Meet Michelle Imison– our new Global Health Campaign Manager

I’m delighted to have joined RESULTS as Global Health Campaign Manager.

I’ve been interested in – no, fascinated by – international development since I was about 12, when I saw a documentary on television one rainy Saturday afternoon about the work of the political scientist and development theorist Susan George. (Yes, I was a nerdy child!)

Everything about the field appeals to me – the complexities of social and cultural contexts (with gender as a particular interest), the role of economics and human psychology and politics and environment, the interconnections among them – but perhaps above all, what’s at stake: the opportunity for the flourishing of human potential everywhere. Social injustice has long made me burn, but the knowledge that ‘it’s not fair’ demands to be translated into action.

Although I’d fed this interest with travel and all kinds of domestic, development-related volunteering with organisations like Oxfam Australia, it wasn’t until I went to Bangladesh in 2004-05 as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development that I seriously began entertaining the idea of development work as a career – and trying to figure out how to make that a reality.

I came back to Australia and took a Master of International Public Health and then a PhD in Public Health (now it’s finished I’m quite capable of speaking dispassionately about my thesis, so feel free to ask me about it sometime!). Throughout I’ve continued to travel as well as spending time variously on the Board of a development NGO (Oxfam Australia) as a grantmaker to international grassroots women’s organisations and as a development consultant.

As Global Health Campaign Manager for RESULTS, my major focus is tuberculosis (TB). This year there are three main components to my work:

  • Providing Secretariat services for the Australian TB Caucus. The Australian Caucus is like a parliamentary Friendship Group, bringing together federal MPs and Senators interested in being informed about – and taking action on – TB together. Perhaps after the election your new MP might be on our list of Australian parliamentary champions for TB… or perhaps your efforts could help us get them there!
  • Working with the Australasian TB Forum, the regional grouping of researchers, policy-makers, health workers, advocates and people affected by TB working to end the epidemic in the Asia-Pacific. In particular, I chair the Forum’s Advocacy Sub-Committee, which provides evidence-based advocacy for both the Australian public and governments.
  • Working with other organisations and partners (for example, our international colleagues at ACTION and, locally, Pacific Friends of the Global Fund) to secure an enhanced financial commitment in September from the Australian government for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. While your sustained advocacy with MPs throughout this year has demonstrated to our politicians the level of public support for the Global Fund, I work with other domestic and international actors that engage the Australian government in high-level dialogue about the Global Fund. The Conference gave me a real sense of RESULTS’ grassroots advocacy, and I was struck by the degree to which our efforts on TB are two sides of the same coin: inseparable and equally important.

It was a pleasure to meet many of you at the National Conference in May, and I’m looking forward to meeting – and working with – more of you in coming months!