Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 14:15
New Dean Bruce Abernethy with first year psychology students Emma-lee Wardle and Sanjay Vasudeva
New Dean Bruce Abernethy with first year psychology students Emma-lee Wardle and Sanjay Vasudeva

Almost 2000 undergraduate students starting their studies in University of Queensland Health and Behavioural Sciences courses this week will be welcomed by a new Dean leading a new faculty.

Internationally renowned scholar Professor Bruce Abernethy is the inaugural Executive Dean of the new Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences. 

The Faculty, formed as a consequence of UQ’s 2013 Faculties Review, includes the schools of Dentistry, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Human Movement Studies, Nursing and Midwifery, Pharmacy, Psychology, and Social Work and Human Services.

It also encompasses the National Centre for Environmental Toxicology and the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research.

A total of 1981 domestic and international undergraduates will start their courses with the faculty this week, comprising part of a student cohort of 5800 undergraduates and 1360 postgraduates.

“The new faculty provides the opportunity to generate new understanding of the links between health and behavior and to better understand and represent the benefits that allied health professionals provide to the healthcare system,” Professor Abernethy said.

He said the new faculty was strategically positioned to reshape inter-disciplinary health research and practice and the training of clinical and allied healthcare students. 

“We aim to ensure we are producing the highest calibre of future healthcare professionals who are capable of working together to produce integrated care,” he said.

“Students must be educated via a clinically-relevant inter-professional teaching and learning approach that places a premium on quality evidence and provides opportunities for shared content and shared learning experiences.

“There is increasing awareness that securing sustainable changes in behavior to prevent, delay or better manage chronic disease requires both a fundamental understanding of behavioural and biological science and well-developed clinical and communication skills.

UQ Vice Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said Professor Abernethy had the credentials to provide strong leadership to the Faculty.

“An initial focus of his will be implementation and its positioning within the context of the globally changing health system,” Professor Høj said.

“Professor Abernethy will be integral to ensuring a unified approach to health research, education and clinical engagement at UQ.”

Professor Abernethy has more than 22 years of academic leadership experience, and has been Deputy Executive Dean and Associate Dean (Research) in UQ’s former Faculty of Health Sciences;  Head of the UQ School of Human Movement Studies; and Director and inaugural Chair Professor of the Institute of Human Performance at the University of Hong Kong.

Contact: Kirsten O'Leary, Senior Media and Communications Officer, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, +61 7 3346 3035, +61 412 307 594 or