Rural Medical Practitioner and Public Health Registrar, NT
Engagement for communities in Aboriginal Health
A very inspiring presentation given by A/Professor Phillip Mills that cuts to the core of the problem of the sub-optimal success often seen in many indigenous health programs, being namely that of the lack of genuine community engagement in the development and implementation of these programs.
Mills described this as a sort of unconscious neglect that is a manifestation of the dominance of mainstream culture in policy and program development, and ultimately a form of institutional racism.
For any hope for this to be addressed, he gently described the urgent need for a reckoning with Australia’s colonial past and a shift in collective consciousness of the general population.
A very important message for those working with indigenous populations.
Phillip is a Kulkulgal Tribal Elder of Zenadth Kes and Associate Professor with the Australia Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine (JCU) and has authored and co-authored award winning research papers, chaired scientific and inter-departmental committees and sat on ministerial policy committees on Indigenous Health. Phillip led the reform in indigenising the Public Health System as Executive Manager of mainstream Hospitals and Primary Health Care whose core mainstream business was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health with the establishment of specifically tailored evidence based scientific Indigenous Health Models. The success of his work in community developed scientific health interventions, culturally acceptable health care systems and protocols, and innovative evidence based bi-cultural health practices and structures earned him an Order of Australian Award Medal. His expertise has flowed on into the Community Control Sector where the application of his work has assisted enhancing the development of more comprehensive primary health care.