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Celebrating the extraordinary Sharon McGowan AM

15 February, 2024
Headshot of Sharon McGowan AM

The Chair of ALEC’s Strategic Advisory Committee, and CEO of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Sharon McGowan was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia last month, in recognition of her many significant contributions to community health, particularly stroke prevention and awareness. Here ALEC Director Professor Tari Turner celebrates the very fitting honour and highlights the many reasons ALEC has to thank and pay tribute to the inimitable Sharon McGowan AM.

There are so many reasons for Sharon McGowan to be recognised for her contribution to Australian health care. From our perspective at ALEC, she has been a champion for living guidelines since the absolute beginning and we wouldn’t be here without her.

While the value and impact of living guidelines is increasingly evident now, Sharon was a pioneer whose work demonstrated their feasibility and applicability. She led the way in establishing the Living Stroke Guidelines – literally the world’s first living guidelines, which just turned five and continue to go from strength to strength.

As CEO at Stroke Foundation she was pivotal in founding the original ALEC – the Australian Living Evidence Consortium – which is now our flourishing Australian Living Evidence Collaboration. And as part of her incredible contribution to ALEC, she chaired our National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce Steering Committee and shepherded over 200 recommendations to 100% consensus endorsement from 35 member organisations.

In her LinkedIn post about her inclusion in this year’s Australia Day Honours List, Sharon wrote about her involvement in the Taskforce, saying: ‘being a small part of this effort was the biggest privilege of my life.’ This is a characteristically humble assessment, given the huge part she played in ensuring the Taskforce team were able to provide living evidence to frontline clinicians throughout the pandemic.

Sharon’s enthusiasm, quiet strength, wisdom and real commitment to improve people’s health and quality of life have transformed the living evidence and guidelines landscape across Australia and beyond. Even putting aside her substantial contributions in the many other roles she plays, there was no doubt a national honour was definitely in order.

We’re so pleased and excited to see Sharon recognised in this way for her contributions to date, and can’t wait to see the innovation and improvements she is sure to drive in the years ahead.