In December 2016, Louise Markus became the Institute’s eighth Board Chair.
When this article was written, Mrs Markus had steered only two board meetings. What was immediately and remarkably clear, was her knowledge, appreciation and respect for the work AIHW staff carry out, and the powerful data being produced and distributed.
‘It’s not just the data; it’s the issues that are important to Australia’s people, especially the social determinants of health and welfare,’ she maintains.
Mrs Markus is no stranger to leadership, or the world of health, for that matter. In fact, she believes her role as Board Chair is a ‘natural fit’. In 2004, she was elected to the House of Representatives for the seat of Greenway in Western Sydney. Six years later, she was elected to represent the seat of Macquarie.
During this time, she served as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Citizenship and as Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. She also has 25 years’ experience as a social worker and teacher, and has steered several committees, including the Australia–Pacific Parliamentary Network.
Recounting her time in these roles, Mrs Markus said that often what was missing were the data needed to make informed decisions. With the way the digital age is taking us, she said we now have an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of Australians.
‘People can have the debate, but with the facts. When debate and discussion are backed with informed data, real solutions can be found,’ she said.
Mrs Markus is particularly enthusiastic about the timeliness of her appointment, and the expansion of the Institute’s work, especially around homelessness, domestic family violence and veterans’ health.
As she observes, ‘The AIHW corporate response to an independent review by the Nous Group is quite exciting for the AIHW’s future. It will allow the level of data access to expand, especially through technological advances, and enhance the impact and the benefits of the Institute’s work.’
Mrs Markus also notes the importance of moving forward as a united front to ensure an even brighter future. ‘At this point in time in the Institute’s history, celebrating 30 years is an opportunity to acknowledge the larger team, stakeholders and partners, in what’s been achieved thus far. It is also a pivotal time to identify all the opportunities available to paint a clearer picture of the health and welfare of Australian people.’