Penny began with OPUS in February 2018 as a research assistant. She managed qualitative projects in Stream 2, where her work focused on exploring the lived experiences, expectations and healthcare seeking behaviours of osteoarthritis patients who were awaiting total knee replacements. Since then, she has confirmed her love for the OPUS team and the supportive work environment that they provide by transitioning to a PhD in the newly established Aboriginal Health stream.
With a background in Public Health and Social Science, and a passion for social justice, Penny jumped at the opportunity to complete a PhD in Aboriginal Health. She has had some early wins since starting her PhD. These included being awarded her first project grant as lead CIA for $16,045 from the Inclusive Health Program at St Vincent’s Health Australia. This funding will allow for a community reference group to be established for our newest research stream: Enhancing Equity, Collaboration and Culturally secure Osteoarthritis Care for Aboriginal Australians (ECCO). This group will provide essential community engagement and guidance to ensure that culturally secure research methods are adhered to in both Penny’s PhD and the wider program of Aboriginal Health research at OPUS. Penny also contributed to securing funding from the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne Research Endowment Fund to explore the health-related quality of life of Aboriginal Australians with osteoarthritis.
These grants will allow OPUS to employ the first Aboriginal researcher in the department, who will work closely alongside our newest Aboriginal Health recruit, Tilini Gunatillake. Both projects will contribute significantly to Penny’s PhD, which aims to inform, document and evaluate the process of establishing partnerships in a novel Aboriginal Health research area: osteoarthritis care.