Juvenile justice and chronic disease management to get the Harvard treatment

5 May 2016

2016 Harvard Menzies Scholar, Sibella Matthews Two outstanding achievers who have a drive and vision for how we can improve the juvenile justice and chronic disease management systems in Australia have been awarded the prestigious RG Menzies Scholarship to Harvard for 2016.

Sibella Matthews, a 26-year-old Sydney solicitor and policy advisor is passionate about the juvenile justice and child protection systems within Australia and plans on using her expectant degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University to better protect children’s rights. Sibella’s ambition is to use innovative policy reforms to bring the states and territories together to decrease the number of children in need of protection caught up in the criminal justice system.

Dr Nick GattasA consultant and business analyst with McKinsey & Co in Sydney, Dr Nick Gattas, 26, is a graduate of the University of Queensland and holds degrees in Arts and Medicine. He plans to use his expectant MBA at Harvard Business School to complement his medical degree and one day open a private hospital as a prototype for all hospitals in Australia, utilising the highest degree of technology in the treatment and prediction of chronic illnesses.

The scholarships valued at US$60,000 each are for postgraduate study in the United States and are jointly awarded by the Harvard Club of Australia, The Australian National University and the Menzies Foundation.

What the 2016 scholars have in common is a commitment to excellence and a focus on significantly improving systems in Australia which are currently under strain and not serving community need as well as they should.

Sibella and Nick will start at Harvard later this year. The scholarship selection panel was impressed by their vision for how they might improve current systems based on their early-career experiences, and how they could use international knowledge not currently maximised in Australia.

Not only did both scholarship recipients have a vision for some desperately needed advances in health and juvenile justice, but they could also articulate how they would implement local pilot models and scale them up for national benefit.

Sibella, who holds a double degree of Bachelor of Economic and Social Sciences and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from The Australian National University, has strong ideas and opinions on the role of the state in protecting and advancing children’s rights.

These views have been influenced by a range of experiences including working on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Australian Human Rights Commission and volunteering as a mentor at the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre for girls and as a telephone crisis supporter with Lifeline. She would like to use her Harvard experience to develop the skills and leadership to drive transformational change in Australia’s approach to child protection and juvenile justice.

“I hope to address the structural deficiencies in our society that further punish and marginalise children born into situations of socio-economic disadvantage and neglect. I am driven by my personal philosophy that the most valuable investment a society can make in the pursuit of social justice is in the wellbeing of its children,” Sibella said.

Sibella was the Associate to the Hon Justice Melissa Perry in the Federal Court of Australia last year and is currently working as a Policy Adviser to the New South Wales Attorney General, the Hon Gabrielle Upton.

Dr Nick Gattas plans to combine his medical experience and considerable expertise in digital innovation and data to improve the quality, access and cost of healthcare in Australia. He has big plans.

“I intend to use the MBA to enter a leadership role where I can directly change the model of care for patients with chronic disease, with a greater focus on data-enabled prevention, telehealth, and innovative funding models.”

He feels that one way to do this would be to develop the model of care for a single hospital and then expand it across Australia. Nick will also look at the possibility of launching a start up at Harvard Business School to address a specific problem, such as delivering specialist diabetes care to patients in remote areas, while developing a solution which can be scaled both in Australia and abroad.

“The challenge facing all health systems is providing healthcare to an ageing population burdened by chronic disease, in a world where more funding is simply not sustainable. How can we consistently provide high quality care to those who need it, using the few resources we have available?

“Addressing this challenge is my passion in life.”

This is the final year the Menzies Foundation will contribute to the RG Menzies Scholarships to Harvard and will instead look for broader opportunities for prestigious scholarships to the USA.

Tags: Leadership Menzies Scholar Harvard