Woman McKenzie, Anne

Health Consumer Activist

Written by Kate Moore, Australian National University

Anne McKenzie was born in Perth in 1951. After her parents separated when she was 10, Anne and her 3 brothers spent a lot of time on her grandparents' farm 160 kilometres south of Perth. Both grandparents were active members of their local community and this had a strong influence on her. Anne refused to go back to school at the end of 3rd year of high school. She got a job, and married 15 months later when she was nearly 17. She is still married to the same man, and they have four children. Anne has remained in the workforce, except for a short period after her youngest daughter was born with spina bifida.

Her daughter's condition meant that Anne had extensive contact with the health system, and she learned how difficult and stressful it could be. From the time that Emma was born, Anne learned that she had to stand up for her daughter's rights. She says that everything was a battle. They were given little information and experienced difficulties with some of the services and clinicians (http://janeelix.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/anne-mckenzie/). Her experiences with the health system underpinned Anne's decision, in 1994, to take up a position as the Parent Advocate at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth. She worked in that role for 5 years before being promoted to a more senior position. She started a postgraduate business degree, but gave up her studies because the demands of work, family and study were too heavy.

Anne now works in a university - as the Consumer Research Advocate at the University of Western Australia and Telethon Institute of Child Health Research where her job is to increase consumer and community participation in health and medical research (http://www.childhealthresearch.org.au/our-people/staff-student-index/m/anne-mckenzie.aspx). She is playing a leadership role within the university and the broader academic community - demonstrating to the academics and governments the value of involving consumer and community members in research and setting up systems and processes to enable that to happen. Anne is also the Chair of the Health Consumers Council of Western Australia and one of the Senior Consumer Representatives for the Consumers' Health Forum of Australia.

Anne does not think of herself as a leader and says that it would be a 'bit arrogant to put a label like that on yourself'. She realises that she limits herself and does not recognise her own leadership qualities. Sometimes, she says, 'I have to have a really serious talk with myself - to say come on now, show a bit of leadership here'. Passion and tenacity are leadership qualities that Anne does admit to possessing. She also stresses the importance of sitting and talking through issues with others, and being able to recognise that 'I don't know everything'. Anne is happy to mentor other women, either informally or through the Health Consumers' Council of Western Australia. Her advice to younger women is not to be too impatient, and that experience and passion are important (http://janeelix.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/anne-mckenzie/).

Published Resources


  • McKenzie, Anne; Hanley, Bec; the University of Western Australia, School of Population Health and Telethon Institute for Child Health Research., Consumer and Community Participation in Health and Medical Research: A Practical Guide for Health and Medical Research Organisations, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Subiaco, Western Australia, 2012. Details

Online Resources

See also