Australia's 'Top 5' young scientists of 2018
This week the ABC announced their “Top 5” scientists for 2018. Each year the ABC and the University of New South Wales seek to identify “Australia’s next generation of research talent.”
A few things struck me about this year’s award.
Firstly, this year’s Top 5 are all women. Whether we consider the role of women as leaders in society, or as leaders in science, there was a time not too long past where this would have been impossible. Women would simply not have been participating in science, and if they were, their contribution and role would not have been recognised. Whilst we still have a long way to go, here’s hoping we are reaching a time when women can pursue whatever careers they wish, and be recognised for their achievements and leadership.
Secondly, one of this year’s winners is a specialist in mental health research. I am encouraged to think this might flag mental health starting to move out of the fringes and into the mainstream. Mental health research has lagged well behind other areas of health research – underfunded, and poorly prioritised. If we are going to find lasting solutions and interventions to mental illness, we must invest in research. And we must do this even when the demand for front line services and crisis interventions risk shifting our focus from longer term investments.
Thirdly, Dr Belinda Liddell, the mental health researcher recognised in this Top 5, is a specialist in cross cultural differences in approaches to mental health. Her own biography describes her work as:
… trying to understand why different cultural perspectives change our mental and biological processes, particularly underpinning our emotions and our social functioning.
We live in a multicultural society and so trying to understand why different cultural perspectives affect our very basic process, including the way our brain perceives the world around us and processes information, might help us build bridges between different cultural groups and improve understanding.
As previously announced in this update, we are currently recruiting for new staff to work with our partners at the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), and the National Ethnic Disability Alliance (NEDA), to work on the next stage of work to improve our approaches to multicultural mental health, building on the achievements of the former MHiMA project.
Australia is a rich, multicultural society, but we have largely neglected multicultural approaches to mental health. Our data is inadequate, and our investment falls far short of community need.
Let’s hope as the work of young scientists like Dr Liddell receive more public recognition, and as increased investment in multicultural mental health draws on the rich lived experience of those living at the intersection of cross cultural approaches to mental health, that specialist CALD services and programs and “mainstream” mental health services and programs alike can be enriched by new learnings.
And let’s celebrate the fact that a young female scientist is receiving national recognition for her expertise and leadership in this critical field of research.
Chief Executive Officer
Design of a pathway for NDIS participants with psychosocial disability
Mental Health Australia has provided a final report to the NDIA with recommendations on the design of a tailored NDIS pathway for people with psychosocial disability. Mental Health Australia held five consultation workshops across Australia with NDIS participants, carers, service providers, peak bodies, government officials and health professionals. The two overarching themes of the recommendations are:
- The NDIS must have arrangements in place to interact with people with psychosocial disability to inform them about the NDIS and prepare them for accessing the Scheme,
- A psychosocial disability strategy should be developed to ensure the NDIA and the Scheme’s response to people with psychosocial disability is appropriate to their needs, as well as the needs of carers and families.
The final report will be published on the Mental Health Australia website in the coming weeks.