About Us

Our Veterinarians

Dr James Tiernan


James was raised in country Queensland. After growing up with lots of pets, becoming a veterinarian was a natural progression for James.

Following graduation with a Veterinary Science degree from the University of Queensland in 2001 James moved to the UK and worked in several busy small animal clinics dealing with dogs, cats, and many other small furry patients that are common in the UK such as rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice and birds. Whilst in the UK James successfully passed examinations in a General Practitioner Certificate in Small Animal Medicine [GPCert (SAM)] through the European School of Veterinary Postgraduate Studies. This was extremely useful in helping James to further build his skills in small animal medicine.

After spending eight years in the UK, James returned to Australia with Jane. On returning to Australia, James spent a short period of time at the University of Queensland Veterinary Small Animal Hospital before moving to Victoria and starting employment at the Western Animal Emergency Centre based at Werribee which is part of the Melbourne University Veterinary Hospital in 2009.

In June 2010 James and Jane were very excited to take over ownership of the Highton Veterinary clinic; it had long been their dream to have their own clinic. They have enjoyed working with the very capable staff and meeting all the clients and their pets.

James’ main interest is mostly in small animal medicine, especially emergency medicine. He also has a soft spot for cats (particularly British Short Hairs) and loves Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. 

Outside of work James keeps busy with his young children Seamus, Niamh, Aislin and Declan and enjoys cycling and getting to the gym when he can. His pets  Maple and Zuma, as well as his kids birds, guinea pigs, rabbit, bearded dragon, and fish keep him busy.

At the clinic you can see James for just about anything related to your pets health, but in particular general medicine and emergency cases, as well as all pocket pets.

Dr Jane Tiernan


Jane is originally from Drysdale and always wanted to be a veterinarian from a very early age after growing up surrounded by animals. She attended school in Geelong before starting her Veterinary Science studies at the University of Melbourne. After attaining her Veterinary degree in 2000 Jane worked in mixed practice in Bendigo before moving to the UK for seven years. During her time in the UK Jane worked in several locum positions around England and Wales before taking a job at a busy Veterinary Charity Hospital in London.

After Jane married her husband James, they left the UK and moved back to her hometown Geelong and Jane took on a job at the Corio Veterinary Clinic before coming to Highton. Jane and James took over ownership of the Highton Veterinary Clinic in mid-2010.

Jane has done postgraduate studies in Small Animal Medicine and has been admitted to the Medicine Chapter of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists. She has also done additional study in small animal surgery with the University of Sydney Post Graduate Foundation course. Jane enjoys both small animal medicine and surgery cases.

Jane and James have loads of pets dogs, up until recently cats, guinea pigs, a rabbit, birds, fish, and even a lizzard.

These days Jane spends more time with their young family than in the  in the consulting room keeping their tribe of kids out of trouble Seamus, Niamh, Aislin and Declan.

At the clinic you can see Jane for just about anything related to your pets health, and particularly for soft tissue surgery.

Dr Susanne Jacker


Sue is a local Geelong girl, growing up in Highton. After finishing her secondary schooling in Geelong she went to the University of Melbourne and completed a Veterinary Science degree graduating in 1997. After graduation Sue moved back to Geelong and has now been working at the Highton Veterinary Clinic for nearly 20 years. During her time at the clinic she has gained a wealth of knowledge in the veterinary world and has developed a strong rapport with many of the clients and their pets. She has had the privilege of caring for some of our clients’ 2nd and even 3rd generation of pets. Sue is known for her bubbly personality and caring nature.

Sue’s special interests are feline medicine and ultrasonography, and she has done numerous courses on these subjects. Having two Birman cats herself, she has been known to spend ages doting on these cats given the opportunity. However Sue enjoys all animals brought into the clinic.

Sue works part time and spends the rest of her time being Mum to her little son Jay.

At the clinic you can see Sue for just about anything related to your pet’s health, but in particular ultrasonography and feline medicine cases.

