Farewell to a champion of public health nutrition

TrishCarter_2012.JPG (2)After 40 years of tireless and dedicated work with the SA Government Patricia (“Trish”) Carter will be leaving her role as one of our most respected leaders in public health nutrition and dietetics. As Principal Advisor in Public Health Nutrition for SA Health – Department for Health and Ageing for the last 15 years, Trish has provided strategic planning, expertise around nutrition promotion, health enhancement and obesity prevention and led the development of many nutrition policies and program initiatives at the regional, state and national levels. Policies have included SAs’ key nutrition directional policies, the Eat Well Be Active Strategy for South Australia, the development and implementation of the Healthy Eating Guidelines for Schools and Preschools and the Right Bite Healthy Food and Drink Supply Strategy for South Australian Schools and Preschools. Trish has been the key driver for flagship community-based nutrition initiatives such as Start Right – Eat Right Child Care Nutrition and Food Safety Award Scheme, Community Foodies and Healthy Eating Local Policies and Programs (HELPP). As well as providing the Health Minister and executives with nutrition policy advice, Trish has been instrumental in advocating for legislative, regulatory and voluntary changes to promote healthy nutrition which impact on food service, school canteens, national fruit and vegetable policy and practice, strategic guidelines and action plans for the National Public Health Partnership Strategic Inter-Governmental Nutrition Alliance (SIGNAL), the Indigenous Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, and children’s exposure to the advertising and marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks.

After graduating as a dietitian from the University of Sydney in 1977 and completing her Master’s in Public Health in 2005, Trish has worked in many roles before joining SA Health (Department of Health and Ageing) including work in country Pt Augusta, Diabetes Outreach, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, two of Adelaide’s major hospitals plus several senior project roles as a public health nutritionist. Throughout these roles, Trish has built the capacity of dietitians and nutritionists across SA and established state-wide forums and systems to support our nutrition work.

Colleagues recognise Trish as a person with exceptional intellect, a deep critical thinker and as a person who has challenged us all to look at the bigger picture, harnessing opportunities for integrating nutrition into policy and practice wherever possible. Trish is a consummate professional who has given more than a 100% and has made a difference to health in Australia and to the people she has worked with. Her legacy to public health nutrition is ongoing and her leadership and commitment is inspirational to us all.

Flinders Nutrition and Dietetics extends special thanks also to Trish for her ongoing commitment to the training of the next generation of Dietitians both in classroom teaching and as a placement educator. We also thank her for her many years of strategic advice that she has shared with us through her role as a member of our Strategic Advisory Committee.

Thank you to Trish’s colleagues who contributed to this article: Julie-Anne McWhinnie (Chief Project Officer-Public Health Nutrition, Public Health Services, SA Health Department of Health and Ageing), Louisa Matwiejczyk (Lecturer Nutrition and Dietetics Flinders University), Dr Christina Pollard (Public Health Division, WA Department of Health), Professor Michelle Miller (Head of Department Nutrition & Dietetics Flinders University).

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