An exchange between 2 health data organizations leads to new experiences

September 2017

A position at CIHI does not typically include beaches, meat pies or kangaroos. However, for 2 CIHI employees who packed their bags and headed to Canberra, Australia, in the spring, these sights are becoming more familiar.

Eric Pelletier, a program consultant in Integrated e-Reporting, and Candace Sheppard, a senior analyst in Your Health System Content, are both participating in a year-long secondment at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Both CIHI employees had a positive first impression when they arrived in Australia in March and were greeted with warm weather.

“Leaving Canada on an icy Ottawa morning and arriving in Sydney on a sunny summer day was a very welcome contrast,” said Eric.

Working in the land Down Under

CIHI and the AIHW share a strong partnership and have collaborated on topics that include public reporting functions and health system performance, organizational governance structure, and strategic communications, among others. The relationship between the organizations has grown to include a secondment program. CIHI employees can learn from AIHW staff and also teach them about CIHI’s work.

Eric says that CIHI and the AIHW are comparable organizations. The process of receiving, processing and housing data is similar, and the AIHW recently released new strategic directions — which CIHI did in 2016.

Candace works with the Indigenous Analyses and Reporting Unit at the AIHW on hearing and oral health programs in the Northern Territory. She attended the National Indigenous Research Conference and said it was a great opportunity to learn more about other Indigenous research in Australia.

The Aussie experience

Although Eric and Candace both work full time, they’ve had the opportunity to visit other parts of Australia. For Candace, a personal highlight of her experience so far has been the ability to travel. She’s visited Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. 

“Seeing the Sydney Opera House was quite spectacular. I’ve also been able to enjoy some fabulous food, from ramen to meat pies,” said Candace.

One of the most memorable experiences for Eric was walking from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach in Sydney with his wife. They were both impressed by the cliffs and large waves.

Canadians at the core

Both CIHIers are enjoying their experiences in Australia; however, they miss various aspects of home. Family and friends — both human and canine — are all dearly missed.

The Canadian culinary scene is also high on the list of things they miss about the Great White North. Eric and Candace both miss poutine — a Canadian classic — as well as Caesars and shawarma.

Even though the Canada 150 celebrations were more than 15,000 km away, Candace and Eric were still able to show their Canuck pride. They hosted a Canada Day pancake breakfast at the AIHW office and gave their Aussie colleagues a little taste of home.

CIHI releases several reports every year that highlight international data, so it’s important that we continue to foster international relationships with organizations like the AIHW. One of the AIHW’s employees, Mark Petricevic, is working in CIHI’s Toronto office now as part of the exchange program. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Eric and Candace continue to grow their knowledge. They will bring a unique perspective back to Canada when they return to CIHI in 2018.