Dr Marion Vince


 Marion is surprised at how time has flown by, apparently she has been vetting for almost 11 years now! She has been a large animal vet, a locum vet, an emergency vet, and for nearly 5 years she has been a Highton Vet! Continuing education is one of Marions passions, providing current treatment options to her patients is extremely important to her. She has recently achieved memberships in the small animal radiology chapter of the Australian and New Zealand Veterinary College.

Marion’s fur family consists of a blue-eyed stunner of a deaf-dalmatian, an all-ears chihuahua-staffy cross, a rather anti-social fluff-ball cat and three powerful chooky ladies.
She loves the outdoors and thinks living in Geelong is the best, with lots of coastal adventures and the youyangs close by also.


At the clinic you can see Marion for just about anything related to your pets health, but in particular, she has a keen interest in emergency medicine and feline medicine and likes to keep updated on all the latest research.

Dr Rachael Johnstone


Rachael is another local girl, she has lived most of her life in Geelong. She graduated with first class honours from Melbourne University. Her first job was in Geelong Clinic establishing her skills in small animal practice.

After a couple of years she took the opportunity to pursue her dream of dairy cattle practice in Warrnambool. She spent over 2 years performing calvings in the wind and rain and loved every minute of it. Her next position was working in emergency medicine at the Western Animal Emergency Centre at the Melbourne University Vet Clinic and Hospital.

More recently she has worked Saturdays part time while raising her family of four young children. She has 2 young cats, Garfield and Nermal (named by the kids) and 3 backyard chooks. In her small amount of spare time she enjoys baking, especially with chocolate.

At the clinic you can see Rachael for just about anything related to your pets health, but in particular general medicine and emergency cases.

Dr Kristian  Danorwayan


 Kristian has a long history of globe hopping and Geelong is the latest stop. If you ask him what his favourite thing about living in Australia is compared to other countries, he would tell you it’s the meat pies and sausage rolls.

He studied marine science at Boston University, before completing his veterinary degree from the University of Melbourne. During his stint as a penguin caretaker at the New England Aquarium, he aspired to become a veterinarian. If you find yourself travelling to Boston, Kristian recommends going to Pinocchio’s Pizza near Harvard Square.

Kristian would eventually like to learn more about aquatic medicine, but for now he’s interested in nutrition to help bring awareness about what to look for and why, when buying or making food for your beloved companion.

A good time for Kristian is watching TV with his three-legged cat, Peggy. His Mario Kart skills are slightly above average but will not decline a challenge if issued, and if you stroll along Barwon Valley Park you may catch him on certain afternoons having a throw around the disc golf course. 

At the clinic you can see Kristian for just about anything relating to your pet’s health. 

Dr Josie Martin


Josie grew up in Werribee and wanted to be a vet since finishing high school. After completing her Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne, she then completed the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the same university. During her studies, she worked as a kennel attendant at Seeing Eye Dogs, where she fell in love with and adopted failed SED Labrador, Vera.
Josie enjoys practicing all areas of veterinary medicine and surgery, but is particularly interested in working up medical cases.
Outside of work, Josie likes to listen to live music, eat out, read fiction, and relax at home with her partner and fur children Labrador Vera and ginger cat Cheezel.

At the clinic you can see Josie just about anything relating to your pets health. 

Dr Melody Winterhalter


Melody was born in Switzerland and grew up in a variety of places, including Japan and Australia. She graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in London, and has recently moved to Geelong.

She loves all animals, and has a special interest in marine animals, especially sharks! As far as more common pets go, Corgis hold a special place in her heart.

Outside of work, Melody enjoys reading, eating cheese and exploring the Australian outdoors.

At the clinic you can see Melody  just about anything relating to your pets health. 

Dr Annie Carty


 Annie has recently moved to Geelong, and like several of her new colleagues has spent time working in the UK as a locum small animal vet and travelling around Europe. Annie grew up and went to school in Warrnambool, then after graduating from Melbourne University, then spent several years working in a small animal clinic in Ballarat alongside Dr Luke.

