Indigenous health focus on Day 3 of the 14th National Rural Health Conference

Friday, April 28, 2017

The improvement of indigenous health outcomes in rural and remote areas was the focus of many of the sessions and keynote presentations on Day 3 of the 14th National Rural Health Conference in Cairns today.

Dr Mark Wenitong, Senior Medical Advisor with the Apunipima Cape York Council, spoke on health and cultural competence.

Addressing matters such as clinicians bringing their own cultural biases into practices, Dr Wenitong stressed the need for individuals to learn more about their own cultures.

“Reflective practice is important so that people recognise their own bias,” he said, also pointing out that some of the simplest are the most effective.

“You need to treat people nicely and with respect to improve engagement.”

Another of the keynote presenters was Professor of Nursing and Midwifery at CQ University, Gracelyn Smallwood.

Professor Smallwood discussed the need to better understand history in order to aid reconciliation.

“Captain Cook didn't discover Australia. People were here for thousands of years and one day discovered Captain Cook.”

Audience member Dr Lucas de Toca tweeted that Professor Smallwood was perceived as “Absolutely killing it delivering hard truths in her outstanding keynote on cultural competency at #ruralhealthconf.”

With just one day left to go of the Conference, there's still so much to see and do.

Saturday presentations will include CEO of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, Janine Mohammed, and Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia, Rev. Tim Costello.

The Assistant Minister for Health, Dr David Gillespie will also be present for the conclusion of proceedings and to receive the priority recommendations for rural and remote health to emerge from the Conference as put forward by the attending delegates through the Sharing Shed.
The keynote presentations are being live-streamed on YouTube and are available at


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Nichole Overall, Media Consultant, 0413 671 123