Associate Professor Jill Sewell

Citation for the Award of Doctor of Medical Science (Honoris Causa)

The vigorous pursuit of improved child health and well-being through clinical, academic and practical contributions to numerous organisations is the hallmark of Jill Sewell’s career.

Three years after graduating with honours in Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1971, Jill Sewell embarked on paediatric training. Although she has claimed that her career path was almost accidental, her vocation has flourished to the widespread advantage of children and their families. Not content with containing her influence to the immediate clinical context of her own practise, Jill Sewell actively applies her expertise in a wide array of contexts to inform government and philanthropic child welfare policy and to educate families and professionals.

Jill Sewell’s interest in children with developmental and behavioural problems has been instrumental in the improvement of government and community agency systems for children in the areas of health, education and welfare. Her expertise in child health is sought by a wide spectrum of organisations: in professional and public education, policy development and reform, research translation, the governance and evaluation of quality standards, and in community child welfare, and has led to her assuming a long list of advisory roles.

Her current external responsibilities include being co-chair of the Clinical Care Standards Advisory Committee of the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care; member of the Victorian Department of Health Expert Advisory Panel on Implementation of Standards; Trustee of the Creswick Foundation; Board member of Alfred Health, Member of the Victorian Government’s Health Innovation and Reform Council; Co-Clinical Lead of the Victorian Department of Health Paediatric Clinical Network; and Deputy President and Chair of the Specialist Education Accreditation Committee of the Australian Medical Council.

A testament to the esteem in which she is held by her colleagues is that she holds fellowship or honorary fellowship of no less than eight specialist colleges across the world, and was the second woman to hold presidency of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. In 2005 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for service to paediatrics and improvements in children’s health care as a consultant, administrator and educator.

The extensive list of publications with her name on them is as eclectic and numerous as her many roles. They include print, digital and video publications for a range of academic, professional and community audiences.

It was a very happy accident that Jill Sewell thought to train in paediatrics. She has added a passion for child advocacy to her role as clinician researcher – and her advocacy has had far-reaching effects in the prevention of disadvantage and the implementation of early and effective interventions that promote health and well-being for all children. Children are at the heart of Jill Sewell’s career – which embraces myriad activities, crosses many platforms, and is always focused on improving the prospects for and lives of children, in as many ways as possible.