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Desley Hegney

R.N., B.A. (Hons 1), D.Nurs.Ed. PhD
Professorial Research Fellow
Research Division
(07) 3023 4286
About Me

I am a registered nurse.  My research work has primarily been in the area of nursing workforce in two areas:

Rural Nursing/Rural Health.  My work into the role and function of the rural nurse in Australia is considered to be a seminal work in this area.  My PhD was the first to focus on rural nursing in Australia.  My other research work into the role and function of rural nurses formed the basis of a large body of work undertaken in Canada on the role and function of rural nurses there.  It informed the establishment of the Association for Australian Rural Nurses and Midwives, of which I was the inaugural president.  It also informed the establishment of the Australian Journal of Rural and Remote Health, of which I was the inaugural editor (1992-2002).  The latter continues to be published by Wiley-Blackwell.

Nursing Workforce: At the same time I was undertaking this work, I was also undertaking contracted research with the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU). I undertook studies in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016.  The publications from this work are highly cited and the results have been consistently used to inform the work of the QNMU.  I was also involved in a team which examined the effectiveness of nurse-led models of care in general practices.

Occupational Resilience: In 2012 I began work examining the concepts of compassion fatigue (secondary traumatic stress, burnout) and compassion satisfaction in nurses. As a result of this work, my team realised that the work was about workforce resilience.  In 2013 we established the International Collaboration for Workforce Resilience at Curtin Univesity which had collaborating arms at several universities in Australia: Flinders, Adelaide, Monash, Murdoch, Charles Sturt and Southern Queensland.  We also have several international collaborators in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Canada.  This work was very successful and is highly cited.  We moved from our studies of employed nurses to student nurses and this work is continuing.

In 2016, to continue the work of the International Collaboration (ICQR1), CQU has established the International Collaboration of Occupational Resilience.  This collaboration has many participating universities: CQU, Griffith, Monash, Flinders, Adelaide, Curtin, Murdoch, Hong Kong Poly University and Brazil.  Already we have moved the focus from nurses to incorporate other disciplines such as primary school teachers, medical practitioners and allied health (paramedics, sonographers).  We have strong links with our industry partners.

This work incorporates much of my previous interests and research - occupational health nursing (as an occupational health nurse in Sydney), primary health care research (rural nursing, nurse-led models of care, general practice nursing) and resilience (rural communities).  I have had many research Masters and PhD students complete in these areas of my expertise and continue to provide input as part of several Editorial Boards.


Professor Desley Hegney is employed part-time as a Research Fellow in the Research Division.

She is a registered nurse and has over 50 years of nursing experience.


She commenced her registered nurse training at St. Andrew's War Memorial Hospital in Brisbane in 1966. She graduated in 1970 and then moved to undertake a midwifery qualification at The Queen Victoria Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia.  Having completed midwifery she gained some experience as a rural nurse and midwife working at Peterborough in South Australia.

She then worked as an Occupational Health Nurse at the then Commonwealth Industrial Gases (now BOC) and Alcan Australia in Sydney. During this time she gained her Graduate Certificate in Occupational Health Nursing.

In 1982 she completed a Diploma in Nursing Education at the Armidale College of Advanced Education, New South Wales and then worked as a Tutor Sister at the Group School of Nursing in Lismore, New South Wales.  With the transfer of nursing education to the Colleges of Advanced Education she enrolled and completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours 1st class) and then completed her PhD.

During this time the Colleges of Advanced Education merged with Universities and she was employed as a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of New England.  Following this she worked as an Associate Professor of Rural Nursing at the University of Southern Queensland, and established the Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health.  She established the Association for Australian Rural Nurses and Midwives and the Australian Journal of Rural Health.

She was then appointed as the Elizabeth Kenny Chair of Rural Nursing, a Professor with Toowoomba Health Services District, and with the School of Medicine, University of Queensland. The Centre for Rural and Remote Health became a joint Centre of UQ and USQ.

In 2006 she took on a Professor of Nursing position in the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore where she established the research Masters and PhD nursing qualifications. She was Acting Head of Centre and appointed to Head of Research in the Centre.

She returned to Australia taking positions of Professor of Nursing at first the University of Western Australia and then Curtin University. She also had a research appointment with Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in their Centre for Nursing Research.  She established the Western Australian Honor Society of Nursing of Sigma Thea Tau International (STTI) now the Psi Alpha-at-Large chapter of STTI.  It was during this time

She decided to retire in 2015 and returned to Queensland where she established a consultancy business (Hegney Consulting). In 2016 she was appointed to her current position.

