Health conference to present latest research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing

Health professionals and community members from across Australia will come together online for the 6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference, hosted by the University of Melbourne on Wednesday 13 October. The event will showcase advances in the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, highlighting key findings and current health issues facing the community.

Multi-award winning broadcaster and journalist, Stan Grant, who is currently International Affairs Editor for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will deliver the keynote address.

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 rural pathway to university Studies in Aboriginal health’ which will 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.  

Professor Lisa Bourke from the Department of Rural Health said the conference provides a forum for the presentation of cutting-edge program initiatives and research findings in Aboriginal health and wellbeing by health professionals from the community.

“Health experts from around Australia will offer their insights into how community-led solutions, underpinned by cultural approaches to Aboriginal health and wellbeing, can transform health practices,” Professor Bourke said.

The conference has become an annual event and offers an opportunity for sharing information and connecting people who are committed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice and research. The conference title, Ngar-wu Wanyarra or ‘listen and act’, draws on the aspects of hearing, celebrating, learning and taking these messages back to communities and health services to implement.

“We have much to learn by sharing information and we can generate new knowledge through diverse projects and meaningful conversations. Such discussions can often create impact on clinical practice.

“Improving health experiences and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as well as enhancing the health workforce is another aspect of the conference” said Professor Bourke.

Mr Stan Grant highlighted the importance of having experts from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community pave the way for the next generation of healthcare professionals.

“We need to be part of the growth and presence of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce.

“Indigenous student numbers are growing, as is the breadth and depth of Indigenous research. We must maintain a continued and substantial investment in building knowledge and skills.

“Our communities have much to offer when it comes to health and wellbeing. If they are at the decision-making table, they can offer solutions.

“With determination, we can be a driving force for transforming health outcomes for our peoples. 

“It is inspiring to see a new generation of Indigenous health professionals treating our own people. It is something I could barely have imagined when I was a boy and is a tribute to our perseverance and dedication and the strength of our communities. Let’s get behind them.”

WHAT:                    6th Annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health Conference
WHEN:                   Wednesday 13 October
WHERE:                 Virtual
REGISTER:           Register online by COB 23rd September 2021

Further information and updates can be viewed on the Department of Rural Health website.

Media enquiries: Di Doyle | 0419 221 482 |