Dr Megan Williams is Senior Lecturer and Head of the Indigenous Health Discipline at the Graduate School of Health. She has over 20 years’ experience combining health service delivery and research, particularly focusing on Aboriginal peoples’ leadership to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the criminal justice system and post-prison release. Megan is a Wiradjuri descendent, and also has Anglo-Celtic heritage.
Megan had her work endorsed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health under the umbrella of the Lowitja Institute. She contributes to the Ngadhuri-nya (To care for) study associated with the NSW Child Development Study in collaboration with UNSW investigating impacts of incarceration across generations, and an ARC-funded partnership between Ted Noffs Foundation and UNSW. Megan has also designed and published on an evaluation model for Aboriginal health programs - the Ngaa-bi-nya framework. Through the Maridulu Budyari Gumal Sydney Partnership for Health, Education and Research Enterprise (SPHERE) and Croakey.org Megan also focusses on translating research into policy, practice and education.
Chair, Human Ethics Review Committee, Justice Health & Forensic Mental Health Service, NSW Ministry of Health
Associate Editor, Health Sociology Review
Board Member, Croakey Health Media
Research Advisory Panel, First Peoples Disability Network
Megan's community involvement has included:
#JustJustice social journalism for health project through Croakey.org
Lowitja Institute Link Person for UQ and UNSW
Resource development working group Chairperson, Mental Health - Children and Young People, NSW Ministry of Health
Mibbinbah Mad Bastards Working Group and Be the Best You Can Be program
Project 10% Research Partner, with Murri Watch Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, ANTaR Qld and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Legal and Advisory Service
Megan's awards and nominations include:
2017 Finalist, National Indigenous Human Rights Awards
2015 UNSW Vice Chancellor's Award for Learning and Teaching
2013 UNSW Medicine Dean's Rising Star Award
2012 National Child Abuse Network Prevention Awards - Mad Bastards Working Group community outreach program
2011 Queensland Premier's Reconciliation Award - Partnerships winner, Project 10%
2011 Community Action Network Award - Project 10%
2010 UQ School of Population Health Teaching Excellence Award winner
2010 Lowitja Institute International Travel Award.
Can supervise: YES
Megan's current research projects include:
Bangamalhana: A collaborative throughcare program for young Aboriginal women transitioning from prison to community, NHMRC, Chief Investigator B
Aboriginal Allied Health Workforce Pathways Scoping Project, NSW Health, CIA
Evaluation of the Civil Law Service for Aboriginal Communities by Legal Aid NSW
Barraminya: Role of social support to reduce re-incarceration among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Positive life pathways for vulnerable adolescents, ARC partnership project, Ted Noffs Foundation and UNSW
Living Our Ways Community-driven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disability research program led by First Peoples Disability Network
Sydney Partnerships for Health, Education and Research Enterprise Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Stream, Team Investigator
Ngadhuri-nya care for:Intergenerational effects of incarceration on social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal children and young people in partnership with NSW Child Development Study UNSW ndMibbinbah health promotion charity
Previous research projects have included:
Commonwealth funded-evaluation of 3 Returning Home pilot programs supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women exiting correctional facilities, Muru Marri UNSW Team Investigator
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation-funded documentation of strategies for collective healing for Stolen Generations, Muru Marri UNSW Team Investigator
Megan was also involved with:
NHMRC Capacity Building Grant, Indigenous Offender Health Programme, Team Investigator
Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Opiate Treatment Outcomes Study, Reference Group Member, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW
Connective Services: Post-prison release support among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people research
Guidelines for Hepatitis C Education Targeting Young People who Inject Drugs project, Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre, UQ
Young People's Initiation into Injecting Drug Use Project, Queensland Intravenous AIDS Association (QuIVAA) Inc
Megan specialises in teaching and learning about Aboriginal health and wellbeing. She has experience in:
Course/subject and program development; vertical and horizontal alignment of curriculum
Face-to-face, external and online postgraduate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing coursework team teaching
Co-facilitation of the NSW Ministry of Health Public Health Officer Training Program and UNSW Future Health Leaders Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing workshops
Co-supervising and mentoring post-graduate research students in research design and data collection
Co-facilitation of the Critical Friends Circle post-graduate research support, including with a UNSW Learning and Teaching Unit grant.
