CV

Current Positions

Independent journalist and publisher

  • Founding editor of Croakey.org
  • PhD candidate, University of Canberra
  • Founding Board member and former Chair of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation
  • Contributor to the online current affairs publication, Inside Story, and other general news media
  • An honorary appointment as Adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney (since 2006)
  • Honorary mentor with the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia mentoring program
  • Professional services, including workshops on writing, citizen journalism and using Twitter for advocacy and social change. See Croakey Professional Services.
  • Together with Dr Mark Ragg, Melissa runs occasional workshops for researchers to help improve their writing and communications skills.

Books

  • Melissa was invited to contribute a chapter, “Turning the social determinants of health into a story that people care about”, to a book initiated by Catholic Health Australia, Determining the Future: a fair go and health for all (Connor Court Publishing, 2011)
  • Together with Ray Moynihan, Melissa is the author of Ten Questions You Must Ask Your Doctor (Allen & Unwin, 2008), which encourages people to be more questioning about health care and health advice.
  • She also published a non-fiction book, The Big Fat Conspiracy: How to Protect Your Family’s Health (ABC Books, 2007), which gives families and communities some strategies for healthy living and preventing weight gain. This book is now freely available, for educational purposes here.
  • Inside Madness (Pan Macmillan, 2006), examined the history of mental health care in Australia, and the work and life of murdered psychiatrist Dr Margaret Tobin. In recognition of her work on this book, Melissa was awarded a Dart Centre Ochberg Fellowship.
  • Melissa is also co-author, with Professor Les Irwig, Judy Irwig, and Dr Lyndal Trevena, of a book which aims to give readers some tools for critically assessing health information. Smart Health Choices: Making Sense of Health Advice (Hammersmith Press, 2008) was recently released in the UK and Australia. The first edition, released in Australia by Allen and Unwin in 1999, has been updated by Dr Trevena.

Other Associations

  • Melissa is involved in various research projects. She has been a contributor to the Australian Health News Research Collaboration, and had an honorary role with an NHMRC-funded grant investigating corporate influences on health reporting
  • Together with Marge Overs and Mitchell Ward from Rock Lily Design & Consulting, Melissa produced Care & Connect, a quarterly magazine for the patients, staff and community of The Sydney West Cancer Network.
  • Provision of reports and conference reports. Clients have included the Milbank Memorial Fund and Centers for Disease Control in the United States, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, the Australasian Society of HIV Medicine, the Australian Medical Workforce Advisory Committee, The National Institute of Clinical Studies, The Committee of Presidents of Medical Councils, The Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Education Councils, Coalition for Research to Improve Aboriginal Health, National Prescribing Service, and NSW Health.
  • For three months in early 2008, Melissa was acting director of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma – Australasia, while Cait McMahon was on study leave
  • Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University of Notre Dame, Sydney Campus. 2007-2011
  • Member, Communication and Education Working Group, Australian Screening Advisory Committee. 2004-2006
  • Member, Advisory Committee to a joint inquiry into the protection of human genetic information by the Australian Law Reform Commission and the Australian Health Ethics Committee. 2002-2003
  • A travelling fellowship to research quality and safety in health care in England. The John Douglas Pringle Award, jointly awarded by The National Press Club and the British Government. 2003
  • Occasional guest lecturer at University of Sydney to medical and public health students and at Insearch, University of Technology Sydney, to journalism students
  • Member, Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), Australian Medical Writers Association (AMWA)
  • Regularly invited to address conferences and groups. These have included the Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and the Law, the Australasian Cochrane Collaboration, Palliative Care Australia, Primary Health Care Research Conference, National Rural Health conference, Public Health Association of Australia, NSW Health Promotion Symposium, the Effective Public Health Advocacy Conference, International Cochrane Collaboration, Guidelines International Network, Beyondblue, Australian Gastroenterology Institute, the Australian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association, the Australian Pharmaceutical Physicians Association, Divisions of General Practice, and the Australian Medical Writers Association.
  • In 2008, Melissa was invited to participate in the Australian Davos Connection’s Future Summit in Sydney.

Previous Work History

  • Occasional contributor to the BMJ, The Medical Journal of AustraliaAustralian PrescriberAustralian Nursing Journal and other publications, including Griffith Review.
  • Feature writer, Australian Rural Doctor magazine
  • Columnist, Medical Observer magazine
  • Feature writer, Australian Worker magazine
  • Columnist, Independent Weekly, a Sunday newspaper in Adelaide, 2004-2005
  • Columnist and feature writer for The Bulletin magazine, 1998-2003
  • Medical writer, Sydney Morning Herald, 1994-1998
  • Columnist, Good Weekend magazine, 1997-1998
  • Senior account manager (healthcare), Hill and Knowlton 1993-1994
  • Medical writer, Australian Associated Press 1987-1993

Qualifications

  • Master of Arts (Science and Technology Studies), Deakin University. 1997
  • Bachelor of Arts (distinction) with a double major in journalism and agriculture. Western Australian Institute of Technology (now Curtin University of Technology), Perth. 1984. Received WAIT Academic Staff Association Medal for top graduating student.