Vale Aunty Angela Clarke

We are deeply saddened to hear of the recent passing of Gunditjmara woman Aunty Angela Clarke. We acknowledge, with gratitude, the important role she played in the health and wellbeing of the Victorian Aboriginal community and in transforming services for Aboriginal people. She has paved the way for collaboration and listening to Aboriginal voices to ensure better service delivery, health outcomes and respectful relations with community.

The University feels privileged and grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from Aunty Angela Clarke who was a leader and key member of Onemda. She played a foundational role in building Indigenous health at the University of Melbourne. She made sure that research projects undertaken were respectful, inclusive and created meaningful outcomes for the Koorie community. Many of her collaborative initiatives have enduring impact and have influenced the work the University does today.

Appointed to the role in 1999, Aunty Angela led the creation of an approach to research grounded in community. In a (then) radical departure from traditional academic health research, the team at Onemda consulted community in the design, conduct and application of their research. This approach not only improved the health and wellbeing of Koori communities but pioneered a new model of consumer participation in health and wellbeing research. 

Aunty Angela was a quiet achiever whose inspiring career and advocacy work speaks volumes. Early in her community development career she empowered migrant women, advocated for low-income public housing tenants, taught basic skills to unemployed young people and advocated for people struggling to survive on low incomes. 

Before taking up her role at Onemda, Aunty Angela worked as the Koori Hospital Liaison Officer at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Parkville, where she provided culturally informed support and care to Aboriginal patients and their families. 

Aunty Angela worked to create systems change and culturally responsive clinical practice within the hospital to ensure Aboriginal families received equitable care and good health outcomes. 

Alongside her co-workers, Neville Austin and Shawana Andrews, Aunty Angela documented the development of the hospital’s Koori Hospital Liaison Officer service in Lookin After our Own – supporting Aboriginal families through the hospital experience, which changed the way hospital services were delivered to Aboriginal families across Victoria. 

In recognition of her impact on Aboriginal communities, Aunty Angela was inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Leaders Honour Roll in 2016. 

As a tribute to Aunty Angela’s legacy, two important initiatives have been established within the Faculty to nurture future generations of Indigenous health leaders. The first, The Peeneeyt Thanampool (Strong Women) Aunty Joan Vickery and Angela Clarke MDHS Indigenous Post-doctoral Fellowship, supports and creates pathways for Indigenous PhD graduates. The second, the Angela Clarke Scholarship, has been created to support the enrolment into, and successful completion of, MSPGH graduate programs by Indigenous candidates. 

Both these initiatives serve to build on the leadership, advocacy and mentorship that Aunty Angela offered.

We send our deepest sympathy to Aunty Angela’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time.