Member Focus

Sophie Hickey

  • Organisation: Mater Research
  • Current position: Postdoctoral Research Officer
  • Research Interests: Indigenous health, health services research, applied sociology (health systems), workforce development (cultural capability)

How did you get started in HSR and what drew you to it?

I am passionate about the impact culturally safe health services can have on improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. With a background in sociology and public health, I have a particular research interest in translating evidence into practice to improve outcomes.


What was the first project you worked on and where?

I used to work in drug and alcohol research on a large national study monitoring patterns of use, health and related behaviour.


What are some of the key projects you are currently working on?

I currently manage a large longitudinal cohort study of Indigenous mothers and children designed to provide feedback to local service providers on best practice maternity care. The Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting Study is an NHMRC-funded five-year multi-methods evaluation of a new model of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families: Birthing in Our Community. It is a partnership between the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service Brisbane Ltd, and the Mater Mothers Hospital. Four years in and the new model is proving popular with women and families and improving maternal and infant health outcomes.


What have been your career highlights so far and why?

Presenting at Queensland Clinical Senate 2017 with our research partners was an important moment as we showcased our positive work with community. BiOC is becoming known as an exemplar continuity of carer model of culturally safe maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Another rewarding moment was mentoring our community researchers to write and publish a research article in Women and Birth (leading Australian midwifery journal) on their experiences and contributions to improving maternity care in their first six months working on the Indigenous Birthing in an Urban Setting study.


Who has had the biggest influence over your career to date and why? 

Prof Sue Kildea, a leader in midwifery health services research who is passionate about bringing back birthing to community and country to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Dr Chelsea Bond, an emerging leader in Australian critical race studies and Indigenous studies/health, who has pushed my thinking

Dr Yvette Roe, an emerging leader in Indigenous health, for pragmatic research and cultural mentoring


What’s next for you in your career?

Currently applying for postdoc fellowship to evaluate the impact of a staff cultural competency training package on hospital experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at a major urban hospital. I am interested in developing a tool that measures organisational cultural competency that can articulate into organisational performance indicators. I look forward to continuing to mentor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health staff and students in research.


Any advice to people starting out in HSR?

Find good mentors and work out how you can make a difference!


What was your motivation for becoming involved with the HSRAANZ?

Have been receiving newsletters for a while. I thought would be great way to hear more about this field and be mentored as well.

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