Dr Jo Durham
Prior to becoming an academic I was a Country Program Director and advisor in international development in organisations such as the UN Development Programme, UNICEF and the Ministry of Labour Social Welfare, Laos. My role was to help improve the lives of those whose health and livelihoods were damaged by war, working in countries as diverse as Lao PDR, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Lebanon, South Sudan and the Kurdish Region of Iraq. Increasingly, I was asked to evaluate programs and to show that what we did worked. With a desire to provide the highest quality evidence base for such important work so that it could inform other programs, I came to academia.
Now as a teacher, researcher and evaluator at Queensland University of Technology, I bring this background to my work with governments, development agencies and communities to find practical solutions for reducing health inequities and vulnerability to disasters. I am particularly interested in working collaboratively with all stakeholders to find innovative solutions to complex or “wicked” problems in global public health that are often considered just “too hard”.
Some of my partners in research and practice include the University of Health Sciences, Laos (Lao PDR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), MANA Community Mentoring and the Ethnic Communities Council Queensland. At QUT I bring my real-world, contemporary experience into my coordination of the Graduate Certificate in Emergency and Disaster Management. The focus of my teaching is to link practice with theory to prepare graduates for the different careers within the field. I am as equally passionate about reducing health inequities and vulnerability to disasters as I am about helping to equip the next generation of evidence-based practitioners with the skills they will need to continue this necessary work.
When you mention disasters and Bangladesh most people think of flooding, but did you know Bangladesh is at risk of moderate to strong earthquakes and secondary risks of tsunamis and flooding? Imagine the consequences of mega-earthquake in a large, densely populated city where most structures are poorly built…
While some of us spent the pre-Christmas period preparing for festivities ahead, Dr Jo Durham, senior lecturer in Disaster Management at QUT, was on the ground in Turkey, evaluating a landmine clearance project on the eastern borders of Turkey for the UN Development programme.