Annie has loved her start to working with the Highton team and meeting all of the clinic’s dedicated clients. She has a keen interest in all surgical cases and is planning to hit the books for further studies in 2021 to accompany the experience the varied surgical caseload Highton Vet offers.

Outside of work Annie likes to keep a busy schedule of drinking coffee, exploring local beaches and following Geelong during footy season. Annie is owned by two foster-fail cats Larry and Reg, whose hobbies include climbing curtains, ruining indoor plants and meowing at 6am for food.

At the clinic you can see Annie  just about anything relating to your pets health. 

Dr Rachel Hamill 

BVSc (Hons)

Rachel grew up in Melbourne and has always wanted to be a vet. After graduating from veterinary science at the University of Sydney, Rachel moved to New Zealand to pursue an interest in mixed practice, and spend time working with some of her favourite animals, cows. After 3 wonderful years in New Zealand, Rachel was ready to see more of the world.

She moved to the UK and worked in both mixed and small animal practice. Most recently, Rachel has focussed on developing her companion animal clinical skills, and has an interest in small animal medicine and critical care.

Rachel is excited to return to Victoria after being away for over a decade, and is now joined by her kiwi partner, Nick, and her Kiwi cat, Bilbo. In her free time Rachel loves hiking and getting out into nature. 

At the clinic you can see Rachel  just about anything relating to your pets health, in particular she loves emergency medicine. 

Dr Nick Law


Nick grew up on a dairy farm in New Zealand. He was surrounded by cows, horses, dogs, cats and rabbits and wanted to be a vet since he can remember. 

He studied at Massey University in NZ where he completed both a Bachelor of Science , majoring in Animal Science and a Bachelor of Veterinary Science. 

Nick worked in New Zealand mixed practice for 4 years. During this chapter of his life he met Rachel. They decided to see more of the world, so left NZ to go and experience vet life in England. 

Nick really loved his small animal work in the UK especially the variety of animals that are loved by owners. As well as cats and dogs Nick got to work with rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, rats, bearded dragons, ferrets, tortoises and many more. 

Out of work Nick enjoys dancing west coast swing, a style which he will be more than happy to demonstrate, playing the guitar, snowboarding and spending time with friends and family.

At the clinic you can see Nick  just about anything relating to your pets health. 

Our Veterinary Nurses


Operations Manager

Melissa started her veterinary nursing in Portland in 2001, before moving to Geelong in 2006 and starting at the Highton Veterinary Clinic.

Apart from her duties as the Operations Manager, Melissa enjoys nursing hospital patient and coordinating the kitten adoption program.

Her pets include the charming William and Ernie who where previously Clinic cats, as well as Thomas.

Melissa is an ardent pet lover and during the spring and summer months she is a foster mum to unwanted and orphaned kittens, looking after them until they are big enough to find good homes. Melissa has been fantastic with caring for the kittens that come through the clinic and looking after them until they are able to be adopted through our Adoption program.

In November 2012 she was awarded the Cenvet Nurse of the Year 2012 for her dedication to the profession of Veterinary Nursing. 

Outside of work Melissa enjoys all thing photography. 



Nurse and Reception Manager 

Jo became a fully qualified Veterinary Nurse in 2009 after some years spent in dog grooming and as a wildlife keeper at a sanctuary.
Since October of 2018, she has been the Nurse Manager for Consult and Reception, so you can rely on Jo for the smooth running of our front-of-house team.
Jo loves travelling overseas every year, and she also enjoys hiking and visiting wineries with friends on weekends spent away.


Veterinary Nurse Superviser 

Laura is originally from Shepparton and has done a lot of travelling in her past. It was in 2004 in New Zealand whilst driving in the pouring snow, she saw a cute Border Collie in a ute speckled in snow where she had an epiphany she wanted to be a vet nurse. Laura has volunteered in Thailand at an animal rescue centre, locumed at clinics in Melbourne and worked in Tweed Heads near the beach. Laura’s passion is caring for hospital patients, dealing with critical patients and nursing your pets back to full health.

