Working against a wave of exploitation

With 40.3 million* victims of human trafficking worldwide, Dr Melinda Gill (MPublicHlth ’13) is working against a tidal wave of exploitation. 

Based in the global trafficking and sexual exploitation hotspot of the Philippines, Dr Gill is Director and Founder of Renewsiya Foundation. The not-for-profit’s aftercare services and workplace programs provide technology-focused employment skills to survivors of forced labour, sexual slavery and the human organ trade. The focused support and skill development enables the participants to achieve sustained recovery and integration back into the community.

Dr Gill and her husband, Sam Dharmapala, also run the photo and video editing and data services social enterprise Regenesys, which hires trafficking survivors.

‘We currently employ close to 200 survivors and vulnerable youth, and we hope this number will continue to grow,’ says Dr Gill.

Across five and a half years Dr Gill studied her Master of Public Health online through Flinders University, while she was also working, raising a family and on the move from Melbourne to Dublin, then the Philippines.

‘When I graduated in 2013 I was already working as a medical advisor within a non-government organisation in the Philippines, where I was designing and managing maternal and child health and nutrition programs,’ says Dr Gill.

‘Throughout my Master of Public Health I came to realise that designing and managing programs that empower and equip vulnerable populations to improve their health and wellbeing, is the work that I am most passionate about.’

Alongside her human trafficking support programs, Dr Gill also works on a health and wellbeing program for vulnerable teenage girls, helping them to gain the knowledge, attitudes and skills they need to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation.

‘When I observe how the girls respond to the program and see the impact it is having, I feel very humbled and grateful to be able to do this work,’ says Dr Gill.

Over the next few months Dr Gill is opening a new human trafficking support centre in Kathmandu – another global hotspot impacted by the devastating effects of human trafficking.

Flinders graduates have global reach and international impact, read more

*Global Slavery Index

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