Champion of adolescent health A/Prof Melissa Kang receives PHAA NSW Public Health Impact Award

PHAA NSW President Dr Patrick Harris presented the 2019 NSW Public Health Impact Award to Associate Professor Melissa Kang at UTS on 8 July 2020.

Photograph: Catriona Bonfiglioli

A/Professor Kang said she was thrilled to receive the award as it recognised the significance of adolescent health policy, access and innovation.

“I’m thrilled because it shines a light on youth health,” A/Professor Kang told PHAA NSW.  “I’ve been working with young people for almost 30 years and getting traction around young people for their health and well-being has been a struggle,” A/Professor Kang from UTS’s Faculty of Health said.

A/Prof Kang said New South Wales have been taking adolescent health very seriously with improvements in policy, funding, workforce development and accessibility especially for marginalised young people. “There’s a more to be done but compared to other jurisdictions, they’ve been taking it very seriously,” she said.

A/Prof Kang, MBBS (Sydney), MCH (UNSW) and PhD (Sydney), is most widely known as a champion of frank health and sex advice to young people during her long service as the Dolly Doctor (1993-2016) for the teenage girls’ magazine Dolly.

A/Prof Kang is the co-author of Welcome to Your Period, with media personality Yumi Stynes which won the 2020 Book of the Year for Older Children 13+ from the Australian Book Industry Awards.

She has published clinical resources, 100 academic reports, books and book chapters and articles for The Conversation.

A/Prof Kang is one of three UTS staff involved in the Centre for Research Excellence in Adolescent Health led by Prof Katharine Steinbeck at the University of Sydney. A/Prof Kang is working with UTS Faculty of Health Professors Lin Perry and Fiona Brooks and post-doctoral research fellow Daniel Waller.

A/Professor Kang is a Senior Career Medical Officer in Youth Health, Western Sydney Local Health District as well as an Honorary associate in the Department of General Practice, University of Sydney at Westmead.

Further information

A/Professor Kang who graduated in Medicine in 1986, trained in General Practice and has dedicated her career to improving and advocating for young people’s health wellbeing. Her major projects investigated youth access to health care, sexuality, sexual health as well as contributing to policy development, workforce training, research and research capacity building, in NSW, nationally and internationally.

In April 2020, A/Prof Kang and the manager of the Youth Health Service in WSLHD were invited to work on ways to help vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 1999 NSW Health developed its Youth Health policy and funded the NSW Centre for the Advancement of Adolescent Health (CAAH) A/Prof Kang, then at the Adolescent Medical Unit at CHW, was seconded into CAAH as the Education & Training Coordinator until to 2004.

A/Prof Kang founded the Youth Health Forum (YHF) at CAAH which continues today through the Youth Health and Wellbeing Team at the NSW Ministry of Health reaching several hundred youth health and related professionals across 30 regional and rural sites. In 2003, Melissa secured funding from the Transcultural Mental Health Centre to develop the GP Resource Kit, a resource to help GPs engage with young people.

Melissa has been the Chief Investigator on the NSW Health funded studies Access Phase 1 and Access Phase 2 which informed the 2011 – 2016 NSW Health Youth Health policy.

Access 3 involved young people and informed the NSW Youth Health Framework 2017 – 2024. A key finding was the value of dedicated ‘youth health navigators’ to help vulnerable or marginalised young people accessing health.

A/Prof Kang’s work has seen the number of Youth Health Coordinators rise from three across 17 Area Health Services to 15 across each of the fifteen Local Health Districts today.  Other projects have contributed to reduced presentations to emergency departments and used online interventions to improve chlamydia screening.

Melissa has contributed to curriculum development and teaching in adolescent health at the University of Melbourne, 2001-2004, the University of Sydney (2006-2015) and UTS (2019- present). She has supervised to completion several Honours, Masters and one PhD student and currently supervises seven PhD students and one MD student. She has been a Chief Investigator on research grants totally over $3M and Associate Investigator on grants totaling $11M+.

She is currently President of the Board of Directors of the Australian Association for Adolescent Health Ltd (AAAH) and a member of the International Association for Adolescent Health, the Society for Adolescent Health & Medicine (USA), and the Public Health Association of Australia.,

A/Prof Kang is a vocationally registered General Practitioner, an Associate of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

She has worked clinically at Cellblock Youth Health Centre (1994-95), in the Adolescent Medical Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW, 1996-2004), Nepean Sexual Health Clinic (2011-12), and headspace Camperdown (2014-15).

In 2019 she was awarded the Sax Institute Research Action Award in 2019 and the Australasian Sexual Health Alliance Mid-Career Interdisciplinary Achiever Award.

