Meet the team

Dr Shelly Makleff

Research Fellow

Dr Shelly Makleff

Health equity is critical as it underlies our ability to attain high levels of health and wellness around the world.

Dr Shelly Makleff recently joined the Global and Women's Health team. She is an applied researcher focussed on global sexual and reproductive health and the evaluation of social and complex interventions. For over 15 years Dr Makleff has carried out collaborative evaluation and research projects in partnership with non-governmental and community-based partners globally - primarily in Latin America, with additional projects in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe.

Currently, Dr Makleff is working on a process evaluation of the Learning Clubs program to improve women's health and infant health and development in Vietnam. She is also developing a theory of change of a stepped model of postnatal mental health care in Victoria. Dr Makleff is also writing about comprehensive sexuality education and its potential for transforming harmful gender norms and has contributed to recent media coverage, including in The Conversation.

Dr Makleff believes that working on stigmatised and underfunded areas, such as abortion or sexual diversity, is key to transforming our society to ensure social justice and equity.

“My research spans topics of intimate partner violence prevention, comprehensive sexuality education, the evaluation of gender-transformative programming, abortion quality of care, abortion stigma, and gendered social norms,” says Dr Makleff.

“Health equity is critical as it underlies our ability to attain high levels of health and wellness around the world,” says Dr Makleff.

Dr Makleff’s early career work as a health educator and outreach worker in San Francisco schools and free clinics inspired her to complete a Master of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York. She then spent 11 years working at International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region, a global non-governmental organisation focussed on sexual and reproductive health in Latin America and the Caribbean. There, she collaborated on evaluation and research design and implementation to inform and improve health promotion programs, clinic-based interventions, and policy change initiative.

“My experience in this role brought to light the challenges of evaluating 'real world' programs,” says Dr Makleff.

“My PhD research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK focused on evaluation approaches suitable for complex and social interventions.”

Dr Makleff is inspired by the community groups and community-based organisations she has worked with.

“Partners on the ground are passionate about improving health and wellbeing. They have a clear vision and understanding of the priorities and needs that programs need to tackle, and researchers should follow their guidance” she says.