As part of our 2022 Q&A blog series on new PHAA Special Interest Group (SIG) convenors, we spoke to Dr Joanne Flavel and Dr Kristen Glenister, both active PHAA members who have been appointed as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) SIG co-convenors.
Name, title/position, and summary of Public Health career trajectory to date.
Jo: Dr Joanne Flavel, Research Fellow, Stretton Health Equity, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide.
My original undergraduate and honours degree was in economics, but I always had an interest in health due to my experiences with disability. I was given the opportunity to undertake a PhD co-supervised by the National Institute of Labour Studies (NILS) and the Southgate Institute for Health Society & Equity. My PhD studies introduced me to research on social determinants of health, and post-PhD (after working on a couple of projects at NILS) I joined the Southgate Institute and have had the privilege of working on public health research focused on social determinants and health equity.
Kristen: Dr Kristen Glenister, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Rural Health, University of Melbourne. My research focusses on rural health, rural chronic ill health, and access to rural health services. I have been a member of PHAA for five years, a DEI SIG committee member since the SIG was founded, a co-convenor working under Assoc Prof Brahm Marjadi’s leadership last year, and this year alongside Jo.
Who has been the person that most influenced your career path, and how?
Jo: I have been fortunate to have multiple mentors and cannot give credit to only one. Prof Sue Richardson was my honours and PhD supervisor, and she instilled the love of research in me. I would not be half the researcher I am if not for her. Assoc Prof Anna Ziersch and Prof Fran Baum opened my world and made all things possible in my public health research, and I aspire to be an activist academic like Fran who has an infectious optimism that the world can be better.
Kristen: There have been many! Prof Richard Russell who told me that my calling was in health, rather than chemistry. Prof Charlie Corke who inspired my research curiosity. Prof Lisa Bourke who nudged me to apply for NHMRC funding to repeat a large, rural population health study. Assoc Prof Brahm Marjadi who walks the talk of diversity, equity, and inclusion in everything he does.
Greatest achievement to date
Jo: Completing my PhD. It took eight years part-time and required persistence to overcome health problems, but I got there in the end and learned a lot of valuable skills. Also, I am learning to say no to some things which is a great achievement for any academic!
Kristen: Lifting other people up. Juggling remote learning for two primary school aged children and a research career was a massive achievement too!
Why did you volunteer to become an office bearer in the DEI SIG?
Jo: I had served as a committee member and through that gained experience and learned about the important work of the DEI SIG and the wonderful people in the committee. Advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion is becoming increasingly important, and when the co-convenor position became vacant, I felt I had learned enough to contribute to leading that work and working with the great team in the SIG and PHAA.
Kristen: To work among such a diverse, passionate team of people, and contribute to policies, responses, and other documents that really make a difference. Also, to ensure that the voices of rural people are considered in diversity, equity, and inclusion issues.
What are your goals or priorities for the DEI SIG during your term?
Jo: To continue the great work the DEI SIG has been doing and try to live up to the precedent set by Brahm’s wonderful leadership. We have an ambitious plan for developing policies across a range of issues and I am keen to do what I can to progress that. I would also like for us to engage a bit more with the wider DEI SIG membership, and we have ideas for that. I am looking forward to working with Kristen; she is such a positive person, and our interests have a lot of overlap.
Kristen: To develop resources to assist people and organisations to reflect on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am excited to see our SIG’s 12 tips on inclusive practice paper come to life! Jo and I have lots of common areas of interest including the social determinants of health and equity in healthcare access, and I am looking forward to working together in the coming year. Jo was gracious enough to come along to our department’s journal club last year to share her knowledge.
Favourite quote or life lesson?
Jo: Amartya Sen: “I believe that virtually all the problems in the world come from inequality of one kind or another.”
Kristen: Robin Williams: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind.”
Was there anything else you’d like to mention?
Jo & Kristen: Just to thank Brahm for encouraging us to nominate as co-convenors and to thank him for his generosity in welcoming and mentoring new committee members. Thank you Brahm for all you have done for this field!
Image: Courtesy of Dr Flavel and Dr Glenister