Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence:

Congratulations to Heather Wallace and Camille Mewett who have been awarded the 2014 Val Ashe Prize for Academic Excellence.

The Val Asche Prize for Academic Excellence is awarded annually to recognise outstanding achievement by students undertaking public health courses.

Both students consistently achieved very high grades and are highly regarded by their lecturers. They were awarded a certificate and a book voucher to the value of $200 as part of the Menzies Annual General Meeting on 13 May, 2015.

Heather Wallace - Master of Public Health

During a visit to Timor-Leste as a self-funded volunteer in 2011, Heather was confronted by the state of maternal health, and found it hard to believe that for one of our closest neighbours, pregnancy outcomes for women could be so devastatingly different. Upon returning to Australia, Heather enrolled in the Master of Public Health, moved her husband and three children to Darwin and undertook a research project focused on maternal health.

Guided by Menzies supervisor, Dr Suzanne Belton and collaboration with Marie understand and explore the perceptions and beliefs held by Timorese women with relation to family planning. The project resulted in program changes to the way MSITL deliver their reproductive health care.

Heather has now been accepted into a PhD program in 2015.

Camille Mewett - Graduate Diploma in Public Health

As a new physiotherapist graduate, Camille moved to the Northern Territory in 2008 and worked for four years in the disability sector in the Katherine region.

Experiencing first -hand the health inequalities that exist in remote Australia and seeking to understand more about public health frameworks and ways of improving remote service delivery, Camille enrolled in the Graduate Diploma in Public Health in 2011.

Camille took a break from study in 2012, moving to Tonga to work as a professional volunteer in the disability sector for 12 months, through the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) program.  The experience opened her eyes to international development and global health, particularly a human rights-based approach to public health and development. She resumed her study in 2013 while still in Tonga, with a focus on the global health elective stream, while continuing to enjoy the Menzies emphasis on Indigenous health.

Now living in Melbourne, and working as Paediatric Physiotherapist in the not-for-profit disability sector, Camille plans to spend six months in Suva, Fiji from June 2015, again to volunteer professionally.

She is passionate about public health and hopes to complete the Master of Public Health with a research project to complement her volunteer work in Fiji, setting up a wheelchair and mobility device service with a local Disabled Persons Organisation.

Photo: Camille in Tonga