Universities Studied At

University of New England

Southern Cross University

Universities Worked At

University of New England

University of Southern Queensland

University of Queensland

National University of Singapore

University of Western Australia

Curtin University

Central Queensland University


· 2016 Alumni of the Year, Southern Cross University, School of Health and Human Sciences

· 2009 Mary Paton Research Award – Brodribb, W., Fallon, A., Hegney, D., Jackson, C. – Australian Breastfeeding Association

· 2006 Pride in Workmanship – Rotary Australia

· 2005 Equal Opportunity Achievement Award (USQ Women’s Network)

· 2003 Excellence in Research Award – University of Southern Queensland.

Previous teaching

Curricula Development

Masters of Rural and Remote Health Nursing (nurse practitioner qualification (USQ)

Graduate Diploma of Occupational Health Nursing (USQ)

Masters of Research (National University of Singapore)

PhD for nursing (National University of Singapore)


Engaging nurses in Research (Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital)Rural Occupational Health and SafetyEvidence-based practiceRural HealthResearch Methodology for the Human SciencesHealth PromotionThe Advanced Nurse Practitioner

Professional Experience

Industry Engagement

The majority of my industry engagement activities have been in the area of rural nursing and rural health, particularly up to 2009. Since my retirement track, I have chosen to limit my involvement in industry activities that do not focus on occupational resilience.

a) Current Industry Engagement

Member, Human Research and Ethics Committee, Anglican Community Services Commission

b) Previous Significant Industrial Contributions (examples)

· Review of rural and remote nursing practice, Western Australian Rural Health Services, Perth

· Member, Human Research and Ethics Committee and Scientific Sub-Committee, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth

· Member, Nursing Executive Committee, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth

· Member of Strategic Management Committee, Global Health Alliance, WA Health

· Member Informatics Competency Standards for the nursing profession in Australia, Project Advisory Committee

· Member, Primary Health Care Consensus View Project Advisory Committee

· Member, Executive Committee, Carers Queensland

· Member, Workshop, Joint Working Party to review the relationships between Queensland Universities and Queensland Health, 21 March

· Invitation to appear before the Parliament of Australia House of Representative Standing Committee on Health and Ageing – Inquiry into the Health Benefits of Breastfeeding – 17 April, Brisbane.

· Member, Board, St. Luke’s Nursing Service

· Member, Mt Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, Research Advisory Committee

· Chair, Research Committee, Toowoomba Health Services

· Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Assessor for the 5th Annual Scientific Meeting

Boards of Inquiry – Ministerial Appointments

Ministerial Appointment, Health Community Council, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital

Member, Health Systems Review of Queensland Health (Foster Inquiry)

Member, Queensland Health, Ministerial Taskforce Implementation Working Party

Member, Queensland Health, Rural Health Ministerial Advisory Committee

Member, Queensland Health, Ministerial Taskforce on the Recruitment and Retention of Nurses

Chair, Working Party – Undergraduate and new graduates, of the Ministerial Taskforce on the Recruitment and Retention of Nurses

Professional Memberships

· Fellow, Australian College of Nursing

· Member, Phi Delta-at-Large Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau, Queensland Member, Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union

· Member, Centaur Nurses Memorial Fund


Inaugural Editor

Australian Journal of Rural Health (1992-2002)

Membership of Editorial Boards

(i) Current

Accident and Emergency Nursing Journal (AENJ) – official journal of the College of Emergency Nursing Australasia.

Rural and remote health (the international electronic journal of rural and remote health research, education, practice and policy)

(ii) Past

2009 - 2015 Nurse Researcher – official journal of the Royal College of Nursing (UK)

2003 – 2015 Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing - official journal of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation

2002 – 2010 Online Journal of Rural Nursing and Health Care (USA).

Research Supervision

I am currently accredited for supervision in the following:

  • Nursing
  • Public Health and Health Services
  • Public Health and Health Services

At the level of Mentor Supervisor

Current Capacity
I am currently unavailable to supervise more research candidates
Checking For Students Supervised
Research Interests
Medical And Health Sciences

Nursing - Clinical Nursing: Primary (Preventative)

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