Lingiari lecture proposes systemic change to Indigenous health 

Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, Professor Marcia Langton will present the 2011 Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture

Critical steps toward improving the outlook for the next generation of Indigenous Australians will be the focus of the upcoming Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture.

Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at the University of Melbourne, Professor Marcia Langton will present the lecture entitled, “Culture, custom, modernity and health: a nexus of factors in the status of Aboriginal children,” on Thursday, 18 August at CDU’s Casuarina campus.

Professor Langton said the most vulnerable citizens of the Northern Territory continued to be Aboriginal babies.

“Unable to feed themselves and given insufficient nutrition for normal growth, at the very beginning of their lives they suffer hunger and they are unable to develop normally,” Professor Langton said.

Professor Langton said the problem was compounded by the fact that these same babies were growing up between “two tides of history”.

“Their parents and ancestors were the victims of such a disruption of normal life, brought about by a number of factors beyond their control, which have seen them deprived of the knowledge or commonsense of parenting duties and responsibilities, from feeding weaning babies to basic hygiene,” she said.

“On the other hand, they will be swept along by an ill tide into an unhappy future. Already biophysically affected by undernourishment and growth faltering, their capacity to take up opportunities for a happy, productive life will be limited.

“They are very sick children with an uncertain future.”

In her presentation Professor Langton will address the burning issue of how to best involve family and community members in health interventions so they take responsibility for their own health and that of their children.

An anthropologist and geographer, Professor Langton has made a significant contribution to Indigenous studies at three universities, and to government and non-government policy and administration throughout her career. Her work in anthropology and the advocacy of Aboriginal rights was recognised in 1993 when she was made a member of the Order of Australia.

The annual Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture commemorates the Wave Hill Station walk-off led by Vincent Lingiari with his Gurindji people and other groups in August 1966, marking a catalyst for Aboriginal people across Australia to have their rights to traditional lands recognised and for those lands to be returned.

The 2011 Vincent Lingiari Memorial Lecture will be held on Thursday, 18 August from 7-8pm at the Mal Narin Auditorium on CDU’s Casuarina campus.

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