Recognition for outstanding service in the public sector during COVID-19

Professor Rhonda Stuart, Monash Health’s Director of Infection Prevention and Epidemiology, has been recognised in the 2022 IPAA (Institute of Public Administration Australia) Victoria’s Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria) list.

The awards, which this year focused on ‘COVID-19 heroes’, recognise individual excellence and achievement of exceptional female leaders and their significant work in the Victorian public sector.

Professor Stuart, who is also the Director of the Monash Health South East Public Health Unit, said the recognition was a reflection of the teamwork across the entire health service over the past two years.

“We’ve had to take COVID-19 a day at a time and respond to the things in front of us.

“From preparing our hospital for the ‘Wuhan virus’ in December 2019 to the reality of admitting Australia’s first COVID-19 patient in January 2020, which required our Emergency Department, Infection Prevention, nursing, allied health and medical staff all working together to care for that patient without any transmission of the virus, it’s been an enormous whole-of-service response.

“While I greatly appreciate the honour of being recognised on this list, it’s only been possible with support from Monash Health’s Executive Team, the Infection Prevention team, the Vaccination Program, our Contact Tracing team, and all of the healthcare workers across our service who have continued to deliver care at the frontline in a constantly shifting environment,” said Professor Stuart.

Over the past two years, Professor Stuart has been involved in many milestones, including receiving the first COVID-19 vaccine in Victoria.

“I still remember when we received the delivery of that first COVID-19 vaccine. It was such a precious and important delivery – even though it was just one small box – and the pressure of how it was transported so carefully by our pharmacy team into the freezers,” said Professor Stuart.

“I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment!”

Reflecting on her inclusion in the IPAA Victoria’s Top 50 Public Sector Women list, Professor Stuart said that for other women seeking leadership roles, it was important to have a strong support network.

“I know some women who feel like they’ve lacked the confidence to do certain things, even though they’re absolutely capable of doing great things. Being surrounded by support and encouragement is so important for having the confidence to step up and take action.

“Throughout this entire pandemic, I’ve been really thankful for the support I’ve received from everyone at Monash Health, and it’s the collaborative effort across the entire organisation that has been so important for how we’ve responded to this pandemic.”

IPAA (Institute of Public Administration Australia) Victoria is Victoria’s peak public sector professional association. In reflection of the exceptional efforts of our women leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s top public sector women list recognises 80 women leaders across two award categories, established and emerging.

Visit the IPAA Victoria website to view the full list of those recognised.