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Close-up: Dr Alice Rota-Bartelink

2 Aug 2013, by Informa Insights

Dr Alice Rota-Bartelink

Dr Alice Rota-Bartelink has worked across a wide range of service sectors. She held a 4-year lecturing position at La Trobe University, Melbourne where she attained her PhD. She joined Wintringham in 2001 to undertake an international study of homelessness among the aged and more recently to manage the Wicking Project presented today. Alice is an honorary research fellow at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), has authored 7 peer reviewed journal articles and has presented at numerous national and international conferences as well as delivering as series of Master Class workshops on this issue across Australia and New Zealand.

We had the opportunity to ask Alice to explain some of the biggest challenges in her career so far, and why.

I worked as an orthoptist in a private practice for nearly 10 years during which time I commenced my PhD. Maintaining the balance between work, family and study was always a struggle. My PhD research involved electrophysiological and psychophysical assessment of older people to determine whether they were at risk of developing eye diseases. I was employed by the university as a lecturer and co-opted as team leader in a hospital department. I loved teaching but not the politics within the university. In 2001, in between babies and still studying, I was invited by a colleague to work part-time conducting research at an organisation named Wintringham. Although confident with conducting research involving older people, I had no experience working with the homeless population. 125 one-on-one interviews later I was hooked. I was mesmerised by the stories, the characters and the strength of human spirit that I witnessed. Over the ten years since, of all the individual’s I have worked with within the older homeless population, those living with comorbidities (mental illness and acquired brain injury, in particular alcohol related brain injury) were among the most vulnerable and marginalised people that I had ever met. This has inspired me to advocate for this population group through research. This will enable me to continue to provide evidence of their unique set of care needs, explore appropriate options of care, share their life stories and highlight the service delivery gaps that currently exist within the social service system.

Alice will be running a workshop at the National Acquired Brain Injury Conference, to be held on the 26th and 27th September in Melbourne. Her workshop will focus on developing workplace skills and knowledge for the provision of appropriate support to clients living with alcohol related brain injury (ARBI).

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