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Fitzpatrick, SA, Haswell, MR, Williams, MM, Nathan, S, Meyer, L, Ritchie, JE & Jackson Pulver, LR 2019, 'Learning about Aboriginal health and wellbeing at the postgraduate level: Novel application of the Growth and Empowerment Measure', Rural and Remote Health, vol. 19, no. 2.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2019, ARHEN - Australian Rural Health Education Network Ltd. Introduction: Public health education strives to transform and empower students to engage in policy and practice improvement. However, little is known of the nature of such change among students, especially when studying Aboriginal health and wellbeing, which may involve disrupting long held assumptions and prejudices. This article reports findings regarding the feasibility, specificity and sensitivity of the Growth and Empowerment Measure (GEM) in the evaluation of two innovative Australian 13-week postgraduate public health electives focused on Aboriginal health and wellbeing. The GEM's 14-item Emotional Empowerment Scale (EES14) and its subscales Inner Peace and Self-Capacity, and 12 Scenarios (S12) and its subscales Healing and Growth and Connection and Purpose were used to examine transformative experiences. A new short form of the S12, the Core6, was also trialled as a briefer measure of functional empowerment. Methods: Pre-course GEM responses and demographic information were collected from consenting students during the mandatory, face-to-face workshops of the Aboriginal public health Perspectives course and the Aboriginal empowerment and wellbeing Lifespan course. The two-day Perspectives course workshop introduced a group scenario-building activity towards ending health inequality. Lifespan students experienced a 3-day immersion based on Stage 1 of the Aboriginal Family Well Being empowerment program. Insights from both workshops were further integrated through structured online discussions and written assessments. At the end of semester, a post-course GEM was mailed to students for completion and return. Students could also provide feedback through evaluation surveys and semistructured focus groups. Effect sizes were assessed using paired t-tests, Wilcoxon signed-rank tests and multiple ANOVA. Cronbach's alpha confirmed internal consistency. Results: Baseline GEM data was provided for 147 o...
Williams, MM 2018, 'Ngaa-bi-nya Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program Evaluation Framework', Evaluation Journal of Australasia, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 6-20.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The Ngaa-bi-nya framework presented here is a practical guide for the evaluation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social programs. It has a range of prompts to stimulate thinking about critical success factors in programs relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's lives. Ngaa-bi-nya was designed from an Aboriginal practitioner-scholar standpoint and was informed by the holistic concept of Aboriginal health, case studies with Aboriginal-led social and emotional well-being programs, human rights instruments, and the work of Stufflebeam. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and social programs have been described as suffering from a lack of evaluation. Ngaa-bi-nya is one of the few tools developed specifically to reflect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' contexts. It prompts the user to take into account the historical, policy, and social landscape of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's lives, existing and emerging cultural leadership, and informal caregiving that supports programs. Ngaa-bi-nya's prompts across four domains—landscape factors, resources, ways of working, and learnings—provide a structure through which to generate insights necessary for the future development of culturally relevant, effective, translatable, and sustainable programs required for Australia's growing and diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
Blignault, I & Williams, MM 2017, 'Challenges in evaluating Aboriginal healing programs: definitions, diversity and data', Evaluation Journal of Australasia, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 4-10.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Indigenous people around the world have long healing traditions. Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing projects are designed to empower individuals, families and communities; strengthen connections to culture; and reduce the damaging effects of colonisation and government policies such as the forcible removal of children (the Stolen Generations). Evidence on the conditions necessary for healing to occur, and how healing works for different people and in different contexts, is limited. Evaluations that will help identify good practice and document the full range of outcomes are sorely needed.
This paper is based largely on experiences and learnings from Stolen Generations projects around Australia funded by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, and the reflections of experienced scholar-practitioners. It argues that evaluations that are responsive to, and ultimately owned and led by, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities need to be designed and implemented differently to mainstream evaluations. Timeframes, methods, relationships between evaluators and stakeholders, and the identification and measurement of outcomes all need to be carefully considered. Challenges include definitions of healing, diversity of landscapes and programs, and data collection. Qualitative methods that preference and support Indigenous cultural frameworks and ways of creating and sharing knowledge work well. In addition to ensuring culturally sensitive methodologies and tools, working ethically and effectively in the Indigenous healing space means emphasising and enabling safety for participants, workers and organisations.
I've known my dear friend Sandy for several years. He's been like an angel in my life - kind, supportive and trustworthy.
