Been there, let’s share it all – Senior Australian of the Year to kick off Australia’s biggest rural health event

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Senior Australian of the Year for 2017, Sister Anne Gardiner AM, will make the journey from her home on Bathurst Island off Darwin to kick off Australia’s celebrated National Rural Health Conference in Cairns next month.

Sister Anne has shared first-hand the many challenges and opportunities both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people face living in remote communities.

“After living with the Tiwi people for more than 60 years I’m looking forward to sharing my observations and hearing about other people’s experiences,” she said.

On Australia Day this year, the 84-year-old Catholic nun and former school principal was named Senior Australian of the Year after more than six decades of service and dedication to the Tiwi community.

As a champion for maintaining and honouring traditional Tiwi culture and a passionate advocate of the need for community connection and empowerment, Sister Anne's involvement has been far-reaching. She's educated generations of local children and also established a variety of community organisations and initiatives, including the Patakajiyali museum for the preservation of Tiwi history, culture and language.

“I am extremely grateful to both my congregation and the Tiwi people for allowing me to stay on their island,” Sister Anne said.

“When I first arrived I was very ill-equipped for living in an indigenous culture. I made many mistakes and was insensitive at times. With the love and support of Tiwi people, I feel we have learnt to trust each other and together we have achieved many great things.”

Other presenters for the four-day event include Indigenous health leader and Senior Medical Advisor, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, Dr Mark Wenitong, and Anne Kelso, Chief Executive Officer for the National Health and Medical Research Council.

There's still the chance to take part in this dynamic and interactive Conference.

To register, visit

Contact Details: 

David Butt, Chief Executive Officer: 0411 474 912 / 02 6285 4660
Leanne Coleman, Conference Manager: 0407 991 854