Shining a light on Aboriginal health at annual conference
Culturally tailored healthcare, listening to Indigenous knowledges and the value of Aboriginal people in Victoria’s Goulburn Murray region will be explored at this year’s annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference.
Now in its seventh year, ‘Ngar-wu Wanyarra’ – meaning ‘listen and act’ in Yorta Yorta language – is being held today by the Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne on Yorta Yorta country in Shepparton and online.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, health professionals, community workers and national leaders will be presenting at the conference, providing a forum for rich dialogue and knowledge sharing on how to promote health for Indigenous Australians.
Beginning with a Welcome to Country by Yorta Yorta Elder, Aunty Faye Lynam, the conference includes keynote speeches from former AFL superstar and anti-racism advocate, Adam Goodes (who is attending virtually) and Commissioner for the Yoorrook Justice Commission, Sue-Anne Hunter.
“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,” Mr Goodes said.
Sue-Anne Hunter said a holistic approach is needed when it comes to improving health outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“First Peoples’ health and wellbeing is not a list of measurable, deficit-focused outcomes,” she said. “It is a nuanced understanding of health and wellbeing. Whole-of-life concepts that incorporate body, mind, emotional health, relationships with family, country, community, and connection to culture.”
Dr Raylene Nixon, lecturer in Rural Aboriginal Health and descendant of the Gunggari people of Southwest Queensland, said Aboriginal people bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the health sector that can’t be ignored.
“Here in the Goulburn Valley our contribution is crucial in protecting the rights and health of our peoples, ensuring Aboriginal and Western knowledges can both be applied in the field of health,” Dr Nixon said.
Professor Lisa Bourke, Director of the University’s Department of Rural Health, said the conference is an opportunity to learn from First Nation knowledge holders and identify ways to further raise their voices.
“I’m looking forward to hearing about innovations in First Nation healthcare and how we can continue to engage our students in Aboriginal health both here in Shepparton and across Australia more broadly,” Professor Bourke said.
“Having Aboriginal people at the heart of our healthcare is vital to improving systems, reducing inequalities and ensuring better health outcomes for all Australians, especially those living in rural and remote areas.”
The conference will be delivered at the Department of Rural Health, 49 Graham St, Shepparton, with an immersive online attendance option available. To register visit ruralhealth.unimelb.edu.au