Indo-Pacific Health Leaders Series: Dr Brendan Murphy, Secretary, Australia's Department of Health

Dr Brendan Murphy

By Ambassador for Regional Health Security Dr Stephanie Williams

I was pleased to continue the Indo-Pacific Health Leaders Series on the Contain This podcast with Dr Brendan Murphy, the Secretary of Australia's Department of Health.

In this special series, I hold frank conversations with leaders looking at how they are facing current challenges, making decisions amidst uncertainty planning ahead while dealing with a current health crisis, and how they, as individuals, adapt and adjust their leadership style.

Prior to his appointment as Secretary in July of this year, Dr Murphy was Australia's Chief Medical Officer. And it is his experience in this role that we focused on during the interview.

Dr Murphy trained as a nephrologist, a specialist in diseases and conditions that affect the kidneys. He was formerly the chief executive officer of Austin Health, and the chief medical officer and director of nephrology at St Vincent's Health, both institutions in his hometown of Melbourne, Victoria.

He shared his thoughts on being Chief Medical Officer at the beginning of the pandemic. "I think the most important thing for me was to try and be ethical and honest, and enter try in the public profile which was unwelcome but necessary to try and be reassuring, as well as honest," he says.

"That was quite hard because a lot of very frightened people including in our health professions and a lot of, you know, diverse and conflicting opinions flying out there from terrified people sitting at home on Zoom. And it was to try and get an evidence-based middle ground and try and reassure the public was a challenge."

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