BEING nominated for a Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 award, alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was a “humbling surprise” for UWA Associate Professor Dr Lisa Wood.
The Impact 25 awards, to be announced on March 14, recognise up to 300 nominated leaders in the Australian social sector and are voted for by the community.
The Doubleview resident, who is head researcher and brainchild behind UWA’s research group Home2Health, was nominated for conducting pro-bono research to help reduce public health inequalities faced by people who are homeless in WA.
“Homeless people often don’t have a voice and they can fall through the cracks of the health system easily,” she said.
“I do make sure I get out of the ivory tower, and the team and myself go out with the street health nurses – it’s humbling when you met people who are doing it tough and they make you want to keep doing it more.”
Dr Wood’s project aims to build evidence and case studies to prove a homeless health service has the ability to break the homelessness cycle if they receive enough investment.
“What we’re trying to show with this research is that if you invest in these kinds of services, it saves the taxpayer money in the long run and will literally save people’s lives,” she said.
The UWA Public Health Leadership lecturer said her team’s biggest achievement was working with Homeless Healthcare and their street health service, where a nurse and case worker would visit parks to talk to the homeless and question about any health and housing concerns.
“About a year ago that service had no money and they tried every option to get that money to run the service,” she said.
“We didn’t want it to close so we did some case studies, got some media coverage and a philanthropist from over east came over and gave them $100,000 to keep them running and just recently, gave another $100,000, based on the fact the service was evaluated and proved it made a difference.
“It was a really tangible thing for our team because if we hadn’t spoken up, the service may have run out of funding.”
Dr Wood and her team will continue to shine a light on public health and homelessness and will present at an international symposium in London later this year.
To vote for Dr Wood and hundreds of other individuals fighting to solve today’s greatest challenges go to https://bit.ly/2SXbCnD.