Professor Catherine Crock AM

Catherine Crock

Professor Catherine Crock AM is a medical pioneer, producer of music and theatrics, humanitarian, mother and advocate for change.

Professor Crock graduated in Medicine from Monash University in 1981. Several years later, her medical career was put on hold for nine years while having five children. Then in 1998, she accepted a request by the Royal Children’s Hospital for her to provide bone marrow and lumbar puncture procedures for children with leukemia. She recognised the extent of trauma caused by these repeated procedures, and the need for change. She worked closely with her patients, empowering family input into every aspect of care. Through Professor Crock’s work, the parents of these children determined that general anaesthesia should be available for all these procedures, they redesigned the pathology collection process to make it quicker and safer, they introduced and funded music therapy as a routine part of their care, they sourced phone and video paging for families to avoid waiting, they made theatre scheduling fit the needs of patients rather than the needs of hospital administration, they organised and funded streaming television and music throughout the hospital, they developed anaesthetic ‘passports’ that travelled with each child during their many operations, and much more.

Through this work, Professor Crock saw first-hand the extraordinary resource that the patient population can be to any hospital if it chose to use it. She recognised that adverse events are common when patients are not respected and empowered. She also recognised that staff cannot respect patients if they don’t respect each other. Through her own experience and her Churchill Fellowship, Professor Crock became aware of the extent of toxic behaviours within health care and how this has a direct impact on both staff and patient safety and wellbeing.

In 2000, Professor Crock created the HUSH Foundation to help change culture in health care through the arts. In collaboration with some of Australia’s finest composers, musicians, playwrights and artists, HUSH has commissioned twenty music albums and a Treasure Book to reduce stress and anxiety in healthcare settings and beyond. HUSH has also produced a series of plays which have been performed hundreds of times around Australia and internationally, promoting culture change in health care. In 2016, Professor Crock was one of the creators of the Gathering of Kindness movement for which events have now been adopted in many other countries. The underlying philosophy is that change does not come from punishing bad behaviours or bullying. Cultural change comes from noticing, measuring, valuing and rewarding the behaviours we do want within our system.

In 1998, empowering families to be part of decision making about hospital processes was not generally accepted, and Professor Crock’s work in those early years came at considerable personal cost. Over time, her work has been recognised: - by the Royal Children’s Hospital Chairman’s medal, the Victorian Government Award for outstanding individual achievement, the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards National award for clinical excellence and patient safety, participation at the Prime Minister’s Australian 2020 Summit, an Australian Art Music Award for her contribution to Australian Music, and admission to the Victorian Women’s Roll of Honour. In the Queen's Birthday 2015 Honours List, Professor Crock was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to medicine, particularly to improved patient and family care and community healthcare standards, and to the arts”.

She is married to Roderic Phillips and they have five children, Michelle, Catherine, Ben, James and Richard. She treasures time with her family, camping, hiking, swimming and rogaining. She is a past Australian Rogaining Champion (1979) and has competed in the World Rogaining Championships.