Professor Paul Kelly

Professor Paul Kelly is Chief Health Officer of the ACT and Deputy Director General of Population Health in the ACT Government Health Directorate. He is a founding partner of the Prevention Centre.

As Professor at ANU Medical School specialising in epidemiology and population health, Professor Kelly has 25 years’ research experience and has published over 100 peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. His research and professional interests include health services and population health systems; infectious disease epidemiology, in particular influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis (TB); whole of government policy approaches to non-communicable disease control and prevention, in particular obesity prevention; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and refugee health, health services and health systems research; and public health education and training.

Previously, Professor Kelly worked in research, health systems development, postgraduate teaching and as a health service executive including five years in the role of Director of the Masters of Applied Epidemiology Program at the National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health at ANU, and nine years in the Northern Territory working as a Principle Research Fellow with the Menzies School of Health Research, as well as with the Centre for Disease Control in the NT Department of Health. His work has taken him to five countries on four continents including Malawi, Indonesia, East Timor, and the UK.

Read more about Professor Kelly’s work.

Deputy Director General of Population Health, and Chief Health Officer, ACT Health

August 2016

Please describe your role: My role encompasses health improvement, disease prevention, health promotion and health measurement – basically whatever is on my desk at the time.

Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly

The most challenging part is … dealing with a broad range of stakeholders from ministers and ministerial staff to the lay public media, medical and scientific people experts and the bureaucracy. I have to balance what needs to be done with what’s right and what will make a difference.

I’m interested in the work of the Prevention Centre because … I see the world in systems and I find it very stimulating to be involved in a whole range of discussions amongst like-minded people. I have particularly appreciated the work of the Centre in relation to simulation modelling, which has led to PhD student Louise Freebairn’s workon the issue of gestational diabetes.

At work I am always learning … something new every day about a topic I’ve never heard of. I have to apply frameworks I have in my head based on my experience and professional training as a public health physician and communicate these to a minister or the public.

Before my current position, my most memorable role was … running a 200-bed hospital in Malawi, Central Africa, in the 1990s and doing often complex clinical interventions as well as trying to move the hospital to a more primary health and population health focus.

Most people don’t know that … I am a keen Scottish country dancer. I have danced in multiple countries around the world and really enjoy it. Yes, I do have a kilt – it’s made of the family tartan (Ancient Airlie).

My favourite holiday is … something that includes dancing, particularly if it involves good company, good food and good wine in an exotic location.