Peter Williams OAM

Peter was the first male President of the Dietitians Association of Australia and contributed actively to our profession for 40 years from his first employment as a dietitian in 1979.

Peter was born in 1950 and went to schools in Sydney, Rome and Canberra, followed by a science degree with honours in biochemistry at the ANU.

After graduation he worked for three years as an experimental officer in the CSIRO Division of Animal Health, then retrained as a dietitian at Sydney University in 1978.

His first position was at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, where he worked for a total of 18 years in clinical and food service positions, under his mentor Jo Rogers. During that time he completed a Master of Health Planning and a PhD on the topic of Food in Hospitals. When Jo retired in 1989, Peter took over as Chief Dietitian and Food Services Manager, and for a time was also the Head of the Allied Health Division. He held other positions in the private sector: as a dietitian with Advanced Food Systems International (managing food services in nursing homes and private hospitals) and as Director of Scientific and Consumer Affairs at Kellogg Australia.

His last roles were heading up dietetic training positions as Associate Professor at the University of Wollongong and Professor at the University of Canberra.

Throughout his career Peter was an active researcher, with an h-index of 39. He published 113 journal articles, 103 conference papers, 13 book chapters and one book, receiving over $1.4 million in research grants. His particular areas of research were institutional foodservice (in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and Meals on Wheels) and the nutrition marketing of foods. He taught foodservice management at Sydney, Wollongong and Flinders universities and was commissioned by the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation to develop Nutrition Standards and Therapeutic Diet Specifications for use in NSW hospitals.

Peter was always an active member of DAA, having volunteered on many committees and the Dietetic Credentialing Council. He served terms as Chairperson of the NSW Branch and as national President, and he was a DAA representative to the National Office of Skills Recognition Panel in Dietetics for seven years.

Peter was member of NH&MRC working parties for three editions of Dietary Guidelines of Australians, and the working group on a review of the Recommended Dietary Intakes.

He also served on the Board of FSANZ, the TGA Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines, and the Heart Foundation Food and Nutrition Advisory Committee. Peter’s service to Australian dietetics was recognised by an invitation to present the Margaret Shoobridge Memorial Lecture at the national conference in 1989, as well as receiving the Joan Woodhill Memorial Award, honorary life membership and becoming an inaugural Fellow of DAA.

After retirement, Peter helped develop the National Meal Guidelines for the Australian Meals on Wheels Association, served on the Ad Standards Community Panel (assessing complaints about advertising) and researched and published one book: An Annotated Bibliography of Invalid Cookery Advice and Recipes in Australian Cookbooks 1860-1950.

In 2020 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his services to community health and medical education.

Peter was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2014. After surgery, followed by hormone and drug treatment, radiotherapy and chemotherapy he lived in good active health until 2022 when he died in hospital in his home town of Castlemaine. He commented wryly to his husband on his last day: “My last meal is in hospital. Porridge and toast”.

 He is survived by Gryff, his husband and partner of nearly 26 years, and his two daughters Moira and Elodie.

Read about other prominent members in Lectures in Honour and eulogies