Dr Sandra Michelle Hacker AO

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

Dr Sandra Hacker has spent much of her career using the distinctive insights and skills used in her professional practice to work for the benefit of the medical profession, for victims of sexual abuse and the wider community.

In her private practice as a psychiatrist, Sandra Hacker’s special interest lies in psychotherapy, particularly in the fields of adult post-traumatic stress disorder arising out of severe child sexual abuse. She spearheaded the establishment of a working party to eliminate motor vehicle exhaust gas suicide from Australia. At the Alfred Hospital she also works with heart-lung transplant patients on issues related to transplant suitability and psychiatric disturbance prior to or after transplant. These complex areas of psychiatry are often attended by problematic ethical and legal implications not only for the individuals concerned but also for the health professions and the wider community. Sandra Hacker has worked to advocate on issues arising out of these areas of health, for patients and health practitioners, to further the best interests of all parties.

After graduating MBBS from the University of Melbourne in 1969 Sandra Hacker undertook further training in psychiatry and gained fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) in 1978.

Much of Sandra Hacker’s work has been in the area of support and advancement for the medical profession, serving on numerous committees and in leadership roles for the Australian Medical Association (AMA), including terms as Victorian Branch president and national vice president, and for the RANZCP, focusing on a wide range of professional, medical and psychiatric issues. She is currently a member of the Victorian Medical Benevolent Association and a councillor of the AMA (Victoria). Her work in establishing the Victorian Doctors Health Program has been of particular value to the profession.

Sandra Hacker’s extensive contribution in the medico-legal arena includes medical advisor on female genital mutilation in the role of amicus curiae, and as expert witness in matters of repressed memory and sexual abuse, crimes compensation and sexual abuse, professional misconduct and medical negligence.

Her expertise in dealing with ethically contentious and problematic issues has been of great value in her multiple roles with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). She has served the Council on a range of committees focusing on issues including ethics, genetics and privacy and recently retired from the chair of the NHMRC Australian Health Ethics Committee. Advisory groups, working parties, companies and trusts often seek her expert knowledge and skills to inform their work. In Victoria, she has served on the Board of Eastern Health, as Chair of the Board of Northern Health and of the Mental Health Research Institute and as a director of the Dax Centre. Nationally she has chaired the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

In 2005 Sandra Hacker was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to medicine, particularly in the field of psychiatry, and to excellence in professional education and promotion of the highest standards of health care in Australia. Through her industry and advocacy Sandra Hacker continues to strengthen the medical profession and assist a large community of individuals in need of complex psychiatric care.