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Victorian Branch Awards winners open up

Marina Williams
1 September 2017

A passion for physiotherapy and helping others is what saw three APA members in various stages of their careers honoured in the recent Victoria Branch Awards. The awards were presented to Associate Professor Ilana Ackerman, APAM, Simon Mathieson and Jennifer Jones, APAM, and acknowledge contribution to their profession.

Jennifer Jones
Four years since graduating from the University of Melbourne, Jennifer is already making a sustained contribution to physiotherapy. She is an active member of professional committees, including Victorian Cardiorespiratory Australia, teaches students at the University of Melbourne and convenes professional development events—all while working at Austin Health. She was recognised in the Contribution to the APA by a Recent Graduate (five years or less since graduation) category, describing it as ‘an honour’.

‘I am deeply humbled by it, and the enormity of it really sunk in when I was at the Winter Breakfast with the other award winners, organising committee and invited speaker. All of these members are exceptional leaders of our profession—it was wonderful to meet them and highlighted what the profession can provide you with, if you choose to invest in it.’

Jennifer says balancing work and professional involvement while studying for her PhD at simply highlights the support of her peers. She opted for further study to pursue her passion of improving patient outcomes after critical illness.

‘The industry is very encouraging of experiences and provides many opportunities to expand your knowledge and skill level. I am very fortunate in mentoring I have received at my two work places,’ she says. ‘The profession is a very giving community and has many inspirational leaders who encouraged me to be involved with the Victorian Cardiorespiratory Australia committee, which is something that I really enjoy.

‘It’s a balancing act to keep everything going, but when you find something that you are truly passionate about, time goes quickly. The APA is a strong voice advocating for our profession. I am proud to be part of such a proactive community, and I believe it is important to contribute so we continue to advance in all areas of physiotherapy.

‘For me, I hope the future will bring many more exciting opportunities to continue to work toward improving the function and quality of life of patients with critical illness, whether it be in clinical, academic teaching or research roles.’

Simon Mathieson
After years of patient practice, Simon is using his clinical experience to improve links between the physiotherapist and the community in managing community rehabilitation services at the Alfred Health. The recipient of the Contribution to an APA Regional or National Group award says he is ‘flattered and thankful’ to be recognised for what he enjoys doing—helping others and progressing his profession in support of its membership.

The award specifically recognises the tireless efforts of members of any APA regional or national group across Victoria. The recipient will have provided outstanding contributions to their particular group. For Simon, it’s been involvement with the branch’s neurology group of which he is the national group representative and vice-chair.

‘Physiotherapy is a very broad church and it is a health service, and for the right person it is an excellent career,’ he says.

Simon’s passion is for neuro physiotherapy, the public health system and leadership. He graduated with a Masters in Public Health from La Trobe University and is interested in ways to maximise the health of our communities. As manager of Alfred Health’s Community Rehabilitation Program he oversees project work into service improvement and outpatient service provision. The program offers adults who have experienced a change their health with a range of specialised services to maximise what they can do at home and within their community.

‘Being a physiotherapist, you bring many skills and experience to a table for discussion, especially in planning for community out-patient rehabilitation services,’ he says. ‘You have to listen to people, understand their needs and requirements and balance that with organisational demands and processes. The skills I have gained in both clinical and committee settings have helped me gain insight and understanding into the skills needed to train future physiotherapists.’

Ilana Ackerman
Continuing to help shape the future of physiotherapy and being an active member of her professional community remains high on the ‘to-do’ list of acclaimed musculoskeletal researcher Ilana. For the past 20 years, her effort in service, research and leadership has resulted in her being awarded the profession’s highest honour of Contribution to the Profession. Her longstanding contribution to editorial and research review also ranks highly among peers.

‘I feel very honoured to win this award, as there are many Victorian physiotherapists who make a strong contribution to our profession on a daily basis,’ she says. ‘I’ve always wanted to give back to my profession in some way, and am pleased to have had the opportunity to do this through my roles with the Journal of Physiotherapy, the Physiotherapy Research Foundation, the APA National Conference Committee and the National Advisory Council.’

Ilana’s clinical and population-based studies have shaped our understanding of the impact that osteoarthritis has on individuals and society. She recently represented the APA in developing the Victorian Model of Care for Osteoarthritis, and a new state government fellowship will ensure she’s at the forefront of research into outcomes from hip and knee replacement surgery.

‘When it comes to engaging with the APA and all that it has to offer, I’d encourage anyone to put up your hand and have a go,’ Ilana says. ‘I remember often feeling under-qualified for the tasks on offer, but invariably the experience has been rewarding and fortifying, and it’s always a great opportunity to expand your professional networks.’


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