Positive psychology expert named among 100 Women of Influence for 2015

October 15 / 168

Professor Lea Waters has been named one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence for 2015.
Professor Lea Waters has been named one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence for 2015.

Professor Lea Waters is one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence for 2015, according to the Australian Financial Review.

One of ten women awarded in the Social Enterprise and Not-For-Profit category, Professor Waters was recognised for her contribution to the youth mental health field and her leadership in establishing the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University.

Professor Waters, who has been sharing the benefits of positive psychology for almost 20 years, said she was deeply honoured and affirmed by the award. 

“It is wonderful to see the role of women recognised and the positive ripple effect of these women in society,” she said.

"For me, youth mental health is critical and I am eager to use this award to help raise public awareness. My aim is to ensure every young Australian is taught wellbeing skills at school. We need to educate our students about their mind and their heart.”

Suicide is the number one cause of death for Australians aged 15 to 25 years old, while 25 per cent of young Australians experience symptoms of mental illness and 40 per cent of school students report that they worry a lot.

“The Centre for Positive Psychology takes a preventative health approach. We are working with schools all across Australia to support the wellbeing and learning of young Australians,” Professor Waters said.

“We have also recently developed the 'Wellbeing Profiler' that allows schools to measure the wellbeing of all students.”

Professor Field Rickards, Dean of Education, said the University’s investment in the Centre recognises how important positive psychology is to the education sector.

“The emerging discipline of positive psychology is helping to prepare children and young people to live flourishing lives,” Professor Rickards said. “There is already evidence that its uptake by schools is having impact not only on students, but their teachers as well.”

In its fourth year, the 100 Women of Influence Awards celebrate outstanding women across Australia, with candidates judged on their demonstrated vision, leadership, innovation, action and impact in and beyond their field. 

Professor Lea Waters (PhD) holds the Gerry Higgins Chair in Positive Psychology and is the Director of the Centre for Positive Psychology.
She is an internationally recognised expert in positive psychology and organisational change and a registered psychologist (AHPRA). In 2007 she received an Australian University Individual Teaching Excellence Award from the Prime Minister. She is also an advisory board member for the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and holds affiliate positions with Cambridge University's Wellbeing Institute and the Centre for Positive Organisations at the University of Michigan. 

Professor Waters was the first Australian to be inducted as a Fellow with the International Positive Psychology Association and recently delivered a TEDx talk, and is currently writing her first book, The Strong Child: Building Resilience, Optimism and Achievement, to be published internationally. 

The Centre for Positive Psychology is an internationally recognised centre that works to advance the science and practice of wellbeing for students, teachers and education systems through the application of positive psychology. Since it began delivering postgraduate courses in 2013, the Centre has had over 1,200 students.

Story by Annie Rahilly  

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