Link June 2018 Volume 27 Issue 3 - Page 32

people More than you know Professor Leah Bromfield is one of Australia’s foremost child protection researchers and was awarded the 2017 Telstra Australian Business Women’s Public Sector and Academia Award for her important work. Prof Bromfield reveals how her own personal challenge — suddenly losing her vision in her only sighted eye — has made her “more, not less”. P rofessor Bromfield (pictured) is Co-Director of the University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP), producing world-class research that leads change in child protection policy and practice. Her career-long dedication to the field saw her appointed Professorial Fellow to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2015. While undertaking this significant role – which developed a new evidence base around child sexual abuse across a range of institutions – Prof Bromfield also began a significant personal journey. Having had chronic eye disease since she was a child and having lost vision in her right eye aged five, Prof Bromfield lost her vision in her left eye due to a retinal detachment caused by complications from the disease in 2015. She underwent retinal attachment surgery, but had both retinal damage and optic nerve damage which meant she could only see a “small fingernail-sized field of vision” out the corner of her left eye. While she has since regained a small portion of her central vision, she is considered legally blind. “When I lost my vision, I didn’t just lose my sight, I lost my sense of self, it was so very hard,” she said. “I felt like my world became very small. I felt less capable and I felt like I had less to contribute. 32 people linkonline.com.au