Professor Ian Philip Smith Anderson

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

The quiet determination of Professor Ian Anderson, the first Indigenous medical graduate of the University of Melbourne, is a driving force for the transformation of the Indigenous health landscape across Australia.  A Tasmanian who is proud of his Palawa heritage, he is related to Pyemairrenner peoples with specific connections to the Trawlwoolway, Plairmairrenner and related clans.

Most consistently recognised for his academic ability to span medical and socio-cultural disciplines, Ian Anderson has written widely on issues related to Aboriginal health, identity and culture, expanding practical medical expertise into the sociology of health and illness and related policy analysis and theory development in the social sciences. A 1989 MBBS graduate, he also holds a PhD in sociology and anthropology. He is a Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine.

An underpinning strength is his experience in a range of contexts as an Aboriginal health worker, health educator, general practitioner, and policy maker. He has a long association with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service and has served on its Board of Management and as its Deputy Chair.

Ian Anderson has an outstanding record of achievement in research, teaching and knowledge transfer. He developed and held the position of Director at Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit. Under his guidance, the Onemda team created successful teaching and research programs using a community development framework and providing a comprehensive platform for the exchange of knowledge. He has held more than 30 high level grants for research and workforce development and provided leadership through the various iterations of the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal Health (now the Lowitja Institute) for over 14 years.

Widely sought for his teaching, Ian Anderson has contributed to and taught into virtually every major Indigenous endeavour in this University and more widely. He is a senior advisor and holds, or has held, appointments to over 90 boards, governance, steering and academic committees, the National Health and Medical Research Council and its committees, and a range of government and national policy-related committees (including chair since 2008 of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Council). In a series of senior roles in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Ian Anderson has promoted high-quality research through increased Indigenous leadership and partnerships with key groups and communities in the Indigenous health sector, government agencies and research institutions.

His leadership of the development of an Indigenous health medical workforce development program, Leaders in Medical Education (LIME), in collaboration with the medical deans of Australia and New Zealand, has produced strategies improving the quality and efficacy of Indigenous health content in medical education. The LIME network is a collaborative program building multi-disciplinary links to strengthen professional development, and importantly, recognise and support the primacy of Indigenous leadership and knowledge.

Again, through Onemda, Ian Anderson’s influence in strengthening Indigenous content in public health education has been of major importance in the development of a national network of Indigenous educators in public health.

Standing alongside these achievements are over 145 published journal articles, book chapters, encyclopaedia entries, editorials, discussion and contract papers and monographs.  A mark of his intellectual generosity and commitment to his vision are the 140 occasions he has presented as invited speaker or guest lecturer.

Ian Anderson has made a profound impact through giving unstintingly of his intellect and passion to improving Indigenous health. With patience and perception he has worked resolutely, not only to change Indigenous health outcomes, but also to develop inclusive pathways to health. In his position as Director of Murrup Barak, the Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development he led the development of the University’s Reconciliation Action Plan and a reconfiguration of the University’s Indigenous strategy focussing on embedding an organisational agenda in which Indigenous outcomes are ‘everyone’s business’. His recent appointment as Assistant Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Higher Education Policy, will enable Ian Anderson to extend his experience in the reform of health policy and institutions to a wider range of Indigenous programs and build on the University's desire to support Indigenous leadership and participation across all its activities.