when her husband was denied access. And sadly, but importantly, Carina has had experience in assisting a mother through her difficult journey of a late term miscarriage/stillbirth.

And finally, Carina is passionate about a healthy mind and healty body. She is a certified Crossfit Trainer (Level 2 and Crossfit Kids) and has her Certificate III in Fitness. She prefers to work with pregnant, post-partum and de-conditioned mums. She believes that exercise is the key to reducing the prevalence of post natal-depression that she continually sees in her communities.

Carina is now based in the north-western suburbs of Perth, WA. In her spare time she volunteer’s at the local dog shelter, enjoys the great outdoors and involves herself with Scout Australia activities!

Paulette d’Argent

Doula Services Manager 

Paulette comes to us with a big heart, a wealth of knowledge and expertise as a Social Worker and qualified Doula who trained with us at the ADC.  She has over 15 years of experience working with the highly vulnerable, traumatised and marginalised people in Melbourne, Vic.  Paulette works from a trauma informed lens and way of practice and has gained this knowledge from her time working within Federal Govt, NGO’s and within the Health System, all of which have enriched her with a wide scope of understanding the needs of both the systems and people of society and everything in between.

Her most recent roles have been working with survivors of torture particularly  refugees and asylum seekers  at an NGO in Melbourne, and also vulnerable women during their perinatal periods of their lives (before, during and after birth) within a major Health system. Paulette feels incredibly honoured to have had the opportunity to support, work with and learn from these phenomenally resilient people giving her a deeper insight into societal and political constructs, adversities and the depths of pain and trauma that humans face on a day to day basis.  She can often hear herself saying to her children,  compassion towards the self and therefore towards humankind is what is most important .

Paulette is a qualified and trained birth and post partum doula, massage therapist and Counsellor who is based in South East Melbourne. She is a passionate mama of 6 children, two biological children ( a wise teenage girl, and an old soul of a ten year old boy) , a proud step mum of two teenage boys who are navigating the world amazingly and two little ginger rescue cats named Rufus and Biggie Smalls.

Paulette is thrilled to be joining the ADC team, particularly as she has first hand experience coming through the college as a student and has a sound understanding of all of the raw emotions, challenges, rewards and the individual transformations that come with the learning.

Raewyn Fernandez

Social Media, Website & Canvas Admin

Raewyn is an experienced and passionate Yoga Teacher with a background in Corporate Sales, Personal Coaching, Marketing and Small Business.

Based in the Wollondilly region, outside of Sydney Raewyn has regular yoga offerings for both adults and children and also offers Reiki through yoga and in private consultations. She is a Mama to two beautiful children and one 4 legged baby and has a passion for the wellness world.

Raewyn supports the ADC through their social marketing platforms, website administration and also through the Canvas training platform.

Karen Cairo


Karen grew up in the United States and has become a permanent resident of Australia. Although not a doula herself, she is passionate about family, being one of six children, and is honoured to work with such a special community of women.