Among the many highlights of Congress Lowitja 2012 was the presentation of the inaugural Congress Lowitja awards, which took place during the official Congress Lowitja dinner held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the evening of Wednesday 14 November 2012.
Lowitja Institute Chair Pat Anderson flanked by Congress Lowitja 2012 Award winners Chelsea Bond and Ray Lovett [Photograph by James Henry]
Dr Chelsea Bond, the Research and Teaching Manager at Inala Health Service in Queensland and a former scholarship holder at the CRC for Aboriginal Health, took out the Emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researcher Award.
‘It was a great honour to have the award presented to me by Aunty Pat Anderson and it certainly made me feel like I was still part of the Lowitja family all these years after first being given a CRCAH scholarship,’ Dr Bond told Wangka Pulka. ‘The benefits of the investment made by the Lowitja Institute and its predecessors into developing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers are still to come but it’s exciting to see more and more Indigenous people driving Indigenous health research.’
Mr Ray Lovett, a PhD student at the Australian National University and a Visiting Research Fellow at AIATSIS, won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Award for his research topic ‘Epidemiology of alcohol and tobacco use in urban Indigenous populations. Acculturation in Indigenous AOD use.’
‘It’s very nice to be recognised for the kind of work I do because it’s not the easiest of subject areas,’ he said. ‘The best part was that the award came from the peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research institute here in Australia.’
Both award winners were also given the opportunity to present at Congress Lowitja – Dr Bond as a panellist in the concurrent session ‘Projects that change policy and practice through knowledge exchange’, and Mr Lovett as a panellist in ‘Challenges and enablers: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers tell their story’.
The awards were established by the Lowitja Institute to give recognition to high-achieving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and early-stage researchers with an interest in the health of Australia’s First Peoples. The Institute extends its congratulations to both winners, who each received $5000 towards their professional development, free registration at Congress Lowitja 2012 and a trophy.
The dinner itself was MCed by the effervescent Ms Leila Gurruwiwi, presenter of ABC TV’s ‘Marngrook Footy Show’, and featured the soulful sounds of North Queensland’s Deline Briscoe Trio. It was the perfect opportunity for Congress Lowitja delegates to catch up and network in a relaxed environment following the packed schedule of opening day.
Over main course, diners were able to share in the personal journey of dinner speaker Professor Dennis McDermott, the prominent Aboriginal psychologist and academic who is Associate Head of Faculty, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, within the Faculty of Health Sciences at Adelaide’s Flinders University. He is also the Director of the Adelaide-based Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Well-Being.
Professor McDermott described his experiences of growing up a Koori man in New South Wales and reflected on how these experiences shaped his subsequent career and his work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. With a mixture of self-deprecating humour and insightful poetry, Professor McDermott’s address struck many chords with his audience.
For more information on the Congress Lowitja 2012 awards, go to: www.lowitja.org.au/congress-lowitja-2012-awards.