Meet Our Vets

We are blessed to have 6 wonderful vets who work tirelessly together to ensure the best outcome for each and every animal that enters our hospital

Dr Tonje Brinchmann DVM

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Tonje graduated from the University of Veterinary Science in Oslo, Norway in 2018, after first starting her career as a veterinary nurse. She is the reason that one of our other wonderful vets, Dr JJ, speaks Norwegian, and together they started their family in the Far North.

Dr Tonje is one of the most compassionate and empathetic vets we have ever met, and is loved by all the clients who meet her. She is one of the few veterinarians who thrive as much on connecting and helping people as they do from connecting and helping animals. Make sure you remember her name, because she will probably remember yours!

Dr Tonje is a self-declared cat-lover and never hesitates to spend the time to gain their trust in hospital, something which is invaluable when trying to nurse them back to better health. Tonje and JJ have two rescue cats; Jack and Lucia Button, who are characters to say the least.

Loving her live here in Ballina, Tonje spends here weekends at the beach, preferably with a margarita in hand.

Dr Willa Harrison BVSc

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Willa is one of the founders and original owners of Racecourse Road Veterinary Hospital, and has been looking after animals of the region for over 20 years.

Dr Willa’s special interests are soft tissue surgery and medicine although she belongs to a generation of vets who truely can 'do it all'. With an uncanny memory of patients and the details of their medical history (seriously it is scary how much she remembers sometimes), Dr Willa puts her heart into each and every case, living up to our mission to put pets first. Her experience, brainpower and huge heart combine to give her an invaluable intuition when it comes to solving complex medical cases, and she is the one the other vets turn to for help in these situations.

When not working, Willa is a music lover, regularly attending local music festivals, an avid reader, bushwalker, gardener, as well as being a dangerous pool-shark. Willa lives in Pearces Creek with her husband Andy, their 2 teenagers, and a small population of pets.

Dr Linn Ullberg DVM

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Linn graduated from Copenhagen Vet School in 2013, and it didn't take her long before the allure of the Northern Rivers brought her to us and we have not let her go since. Dr Linn is a wealth of knowledge about pretty much all aspects of medicine and can often been seen in the hospital late into the evening writing her notes and researching the latest literature for her cases. Dr Linn's other super-power is ultrasound, and with this she is able to non-invasively find things like hidden foreign bodies or fluid around the heart, making her a huge asset to both the surgical and medical teams.

Born in Sweden, Linn lives with her partner Aaron, their twin boys and Stella, their beautiful energetic staffy. As at home on a surfboard as on her yoga mat, Linn is a loved and valued member of our team.

Dr JJ Debenham PhD BVSc MRCVS CertAVP (Zoo Medicine)

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr JJ graduated from Sydney University in 2011 with first class honours, immediately travelling to Congo in Africa to live and work with chimpanzees (read more about his experience in our blog). He then headed north to Norway where he met his beautiful wife Dr Tonje, also a vet at our clinic. In Norway, Dr JJ worked at the Norwegian University of Veterinary Science, completing an internship in small animal medicine and surgery, a masters in zoo and exotic animal medicine and then doing his doctoral thesis in wildlife parasites. Dr JJ still holds an Associate Professor position at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences where he teachers rabbit and exotic animal medicine and is an active researcher in these fields.

JJ is a passionate father and you will often see him with his two daughters, Lilly and Indie, in the clinic teaching them about animals or perhaps training them how to surf under Missingham bridge.

Dr Kirsty Robertson BVSc

Veterinary Surgeon

Did someone say behaviour, because if so then Dr Kirsty will come running. She has a passion and wealth of knowledge for helping animals better adapt to their environment or modify their behaviours so they can do all the things they love to do.
Dr Kirsty loves a challenge and has developed skills in a wide range of veterinary medicine from dentistry to surgery to dermatology.

After growing up in Alice Springs, Kirsty loves her coastal lifestyle and spends her weekends with her two cheeky dogs Charlie and Huey.

Dr Helen Cahill BVSc

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Helen is the newest vet to our team. She graduated from Sydney University in 2017 and has since travelled the country as a locum, picking up valuable experience as she went. When she first came to us in 2021 her calm energy, warm smile and open heart, made her feel like family from the very outset. We knew that we could not let her go, and are thrilled that she has decided to settle here in the Northern Rivers.

Dr Helen is currently doing a Masters in Conservation Medicine from Murdoch University and is one of our vets with a passion for wildlife.

Rachelle Nieuwerth

Rehabilitation Therapist

Rachelle is not a vet but she does have a wealth of experience in the veterinary industry having worked as a nurse, practice manager, and as a physical therapist for over 30 years. She was one of the founding owners of Racecourse Road Veterinary Hospital, together with Dr Willa.

Rachelle is passionate about assisting animals recover from injury and helping to manage their chronic musculoskeletal disease. From expediting recovery after a cruciate ligament surgery to managing pain and discomfort in old arthritic animals, Rach's physical therapies have helped countless animals in the Northern Rivers get back on their feet!

Rachelle takes a holistic approach to the body, using elements of complementary medicine, traditional musculoskeletal and neurophysiology, physiotherapy, Bowen therapy and integrative medicine. Over the past years she has been training in hydrotherapy together with our nurse Kate, and the two of them hope to offer the Northern Rivers first hydrotherapy service for dogs soon.

When not at work Rach love to cook and garden, and can be seen cruising South Ballina in her extreme 4WD.

