Impact on ageing

Multi-award winning public health academic Dr Lyn Phillipson began her career as a physiotherapist working in aged and dementia care. 

Driven by a passion for community empowerment, Phillipson returned to study over a decade later, culminating in her PhD research which explored the factors influencing the use of respite services by carers of people with dementia. 

Phillipson is focused on pursuing action-research projects which achieve immediate benefits for research participants and promote learning to improve health and social care policy. 

For example, her latest grant success – a National Health and Medical Research Council-Australian Research Council Dementia Research Fellowship received late last year – will explore the impact of Australian aged-care policy reform on people with dementia in receipt of a Home Care Package. 

Among her achievements, Phillipson published the first national research regarding dementia stigma in Australia in 2012, which underpinned Alzheimer’s Australia’s Fight Dementia campaign. She is currently working with Kiama Council and Alzheimer’s Australia to develop and evaluate Australia’s first dementia-friendly community. 

In addition, Phillipson has contributed to the development of the Cancer Institute’s NSW Multicultural Strategic Plan through the conduct of both a commissioned systematic review of the CALD Cancer literature (2013) and her participation in an expert consultancy panel (2015). 

She is the recipient of two National Multicultural Marketing Awards for her work in promoting organ donation and cancer screening in CALD communities, and a winner of the Vice-Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Research Award 2015 for the Dementia-Friendly Communities project

Conducting research with vulnerable or marginalised people has presented ethical and methodological challenges. Motivated by a commitment to achieve better outcomes for the communities she works with, she has been a pioneer in her use of participatory and inclusive research approaches as well as the involvement of consumer and stakeholder panels. 

“I hope my work will encourage others to use their skills, training and imagination to reduce health and social inequity,” she says.