Thrive Medical Doctors

Established in 2016, Thrive Medical is a small community General Practice in Cairns North.

Owned by well-known local GPs, Dr Jane Barry and Dr Melanie Stuttgen, we provide high quality health care for all age groups. Bringing enthusiasm and a variety of skills, our team includes Dr Aileen Traves, Dr Omar Khan, Dr Clarissa Tjoakarfa and Dr William Ho.

Our practice offers a welcoming, non-judgemental, friendly environment where we can focus on improving your health and that of your family.

We see you as a whole person and aim to optimise your health rather than just treat your illness or injury.

For healthy people we need a healthy planet. We aim to utilise environmentally sustainable practices wherever possible. Please refer to our Planetary Health page for further information on our actions and what you can do personally.

Conveniently located just south of the airport turn-off and directly behind Mother of Good Counsel School, we are well positioned for easy access from the northern Cairns area, including Cairns North, Edge Hill, Whitfield, Aeroglen, Stratford, Freshwater, Brinsmead, Redlynch, Caravonica, Kamerunga, Smithfield, Machans Beach and Holloways Beach.




Born and bred in Sydney, I'm very happy to call Cairns home. I absolutely love the climate, friendly people and beautiful landscapes here.

I always knew the city life wasn't for me so, on completion of my undergraduate training, I seized the opportunity to escape. I spent my early years as a doctor working in regional and rural New South Wales and Queensland.

I first came to Cairns in 1999 and was captivated. I quickly applied for a job up here and, despite being told I would find the pace of life in FNQ frustratingly slow, I immediately felt at home. My first years here were spent socialising, exploring the rivers and walks of the area, and working at Cairns Hospital where I gained extra skills in Obstetrics and Gynaecology (birthing and Women's Health), and Emergency Medicine.

With these qualifications under my belt I was keen to gain wider experience, both personally and professionally, so moved to Alice Springs. I worked there for 3 ½ years as a flying doctor for remote Indigenous communities and cattle stations. It was an extraordinary experience but the hours were relentless and I eventually realised I couldn't single-handedly win the battle to improve the health of remote Indigenous Australians. I needed to prioritise my own health and well-being.

So I returned to Cairns in 2006, settled into General Practice and quickly regained a work/life balance. I was fortunate at that time to be able to also continue working with remote and Indigenous communities, initially with the RFDS doing GP Women's Health clinics in Cape York, the Gulf and the Torres Strait, and then with Apunipima in Mossman Gorge until 2014.

I believe in supporting my profession and am involved in teaching. I also examine regularly for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

I am passionate about General Practice and love being a GP. I feel privileged to be part of my patients' lives and enjoy the full variety of medical practice. My special interests are Women's health (including antenatal care), Indigenous health and minor surgery, aged care, kids, mental health.

In recent years I have become increasingly aware of, and deeply concerned by, the declining health of our planet. I try to live as sustainably as possible (which is good for my health!) and am involved in medical and community groups advocating for positive change on a broader scale.

*Not accepting new patients.




I'm not sure about the criteria for being a Cairns local, but being born here during a cyclone and spending the first 16 years of my life here, means I consider myself a local. I left in the early 1990s to undertake my university studies in Brisbane. Before I became a doctor, I was a scientist. I spent my honours year researching pesticide resistance in cattle ticks and then entered the fascinating world of medical research, at the Queensland Institute of Medicine. It was this time in medical research that inspired me to subsequently return to The University of Queensland, Brisbane, to study medicine. Keen to leave city life, I was thankful for the opportunity to complete my final two years of hospital rotations in North Queensland. After graduation from medical school I continued working in North Queensland and then headed to Tasmania to do my general practice training. In 2009, with my husband and 3 children in tow, I once again headed North and returned home to Cairns and have been working as a local GP ever since.

I love being a GP. As a GP you get to look after not only an individual, but their entire (often extended) family; you get the opportunity to provide education and empower patients about their health. I consider it a privilege to share a patient's journey through both joyful times and difficult or sorrowful times. I enjoy the challenge of never knowing what is going to come through the door on any day. The added advantage to being a GP is the babies. I love babies and can often be found between consultations sneaking in a cuddle.

When not at work I enjoy spending time with family and friends (especially my middle child), reading and trying to tame my garden and undo the landscaping work of the local scrub turkeys.

My patients and staff who struggle with my last name call me Dr Mel.

*Not accepting new patients.




I grew up in Canberra back in the days when there was no medical school to train at in our Nation's Capital, so I made the move to North Queensland in 2000 to be in the first class of doctors to train at James Cook University. After four years in Townsville I moved to Cairns for the fifth and sixth years of the degree. Like so many others who "temporarily" come to Cairns I discovered how much I love the place in 2004 and have never left. I learned the ropes as a junior doctor at Cairns Base Hospital before commencing general practice specialist training. I have worked in Kuranda, Mareeba, and around Cape York and the Torres Strait as part of the paediatric outreach team.

