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Prof. Kerryn Phelps AM is a doctor, health communicator and public health and human rights advocate. 30 years ago she was a pioneer in health media across multiple media platforms.
Prof Phelps started working as a medical reporter on morning television soon after graduation, recognising early in her career that improved community health could be achieved by increasing health literacy, improving the ability of people to act on trusted sources of information in order to live healthier lives.
She has been the health columnist for the Australian Women’s Weekly for 25 years and has authored six health books including a textbook of general practice. These publications build on mainstream medicine while challenging the health professions and patients to think more expansively about solutions to health problems, a concept known as integrative medicine, literally “integrating” multiple healthcare philosophies.
As first female President of the Australian Medical Association, she was able to influence health policy at State and Federal level. As AMA President, she forged a solution to the looming medical indemnity crisis, enabled changes to medical workforce policy, encouraged the development of the first AMA indigenous health report card and initiated the organisation’s first health policies on complementary medicine, and on sexuality and gender diversity.
Prof Phelps has been at the forefront of the struggle for LGBTQI inclusion and equality for two decades, since she and her wife Jackie Stricker-Phelps began the Australian conversation on marriage equality back in 1998.
Prof Phelps has met with Prime Ministers, government Ministers, politicians and religious and business leaders, police and armed forces to advance the cause of equality, diversity and inclusion.
Along the way Kerryn and Jackie helped to lobby for same sex adoption in New South Wales before becoming one of the first same sex couples to adopt under the new legislation.
Countless meetings, speeches, rallies, television and radio interviews, opinion pages and social media posts later, marriage equality was finally achieved in December 2017.
Prof Phelps was elected to City of Sydney Council in 2016 and was Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney from 2016-2017.
In 2018 after the resignation of Malcolm Turnbull, Prof Phelps won the by-election in the Federal seat of Wentworth and entered the House of Representatives where she argued for children and their families to be released from Nauru, spearheaded the landmark Medevac Law to rescue critically ill refugees from Manus Island and Nauru, advocated for action on climate change and for a review of the ban on private health insurance rebates for complementary therapies. Prof Phelps narrowly lost the seat in the Federal election in May 2019.
She is currently a City of Sydney councillor, bringing the principles of inclusiveness, social justice and community wellbeing to the role of city governance.