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Healing OUR Way – 2009 Symposium in Brisbane

"Healing involves what we as Aboriginal people know best, our Country, our history and our stories. Healing begins with reconnecting with our past, moulding it with the present, and sharing it with our fellow Australians to ensure a healthy future".
Ryan Dashwood (Indigenous Medical Student)

This year's Symposium theme, Healing OUR Way provided a space to consider the fundamental aim of healing which is a better future for our children. The journey of healing varies from individual to individual and occurs on different levels; families, communities and nationwide. The 2009 Symposium provided delegates with a chance to look at the issues facing Indigenous healers and doctors, and to recognise the cultural diversity of our healing methods. The event was held in Brisbane on Saturday 3rd October on the land of the Yuggera peoples with 175 delegates in attendance, including a large number of AIDA members and representatives from a wide range of stakeholder organisations. The aim of the Symposium was all about bringing our people together to showcase and celebrate the work being undertaken to improve the health, education and well being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Bardon Centre provided the perfect venue for the Symposium, connecting completely with the theme of healing. This unique retreat, nestled in the foothills of the Mount Coot-tha National Park, on the edge of Brisbane, is surrounded by thick eucalypt, grevillea and acacia forests. Most delegates stayed on site providing members and stakeholders the opportunity to network and develop future relationships. Most importantly, the venue provided the essential ingredients to foster strong collegiate support for our AIDA members.

Mr Eddie Ruska, traditional owner from the Yuggera Peoples provided the Welcome to Country. New AIDA President, Associate Professor Peter O’Mara (Wiradjuri), gave an inspiring and passionate message centered on the importance of healing. He also spoke about the future direction of AIDA and the important role that AIDA has in the national health reform agenda. Strengthening the AIDA family through collegiate activities and future representative opportunities, ensuring that our organisation remains strong well into the future was also reiterated by Professor O’Mara. A fitting tribute to past AIDA Presidents; Dr Louis Peachey, Professor Helen Milroy, Dr Mark Wenitong and Dr Tamara Mackean concluded Professor O’Mara’s moving address.

Keynote speaker Ms Muriel Bamblett (Yorta Yorta) gave a powerful presentation titled Re-story-ing Culture, Restoring Relationships: Pathways to Resilience and National Healing. Ms Bamblett articulated the importance of our stories in relation to healing, and how our voice (through our stories) tells us who we are and reminds us of our right of self determination. The cycle of poverty was also discussed, followed by solutions around acts of empowerment such as self-determination and expansion of Aboriginal and Islander services and acts of reconnection.

One of the highlights of the Symposium was the launch of AIDA’s Journeys Into Medicine publication. The Hon Warren Snowdon, Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery, launched this inspirational account of the journeys of Indigenous doctors and medical students into medical careers. Minister Snowdon congratulated AIDA on its active leadership and support for Indigenous doctors. He said that AIDA plays a significant role in encouraging more Indigenous Australians into medicine.

The Nunukul Yuggera Aboriginal dance troupe captivated the audience with an electrifying dance, song and fire lighting performance. With smoke lingering throughout the amphitheatre, the scene was set for Professor Ian Wronski’s presentation on Issues Relating to the Establishment of an Indigenous Health Workforce and Mr Greg Phillips(Waanyi and Jaru) presentation on The Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation; An Opportunity for Healing and Cultural Renewal. It was then over to AIDA Medical Student, Mr Justin Gladman (Wiradjuri) who talked about The Adaptability of Problem Based Learning as an Educational Strategy for Aboriginal Health Workers. Associate Professor Noel Hayman (Wakka Wakka) wrapped up session two with his inspirational work at the Inala Indigenous Health Service, leading to it becoming a centre of excellence in Indigenous health.

Following lunch, the Wagga Torres Strait Islander Dance Company gave a wonderful display of Torres Strait Islander culture through dance and song. Professor Helen Milroy (Palyku) then conveyed an amazingly strong and spiritual message about healing through her presentation and beautiful artwork, titled A Recipe for a Long Life; Pathway to the Future. Professor Milroy explained that in order to heal ourselves, we have to bear witness to other peoples pain and weep for them. In turn others weep for us. For healing, we have to find out where the threads are broken and join them back together for self, family, community and country, weaving the fabric of life that sustains us forever, allows us to cope with grief and soar on the wings of eagles.

Mr Romlie Mokak(Djugun) and Associate Professor Marilyn Wise provided a presentation on the current status of The Health Impact Assessment of the Northern Territory Emergency Response, with the primary motivation for this project being to give a voice to affected communities and to examine ways in which the NTER could be improved. An informative presentation on the Aboriginal & Islander Community Health Service Brisbane (AICHS) by Mr Richard Weston followed and then Dr Louis Peachey gave a thought provoking talk on The Responsibilities of Black Intellectuals and the importance of supporting each other in times of need, both on a professional and personal level. Mr Ryan Dashwood (Budawang), Indigenous Medical Student concluded the day’s presentations by sharing with delegates the inspirational story of the establishment and successful growth of University of Sydney’s Indigenous Health Weekend Workshop. This workshop now runs several times a year, providing an introductory understanding of cultural awareness, communication and healing.

Ms Georgia Corowa sang two beautiful songs whilst Images of the AIDA Mob flashed across the large backdrop. A spectacular exhibition of Indigenous artwork, sunset lighting, native plants and rocks created an atmosphere of connection, warmth and celebration. The inclusion of art, craft and information stalls set up by local Indigenous organisations, medical colleges and other stakeholders created a market place atmosphere where information sharing and a strong sense of community was evident.

The Symposium dinner and entertainment evening was a wonderful finale for what was an outstanding event. Surrounded by an atmosphere capturing the healing powers of the river, attendees enjoyed a beautiful three course meal. AIDA’s patron, Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue presented our new Indigenous Medical Graduates and AIDA Fellows with their beautifully painted stethoscopes in acknowledgement for their achievements.The MC for the evening was Mr Tiga Bayles, whilst entertainment was provided by Mr David Dow, singing and entertaining us until Mr Marcus Pedro and a guest appearance by the AIDA Village People helped us disco the night away.


The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG)

Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG)The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) is responsible for the training and education of specialists and GP obstetricians in obstetrics and gynaecology in Australia and New Zealand and for authoring statements, guidelines and patient information pamphlets to assist these specialists and other medical practitioners in their clinical practice.

The RANZCOG is committed to the establishment and maintenance of the highest possible standards of practice in women’s health. The RANZCOG provides programs in training, accreditation and continuing professional development that are responsive to the evolving health care needs of women. The RANZCOG supports research and advocacy for women’s health by forging productive relationships with individuals, the community and professional organisations, both locally and internationally.

Launch of Journeys Into Medicine

The Hon Warren Snowdon MP with Associate Professor Peter O'Mara (AIDA President), Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue (AIDA Patron), AIDA Gradautes and Students at the "Journeys Into Medicine" Launch


Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue and Professor Helen Milroy

Dr Lowitja O'Donoghue presents AIDA Fellows with a framed stethoscope.
Professor Helen Milroy (Australia's first Indigenous Doctor) accepts her award.


Outdoor setting

Outdoor setting

This page was last updated on: 16/10/2014