Australian Rotary Health has for over three decades been providing funding for medical research and scholarships for healthcare professionals.
Pushed into action by the mystery surrounding sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), Ian Scott addressed the Rotary Club of Mornington on June 17, 1981, highlighting the need to fund more medical research in order to shed light on the mystery of the syndrome.
After more than 30 years, Ian Scott’s dream of funding research is still alive with Australian Rotary Health raising close to $27 million for medical research since its origin, $10 million of which contributing to advances in mental health, the main focus of Australian Rotary Health since 2000.
The effect Australian Rotary Health has had on mental illness in particular is evident through the success of their researchers in their long term careers, and the relevance of their funded studies to the wider community.
Dr. Felice Jacka, who received an Ian Scott Scholarship between the years 2005-2008 for her PhD on ‘the relationship between mood and anxiety disorders and nutrition’ has since gone on to discover a definite link between foods common in ‘western ‘society and disorders such as anxiety and depression. These important findings were published in the acclaimed American journal ‘“The Year in Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder: The Most Important Studies of 2010”.
Australian Rotary Health’s focus on mental illness has also fostered a greater understanding of mental illness within the community and the effect of the ever growing media on those with mental illness. A. Australian Rotary Health funded study by Professor Jane Pirkis entitled ‘“Media Reporting of Suicide” found a high amount of media coverage on suicide can actually increase the prevalence of suicide in the community.
As the world moves well into the 21st Century, Australian Rotary Health has looked toward projects that utilise technology for the good of those in need and find avenues of treatment in a digital setting.
Professor Susan Paxton’s study ‘“On-line Therapy for Disordered Eating and Body Dissatisfaction’ found that the anonymity of the internet allowed those with body dissatisfaction to openly discuss their issues after which their level of dissatisfaction was noticeably reduced. Similarly, Associate Professor Britt Klein’s study entitled ‘e-Therapy for Anxiety Disorders’ provided free, anonymous, effective online treatment for all anxiety patients.
Though a fantastic achievement, Australian Rotary Health is very aware that the research being funded now is merely scratching the surface of what is waiting to be discovered.
“Research is needed to build a better understanding of how these illnesses occur but, unfortunately, a lack of finance sees only 20% of research grants for mental illness get funded.” Says Joy Gillett OAM , CEO of Australian Rotary Health.
With the ongoing support of Rotary Clubs and the wider community, Australian Rotary Health aims to continue supporting healthier minds and bodies and work towards improving the health and lives of those least able to assist themselves.