Mark Mayo (pictured right) is a clinical researcher in the Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division at Menzies School of Health Research in Darwin. His supervisor Bart Currie (pictured left), is an Infectious Diseases Physician at Royal Darwin Hospital and Professor of Medicine at the Northern Territory Clinical School, Flinders University. He is also Head of the Tropical and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division of the Menzies School of Health Research.
Mark talks about Bart’s supervision approach and organisation policy.
Bart is extremely sensitive to cultural needs and understands that sometimes in life there can be a bit more weight on your shoulders for various reasons, family, deaths, cultural reasons. Bart still pushes me to get things done but if they are not done straight away, he’s not bringing you in and having a sit down saying, ‘This is not good enough, the timeline is here, this is where we are at, we should be…’ He’s always asked, ‘What’s the problem. Is there anything wrong with that and can we get to it.’
Anything that is Indigenous [business], I can just go see Bart and as long as I’m saying why I’m doing it, and when I’ll be away, then that’s fine… so if there is a march on (NAIDOC week) or other Indigenous events, I can go along to them. And it doesn’t always have to come off your leave, because some of these cultural events are important to Menzies and it is an awareness from Menzies that we are not just Indigenous people in our workplace, we are also Indigenous out there in the community.
Bart talks about supporting Mark’s role as an Indigenous researcher.
None of Mark’s research work is Indigenous specific, [but] there are great benefits to the project that Mark is Indigenous, and therefore brings that to the project and to Menzies. There’s been a different structure over time with the Indigenous group at Menzies… and Mark would be a central and constant part of the getting together of the Indigenous staff. There was a time when there were far fewer Indigenous staff here, and I think for some of them it was pretty tough, the research culture and everything else. I think Mark was probably an incredibly valuable colleague for other Indigenous staff over that time. Supporting [him to do that] just sort of makes sense, it’s just the way it works and how it should be.
From Supporting Indigenous Researchers: A Practical Guide for Supervisors Alison Laycock with Diane Walker, Nea Harrison & Jenny Brands 2009, CRCAH, Darwin, chapter 6, pp. 113–14.