Meet Our Nurses

These are the friendly voices you will hear on the phone when you call us. Our skilled and passionate veterinary nurses ensure all the complexities of our hospital keep running smoothly each and every day. Whilst their brains are highly training in advanced medicine and surgery, the biggest asset of this team is their love and compassion, ensuring every individual animals feels safe and loved whilst in our care.

Tayte

Veterinary Nurse Vert IV

With an over-sized heart, Tayte is one of the most caring people you will ever meet, always putting the needs of the people and animals around her before her own. As one of our anaesthetists, Tayte works together with our surgeons to ensure the safety of every surgical patient and her calm energy is perfect for animals as they recover.

Tayte's other passion is conservation and wildlife rehabilitation, and she serves as a vital connection between the local rehabilitation groups and the veterinary care these animals often require.

Sharon

Receptionist

Sharon has been our amazing receptionist since 2006! Her warm smile is often the first thing you will see when you walk through the doors, and her thorough nature to ensuring every pet gets the right treatment will make sure that you get exactly the service you need.

She is a proud mum to her daughter Charlie and her stepson Chris. At the moment she has 5 cats and 1 pug at home but there’s always room for more!

Sharon thoroughly enjoys her job as Racecourse Road’s receptionist. She enjoys spending time with our clients and their pets. She even considers most of them extended family members. When she has spare time Sharon enjoys spending time with her loved ones

Tait

Veterinary Nurse Cert IV

Tait is a passionate, highly skilled nurse who has a phenomenal ability to remain calm under high-pressure. This couples with a seemingly endless supply of energy to make him a wonderful well-rounded member of the team who's versatility helps make the entire hospital function better.

Tait has a charismatic smile and clearly loves his interactions with clients, and we are often receiving compliments about his personable service. Her is clearly proud to be caring for the community in which he was raised.

His care for animals, support for his colleagues and drive to ensure the highest quality of care is part of what keeps Racecourse Road Veterinary Hospital at the forefront of veterinary medicine.

As comfortable playing rough and tumble with a boisterous young staffy as he is gently nurturing a sick rabbit, Tait is often the first through the door and the last to leave.

Kate

Veterinary Nurse Cert IV

Kate's love of animals developed after rescuing her chihuahua Benny in 2010 and rehabilitating him from the trauma he experienced for the first 3 years of his life. Since then Kate has been involved with multiple rescues in Melbourne, and since moving up to the Northern Rivers in 2014 to pursue vet nursing, this passion has continued.

Since 2014, Kate has worked in multiple clinics in the area, with a particular interest of hers being emergency medicine. She has continued to study things such as Canine Myofunctional Therapy, canine massage and has almost completed Canine Bowen Therapy and Canine Hydrotherapy. Her desire is to combine these study to be able to help animals, particularly those struggling with the decreasing function and pain associated with ageing and disease .

Kate lives with her partner on property where they have 3 senior rescue dogs, 8 rescue chickens and Louie the peacock.

Saskja

Veterinary Nurse Cert IV

Saskja has been part of our team since she started doing work placement as a nursing student, and since graduating in 2021 we were thrilled to be able to lock her in with a full-time position. She brings value wherever she is placed in the clinic; reception, medicine and surgery.

Saskja is a proud vegan and a true animal advocate, always helping those around her see the world from the animal's perspective and helping teach others about the importance of compassion to the voiceless. Her flame for this cause burns so bright it is contagious and those around her are often kinder to animals as a result. She is actively involved in various rescue groups, as well as being politically active in the areas of animal rights and advocacy.

In her free time she loves to party and support her community.

Ben

Veterinary Nurse Cert IV

Ben joined the team in 2022 and we were thrilled to welcome him into our family. His broad experience and passion have been wonderful additions to our hospital. Naturally service minded, Ben's warm persona and wide smile make him as loved by our clients as by our staff. Ben also has the important role of being the Hospital DJ, which helps keep the hospital full of smiles and laughter.

However, every now and then someone in society gets a serious bird addiction, and Ben is one of these unfortunate victims. When he is not in the hospital caring for the patients and quoting obscure British artists, he can be found hunched in the forest somewhere with a camera waiting to capture a photo of one of natures wonders. Oh, there are two other places that Ben can be found....at the Rails having a pint and at Broken Head catching some waves.

Amy

Veterinary Nurse Cert IV

Graduating her Cert IV nursing in 2010, Amy is a very experienced veterinary nurse and seems to have knowledge in any possible area that she may be questioned on; from grooming to practice management to pharmacology to anaesthesia.

Having worked at several of the vet clinics along the peninsula, Amy has been a wonderful addition to our team, her calm and easy going energy is just what we need during the busy hospital atmosphere. She also has an uncanny ability to constantly supply tea and coffee to the team despite never leaving her post, and we are yet to figure out how she does it.

Amy is also an extremely dedicated mum, and we have been thrilled to see her welcome into the world her second child Annie in 2021. We are all excited about her return from maternity leave as she is currently a sorely missed member of our team.

Erin

Veterinary Nurse Cert IV

Hannah

Veterinary Nurse Cert IV

Hannah was a senior veterinary nurse at Lismore Central Veterinary Hospital, leading their surgical anaesthetic nursing department. Unfortunately the tragic floods of 2022 forced the closure of this clinic, but this did provide the opportunity for Hannah to come and join our team, and she hit the ground running from day 1.

Hannah has exceptional knowledge about the complex changes that happen in an animal's body when under anaesthesia, making her the ideal person to be monitoring your fury loved one when they are in hospital.

Hannah is also a passionate and skilled cook, and the staff are often challenging her to use us as test subjects for her culinary experiments.