CQUniversity’s Head of Department – Transport, Emergency and Safety Sciences, Associate Prof Yvonne Toft is also a CQUni alumnus. Her passion lies in the world of the safety sciences and this week she has been particularly busy coordinating CQUniversity’s Transport, Emergency and Safety Science Conference at the Rockhampton campus, bringing together academics and students from around the world to discuss research in occupational health and safety, risk management, accident forensics and transport.
What is your favourite book of all time?
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson! I absolutely love all the stories about our pioneers in science and the resilience and patience they practised that ultimately led them to the serendipitous discoveries that have changed our world! A very close second would be Set Phasers on Stun: and Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error by Stephen Casey.
What is the best thing about your CQUni campus?
Having a mob of kangaroos living outside my office window and interacting with everyone at the Rocky campus.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love spending time with my (too) many kids and grandkids (just kidding, I adore all 13 of them!), tending to my (too) many orchids and (too) many animals, that is, being immersed in the eclectic menagerie that I call ‘home’!
What is the luckiest thing that has happened to you?
Having a late night post-conference conversation in late April 2010 with my (then) professional association colleague, Geoff Dell, and asking him what was the one thing that he was really passionate about doing professionally that he hadn’t yet been able to do in his impressive career. That conversation was the genesis for our world-first Bachelor of Accident Forensics, postgraduate accident investigation courses, globally unique multi-modal forensic investigation crash lab at Bundaberg campus and ultimately finding my true soul mate. You don’t get much luckier than having a moment like that!
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Stop the carnage! Our failure to learn from accidents costs Australian taxpayers nearly eight per cent of GDP each year in addition to the heavy toll in human costs for those harmed and those who care for them. We continue to ‘blame, shame and retrain’ instead of hunting down the origin of the errors in our systems and finding transdisciplinary solutions to address them. I am absolutely passionate about the difference our staff and graduates can make in creating safer outcomes in healthcare, transport and industrial environments into the future.
Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
In the early eighties I lived in London and Rome and had a lot of contact with the rich and famous of that time. I had been employed as a companion/help to Jacqueline Bissett, became Tommy Cooper’s favourite barmaid, spent time as a house-sitter for Peter Sellers, and worked as ‘kangaroo nanny’ for Carla Vangelista’s son. However, the ‘famous person’ that sticks in my mind most is Story Musgrave, an astronaut who completed six missions for NASA. As someone who studies the nature of ‘work’ for a living; I absolutely loved chatting with him and hearing his stories about the ‘choreography’ required for spacewalk when fixing the Hubble telescope.