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Dr Olivia Wright, UQ Master of Dietetics Studies

Meet the expert: exploring nutrition education with Dr Olivia Wright

UQ people
Published 12 Apr, 2024  ·  4-minute read

Dr Olivia Wright is at the helm of the Master of Dietetics Studies program at UQ where she serves as the Program Director and Senior Lecturer.

Under her guidance, the program recently achieved its third accreditation since 2009 from Dietitians Australia, marking a significant milestone in its 16th year.

“We are delighted with this achievement, particularly as we have been accredited under the latest Dietitians Australia competency standards,” Olivia says.

"This demonstrates our commitment to excellence and innovation, the employability of our graduates, and the ongoing development of the dietetics profession."

Olivia emphasises a philosophy of nurturing the next generation of dietitians.

"We view our students as junior colleagues, and aim to nurture the next generation, their career goals and aspirations," she says.

“The Master of Dietetics Studies program provides a safe space for students to learn, explore and discover nutrition and dietetics, with the ability to shape and individualise their career development.”

Olivia's approach prioritises evidence-based practice and holistic client care.

“Our graduates stand out as they receive a comprehensive education that combines cutting-edge theoretical knowledge with practical skills from day one.”

Innovative teaching methods

Employing innovative teaching methods, including AI-driven tools, Olivia ensures that students receive a dynamic learning experience. She fosters collaborations throughout UQ to enhance students' preparation for professional practice, including opportunities to work alongside allied health professionals in interdisciplinary teams.

“Our students gain experience working in interdisciplinary teams alongside other allied health professionals at UQ and beyond through our extensive network of outstanding professional practice partners, including those in rural and remote areas,” Olivia says.

“This provides graduates with an excellent foundation for entering the workforce with the confidence and competence to make a real difference.”

Leveraging nutrition for transformation

The field of dietetics is a critical component of healthcare, extending far beyond basic nutritional advice. Olivia asserts that leveraging nutrition to transform lives is at the core of what dietitians do.

Dr Olivia Wright

Being a dietitian is not just about food or eating your required servings of food groups every day; it's about fostering a healthier society through the profound impact of nutrition on our mind, body and brain.

Dr Olivia Wright
Program Director, Master of Dietetics Studies

“The increasing recognition of the role of food, nutrients, diet and lifestyle in health and wellbeing presents tremendous opportunities for dietitians,” says Olivia.

Championing nutrition research

Throughout her research career, Olivia has been an advocate for nutrition and dietetics, collaborating within interdisciplinary teams to prioritise the health of vulnerable populations. From hospitals to aged care facilities, and oncology to mental health, she's spearheaded groundbreaking studies aimed at improving health outcomes through optimal nutrition. She also actively engages in initiatives like the Research Advisory Group for Food Systems Horizons, contributing to evidence-driven discussions that pave the way for the future of Australia's food systems.

In her role as a Senior Research Fellow at the ARC Transformation Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods (part of QAAFI), Olivia leads a dedicated team in exploring the impact of traditional dietary patterns on health. From investigating the benefits of anti-inflammatory Mediterranean-style diets to collaborating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to revitalise traditional foods and lifestyles, she's at the forefront of driving positive change through nutrition. By embracing Indigenous research methodologies and fostering strong community partnerships, Olivia is guiding the path towards a healthier and more sustainable future for all Australians.

Creating an inclusive and culturally responsive curriculum

Olivia is particularly passionate about working to embed Indigenous ways of knowing into education. By incorporating Indigenous perspectives, she aims to create a more inclusive and culturally responsive learning environment for students.

Olivia is working with the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences Indigenising the Curriculum Working Party to improve the practise of embedding Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing at a broader level, for the benefits of students, staff and the wider community. 

Mentoring future professionals

Olivia's dedication extends to mentoring higher degree and Master of Dietetics Studies research students, a role she cherishes.

“I love learning, and facilitating learning, and seeing those ‘lightbulb’ moments in people’s eyes”, she says.

“I also appreciate the privilege of being able to mentor health professionals at such a crucial point in their lives and careers.

“Seeing our Master of Dietetics Studies and higher degree by research graduates’ progression into the profession as confident practitioners who believe in themselves, then following their achievements and realisation of their goals, is a continual source of fulfilment.

“It is exciting, and the future is so bright.”

Meet other UQ academics or learn more about the Master of Dietetics Studies.

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