School of Population Health

Our people bestowed prestigious accolade for contribution to population health

Image - Liz Harris, Faye McMillan, Robyn Richmond

Congratulations to the following UNSW School of Population Health experts for being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List and appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM):  

Professor Rebecca Ivers, Head of School, said:  

“This recognition is testament to the selfless commitment and passion of the awardees to address disparities in population health and ensure the best possible health outcomes for all people, no matter where they live or regardless of their socio-economic, cultural or linguistic background – in Australia and beyond – congratulations Elizabeth, Faye and Robyn!”  

“As the Queen’s Honours list this year includes the highest number of women ever recognised, I’m delighted that the School has contributed to such a milestone,” said Rebecca.   

Individuals are appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service in a particular locality or field of activity or to a particular group. 

Adjunct Associate Professor Elizabeth Harris, now retired, was founding Director of the Centre for Health Equity, Training, Research and Evaluation at Liverpool in Southwest Sydney. Elizabeth has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her commitment to take action to achieve equity in health outcomes and access to health and related services. This includes her work with colleagues in developing the NSW Health and Equity Statement which has informed several initiatives over the past decade and the reporting of health equity in Chief Health Officer’s reports in NSW and co-leading the first Australian randomised trial of the impact of nurse home visit on child health and development.   

Commenting on the recognition, Elizabeth said:   

“None of this work is done by one person acting alone. The issues surrounding health equity have emerged over time – and my action has been with the support of friends and colleagues who were up for the challenge. 

While on a personal level, it is always great to have this type of recognition, professionally it helps to normalise health equity as a legitimate area of study. 

My focus has always been on action rather than description. Although retired now, I am still involved in projects with community health workers to address health equity in the Australian health system. I hope this work will increase the legitimacy of action rather than just description – health equity action is hard and requires the 3 ‘Ts’ of success:  time, trust and tenacity.   

It also helps to be born into the right family, picking the right partner and living in a nest of love. I have been blessed by having these in plenty.  I have also been gifted with 4 strong and talented children and a growing number of grandchildren who convince me our future is in good hands.”  

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, a proud Wiradjuri yinaa (woman), is the first appointed Deputy National Rural Health Commissioner, a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity, and joined the School this year following an extensive career in allied health in regional and rural NSW. Faye has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for her work in Indigenous mental health and workforce development and education, such as through her role as Director of the Djirruwang Program – Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health) at Charles Sturt University, as a foundational member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia and over two decades of work in the Indigenous health space.  

Commenting on the recognition, Faye said: 

“I am honoured to be able to do the work I love and am passionate about. Whilst I am honoured by the recognition, it is not mine alone – I see and acknowledge the work and the people that contribute to changing our society in so many spheres as well as the people in the background that support and sustain them.  

This is also a recognition of the individuals, organisations and communities that have been on this journey with me. I want to specifically thank my two sons, my mum and my family that have always believed in and supported me to do the work that I love.   

I hope this recognition – and the awareness it brings – can encourage our society to have more honest and authentic conversations about mental health, and more cross-sector collaboration to remove the stigma of mental health. I also hope that it will create networks and opportunities to advance research in mental health and wellness.  

As a society we need to do better – and we need to do this across the silos that have been constructed. I am looking forward to the important opportunities that this appointment brings to collaborate with people and organisations that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with to contribute more to society’s understanding and impact of mental health of Australia’s First peoples.”  

Emeritus Professor Robyn Richmond, a public health practitioner, has worked with UNSW for 40 years, and is an established international expert in public health and medical education. Robyn has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for the breadth and diversity of her work in public health research, teaching, service and contributions to knowledge translation, practice and humanitarian efforts. Leading large projects in metropolitan, regional, rural NSW and remote health services, Robyn’s work has ranged from interventions to reduce smoking among high-risk groups and risky alcohol consumption in Australia, to implementing public health and educational initiatives in Australia and across the globe on life-saving public health measures like smoking cessation.  

Commenting on the recognition, Robyn said:  

“I have always felt it important to use the knowledge and experience I’ve gained throughout my career in a practical way for the benefit of Australians and the international community and to have significant impact on public health.  

I feel privileged to have been able to work with a range of underserved populations including those with a mental illness, prisoners, workplace employees such as from the police and Australia Post, and people living in internally displaced persons camps in Kenya and Uganda.  

I’ve had the opportunity to teach many 1000s of medical students, practising doctors and other health professionals in metropolitan, regional and remote regions of Australia, which I hope will have a positive impact on future efforts to improve health and tackle inequities.  

I also hope this recognition will pave the way for new opportunities for me to contribute my expertise through more committees. For example, I am currently part of the NSW Ministry for Health Advisory Committee to reduce smoking among women – I hope by being appointed a Member of the Order of Australia I’ll have further such opportunities to make a difference to the community.”  

Image - From far left: Elizabeth Harris, Faye McMillan, Robyn Richmond

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