Centre's development much more than a numbers game
There are two ways to tell the story of the evolution of the McCaughey Centre from an idea in 2006 to a significant national and international centre for research on community wellbeing, says its inaugural director, Professor John Wiseman.
“The first way is to talk about the numbers, about the 120 research and evaluation projects worth about $30 million, the 10 NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) and seven ARC (Australian Research Council) projects on which Centre staff have been Chief Investigators, the more than 130 peer reviewed publications and over 80 research reports,” says Professor Wiseman. “That’s the story of outputs and products.
“But the other way to talk about our achievements is in relation to the key areas of work that the Centre focuses on, about how we’ve been able to build the Centre as a significant platform for research on the key social and economic determinants of community wellbeing.
“When we think about population health, when we talk about health promotion, it’s important to understand the social, economic and mental drivers And it’s the translation of that research by the Centre that has driven debate.”
Professor Wiseman stepped down from the role of Director of the McCaughey Centre in September 2010. He remains a Professorial Fellow with both the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute at the University of Melbourne, where he is concentrating on work around climate change.
The McCaughey Centre started with a staff of two – Professor Wiseman and Centre Manager Ms Janine Campbell – and grew to a staff of 17 by its official launch in 2007. By the end of 2010, it had 34 academic and four professional staff, as well as 10 honorary fellows.
Professor Wiseman said the initial research priorities of the Centre included reducing violence and discrimination, increasing social inclusion and addressing the impacts of work stress. The Centre added to this with the Community Indicators Victoria project, providing information about the wellbeing of communities across the state. Then came the group of researchers working on child health and wellbeing, leading to the establishment of the $5 million Jack Brockhoff Child Health and Wellbeing Program.
“For me, what stands out has been the privilege of working with such a great range of researchers and policy thinkers who were really dedicated and committed to improving health equity and wellbeing. It has been inspiring. It has also been terrific to work within the context of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, which brings together such a fine mix of people with those commitments.
“And I want to put on record my great appreciation for the initial and ongoing support of both the School and VicHealth, which both gave a very strong endorsement of the Centre in the review process in the middle of 2010.”
Professor Wiseman says the focus on climate change in his new role is a natural extension of his work at the McCaughey Centre. “I share the view put by the Lancet that climate change is one of the, if not the most, significant heath challenges of the 21st century. I want to focus on developing a better informed public debate on the range of plans and strategies for reducing carbon emissions, and in particular how to get them implemented as opposed to just talked about.”
Caption: The centre’s launch in July 2007