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Date posted: 8 November 2012
Many Indigenous health advocates are state finalists for the 2013 Australian of the Year Awards.
Indigenous health researchers, practitioners and advocates feature prominently in all four award categories:
HealthInfoNet consultant Professor Alex Brown has been named a Northern Territory (NT) finalist for his work as an Indigenous health campaigner. Professor Brown is head of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute's Centre for Indigenous Vascular and Diabetes Research in Alice Springs, and has recently completed his doctorate on chronic disease and depression in Aboriginal men in central Australia.
Gordon Gregory OAM has been named an Australian Capital Territory (ACT) finalist for his work as a rural health advocate. As the inaugural Executive Director of the National Rural Health Alliance, Gordon Gregory started with no staff and ran the organisation from his garage. Today the Alliance is regarded as the peak body for rural health in Australia with 33 member organisations representing doctors, nurses, dentists, health professionals, students, consumers and researchers. Through the Alliance, Mr Gregory has worked patiently and creatively to include other less powerful voices in the health debate including rural and remote area nurses, Indigenous Australians, allied health professionals and community groups.
Dr Tom Calma has been named an ACT finalist for his work as a social justice campaigner. Dr Calma's landmark report calling for the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to be closed within a generation laid the groundwork for the Close the gap campaign.
Evonne Thompson has been nominated as a NT finalist in the ‘Young Australian of the Year' category for her achivements as a health worker and carer. At only 27 years old, Ms Thompson cares for her own children, is the main carer for another three children, and is dedicated to her work at a health clinic in the remote community of Canteen Creek.
Bill Bashford has been nominated as an ACT finalist in the ‘Local Hero' category for his achievements as an Indigenous mentor. Four years ago Mr Bashford established the Solid young fellas program to reconnect young Aboriginal boys with their culture, to help them continue their education or training, find employment and become the leaders of the future. From this came a twin program for girls, Solid young sistas, with plans now for a women's program to strengthen families and establish support networks, particularly for single mothers.
Dr David Gawler has been named a NT finalist for his work as a surgeon and teacher. Dr Gawler is the only vascular surgeon in the Northern Territory. He supports surgical outreach services for remote communities including Lake Evella, Elcho Island, Lajamanu, Port Keats, Nhulunbuy and Groote Eylandt.
Dr Sadhana Mahajani has been named a NT finalist for her work as a community physician. Dr Mahajani's career includes working in drug and rehabilitation services, women's cancer prevention, breast screening and sexual assault services. Dr Mahajani's career has included work with the communities of La Belle Station, Annaburroo and Daly River.
Dr Susan Sayers has been named a NT finalist for her work as a paediatrician and researcher. Around 25 years ago, through the foresight of Dr Sayers, the world's largest and longest study of Indigenous health - the Aboriginal birth cohort study - began in Darwin.
Other remarkable Australians who have been nominated for achievements that include Indigenous advocacy are Mark Grose and Michael Hohnen, Paul Taylor, Jessica Mauboy, Peter Fletcher, Jeffrey Lee AM, Penny and Scott Weily, Casey Keed, Charles Thomas, Graham Atkinson, Dr Steve Flecknoe-Brown, Dr Anita Heiss, Dr Nitin Verma AM, Professor Kim Scott, Akram Azimi, Caroline de Mori and Anna Kemp.