Concurrent Speakers

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Heather Keighley
What about remote area nursey safety?

Heather Keighley is currently the Acting Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer for the Northern Territory Department of Health. Heather brings to this role over forty years of experience in nursing and midwifery, mainly in the NT with an emphasis on primary health care, clinical education, clinical governance, and quality improvement. She is an inductee of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Australian College of Midwives, Australian College of Nursing and the Australian College of Nursing delegate on the National Rural Health Alliance. She brings a passion for ensuring people living in rural and remote communities receive the highest quality health care possible, and that the nurses and midwives delivering this care are educationally and organisationally well prepared for the challenges of the role. Heather’s most recent work has highlighted the challenges of delivering health care in remote Indigenous communities of the Northern Territory. In the wake of the tragic death of Gayle Woodford in South Australia, Heather has coordinated the review of safety and security of remote area nurses working in the 51 government primary health care centres spread across the Northern Territory. The final report was released in November 2016, with the NT Government accepting all 14 of the recommendations for implementation.


In 2016 the death of remote area nurse (RAN) Gayle Woodford triggered widespread concern about the safety and security of nurses and midwives working in remote communities across Australia. In response to these events the Northern Territory (NT) Department of Health initiated a review into safety policies and practice across NT Health services. This paper will discuss the process followed and the recommendations of this important review.

In April 2016 a project management team and steering group was established within the Department of Health (DoH) to oversight and direct the review process. External consultants were engaged to work collaboratively with the project team to conduct interviews with NT Health service staff employed in all 53 remote Primary Health Care (PHC) services across the NT. The external consultants provided an ‘arms’ length independence to the project. In addition the internal project team reviewed documentation including Work Health and Safety policies, callout practices, orientation/induction and equipment safety and quality checks. The review built on previous research and findings in the literature and considered contributors to staff safety such as cultural awareness and preparation for clinical practice in the remote environment with particular consideration of orientation and induction procedures in the context of high levels of staff turnover. Other major considerations in regard to staff security relate to clinical governance and policy development, safety equipment available and infrastructure issues. The presentation will also include progress to the time of the conference in the implementation of the review recommendations.

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Tim Kelly
The Art of Cultural Connection

Dr Tim Kelly is a rural GP with a longstanding interest in education, to promote the benefits of high-quality health care and rural and remote practice. In addition to regular rural locum work, he is currently Chief Executive Officer of AOGP, a not-for profit education and service provider for general practice. He also works for the SA Rural Workforce Agency as Medical Director of the South Australian Virtual Emergency Service (SAVES) Program. This involves coordinating and providing emergency telemedicine service to small SA rural and remote hospitals and support for nurses and GPs. The Art of Cultural Connection project was developed in partnership with Cultural Safety Australia, Aboriginal Artist Allan Sumner and other interested colleagues. We want to connect Aboriginal artists with doctors and make a real and long-lasting difference to a shared understanding of the challenges faced by all.


The Art of Cultural Connection connected Aboriginal artists and doctors to explore the meanings of culture and the role it can play in creating health services where Indigenous people feel welcomed, respected and understood.

Doctors were introduced to local Aboriginal artists and spent several days, coming together as equals to explore through dialogue the meanings they have for health and well-being and how culture changes and shapes those meanings. Through this opportunity they were able to develop a shared language, which was then reflected in the artworks that were jointly developed. The artworks were displayed in the health services where the doctors worked, who were then able to assist in translating the meaning and story of the painting for others.

Throughout these discussions and cultural exchanges the project was able to document both the developing artworks and the journey of the participants. This took the form of filming the process and this documentary will itself become a resource available to support other groups wishing to undertake similar projects. In order to assist in ensuring this project has the widest possible reach there was also the opportunity for the development of a children’s picture book, which uses the art works to tell the story of developing a shared cultural understanding.

This session will explore how the art of cultural connection can embraced and utilised more broadly.

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Jacaline Kelly
Responding to staff affected by domestic and family violence: rural health leads the way

Jacaline Kelly has worked in health for 38 years, commencing her career as a registered nurse, midwife and child and family health nurse, and has worked mainly in the primary health care setting. She has a Masters in Nursing from the University of New England. Over the last 15 years she has worked in primary health care management in the area of falls prevention and maternal, child and family health with a passion for improving the health of Aboriginal people. Her most recent role is as the Coordinator of Women’s Health, Clinical and Community Programs for Western NSW Local Health District (LHD). The role has enabled Jacaline as a manager to advocate for women experiencing domestic violence who enter the health service by providing educational opportunities for staff to become knowledgeable and skilled in asking women about domestic violence and referring those women on to specialist services. She has also worked in partnership with other Directorates in the Western NSW LHD to drive organisational change with regard to the response by health management to staff experiencing domestic violence. Jacaline is a keen gardener, loves flying in small aircraft and travelling.


