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Sidney Sax Public Health Medal

The Public Health Association of Australia, in 2000, initiated the first Public Health Medal. This Medal was designed to be the Associations pre-eminent prize. The Medal is awarded every year.

In 2001, the Public Health Medal was renamed the Sidney Sax Public Health Medal in honour of the late Dr. Sidney Sax (bio).

The PHAA bestows this competitive award on a person who has provided a notable contribution to the protection and promotion of public health, solving public health problems, advancing community awareness of public health measures and advancing the ideals and practice of equity in the provision of health care.

To be eligible a nominee must:

  • Have a proven track record in the advancement of public health in Australia;
  • Be an Australian citizen or resident; and,
  • Have undertaken his/her activities in Australia.

The criteria for the Medal are that nominees will have actively engaged in work or activities in Australia designed to achieve one or more of the following:

  • Protect and promote public health in Australia;
  • Promote multi-disciplinary approaches to designing public health solutions and solving public health problems;
  • Advance community awareness of public health measures and outcomes and the real cost of inadequate public health responses; and,
  • Advance the ideals and practice of equity in provision of health care (equity defined as equal care for equal need).

Winners of the Medal are:

2014 - Professor Tarun Weeramanthri

Professor Weeramanthri is among the longest-serving Chief Health Officers in Australia, with more than ten years combined at the helm across the Northern Territory and Western Australia. He is a highly-respected and accomplished individual and an exemplar of the 21st century Chief Health Officer: scholar, physician, and advocate for health. His steadfast commitment to social justice, his dogged determination in championing preventive health and investment by governments, his capacity to embrace and lead change and his ability to infuse the same passion for - and commitment to - public health in others are exceptional. Most remarkable is his unwavering commitment to public service, his faith and knowledge of what good can be achieved through working in government and his personal endeavours in making a difference to the lives and wellbeing of communities he has - and continues to - serve.

2013 - Professor Caroline de Costa

Prof de Costa has made a notable contribution to the protection and promotion of public health, primarily through abortion advocacy, law reform, improved abortion services, destigmatisation of societal views of abortion and research into clinical and societal aspects of abortion provision in Australia.  She was fundamental in the campaign to overturn the Harradine amendment in Federal Parliament (2005-2006), changes to Queensland abortion law (2009) and decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria (2008) and Tasmania (2013, a work in progress).  Pivotally, she was Co-Investigator on a pilot program which saw the use of TGA authorised prescriber legislation to import and use mifepristone (RU486) in Cairns and this resulted in over 180 doctors being able to prescribe it and to the successful TGA application for Marie Stopes International to market the drug nationally.

- Hon. Nicola Roxon MP.

Awarded to Nicola Roxon MP for her achievement in the world leading plain packaging of tobacco legislation, which has only been successful due to her outstanding leadership.  There are also many other notable achievements in fighting tobacco, including a 25% increase in excise on tobacco, a ban on internet promotion, a boost for funding of anti-tobacco campaigns through the National Preventive Health Agency and a $125 million program to tackle Indigenous Smoking. 

Other outstanding achievements include the establishment of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) and facing down the spirits industry over the 'alcopops' tax - reducing the number of young women introduced to spirits in early puberty. Nicola Roxon MP was also involved in the oversight of the biggest increase ever in funding to prevention of $872.1 million from Federal, State and Territory contributions.

 2011 - Professor Mike Daube

Professor Mike Daube has been a leader in tobacco control and public health for four decades. He has been recognised in numerous tobacco industry reports and internal documents since the 1970s, giving testament to his influence. He is recognized globally as one of the most powerful and articulate opponents to the tobacco industry. He was influential in the WA Tobacco Control Act (1990) and provided advocacy and support to the private member who successfully proposed the WA Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act (2009) requiring all cigarette sales to be under the counter and effecting a ban on smoking in cars with children, in playgrounds and al fresco dining areas. 

2010 - Sidney Sax Public Health Medal was not awarded in 2010

 2009 - Professor Stephen Leeder
Awarded to Professor Stephen Leeder from the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and professor of public and community medicine at the University of Sydney. Professor Leeder is a giant of Australian public health, he has been a leading researcher, administrator, reformer and mentor for more than 35 years.

 2008 - Professor Simon Chapman
Awarded to Professor Simon Chapman from the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. Simon has been prominent in the Australian and international public health movements for over thirty years. His contributions to reducing tobacco use and the harms it causes, to gun control, the consumer movement and to public debate about a wide range of public health issues have made him one of Australia's most recognised and respected figures in public health.

 2007 - Pat Anderson

Awarded to Pat Anderson for her work in Indigenous health. For over two decades Pat has been involved in public health in Australia, working at all levels, within and outside government. She has often taken courageous positions to protect and improve the health of Australia?s Indigenous people. Pat was recognised with this award as an iconic Indigenous leader who has taken the credo of the Ottawa Charter to practical ends in local communities. She has not only recognised the inequities in Indigenous health in Australia, but has lived it and has sought to drive a strong public health agenda to find redress for communities and the means of building a healthier future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

 2006 - Professor D'Arcy Holman [bio]

Awarded to Professor D'Arcy Holman for his outstanding and innovative work as an epidemiologist and his extraordinarily productive contributions to research, teaching, the development of epidemiology - including data linkage in Australia, work in health communications and his work with national and state government health departments, health organisations, health advocacy organisations and community groups.

D'Arcy has provided outstanding leadership, has a remarkable number of achievements, across a wide breadth and range of public health issues. But he is also known for his generous contributions to so many public health causes, organisations and individuals. He has been a constant and willing supporter of public health activity and people working in public health. Some of his achievements, such as leadership in data linkage, will be well known; others, such as his work in mental health, with the Cancer Council, or mentoring and supporting others, have been much less well publicised.

2005 - Dr. John Scott

Awarded this Medal for his strong and consistent history of leadership at both state and national levels in the protection and promotion of public health in Australia. John is well known for his development of public health services, in particular services in Queensland and those that have been developed via the National Public Health Partnership. John's strong leadership secured additional investments in public health helping the core public health capacity grow of Queensland to grow considerably. His leadership in public health services is epitomised by investments in needle and syringe availability, drug courts, improvements to Indigenous public health and primary health care services and in his advocacy for collaborative national action on a broad range of public health issues as both a member and the Chair of the National Public Health Partnership.

2004 - Associate Professor David Legge

Awarded the Sidney Sax Medal in 2004 for his pioneer work in community participation in health services in Victoria and his contributions to a wide range of health policies including regionalisation of community health, and the District Health Council's Program.

2003 - Professor Annette Dobson

Awarded the Sidney Sax Medal in 2003, for her long term dedication to public health education and commitment to developing integrative and multi-disciplinary approaches to solving public health problems in Australia and overseas.

2002 - Professor Judith Lumley

Awarded the Sidney Sax Medal in 2002, for her more than two decades of work dedicated to the promotion of public health and for her efforts in improving maternal care in Australia.

2001 - Professor Mary Sheehan

Awarded the Sidney Sax Medal 2001, in recognition of her involvement in teaching, education, research and service in promotion of public health over the past twenty years.

2000 - Dr. Neal Blewett

The inaugural Public Health Medal, later renamed the Sidney Sax Medal, was awarded to Dr Neal Blewitt in 2000 for his record of advancement of public health in Australia.

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