Name: Judith Dwyer
Current position: Director of Research, Department of Health Care Management, Flinders University Medical School
Undergraduate degree: BA (English Lit.)
Area of expertise: Health policy and systems, health services research, Aboriginal health services research
How did you get started in HSR?
I have had a non-traditional career in many senses. I maintained a small role in health services research while working full-time as a health care executive, and then plunged into health services research when I became an academic at about the age of 50. I focused initially on the challenge of reforming care in public hospitals, but soon got involved in research on primary health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
What was the first project you worked on and where?
The first funded project I was involved with investigated the processes of reform in the public hospital and health services in southern Adelaide, as we sought to strengthen our existing regional approach to service development. Professor Fran Baum was the project leader.
What are some of the key projects you are currently working on?
Studies of reform in the funding and regulation of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, including a comparison of the public reporting required of general practices and ACCHOs. The goal of this and other studies is to contribute to the design and implementation of better funding and more effective national policy for the ACCHO health sector.
Career highlights so far?
Seeing some of my work influence health policy has been great. Receiving the Sidney Sax Medal in 2014, for my work in and for the Australian health system and Aboriginal health services research and policy was a real honour.
Who has had the biggest influence over your career to date? Have you had any important mentors?
In a long career there are many. Liz Furler, Stephen Duckett, Jim Birch, Jo Tiddy and Ian Anderson all supported my career in various ways.
What’s next for you in your career? What are you looking forward to?
In 2017, I’m planning to focus on writing, which is both the most rewarding and the most painful part of research work for me.
What was your motivation for becoming involved with the HSRAANZ?
I have attended many of the conferences, and starting with the first one I went to (2005?), the inspiring ideas, challenging conversations and the beginnings of rewarding collaborations have kept me involved.
What do you see as the most important goal or greatest challenge for the Association over the next few years?
There seems to be a great opportunity for health services research in the current thinking of the board of the Health Research Futures Fund in Australia, and the Association has a key role to play in shaping that and making sure the promise is realised (when the competition from other fields of health research will be fierce).
What do you think is the best way of having an influence on policy?
There is no easy answer, and no recipe, for this question. You have to be there, and timing seems to be critical.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the HSR?
There is no more important work, so aim to make the best contribution you can in an area you really care about.