Six awards were presented at this year's Lowitja’s International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference in Darwin last week to people who have made strides in Indigenous health and research.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award went to Professor Yvonne Cadet-James, a health researcher at James Cook University.
Prof Cadet-James, a Gug Badhun woman from Far North Queensland, was recognised for her contribution to Indigenous health research and her commitment to empowering communities to fight against and overcome issues impacting on their people.
“It was a total surprise, I had no idea I was getting an award…It is such a big honour,” Prof Cadet-James told NITV News.
The Lowitja Institute Lifetime Achievement Award is given annually to an Indigenous person who has made an exceptional contribution to the health and well-being of First Nations people.
In 1997, Prof Cadet-James shifted efforts into researching and improving maternal and child health as well as the well-being of Indigenous families.
Prof Cadet-James said one of her biggest personal achievements is the 'Family Well-being Research Program', which works to “assist groups and communities with confidence and skills to identify their own issues” within their communities and to find solutions to combat those community-based concerns.
“The program is currently in 57 sites around the country," said Prof Cadet-James. "I am touched to see the growth and development [of those communities involved]."
Associate Professor Catherine Chamberlain, leading Indigenous maternal health researcher and career development fellow at La Trobe University’s Judith Lumley Centre, was recognised with the Research Leadership Award for her ongoing exemplary research, particularly in assisting young parents who have suffered from early childhood trauma.
One of Ms Chamberlain’s major works includes her ‘Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future’ project that was built to create support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who have experienced complex childhood trauma.
The goal of the program is to prevent inter-generational transmission of trauma to the child.
Dr Kalinda Griffith was presented with the Emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researcher Award for her ongoing research in addressing complex health differences across communities, with a particular focus on cancer treatments and outcomes.
A key focus in Dr Michelle Bovill's work is encouraging woman to quit smoking during pregnancy, which led to the ICAN Quit in Pregnancy intervention program, contributing to her recognition at the awards as she was presented with the Emerging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Researcher Award.
The winner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Project Ethics Award for their 'Growing up children in two worlds' website project was the community from the Top End Yolŋu language group, and Associate Professor Elaine Lawurrpa Maypilama received the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CRC Award.