Sixty-year-old Fiona Tito-Wheatland wanted to connect with other older students, so she started the Older Wise Learners Facebook group. It now has now has 525 members from universities across the world who can talk about anything from age discrimination or technology to the anxieties that come with doing a PhD.
Fiona started her legal career at the NSW Law Reform Commission in 1982, initially working on the Transport Accident Compensation Reference. She then moved to Darwin in 1985 and helped develop their Work Health legislation. She headed the Commonwealth Government Employees Compensation Review, which resulted in the establishment of COMCARE between 1985-1988. She co-authored the Social Security Review's issues paper on Income Support for People with Disabilities in 1988. In 1988-89, she worked as Disability Adviser to the then Social Security Minister, the Hon. Brian Howe MP, and then moved to the Public Service Commission and prepared the EEO Strategy for the 1990s called "Further Steps Forward".
She was then promoted to the Senior Executive Service into the Department of Primary Industries and Energy. She spent a diverse year year and a half, writing about the legal protections of the National Estate, examining legislation to enhance sustainable agriculture, reviewing community based rural assistance programs and the constitutionality of Australian Fisheries, before being asked to chair the Review of Professional Indemnity Arrangements for Healthcare Professionals in mid 1991. This 4.5 year review included extensive publications and conducting the Quality In Australian Health Care Professionals. This research set the stage for the various national Quality and Safety initiatives that are still rolling out. It included passage of several pieces of important legislation, including provisions relation to quality improvement activities in health and the interaction between social security and health payments at the Commonwealth, state-based compensation payments and private insurance. Her work predicted the collapse of one of the major medical defence organisations in Australia, if there was Government inaction (as there was) half a decade before it occurred.
Fiona left the public service in 1996 and started a consultancy business specialising in workers compensation, rehabilitation and disability services, mental health and patient safety. She was also heavily involved in health consumer rights, carers needs and the social impact of National Competition Policy through the Australian Council of Social Services.
Fiona started her PhD at the Research School of Social Sciences in 2004, and became a foster carer that same year. Life has got in the way of completion of her PhD many times but at the same time fed into her understanding of her research in many diverse ways. She is now also working for Professor Simon Rice on the Guardianship Reference for the ACT Law Reform Advisory Council, as well as maintaining interests and engagement in many of her earlier areas of work at a community activist level.
She has three children and a husband. She is an enthusiastic craftswoman, singer, poet and vegetable gardener and she loves reading.
- Chair, Community and Health Rights Advisory Council 2001-2002
- Inaugural Chair, ANU Medical School Community Advisory Council
- Community member, Canberra and Region Medical Education Council (2013-2018)
- Community/consumer reviewer for the Australian Medical Council (2001, 2014 and continuing)
- Health Care Consumers of the Act Consumer Member, Australian Council of Health Care Standards (2013- )
- Consumer Representative on the ACT Obesity Management Service Mangement Committee (2013 - )
Significant research publications
- Tito F. Further steps forward - EEO in the 1990s, 1989 Commonwealth Public Service Commission, Canberra.
- Review of Professional Indemnity Arrangements for Health Care Professionals: A Discussion Paper (February 1992), An Interim Report (February 1994); A Final Report (November 1995)
- Tito F and Newby L. Medico Legal Implications of Clinical Practice Guidelines in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Breast Cancer. 1997 for the NHMRC National Breast Cancer Centre
- Enduring Solutions Pty Ltd To each according to their needs - Report on Best Practice Options for Case Streaming and Case Management of Workers’ Compensation Claimants. 1998 Prepared by Fiona Tito for the Victorian Work Cover Authority
- Pelly JE, Newby L, Tito F, Redman S and Adrian AM "Clinical Practice guidelines before the law: sword or shield? 1998, Medical Journal of Australia, volume 169. pages 330-333
- Tito F. Health Care: The Development of Consumer Rights, Chapter in In the Consumer Interest (ed Simon Smith) , 2000, SOCAP, Melbourne.
- Tito F. National Competition Policy: The Public Interest Test and Social Welfare', 2001 Impact October: pages 10-12.
- AHMAC Legal Process Reform Group. Responding to the Medical Indemnity Crisis: An Integrated Reform Package. (Chair: Professor Marcia Neave – the Neave Report)(Consultant: Writing and Research – Fiona Tito) Released by AHMAC in 2002
- Tito Wheatland, F. Medical Indemnity Reform in Australia - First Do no Harm, 2005 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, volume 33, pages 429-443.
- Tito Wheatland F. Consumers and Drug Companies: The Scorpion's Tale? [online]. 2006 Health Issues, No. 87: pages Available online
- Tito Wheatland F. My Life, My Community – Journeys to recovery through community services for mental health, prepared for the ACT Greens and tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2009
Please note, only a small selection of recent publications and activities are listed below.