Western NSW Local Health District (LHD) encompasses 40 health facilities and employs 5833 staff with a large proportion of those staff being female. Domestic Violence affects 1 in 4 women in Australia with 75% of homicides of women perpetrated by an intimate partner. Given the statistics and the LHD staffing numbers it is estimated that 1000 female staff could be affected by Domestic and Family Violence at any given time.

Screening for Domestic Violence is mandatory for health staff when a woman enters into specific services within the NSW Health system. Staff however, can be experiencing Domestic Violence and may not know how to communicate to fellow workers or their manager the issues that may be arising for them. Often Domestic Violence affects their ability to attend work, work effectively and feel safe at work. The perpetrator may also attend the workplace and can harass and threaten other staff.

Western NSW LHD Mental Health Drug and Alcohol staff in Orange in partnership with the Orange Housing Plus Domestic Violence Project and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Gendered Violence Research Network implemented a training and support project for senior managers in Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Orange Campus, Human Resources and Employee Assistance Program to educate them on how to respond to staff experiencing Domestic Violence appropriately. A four hour training session was delivered by the Gendered Violence Research Network UNSW staff with the Housing Plus DV Project staff in attendance. The information included Domestic Violence, how the organisation can respond appropriately including referral to specialist services and assisting to make workplace adjustments to ensure a staff member’s safety at work.

A flowchart has been developed for all staff to follow a process of referral for staff experiencing Domestic Violence. Advertising was placed in all staff areas with information on support and referral options. Work continues with an ongoing training program for all first line managers at the site. It is proposed that eventually all managers in the LHD will be provided with education and information to better support staff experiencing Domestic Violence.

Acknowledging and supporting health staff experiencing Domestic Violence demonstrates Western NSW LHD’s commitment to the core values of NSW Health which are Collaboration, Openness, Empowerment and Respect whilst displaying good corporate citizenship in taking a stand against Domestic and Family Violence.

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Jackie Kelly
Heywood Rural Health Community Health Hub

Jackie Kelly has been the Chief Executive Officer of Heywood Rural Health since May 2015. Previously she was General Manager of Primary Health and Family Services for ‘Each Social and Community Health’ in Melbourne for over ten years, working in the areas of primary, family and Indigenous health. In 2015, Jackie completed a Master’s Degree from the University of South Australia, specialising in Leadership and Management in Nursing. Originally from New Zealand, Jackie spent a number of years supporting the closures of institutions, developing services in the community to support these closures. Passionate about reconciliation, prevention of violence against women, health promoting hospitals and consumer engagement, Jackie has enjoyed working in a small rural health environment, as this allows her to engage closely with the community, identify their needs and work with consumers to develop these services within the organisation.


Heywood Rural Health (HRH) is not just a traditional aged care facility. Our health service is an important part of the community social fabric, providing and utilising services across the Glenelg Shire. As a major employer of the district, we also provide vital economic support and have significant influence through broader health strategies policies to the wider community.

Two years ago, Heywood Rural Health was offering very little in the way of holistic services to and for our community in particular our relatively high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Over the past twelve months HRH has endeavoured to not only provide high quality clinical services, but also develop a broader corporate identity that encompasses prevention of illness and the promotion of community health and wellbeing.

Through a multi-strategic community engagement approach we are able to move into the community arena, listen to our consumers, let community feedback inform and guide our priorities and in response develop the services the community lace-based and person-centred services.

To better engage the Aboriginal community, we began developing a Reconciliation Action Plan based on conversations with Gunditj Marra people and Reconciliation Australia. To experience and acknowledge the history of the Gunditj Marra country, we encouraged our staff to visit cultural sites and volunteer for kitchen duties at the local Aboriginal Corporation. These activities helped to open our eyes to the rich history of the local first people.

As part of a place-based approach, in consultation with the community, HRH also commenced its journey to bring together its community services under the same roof into a Community Health Hub, with the aim of developing a multidisciplinary, integrated and coordinated service model.

Fundamental to the project was the issue of GP shortage and the challenge of service delivery for provision of a broad range of services to dispersed isolated communities, who experience significant levels of social, emotional, physical and financial disadvantage. Following a huge effort by a number of people and organisations, we have since recruited a part-time general practitioner and are awaiting another full-time general practitioner to commence in November.

