• Nerissa Narburup, 17, is one of the 2016 Heywire Regional Youth Summit participants. (Heywire Regional Youth Summit)Source: Heywire Regional Youth Summit
17-year-old Nerissa Narburup is one of the 45 young people from across Australia in Canberra for the Heywire Regional Youth Summit.
4 Feb 2016 - 12:03 PM  UPDATED 4 Feb 2016 - 3:33 PM

Nerissa Narburup, 17, who has travelled from Nganmarriyanga in the Northern Territory to the Heywire Regional Youth Summit in Canberra this week, wants medical terminology translated into her people's language, Murrinh Patha.

"Some of my people don't speak English, and don’t understand what the doctors are saying," she told NITV News.

"So they can't get healthy."

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians is 10 years less than other Australians. Indigenous Australians are also five times more likely to die from endocrine, metabolic (diabetes, for example) and nutritional conditions, according to figures the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Nerissa says if her community could understand their health conditions better, their health would improve.

Warren Snowdon is Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Affairs for Northern Australia and Nerrisa's local MP. He told NITV News he acknowledged her commitment to improving the health outcomes for her family and the Nganmarriyanga community.

"Nerissa's idea of putting medical terms in Murrinh Patha is smart, simple and innovative, which will be vital in helping her people that in turn will assist to 'Close the Gap'," he said.

"Nerissa stresses the significance of patient medical literacy, which is absolutely critical to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health in this nation."

The students are presenting their ideas on Thursday. The winner is awarded a grant to develop an action plan.

Mr Snowdon "applauded" the ABC-led Heywire initiative for the voice it gives to youth in regional Australia.

He says he hopes politicians will consider their ideas.

"It is important that politicians in Canberra directly listen to the voices of young people who live in regional Australia."

Australian youth between 16 and 22 can apply to participate at the summit each year.