Centre's development much more than a numbers game

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