International Indigenous health meeting in Darwin

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Members of our Life Course team hosted a very successful international meeting in Darwin this year, Social Determinants and the Health of Indigenous Peoples (17-18th October 2019), which was a Satellite Meeting of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) World Congress.

We had almost 60 delegates attend the meeting, including 19 prominent speakers from across Australia and Canada. We were honoured to host such a diverse group of researchers, clinicians, Indigenous health workers, and Indigenous Elders who all came together with a shared focus on understanding the early life origins of health and disease in Indigenous populations across the world. In particular, we were pleased to welcome Professor David Olson and other members of the Optimal Pregnancy Environment Risk Assessment (OPERA) program, as well as Audrey Poitras, President of the Métis Nation of Alberta.

Some other highlights of the meeting include: a presentation from eminent Indigenous Canadian reseachers Alexandra King and Malcolm King, detailing the history of colonialism in Canada and the important concept of Indigenous Wellness; a presentation from our very own Gurmeet Singh on the latest findings from the Australian Aboriginal Birth Cohort and Top End Cohort study; and Elders Rick Lightning and Muriel Lee (Canada) speaking from the heart about the problems faced by their communities, and the value of Elder-led cultural teachings to improve health outcomes. The meeting concluded with some inspiring local success stories from midwife Theresa Clasquin (Top End Health Service), and Heather Ferguson, Simone Pedder, and Meg Hewett from the Department of Education – who led an entertaining ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ singalong in Yolngu language.       

The organising committee thanks everyone who travelled to Darwin and contributed to the highly informative presentations and insightful discussions that were held throughout the meeting - we look forward to doing this all again at next year’s DOHaD conference in Canada!

Megan Sutherland


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