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Ruth has been associated with three RCH campuses commencing as a final year Occupational Therapy student in 1960 at Carlton. In 1963 she joined the staff of the Department of Psychiatry in the ‘new’ hospital as a child therapist. Her connection to RCH continues as President of the Alumni (2020-2021).
As child psychotherapy developed and matured Ruth continued to upgrade her qualifications obtaining her Master of Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Degree in 1995 (Monash University).
She was awarded a Royal Children’s Hospital Pied Piper scholarship in 1991 to study the then emerging field of child trauma at UCLA and other US centres. Apart from a few years’ leave when her children were young Ruth remained at RCH until her retirement in 2005. She had been Head of the Department of Child Psychotherapy for the previous ten years.
Ruth specialised in the treatment of children and families who had been damaged as a result of any of a range of experiences from child abuse, physical illness and treatment, parents with a mental illness, refugee experiences and man-made and environmental disasters. These included Ash Wednesday, Queen St, Manresa Kindergarten Siege, Port Arthur, Coode Island, Black Saturday and many fires, floods, droughts, accidents and incidents.
As a result of her interest in community health she became one of the early international pioneers and leaders in disaster recovery. For many years she trained and lectured in Australia and overseas. Early in her retirement, over a number of years, Ruth was mental health advisor to the RCHI/University of Gadjah Mada/World Vision response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Ruth also pioneered the establishment of the RCH Regional Mental Health Service centred in Mildura and Bendigo in the late 1980’s and1990s and was chairperson of the steering committee that established the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies in 1990.
Consultations over many years included the Foundation for Survivors of Torture, Victorian Government Departments of Education and Health (State Emergency Recovery Unit and Medical Displan) and the ANU Advisory Committee to the Australian Government on disaster recovery. She has authored and co-authored a number of papers and publications on child trauma and disaster recovery.
Currently she is a consultant and/or advisor to the Dax Centre ELVA Project, Membership and Ethics committees of the Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australia, Women in Emergency Management Australia Association, Emerging Minds, Red Cross, the Australian Child and Adolescent Trauma, Loss and Grief Network (ANU) and the Jack Brockoff Child Health and Wellbeing Programme Melbourne University (Children and Disasters).
She was awarded the Medal of The Order of Australia (OAM), in the general division, in 2012 for service to community health. She is a recipient of Life Service Awards from the Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australia and the Australasian Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, being a past president of each organisation and Honorary Fellow of the Dax Centre.
Ruth enjoys being an involved grandmother, spending time with family and friends, theatre, concerts, reading, gardening, travel and trying to keep as fit as possible.