Sweet, M, Geia, L, Dudgeon, P, McCallum, K, Finlay, S, Williams, M, McInerney, M, Armstrong, R, Doggett, J, Coopes, A, Ward, M, Senior, T & Ricketson, M 2017, 'Outlining a model of social journalism in health', Australian Journalism Review, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 91-106.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Social journalism is an emerging field of practice that seeks to reframe journalism as an action-oriented service built on relationships and collaborations, rather than as primarily content or a product. It offers opportunities for innovation that re-centre the public interest roles of journalism at a time when public interest journalism is in crisis. This article outlines a 10-point model for social journalism, drawing on case studies in health journalism connected to the online platform Croakey.org. These case studies show how using decolonising and participatory action frameworks can transform journalism research and practice, with potential benefits for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They also illustrate a dynamic process of knowledge exchange between journalism research and practice. Elements of the proposed model for social journalism practice include: standpoint; transdisciplinary practice; connectivity; relationships; responsive listening; reflexivity; immersion; transparency and trust; creativity and innovation; and an ethic of service and outcomes. It is a model in which transformative health journalism facilitates and enables transformation in spheres beyond journalism. This article also considers the constraints and challenges facing social journalism initiatives and practitioners, and makes recommendations for policy.
Williams, MM, Finlay, S, Sweet, M & McInerney, M 2017, '#JustJustice online campaign to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-incarceration', Australian Journalism Review, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 107-118.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Nathan, S, Rawstorne, P, Hayen, A, Bryant, J, Baldry, E, Ferry, M, Williams, M, Shanahan, M & Jayasinha, R 2016, 'Examining the pathways for young people with drug and alcohol dependence: a mixed-method design to examine the role of a treatment programme.', BMJ Open, vol. 6, no. 5, pp. 1-14.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Young people with drug and alcohol problems are likely to have poorer health and other psychosocial outcomes than other young people. Residential treatment programmes have been shown to lead to improved health and related outcomes for young people in the short term. There is very little robust research showing longer term outcomes or benefits of such programmes. This paper describes an innovative protocol to examine the longer term outcomes and experiences of young people referred to a residential life management and treatment programme in Australia designed to address alcohol and drug issues in a holistic manner.This is a mixed-methods study that will retrospectively and prospectively examine young people's pathways into and out of a residential life management programme. The study involves 3 components: (1) retrospective data linkage of programme data to health and criminal justice administrative data sets, (2) prospective cohort (using existing programme baseline data and a follow-up survey) and (3) qualitative in-depth interviews with a subsample of the prospective cohort. The study will compare findings among young people who are referred and (a) stay 30 days or more in the programme (including those who go on to continuing care and those who do not); (b) start, but stay fewer than 30 days in the programme; (c) are assessed, but do not start the programme.Ethics approval has been sought from several ethics committees including a university ethics committee, state health departments and an Aboriginal-specific ethics committee. The results of the study will be published in peer-reviewed journals, presented at research conferences, disseminated via a report for the general public and through Facebook communications. The study will inform the field more broadly about the value of different methods in evaluating programmes and examining the pathways and trajectories of vulnerable young people.
Williams, M 2016, 'Arresting Incarceration: Pathways Out of Indigenous Imprisonment Don Weatherburn (Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2014, ISBN 9781922059550 (paperback), 189 pp.)', Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 75, no. 1, pp. 119-120.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Gisev, N, Gibson, A, Larney, S, Kimber, J, Williams, M, Clifford, A, Doyle, M, Burns, L, Butler, T, Weatherburn, DJ & Degenhardt, L 2014, 'Offending, custody and opioid substitution therapy treatment utilisation among opioid-dependent people in contact with the criminal justice system: comparison of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians', BMC Public Health, vol. 14, no. 1.View/Download from: Publisher's site
van Dooren, K, Claudio, F, Kinner, SA & Williams, M 2011, 'Beyond reintegration: a framework for understanding ex‐prisoner health', International Journal of Prisoner Health, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 26-36.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Crane, P & Williams, MM 2001, 'Educating young initiates about hepatitis C: Part II', Youth Studies Australia, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 11-24.
Williams, MM & Crane, P 2001, 'The first shot: Part I', Youth Studies Australia, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 11-24.
Williams, MM & Roche, A 1999, 'Young people's initiation into injecting drug use: The role of peer interviewers in risk reduction research', Health Promotion Journal of Australia, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 213-217.
Williams, MM, Sweet, M, Finlay, S, McInerney, M & Ward, M 2017, '#JustJustice online campaign to reduce Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander over-incarceration', 14th National Rural Health Conference Proceedings, National Rural Health Conference, National Rural Health Alliance, Australia.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Kinner, S & Williams, MM 2007, 'Post-release experience of prisoners in Queensland: Implications for community and policy', QUT Social Change in the 21st Century Conference Proceedings.
Williams, MM 2015, 'Connective services: Post-prison release support in an urban Aboriginal population'.
Western Sydney University
Ted Noffs Foundation
First Peoples Disability Network