Knowledge sharing for health and wellbeing at the 5th annual Aboriginal health conference

Image of painting by Chris Thorne
Place of Knowledge, 2014 by Chris Thorne (acrylic on canvas) community / language group - unknown. Image: Chris Thorne

Indigenous researchers, community members and health workers will come together to promote better health for Aboriginal Australians.

The 5th annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra (listen and act in Yorta Yorta) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference will be hosted by the University’s Department of Rural Health in Shepparton on Wednesday 16 October.

Beginning with a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, the day includes talks by key Aboriginal health sector professionals, researchers, community workers and policy makers from six universities and many Aboriginal organisations across Australia.

The significance of providing culturally safe services during clinical interactions, digital mental health, strengthening Aboriginal health records and using storytelling to balance Indigenous and Western healing are some of the diverse topics that will be covered during the conference.

Keynote presentations by the Lowitja Institute Chair Patricia Anderson and University of New South Wales Scientia Fellow Dr Kalinda Griffiths will be highlights of the conference, followed by an evening performance from acclaimed singer Archie Roach.

Associate Lecturer in Aboriginal Health Education from the University Department of Rural Health and Yorta Yorta woman, Gwenda Freeman, said that the health sector needs more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to be working as doctors, nurses, health workers, administrators, and counsellors – to at least reflect the population percentages in each location.

“Health research and services need to involve and be owned by Aboriginal people,” Ms Freeman said. “Our participation is of direct value to the community.”

Ms Freeman will be presenting on a newly launched Specialist Certificate qualification in ‘Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities’ which will also provide a pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to undertake the Master of Public Health degree, opening possibilities for input at every level of the health sector.

Director of the University Department of Rural Health Lisa Bourke said that this conference is a celebration of the hard work and successful programs in Aboriginal health and wellbeing.

“The conference demonstrates that Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands achieves great things,” Professor Bourke said.

“Ngar-wu Wanyarra aims to inform, empower and inspire those working in Aboriginal health and Aboriginal communities, particularly in rural and remote areas of Australia.”

The main sponsors of the conference are the Murray Primary Health Network and the Greater Shepparton City Council. This event is part of the University of Melbourne’s continued commitment to the Goulburn Valley community.