I love the variety and privilege of being a GP, and enjoy supporting patients of all ages through the ups and downs of life. My special interests include women's health and antenatal care, child and adolescent health, sexual health, community and public health, travel medicine and palliative care. I have a Diploma of Child Health, and a Master of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. I am passionate about improving the health of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

I try to listen to my patients and help them to understand their own body and emotions. In addition to clinical work I also enjoy teaching medical students at James Cook University part time.

Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my husband and two young daughters, bushwalking, swimming, appreciating nature and trying to look after my own health. I love to travel and learn more about the incredible world in which we live.

*Not accepting new patients.


MBBS (UQ), B. Med. Sci. (U Syd), Grad Dip Sports Med


My family background is typically Australian: Indian dad, an Australian mum…with Greek and English thrown in! Growing up in Sydney, I studied Medical Science at Sydney Uni, before moving north to study Medicine at the Uni of Qld. Something kept luring me north, and I completed my final two years of medical school based in Townsville and Cairns. After experiencing regional life, the incredible scenery, the friendliness of the people, and the fascinating, unique aspects of medicine in the tropics, I knew I had found my home. Falling in love and having two young boys in Cairns just makes me even more sure!

Over the last 15 years working in Cairns as a GP I have increasingly delighted in becoming part of so many peoples’ lives. Seeing mothers through their pregnancies, then watching their young children grow and develop personalities of their own is an absolute privilege. Caring for people in their final days has also been deeply rewarding.

I believe in empowering patients through education as much as possible, and making joint decisions using common sense, as well as the best current medical evidence. I don’t think we, as doctors, have all the answers, and am happy to admit when I am unsure about something! I don’t think everything can be fixed with a pill. Over the years, I have developed a special interest in Musculoskeletal Medicine. I have completed a Graduate Certificate in Sports Medicine through the University of Qld, and currently combine general practice with work alongside local Orthopaedic Specialists managing acute injuries. I also assist these surgeons in the operating theatre every week.

Outside of work I am a passionate gardener with my veggie garden taking over the street! I love hiking, camping, and mountain biking. I also love cooking, reading, and exploring the worlds of wine and craft beer!

I am constantly striving to be a better dad and a better doctor.

Special Interests

  • Musculoskeletal Medicine – including cortisone injections for shoulders, knees and ankles, hip bursitis. I am happy to accept referrals from physios and other GPs for a particular musculoskeletal problem, and then return ongoing care to the patient’s regular GP!
  • Family Medicine
  • Childhood health and immunisations
  • Men’s Health
  • Travel advice and vaccines
  • Skin checks and skin excisions
  • Ingrown Toenail surgery
  • Ear nose and Throat/Ear microscopy & suction
  • Implanon Insertion/Removal




I’m still quite new to Cairns, having moved here from Melbourne two years ago and born in Singapore. So far, I am loving life here in the tropics and am hoping to stay here for the long term.

I graduated from the University of Melbourne and am currently completing my general practitioner training.

Outside of work, I am a new mum to a very cute baby boy and enjoying ‘mum-hood’ very much. I also like to bushwalk with my husband, cook and bake. Similar to Dr Mel, I also have a very complicated last name and hence am happy for patients to call me Dr Claire.

I look forward to meeting patients from all walks of life and feel privileged to serve our community.




My attraction to Far North Queensland first formed when I moved north to complete my internship at Cairns (Base) Hospital after graduating from the University of Queensland medical school in Brisbane. What was meant to only be a year-long stint turned into an infatuation with the tropical lifestyle. This love affair would then be put on pause when I entered service as a commissioned medical officer in the Royal Australian Navy where I served full-time for a number of years, including multiple deployments at sea and to Afghanistan. While in the Navy, I also obtained my fellowship to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

I was fortunate enough on occasions during my time in the Navy, to be posted back to Cairns which only continued to feed my fascination with the far north. However, in 2016, following discharge from the Navy, my wife, Sarah and I decided we would change up our lives altogether and relocate to Canada in pursuit of adventure. Thus, it was in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada that we have been living over the last 6 years where I worked as a rural GP in a small mountain town called Pemberton. This experience showed me a whole other aspect to the practice of medicine in an environment that was previously alien to this Aussie. It was while working in Pemberton, I also obtained my Certification to the Canadian College of Family Physicians.

Nevertheless, the yearning for the tropics continued despite living amongst snow capped mountains and eventually the lure of a return to Cairns to call this place home became too irresistible. So, here we are. I love my work as a GP. I particularly appreciate that as GPs, we are able to provide care and walk alongside patients in all stages of their lives. From newborns to the elderly. Being invited into the lives of my patients has always felt like an immense privilege and one which I place significant value upon.

While I enjoy practicing the full scope of general practice, I also hold special interest in men’s health, teen & adolescent health, sports medicine and Veterans health. I am also a passionate advocate for the improvement of the health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples. In my spare time, you will find me trying to impress/embarrass my 2 kids while simultaneously avoiding being mocked by Sarah. I also enjoy honing my skills as a mediocre mountain biker and cyclist. Otherwise, I am a keen home cook and generally live for a good laugh.