Our new Community Health Hub has brought about many positive impacts, such as improving person-centred care, patient experience, self-management and better utilisation of expertise and resources.

In October 2016 we were recognised by the Victorian Health Care Association, winning their Work Force Innovative Award.

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Alison Kennedy
Sustaining farm families from Australia to Alberta—a model that works

Alison Kennedy is a Behavioural Scientist/Research Fellow at Deakin University/National Centre for Farmer Health. Alison is a passionate advocate for health, wellbeing and safety in the rural community, with a particular focus on farming families. As a researcher and social and emotional wellbeing community educator, Alison works to empower individuals and communities to improve their capacities and capabilities to thrive, particularly when faced with challenging times. Her work as Research Fellow at the National Centre for Farmer Health has enabled her to draw on her academic training, her research experience, and her experience of living on a farming property to make a positive contribution to improving farmers’ and rural community members’ lives.


Background: An issue facing agriculture globally is the health, wellbeing and safety of its people. Farmers are ageing, working longer, and experience illness, injury and suicide at high levels. Immediate and extended family members also frequently provide the labour needed to cope with the seasonal and daily demands of farming. In Australia, farming remains the most hazardous occupations and farmers have been recognised as difficult to engage in health, wellbeing and safety issues.

The Sustainable Farm Families (SFF) project was developed in 2003 in Victoria, Australia to address health disparities in farming communities. In June 2013, three representatives from Alberta, Canada travelled to Australia to investigate the SFF program, which had been successfully delivered to over 2500 Australian farmers across every state and territory. in 2014 the Farm Safety Centre in Alberta commenced the first international pilot of the SFF program in Alberta, Canada with funding from the Alberta government.

Methods/efforts: In 2014 the Farm Safety Centre (FSC) received government funding to pilot SFF with Albertan farmers. A 5-day train-the-trainer workshop was held in Raymond, Alberta to train the nurses and agricultural facilitators in SFF. A key deliverable was to ensure the program methodology and approach was upheld.

Results/findings: SFF Alberta delivered 4 SFF workshops across Alberta to farmers from diverse operations. Participants were aged 26-76 years, 74% were male. An independent evaluation reported the SFF Alberta workshops were theoretically consistent with SFF Australia. Numerous health and safety issues were detected, and farmers rated the SFF program very highly. Health indicators and risk factors from the pilot will be presented as well as results for the he continued roll out of the program during 2016.

Application to international populations: The Alberta Farm Safety Centre successful delivery of SFF illustrates repeatability and transference of SFF internationally and the opportunity to address farmer health globally through evidence based program. Independent evaluation and high retention provides confidence in the SFF program.

Hanan Khalil
The development of medication guidelines for nurses working with palliative care clients

Aims: To develop a medication management practice guideline to support quality care for rural clients and nurses in the community with a focus on palliative care.

Methods: The development of the guidelines included a sequential mixed methods design which involved the following steps; 1. Gathering of vignettes from practice situations, 2. An Interprofessional collaboration forum, 3. Literature review and a draft guidelines prepared by the project team based on the literature, 4. An online survey for community and district nursing working in rural areas, 5. Semi-structured interviews with rural general practitioners, pharmacists and consumers and/or their carers, 6. Revision of the guidelines based on findings from the surveys and the interviews, 7.Revision of the guidelines based on stakeholders opinions and obtaining endorsement of guidelines by key local organisations.

Results: The guidelines were developed for nursing staff involved in caring for adult clients receiving palliative care in rural areas. A total of 13 principles underpinning the guidelines with an explanation of what each principle were included. The main principles were; information resources, medication administration, medication orders and supply, syringe drivers, dose administration aids, medication storage, medication disposal, risk management and adverse events, transport of medications and cytotoxic medication administration.

The establishment of the guidelines led to a few recommendations to positively change the activities of the organisations regarding medications management. Examples of these recommendations were creating online educational resources addressing specific aspects of medications administration such as syringe drivers and cytotoxic medication handling and disposal.

Relevance: Rural community and district nursing practices form an integral part of delivering health services to palliative care clients. Provision of palliative care in the rural community has its unique challenges such as; varying perceptions of palliative care, professional issues and challenges of providing care in the community and system barriers. Medication administration is a key responsibility of community nursing staff assisting palliative care clients in their home. However, there is lack of clarity around their roles and obligations in the Australian rural context. Specific issues such as medication administration roles and responsibilities, medication disposal and ensuring accurate records of clients are not clearly defined by health service organisations. The formation of these guidelines addressed those needs.