Outside of the clinic Laura’s passions are cooking, spending time with her two cheeky cats and singing and playing bass and guitar in her two bands.


Veterinary Nurse

 Studying at the same time as Jo, Sarah also qualified in Veterinary Nursing in 2009.

Sarah has been fostering greyhounds since August 2017 and enjoys helping to find forever homes for homeless greyhounds. Sarah is also very fond of the smaller animals and loves giving cuddles to all the little ferrets that come into the clinic.

Sarah is passionate about helping owners and their pets that are going through difficult times with terminal illness and euthanasia. She is a dedicated nurse and enjoys being involved in the nursing of sick animals in the clinic back to good health.

Sarah also has a creative side which she likes to indulge in when not at work, and is especially partial to music, cooking, photography, drawing, and is currently writing a fantasy novel.


Veterinary Nurse 

Simone qualified as a veterinary nurse in 1986, and is often quoted as saying she loves veterinary nursing so much she would work for free!
Kept busy with her family and pets, Simone is very experienced in caring for your pets and passing on valuable advice for owners.
Simone loves to chat so she is always happy to answer any queries clients may have and to pass on tips from her wealth of knowledge.
Simone has a soft spot for Pugs and has bred several litters. Currently she has three pugs named Bronte, Poppy and Remi and cat named Barry


Veterinary Nurse

Tania is loving nursing as a profession after becoming qualified in November 2014. She has a passion for all animals especially pocket pets and small dogs.
Tania has 2 Chihuahuas, Barney and Jedda, a cat named Milky, and a bearded dragon named Pogo.
When not at work, Tania enjoys spending time with her two children, going to the gym, running and hanging out with friends.


Veterinary Nurse

Jemma has been nursing at Highton Vet Clinic for 5 years after graduating in November 2016 with a Certificate 4 in Veterinary Nursing.

Jemma enjoys all aspects of her nursing role, especially assisting the vets in surgery, and in nursing sick patients back to health.
Jemma has three gorgeous dogs, Billy, a German shepherd, Lulu the spoodle, and Willow a groodle, as well as a cat named Kiara.
Outside of work Jemma enjoys catching up with friends, playing netball, running and taking her dogs to the beach.


Veterinary Nurse

Louise has been nursing since 2003 and became fully qualified in 2006. She is also a registered microchip implanter.
Her biggest love in Veterinary Nursing is routine and emergency surgery and she has a big soft spot for geriatric patients.
Louise likes to undertake regular webinars to keep up to date with all the current ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ for nursing to ensure that she is looking after your pets to the best standard.
When not at work you’ll find Louise up in the mountains hiking or snowboarding, or in the garden or somewhere outdoors.
Louise has a very spoilt Border Collie named CJ.


 Veterinary Nurse

Somer has recently completed her studies in Veterinary Nursing. She is very passionate about all animals and has a keen interest in surgery and hospital patients’ cases and loves nursing patients back to health.

Somer is known as the crazy dachshund lady of the clinic. Her miniature dachshund, Sonny is her absolute world & when not at work you can find her spending time with him, her partner & friends.

Outside of work Somer also loves sports, especially basketball and netball. 


Veterinary Nurse

Annie works part time at the Highton Veterinary Clinic and thoroughly enjoys veterinary nursing. Being little herself, Annie prefers the smaller dogs and she has a little Papillion called Paris, who although small still have lots of attitude. 


Veterinary Nurse

 Naomi has been a veterinary nurse for 10 years, working in both emergency and general clinic. She enjoys medicine cases & nursing your pets back to good health.

Naomi also has a keen interest in nursing wildlife, and enjoys socialising kittens during the busy kitten season.
Naomi is mum to two cats Eric and Flynn and can often be seen taking Eric for a walk on his harness.
In her spare time Naomi enjoys hiking, camping and gardening.


Veterinary Nurse

Karryn joined the team at Highton in July 2019, she has been working in practice since the beginning of 2016 and completed her veterinary nursing qualification at the end of 2017. She loves all aspects of the job but has a particular interest in surgery and caring for our feline patients.

