• Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker

    Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker is an ARC Indigenous Research Fellow who worked to preserve a wealth of culturally significant and endangered audio-visual archives.

    “I am keen to see that any audio-visual recordings of Aboriginal peoples’ language, history and culture is preserved into the future. Some of those languages are less and less spoken and if we don’t preserve them, they die out. We won’t be able to recover them,” says Dr Ormond-Parker.

    It was the largest audio-visual collection ever brought to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. Dr Lyndon Ormond-Parker counted more than 500 mini-DV tapes and 700 VHS tapes belonging to the Wadeye community in the Northern Territory.

    Much of the collection was recorded in Murrinh Patha, the language of the Wadeye community, and the tapes hold culturally valuable recordings of their language, social history, sporting life and health education. Working with local organisations including the Thamarrurr Development Corporation and the Kanamkek-Yile Ngala Museum, Dr Ormond-Parker helped steer a digitisation project that saw the older tapes preserved so they can be transmitted to current and future generations.

    “We also worked to help establish a narrowcast digital TV broadcasting system in the community of Wadeye – it broadcasts in a 5km radius. Essentially, the project has repurposed videos to be re-broadcast locally,” explains Dr Ormond-Parker.

    The development of a new culture precinct in Wadeye was kick-started by the University of Melbourne architecture Bower Studio students in the June 2017 – they worked with a local team in establishing a Media Box, a facility that includes a broadcasting space with seating, stage and projection screen.

    Dr Ormond-Parker was born in Darwin and has spent his academic and professional life in the field of archival studies, the conservation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, medical anthropology, cultural heritage, information technology and the history of the collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander human remains and repatriation to communities.

    Dr Ormond-Parker also has expertise in broadband and modern technology and databases and collection management, preservation and access. In late 2017, he received an Australian Research Council grant to investigate world’s best practice for long-term storage of digital and analogue audio-visual cultural materials to assist in the preservation of Indigenous languages and culture.

    “I feel that research isn’t just about traditional outputs like publishing articles,” he says.

    “There can be other impacts like assisting the community to establish a TV broadcast, so they can access their cultural history, heritage and languages, and trialling new and innovative technologies that contribute to community wellbeing. Cultural heritage is considered part of an individual’s wellbeing and I’m very interested to be working in the intersection between cultural materials, cultural heritage, language and how this can impact on health and wellbeing.”

  • Dr Tara Purcell

    “When I was younger I remember my nan was often unwell. I wanted to help in some way. This sparked my interest in health and medicine,” says Dr Tara Purcell who has juggled a Master of Public Health, motherhood and a career in medicine. Completing a PhD is also part of her plan when the time is right.

    Dr Purcell’s family are from the Healesville area, but she spent most of her childhood growing up in Melbourne’s north eastern suburbs. Her maternal grandmother was a key figure in Dr Purcell’s life and although she passed away when Dr Purcell was young, she continues to have an influence.

    “I have many wonderful memories of spending time with my nan and chatting around her kitchen table. However, I also remember my nan often going in and out of hospital. She died when she was young, and that loss and experience had a significant impact on me,” says Dr Purcell.

    After high school, Dr Purcell studied Exercise and Sports Science and went on to the University of Melbourne to study Medicine and a Master of Public Health.

    “Studying medicine was a fantastic experience. It was very overwhelming at times due to the volume of work. I found it very helpful to break the course down and to set myself small goals,” says Dr Purcell.

    “I approached each assessment one step at a time. I was also very fortunate to have a wonderful cohort of friends and strong support from my family.

    “The Master of Public Health provided a great insight into broader influences on health and has led to my interest in public health medicine.”

    Dr Purcell completed her internship with Austin Health in 2016 and took leave to have her second child during her residency year at Monash Health.

    Currently, Dr Purcell is undertaking advanced training in public health. “I’m enjoying the opportunity to learn from mentors, colleagues and members of the community."

  • Dr Graham Gee

    Dr Graham Gee was a mature age student when he began a Master of Clinical Psychology, then studied a PhD at the University. He is now Senior Psychologist and Clinical Coordinator at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS).

    Born in Darwin, Dr Gee’s father comes from a large Aboriginal Chinese family. His grandfather Walter Lew-Fatt was born near Belyuen, a small Aboriginal community just outside Darwin, and his great-grandmother was born on the Barkly Tablelands. His mother’s family is of Celtic-Australian heritage.

    He began his working life as a physical education teacher in Scotland and the UK while travelling, and later in northern NSW and remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.

    “During the time I spent in remote communities as a school teacher, it struck me how important mental health, resilience, and social and emotional being are in strengthening communities,” he says.

    “I gradually realised that what interested me most about my job was having meaningful conversations with people about their lives, how to overcome difficulties and challenges and recover from adversity.”

    When Dr Gee’s wife began studying nursing in Melbourne, they moved to Victoria and he started studying psychology at the University. He started working at the VAHS as a dual-diagnosis counsellor while studying and then, in 2016, became the first person in his family with a PhD. His doctoral research focused on resilience and recovery from trauma among Aboriginal help-seeking clients.

    “I saw the need for some culturally-designed mental health and wellbeing instruments that would help us understand the key factors that predicted better post-trauma outcomes among clients using our service,” he says.

    Dr Gee developed the Aboriginal Resilience and Recovery Questionnaire (ARRQ) after reviewing the international resilience literature and conducting focus groups with fellow Aboriginal practitioners.

    The ARRQ asks clients about resilience and recovery factors along with questions on cultural identity, cultural practices and how connected people feel to their community, family, kin and partners. He found that the more personal, relationship, community and cultural resilience resources a client can draw upon, the lower their reports of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and drug and alcohol use. They also report higher levels of empowerment and healing.

    Dr Gee is now using his PhD research to support the development of Aboriginal community-designed programs that focus on building resilience and empowerment.

    He was a founding board member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, and sits on the Commonwealth Million Minds Mental Health Research Mission Advisory Panel, that will invest $125 million over nine years for improving diagnoses, treatment and recovery, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health as a key priority.

    Dr Gee is also part of a team awarded a four-year NHMRC grant to investigate how to break inter-generational trauma by supporting Indigenous parents who’ve experienced trauma themselves.

    “Left unaddressed, the impacts of complex trauma can influence peoples’ capacity to parent and affect the next generation. We’re co-designing with communities to develop culturally grounded tools, assessment processes and therapeutic strategies that will support parents in healing from the effects of any unresolved complex trauma.

    “I’m very privileged to be involved in this kind of work. I get to listen to what is meaningful in overcoming challenges for local communities and think about how to support local processes of empowerment”, says Dr Gee.

    “If the research strengthens the capacity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services to support peoples’ experiences around healing and recovery, then I feel I’ve made a bit of a difference.”