Get to know your College: Dr Anthea Brand, Rural and Remote Health, Alice Springs

Flinders and NTG support PhD dream

Dr Anthea Brand, a dietician in Alice Springs had always wanted to complete a PhD, however working full time and raising a family in Australia’s Red Centre posed some challenges.

As an employee of the NT Health Department she was able to undertake her PhD with Flinders University in Alice Springs through the support of a government initiative.

The Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment By-law 41 supports government staff to undertake professional development opportunities – including a PhD.

Dr Brand completed her PhD part-time between 2013 and 2020 and negotiated with her boss to be supported to study while working full-time.

“The big thing for me was doing it part-time which was going to be a six-to-eight-year journey, so it is a long time for your managers to be supporting you. But it also gives them a sense of security that you’re intending to stay around for that period of time, which is a huge benefit for regional workplaces as well,” Dr Brand said.

Her research question centred on exploring whether nutrition activities undertaken by health professionals met the needs of Aboriginal caregivers with young children.

She said most people who study with the aid of By-law 41 apply for money back, but there were other ways to receive support.

Dr Brand didn’t need financial support for the cost of the study there were minimal course fees, however as she was travelling to a remote community for her fieldwork – support to achieve that was vital.

“What you do need, especially when you’re undertaking research in a remote area, and if you’re having to do field trips, is that you might need things like accommodation and transport,” she said. “You know, even support to go back to university for intensives, and those sorts of things.”

Dr Brand is the Remote Primary Health Care Manuals Project Director and will take up a new position next year as a Remote Health Practice Allied Health lecturer at Flinders’ Alice Springs campus. Flinders has multiple campuses through the Australian Central Corridor including Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Nhulunbuy, Katherine and Darwin, allowing students the flexibility to study at a range of different locations, each with unique health presentations.

Flinders University College of Medicine and Public Health Senior Research Fellow Dr Chris Rissel said the initiative provided an avenue for public servants to undertake higher education without sacrificing their job.

“It’s an avenue for full-time health staff to purse a PhD whilst working,” he said.

Dr Rissel said Flinders had capacity to support PhD candidates and suggested those looking to complete a PhD should speak with their manager as a first step.

“Finding alignment with the organisational goals and your research interests is the key,” he said.

Dr Brand was rapt to acknowledge the hard work and dedication she put into her PhD when she graduated on December 2020 in front of family and friends at the Flinders NT graduation ceremony in Darwin.

Posted in

Leave a Reply