Karryn comes from a family of cat-lovers and is Mum to two cats; a Devon Rex, the love of her life, named Theodore and a special-needs Burmese named Trixie. She and her husband have recently adopted a Whippet named Stella and are looking to find her a doggie sibling in the near future.

When she’s not working, Karryn loves to spend time with friends, go out for brunch,  binge-watch a good TV series, work out at the gym and walk her dog. She has a bit of a flair for interior decorating and if she has time, she also loves to bake!


Veterinary Nurse

Michelle joined the team at highton in August 2019, she has been nursing in general practice since 2016 and was previously working at GAWS 2 years prior. She has an interest in surgical & medicine cases and has a big soft spot for geriatric patients.

Michelle is known as the crazy border collie lady. Her 2 border collies Indie & Luna are so spoilt. She spends most of her time training Indie in agility, Luna in obedience and taking them out on adventures. Her furr family does not end there though, she also has cats, Dharma, Agnes and Phoenix as well as an eclectus parrot Axle.

In Michelle’s other spare time she enjoys yoga, gardening and travelling overseas with her Fiancé.


Veterinary Nurse

Stef joined Highton Vet in 2019 after she wanted to branch out and learn new skills. Stef has spent the past 3 years at the Emergency Centre in Geelong and 12 years prior to that at the University of Melbourne in Werribee working in the intensive care unit.

Outside of Emergency Medicine, shef has a special interest in radiology and toxicology and is looking forward to creating a relationship with the Highton clients.

When Stef is not at work, you will find her looking after her two daughters, Border Collie Stella and 4 chickens Dixie, Alice, Lilly & Philly.

Stef loves to travel off the beaten track and spend time away in her camper trailer and would one day love to live on an outback cattle station.


Veterinary Nurse

Brooke joined the Highton Team in 2020 after being qualified and working in clinic since 2017.  She enjoys all aspects of nursing but in particular takes interest in surgery, nutrition and behaviour.
Her American Staffy X, Zara is very spoilt and loves being the only child. They bond over brunching, netflixing and shopping in bunnings together!
If she’s not found exploring the coastline on the weekends, you may find her exploring the local cafes of Geelong instead.


Trainee Veterinary Nurse

Olivia started at the clinic in June of 2018 and commenced her Certificate 4 in Veterinary Nursing in 2019.

Olivia developed her love for pets and wildlife through previous roles at Werribee Zoo and as a pet shop attendant.

Olivia has a spoilt dog named Harry and a new cat called Bean. Outside of work Olivia enjoys baking cakes and spending time with her friends.

Our Support Team

Jennie Deckker 

Practice Manager 

Jennie says she’s always busy however promises she’ll update you soon!


Insurance Coordinator  and Administrative Assistant

Judith says this is definitely the most interesting of all the jobs she’s worked in! She says it’s not just the great Clinic staff members but especially the patients and their owners that have really made this a job she loves!

In late 2016 Judith moved from what had been her main role in reception to looking after admin in the clinic, but you will still her in reception from time to time and at weekends.
When she’s not at work Judith enjoys yoga, and travelling and hiking. Her most recent trip combined both of these with climbing in the Himalayas in Bhutan. 



Leanne was born in Geelong and moved back here 8 years ago to be closer to family,
after living on the Sunshine Coast for 12 years.
She is married and has 3 children, as well as 2 dogs, 1 cat, 4 chickens and too
many goldfish to count!
Leanne enjoys spending time with family and friends; camping, walking, and going out
for coffee!



Robyn joined the team at Highton Vet Clinic in January 2018 as Receptionist. Robyn had this to say, ‘I love my job at Highton Vet Clinic, It really is my dream job, working with great people and the wonderful animals we see on a daily basis’

Robyn has always had a love for animals, big and small.  She and her husband share their home with, 4 horses, 2 Kelpies and and even an  adopted cat from Highton Vet called William.