[Job opportunity] Research Fellow – apply by 30th July 2020

The Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation (CHETRE) is part of the UNSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity. CHETRE’s mission is to achieve better and fairer health for communities in south western Sydney, and throughout Australia and internationally. 

The Opportunity  

  • 6 month, Fixed-term Full time opportunity
  • Level B.1: $108, 282 base (+ 9.5% superannuation & leave loading)
  • Based at the Ingham Institute in Liverpool, Sydney.

The Research Fellow will lead evaluation, research and literature review projects on refugee and asylum seeker health and social wellbeing. The emphasis will be on research methodologies that engage communities and stakeholders and are empowering. An interest in policy and advocacy will be an asset. The position will also develop and lead training and capacity building materials and projects within CHETRE and the Refugee Health Service.

The Research Fellow will work as part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the area of health equity focussed research and evaluation. The position will provide technical and research leadership in activities associated with various research projects related to health and social equity for refugees and asylum seekers. This will include applying specialist knowledge in the field of refugee and asylum seeker health and social research to a range of projects conducted within the Centre.

Please refer to the position description (pdf) for more details

Skills and Experience

  • PhD in Public Health (or a related/relevant discipline) or an equivalent level of knowledge gained through any other combination of education, training or experience
  • Demonstrated excellence in refugee and asylum seeker health and / or social research, preferably with a community empowerment and / or policy or advocacy focus
  • Demonstrated experience with leading capacity building and training activities
  • Track record in peer-reviewed publications and grant success
  • Demonstrated project management and excellent organisational skills including the ability to successfully manage competing priorities and meet project deliverables and timelines, ability to prioritise own workload and work independently as well as an effective member of a team
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, including the ability to prepare reports, submissions, grant applications and project plans
  • Outstanding interpersonal and negotiation skills including ability to liaise effectively with a diverse group of stakeholders
  • Knowledge of health and safety responsibilities and commitment to attending relevant health and safety training

Please apply online – applications will not be accepted if sent to the contact listed.

Contact (For job related queries only):

Dr Patrick Harris                                E:

Applications close: 11pm, 30th July 2020

CHETRE secures international and local grants for COVID-19 rapid research response

The health equity research projects will look at the longer-term social dimensions of the pandemic.

Two COVID-19 Rapid Research Grants through the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR)

The Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE) has been successful, with Canadian colleagues, in securing two COVID-19 Rapid Research grants through the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR).

“Although the disease itself is ravaging the health of individuals and populations, the emerging patterns for effects on populations over time are even more disturbing,” says Professor Evelyne de Leeuw from CHETRE and UNSW Medicine. “Some groups seem more affected by the disease and therefore by health flow-on effects than others. But the longer-term socio-economic effects of the pandemic – such as economic downturn, reduction in livelihoods, travel, contact, etc. – make things even worse.”

  • Role of Chief Medical Officers in COVID-19 response

One CIHR project will look at the role of Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), or their equivalents, across states, provinces and territories in Britain, New Zealand, Canada and Australia in taking up scientific advice, framing policies and interventions, and communicating them. The researchers will also roll out population surveys to take stock of popular perceptions of the CMO roles. This project will be undertaken with Professor Patrick Fafard of the Global Strategy Lab at York University and the University of Ottawa.

  • COVID-19 economic strain and effects on health and liveability

The second project will look at the effects of financial hardship on health and liveability and how we can better know who is affected. It will also frame whole-of-government responses to the resulting inequities of COVID-19-related economic strain. It will be jointly run in Canada and Australia by Professor Candace Nykiforuk (University of Alberta) and Professor de Leeuw.

Two local grants
  • Urban planning and respiratory pandemics

Dr Patrick Harris, senior research fellow and acting deputy director at CHETRE, will lead two new projects that have secured funding in Australia. The Healthy Urban Environments (HUE) Collaboratory, at Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE), will fund a project that aims to inform the prevention of respiratory pandemics through urban planning and design practices, guidelines, policies, governance and institutional frameworks.

“COVID-19 requires a multi-level urban planning and design response encompassing policy measures, governance, infrastructure provision, and design features,” says Dr Harris. “Those most vulnerable to infection must be considered primarily, as must unanticipated consequences for the whole population including risk of disadvantage. Fortunately, pandemics over history can inform the response.”

  • Health and related risks associated with informal and unregulated accommodation

Dr Harris is also chief investigator on a project funded by Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) which will investigate health and related risks associated with informal and unregulated accommodation, using unique data sets on informal and short-term rental housing markets in major Australian cities. It will also canvass policy options for expanding housing system capacity during health and other emergencies, serving vulnerable populations or essential workers.