Conclusion: Engaging multiple stakeholders to draft the proposed medication guidelines resulted in identifying the scope of the proposed guideline. The development of these guidelines has the potential to promote the quality use of medicines in the rural community.

Naomi Kikkawa
Rising to workforce challenges: e-PIMH in rural and remote Queensland

Naomi Kikkawa completed the intensive Circle of Security (COS) training in 2008 and has continued to use the COS model and approach throughout many aspects of her work. Over the past 10 years she has worked in the mental health sector, in particular multicultural mental health, refugees and asylum seekers, and child and youth mental health. Naomi has a particular interest in community development and building workforce capacity of rural and remote communities.


Rural and remote health managers encounter the same workforce challenges over and over again: the challenge of responding skilfully to high-risk disorders in areas of low population density; the difficulty of providing appropriate professional development and support for isolated clinicians; frustrations associated with high staff turnover.

Perinatal mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression, can have enduring negative impacts on mothers, fathers, their infants, and the entire family. Suicide is a leading cause of death for mothers in the first year after the end of a pregnancy. Parental mental health issues, and/or problems in the parent-infant relationship, can have life-long adverse effects on the health, wellbeing and development of children.

e-PIMH is a pilot project implemented by the Queensland Centre for Perinatal and Infant Mental Health (QCPIMH) from February to August 2016. The project operated in the four most rural Queensland Hospital and Health Services: South West, Central West, North West, and Torres and Cape.

The project used a central point of contact (‘one stop shop’) to provide non-clinical advice and support, training, education and resources, for rural and remote practitioners working with parents, infants and families. The aim of this pilot project was to increase capacity within the existing rural and remote workforce to support perinatal and infant mental health, detect perinatal and/or infant mental health issues, and make early and appropriate referrals. Participating organisations included primary and secondary healthcare providers, along with early childhood services and young parents’ services, several of which were Indigenous-led organisations.

Twelve training sessions were conducted with 172 participants, mostly front-line workers. Seventy-two meetings were held with 159 people, including medical staff and service managers. Most trainings and meetings were conducted face-to-face in regional centres, augmented by extensive use of videoconferencing, telephone and email contacts. A regular email was sent out, print and audio-visual resources were distributed, and staff were linked with other services for advice, referral information and supervision.

A survey to evaluate the e-PIMH pilot garnered a 30% response rate. The paper will report on key findings including:

  • participants’ self-reported benefits from participating in e-PIMH, for themselves and their clients
  • perceived strengths of the e-PIMH model for building capacity in the rural and remote workforce to respond early and effectively to high-risk disorders, support isolated staff, and reduce the negative impacts of staff turnover
  • suggested improvements to the e-PIMH model.
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Skye Kinder
Context of care: lung cancer at a regional cancer centre

Skye Kinder is a junior doctor from Bendigo, Victoria, who is passionate about the rural health workforce and about service and process enhancement for regional and rural patients. As a medical student Skye held numerous national positions with the Australian Medical Students' Association, including as AMSA’s Rural Health Officer and as Chair of AMSA's Rural Health Committee. Now an intern at Bendigo Health, she has continued her advocacy work as Vice President of Bendigo Health’s HMO Society. Skye believes that providing and continually improving on contextually appropriate care is essential to optimise patient experience, particularly in the cancer setting.


Introduction: $556 million was committed to the Regional Cancer Centre Project in the 2009-2010 Australian Federal Budget to increase the local availability of cancer services for regional and rural Australians. While local treatment is consistent with patient preferences, little research has explored the cost benefit of this investment to patients and to the health system and there has been little exploration of care pathways for oncology patients treated in regional cancer centres.

Methods: A retrospective subcohort study of City of Greater Bendigo residents who were new Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre patients in 2015 and had a diagnosis of lung cancer. Demographic, clinical and episode of care data were extracted from medical records using a standardised form. Estimates of travel-associated savings―transport, parking and accommodation―were calculated based on episodes of care for each patient. Patterns of care were process mapped, creating a visual representation of each patient’s journey from first symptomatic presentation to last health service contact. The structure of these process maps was based on the optimal care pathway (OCP) for people with lung cancer commissioned by the Victorian government. Patient pathways were compared with recommendations set out in the OCP framework.