Bridget was born in Bendigo, moving to Geelong when she was in primary school. She started at Highton Vet Clinic in October 2018. She loves working at the clinic meeting the array of different pets and their owners.

Bridget loves travelling to new places and having adventures, however enjoys coming home to her fur babies just as much!
In her spare time Bridget enjoys cooking, crochet and bush walking. 



Originally from country South Australia, Bec has been calling Geelong “home” for the last 4 years along with her husband and their happy little Staffy, Wilson. Next to her family and friends, Bec’s great loves in life are animals and chocolate, which is why she divides her working life between her new receptionist role at HVC and her other role as a chocolate maker at a local chocolate factory. Bec likes to spend her leisure time watching movies, attending live sport and music, and any activity that involves a cheese platter



Molly is originally a country girl from Watchem, however she essentially grew up in Geelong since a young girl. She has grown up surrounded by animals all shapes and sizes, hence her passion for my job at the clinic.  She love getting to know clients and their beloved pets. You could say working with animals is in her blood, Molly is following her Mum, Simone’s footsteps, one of the wonderful nurses at the clinic.

Molly too a tad Pug crazy like her mother and loves Arriving coming home to cuddle her  adorable Pug  Remi.

Outside of work  you’ll find her either at the beach, drinking wine or eating “Avo smash” at the local cafe in the region.


Puppy and Dog Trainer and Behavioural Consultant

Lisa has over 36 plus years’ experience in training dogs, 26 years of which has involved her taking puppy and training classes. Lisa coordinates and runs our Puppy Classes, Canine Academy, Adolescent Dog training classes, as well as our “one on one private lessons” here at the clinic.  Lisa always gets great feedback from the clients. She has the reputation of being one of the best dog trainers in Geelong and has been a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Australia Inc, since 2000. 

Lisa is fantastic at educating and helping clients understand/manage their dog’s behaviours so that they can become well-mannered companions. Lisa understands that every dog and its family are different which is why she loves the challenge of solving any behavioural hiccups that a client may encounter with their pet. She regularly attends training workshops with leading experts in behaviour & training, so is up-to-date with the best techniques for the best outcomes for our clients.

Lisa and her husband have two children, seven dogs – Rottweilers & Field Spaniels and regularly compete with their dogs. Lisa is also involved in “Aussie Truffle Dogs”, a company that breeds, evaluates & trains dogs to hunt for truffle.



Anita is not someone you see at the clinic on a day to day basis but she has been at the clinic for years. She helps make sure the clinic finances are running to plan. When not at work she is busy with her family and dogs Tess and Lucy.



Clinic Cat

Betsy joined the team in October 2015.  She, like most clinic cats arrived on our door step with her siblings, in a box as a dumped litter. 

And after winning the hearts of our nurse Sarah and then-receptionist Caitlyn, she never really left – nobody can recall exactly why except that we all loved her beautiful calm nature and sweet little face.  Hmmm!….what happened we ask for Betsy is the reason we sometimes have “discounted ” pre-sampled bags of food for sale in the clinic, the bigger the better for Betsy! As she never stops eating, she has since been banned from access to all food areas of the clinic.  

So now you won’t see Betsy in the blue reception area, but if you come in the green door, she won’t be far, just sleeping her days away in the admin office. 



Clinic Cat

Ernie has since COVID- 19 decided to work from home has taken some time off and currently living at Melissa’s house, so you will miss seeing him in the short term.

Joined the team in April of 2018. Ernie came into clinic as a Orphan and he was hand raised by our nurse Melissa. After unsuccessfully trying to find Ernie a home it was decided that Betsy would love to have a fur friend in the clinic.

Ernie favourite job at the clinic is meeting and greeting clients in the green reception area, which can include rolling around with the dogs in the waiting area. Ernie also loves the great outdoors and can be see from time to time through the consult room windows climbing the trees in the courtyard. 


Contact Us

(03) 5243 0077

Monday to Saturday 8am to 10pm
Sunday 10am to 10pm

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