Science Meets Parliament was held last month and featured over 400 scientists descending on Canberra for an opportunity to engage with decision-makers.

DHCRC was proud to support five of our emerging leaders to attend the flagship event and each had the opportunity for a 30-minute discussion with a politician to raise issues that they believe are important to the future of healthcare.

You can read the pitches of what each emerging leader was hoping to raise in these conversations on our newly launched Big Thinkers section of the website. Here we share the reflections from two of our cohort.

PhD candidate Manasha Fernando met with an advisor to Ms Zoe Daniel MP, member for Goldstein, Victoria, speaking to the fact that meaningful change in digital healthcare will need to be accompanied by changes in funding and delivery models.

Inspired by her conversation with both the MP’s advisor and the many other delegates present, Manasha said: “I was able to reflect on how many of our digital solutions and innovations begin with lofty goals in the fundamental sciences (e.g., improving statistical modelling for machine learning technologies) only to face adoption and implementation challenges when the concept was practically applied. Further, even if the technology was made available, its deployment and use was not guaranteed.

“We were able to openly discuss why this was the case, including the need for strong legislative and political support at the highest levels for a change in Australia’s healthcare system that benefits both clinicians and patients. Personally, the conversation provided a deeper understanding that complex problems require multifaceted solutions and urgent action from many different sectors and levels to achieve global goals such as better health for everyone.”

Postdoctoral fellow Dr Lee Woods met with both Dr Mike Freelander MP (Chair of Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport) as well as Principal Policy Adviser to Hon Brendan O’Connor MP, Minister for Skills and Training, Mr Simon Kent.

On the meeting with Dr Mike Freelander MP, Lee said: “I was one of three lucky scientists who were honoured to sit down within his office in Parliament House, Canberra. We talked about new digitally-enabled models of care for health equity and healthcare access across our vast nation. It was a genuine, collaborative doctor and nurse discussion and I left feeling elated with the shared vision for a sustainable healthcare future.”

On the meeting with Mr Simon Kent, Lee said: “This discussion centred on the challenges and opportunities faced by academics in building workforce skills. As a nurse and digital health researcher, I am working on building a digitally capable health workforce who can leverage data and technology to improve health and care. I communicated to Mr Kent the importance of workforce planning in healthcare. This is critical as our healthcare system is struggling with increasing demand, a static resourcing profile, an ageing population and workforce shortages.”

Congratulations to all five emerging leaders who represented themselves, their project partners and the DHCRC so well.

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