Results: 50 patients met study inclusion criteria. Of these, 45 (90%) received their cancer care based in the regional centre of Bendigo. Estimates of travel-associated savings to the health system ranged from $34,478 to $76,819 AUD in the 2015 calendar year. Use of the OCP for people with lung cancer was complicated by pathways that did not fit the OCP-based process map template (44%) and by missing data, which often included dates needed to calculate times between landmark events. More complete maps indicated care compatible with OCP recommendations and/or best clinical judgment.

Conclusions: Contextualising recent investments in regional cancer care is important for service and process enhancement. Enabling cancer treatment in regional and rural areas is in line with patient preference and is producing significant yearly savings for the health system, although missing and imprecise medical record information will complicate implementation of the OCPs and the use of OCPs to direct those service and process enhancement priorities.

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Stephanie King
'Yarning Circles' as a community response to ICE (methamphetamines)

Stephanie King embraces all life has to offer and her career to date has been characterised by her willingness to put herself out there, have a go and try to be the change she wants to see. Currently a research assistant at the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, James Cook University, Stephanie assists other academics, students and community members in the research of health related topics as identified by MICRRH and the community. Stephanie has always been an active participant in her community, regularly participating and volunteering in health, youth and Indigenous forums. These have included presentations at the Mount Isa Regional Indigenous Women’s Forum, Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health conferences, Indigenous Women’s Straight Talk Summit, Oxfam Australia International Partnership program, North West Youth Invest Summit and the 9th National Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion in London. She has held community positions with the Indigenous Staff Network, the Mount Isa Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service, Young People Ahead, the Australian Injury Prevention Network, the Mount Isa Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service t/a Gidgee Healing and the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service. Stephanie’s biggest achievement is being a parent to her son Franklin. In 2014, Stephanie started on a personal journey towards addressing drug and alcohol issues in the community, by co-facilitating Community Yarning Circles. Those affected by drugs can share their stories and ideas in a safe, non- formal environment whilst being supported from a community/family level. This is additional support towards raising awareness of the dangers of drugs, advocating for additional needs and services, supporting those struggling with addiction and family and friends who are impacted by drugs. In 2012, she completed the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation - TRAIL Course, followed by the Indigenous Community Youth Leadership Program, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Stephanie is also proud to have been an Australian Action Partner for the Oxfam International Youth Partnership from 2011-2013. As the youth representative for Mount Isa, she still maintains communication and support partners with projects. She was nominated as an ambassador for the Queensland Government Deadly Stories Campaign 2012. This initiative symbolised the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the foundations of Queensland.


Background: The rise of ICE (Methamphetamines) use in rural and remote towns is having a devastating impact on users, families and communities.

In 2011-2014 an alarming number of injuries associated with drug use including ICE (Methamphetamines) were anecdotal reported in rural town of Mount Isa. In response to this issue the Mount Isa community came together through the use of ‘Yarning Circles ‘to address the rise of ICE (Methamphetamines) in the remote town.

Aims: The Mount Isa Community Yarning Circle was formed to address the increasing drug and alcohol abuse impacting on individuals and families. This community response aims to empower people to seek help, through the use of informal gatherings which provide a space for people impacted by ICE.

Methods: Twenty (20) ‘Yarning Circles’ have been facilitated resulting in a baseline of ICE and its impacts. The community Yarning Circle members visited people in their homes, workplaces and community services during December 2014-September 2016. The participants were current or recovering drug users, families, health service providers and interested community members. Attendance numbers, participant feedback, delivery of community projects, and advocacy progress around ICE have been collected.

Results: Yarning Circle feedback confirms that there is a growing ICE issue in Mount Isa, and suggests that access to consistent drug services is needed. A skilled health workforce, drug training and awareness for both users and their families have been raised by participants in the Yarning Circle. Feedback was used to inform local approaches in addressing government priorities and this evidence now forms a starting point for future research projects.

The group has delivered a number of community mobilisation projects to build the strength of young people and all members in an effort to decrease the risk associated with drugs and alcohol.

Conclusion/recommendations: The world of rural and remote communities is both complex and can at times be challenging, particularly when families are experiencing and responding to the impacts of ICE (Methamphetamines) use.

There is a need for investment in our remote communities so that they are fully resourced to deal with the effects of ICE (Methamphetamines).

In the context of rural and remote health ‘Yarning Circles’ are just one example of how local approaches towards improving the health and wellbeing of people living in Mount Isa.

Scott Kitchener
The Queensland Rural Generalist Program—quantitative analysis of the first decade

Prof Scott Kitchener is a public health physician and general practitioner in rural practice at Clifton on the Darling Downs. He is also the Clinical SubDean of the Griffith University Rural Health program and the Director of Research for the Queensland Health Rural Generalist Program.