Community STaR event with Joan Silk (10:30-11:30 22 Nov, 2019)

Community STaR presents…

Doing more with less:
Observations about community development in Cuba

Can lessons learned from the Cuban experience
improve health disparities in Australia?

Speaker : Joan Silk

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean Sea. Despite limited funding and supplies, Cuba’s adult and youth literacy rate stands at 100%, and it has consistently managed to keep its population of 11 million people healthy into old age with a health system recognized worldwide for its excellence and its efficiency.

Joan Silk visited Cuba in 1997 and again this year. Her presentation will draw on those experiences and reflect on what we can learn from the Cuba experience.

Joan Silk is a health worker with a special interest in the relationship between inequality and health, both on a community and an international level. She has worked in the printing, retail, hospitality and creative industries, as a secondary school teacher, a research assistant, and for the last 20 years as a health equity worker in various communities. She has a BA Honours in Economic History and Politics and a Diploma of Education.

  • When : Friday, November 22, 2019
  • Time : 10:30am – 11:30am
  • Where : Miller Community Centre,
    18A Woodward Crescent, Miller, NSW 2168
  • RSVP by 18 November
  • Register here via Eventbrite
  • For more information, contact: E:  or T: 02 87389310
  • See flyer

Community STaR event with Ian Webster (October 4, 2019)


CHETRE Community STaR presents..
‘Insights and reflections on poverty and mental health’
Speaker: Emeritus Professor Ian Webster AO

Professor Ian Webster is a physician and Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales and Patron of the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia. He has held senior appointments in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales and appointments at Monash, Sheffield and Sydney Universities. He is also a former Commissioner of the National Mental Health Commission and a tireless advocate for mental health and suicide prevention reform over many years. He has special expertise in working with disadvantaged people and the links between drug and alcohol use, chronic pain, suicide, mental illness, physical illnesses and dysfunctional communities. 

  • When: Friday, October 4, 2019
  • Time: 10:30am – 11:30am
  • Where: Miller Community Centre,
    18A Woodward Crescent, Miller, NSW 2168
  • RSVP essential by September 30 to Andrew Reid
  • e: t: 02 87389310

Read the flyer here

Health Impact Assessment Workshop – 4 April 2019

Advanced Approaches in HIA – Predictive Modelling Tools


  • Health Impact Assessment in Australia
  • International developments in tools for predicting health impacts
  • Local and international examples of application
  • Panel discussion – how can predictive modelling tools and IA support health planning processes?


Dr Odile Mekel
Head of Division Health Data and Assessments, Campus Development,
Head of the unit Health Assessments and Forecasting at the NRW Centre for Health (LZG.NRW), Bochum, Germany

Professor Lennert Veerman
Professor of Public Health, Griffith University, School of Medicine
Chief Investigator, CRE in Healthy, Liveable Communities,
Researcher, CRE Policy Research on Obesity and Food Systems

Event details

Community STaR event with Eva Cox (18 March 2019)

Community STaR (Service for Training and Research) presents an event with Eva Cox (Adjunct Professor, Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research)

“Recreating a healthy society with citizens, not consumers: a social fairness contract, not just growth”

Eva Cox is a Professorial Fellow at Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology. She is a writer, feminist, sociologist, social commentator and activist for creating more civil societies. Her feminism is all about working towards a better society, not making women more like men. Her ABC Boyer Lectures in 1995, entitled A Truly Civil Society argued that social capital is more important than financial capital. She wants social policies that recognise the value of feelings, relationships, culture and those areas important to both Indigenous people and women. Eva is an Australian Order recipient and has her own Australia Post Legends postage stamp.

  • When : Monday, March 18, 2019
  • Time : 10:30 – 11:30am
  • Where : Boardroom, Level 1, Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research
    (1 Campbell Street, Liverpool NSW 2170)
  • RSVP essential by March 13 to Andrew Reid
    (e: t: 02 87389310)

Click for event flyer

“We are not in the aviation business, we are in the mobility business”

An article on CHETRE’s Healthy Airports was published in the Inside Story – “We are not in the aviation business, we are in the mobility business”
(12 Nov 2018, by Melissa Sweet).

Read the full article ->

Inequality and Mental Wellbeing Symposium

You are invited to the Inequality and Mental Wellbeing Symposium. It will focus on the impact of inequality on individual and community mental wellbeing and ways we can address this.

Keynote Speakers
Professor Fran Baum, Flinders University

Karen Walsh, CEO Shelter NSW

Tuesday 16th October 2018, 8.30am – 4.30pm

Carnes Hill Community Centre – 600 Kurrajong Rd Carnes Hill, NSW 2171

$45 with scholarships available

For more information
Contact Gabi Martinez on 4621 8714 or email

To register visit