The Queensland Rural Generalist Program (QRGP) has operated for ten years, recruiting and supporting training of doctors for rural and remote Queensland. This paper will describe the outcomes for rural Queensland, factors correlated to rural retention and failure to retain.

The Queensland Rural Generalist initiative was founded on the need to reform rural medicine to encourage Australian graduates into rural practice. Therefore, this paper will present evaluation of qualitative outcomes to this end, specifically, contribution to rural practice during training and rural retention rate following completion of training.

As the Pathway has largely focused on rebuilding procedural services in rural Queensland communities over this first decade of operation, outcomes are analysed by advanced rural skills acquired and practiced. While the QRGP is based on the curriculum of ACRRM, outcomes have been additionally stratified by College endpoint intended and achieved.  Other demographic variables such as rurality of schooling, clinical school of medicine attended and bonded scholarships, are factors potentially influencing outcomes, therefore included in this analysis.

After modest beginnings and steady growth, preliminary findings at this time, of 103 trainees who have completed training, are that the contribution of the QRGP to rural practice with specialist, procedural skills, during training is considerable. Most (84) Rural Generalists on the program have completed FACRRM including advanced rural skill training. Of the 40 receiving FRACGP, eight additionally received FARGP for advanced rural skill training. Cumulative retention following training in rural practice (94/103, 91%) exceeds that of other training initiatives.

These are preliminary data only. The dataset will be closed and locked at the end of 2016 to include ten years of operation for analysis.  This will provide the definitive analysis of the first decade of the Queensland Rural Generalist initiative for presentation and peer review to inform current efforts in rural generalist programs elsewhere in Australia.

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Annette Kogolo
Conducting research together with remote Aboriginal communities

Annette Puruta Wayawu Kogolo (Nyapajarri skin name) is a Senior Kimberley Walmajarri woman and a councillor of West Kimberley Shire. She is a NAATI accredited interpreter and Kimberley Interpreting Services (KIS) Co-Chairperson. Annette Kogolo has vast experience including interpreting for the Aboriginal Land Inquiry in 1983-84 to the Ngurrara Native Title Determination in 2007 and the coronial inquest in 2008 into Alcohol Harm and Youth Suicide in Aboriginal People in the Kimberley. Annette has also interpreted for health programs and cultural advisor for Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture and for many research projects including the Yiriman Project, the Lililwan Project and the Picture Talk Project. She works for Nindilinagarri Cultural Health Services as therapist assistant, working with children with FASD and disabilities. Annette is an active member artist of her Art Centre, Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency Aboriginal Corporation in Fitzroy Crossing. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous interpreting and responsible for cultural awareness programs, highlighting communication through Interpreting.


Introduction: An international systematic literature review found that few publications evaluate preference or understanding when seeking consent for research with Indigenous communities. Research with Indigenous communities has not always been done well or addressed community priorities. The Lililwan Project is an example of a study that was well received by the Aboriginal communities of Fitzroy Crossing with a 95% participation rate. In reflection, The Picture Talk Project, was invited to examine the community engagement and consent process.

Methods: Invited by Aboriginal leaders of the Fitzroy Valley, researchers with The Picture Talk Project interviewed Aboriginal community leaders and held focus group discussions with Aboriginal community members about research experiences and the consent process including the methodology used by the Lililwan Project. These are analysed using NVivo10 software with an integrated method of inductive and deductive coding and grounded theory. Local Aboriginal research team members, employed as Community Navigators to interpret language and provide cultural guidance also validated the coding of data. Themes were synthesised and supporting quotes from participants were identified.

Results: Interviews with Aboriginal leaders (n=20) and focus groups (n=6) with Aboriginal community members (with 3 to 10 participants) where conducted in the presence of a local Aboriginal Community Navigator to interpret language and provide cultural guidance. Participants were from different age groups, both males and females and from all major local language groups of the Fitzroy Valley. Themes such as Research – finding knowledge; Showing respect for Aboriginal people, working on country and being flexible with time; Working together with good communication; Reciprocity – learning two ways; and Reaching consent emerged from these discussions. Rich quotes from individuals exemplify these themes.

Conclusion: We need to change the way we approach and engage with Aboriginal communities for research. Respect for cultural differences needs to be embedded in every step of our research process. Aboriginal research partners need to be engaged from the start to the end of a project which should benefit their community.

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