CDU advances discussion on Indigenous health 


The upcoming Garma Festival Key Forum will explore a subject that has become one of the hottest public issues in Australia.

The three-day Forum will focus on the theme Indigenous Health: Real solutions for a chronic problem, and is a central feature of the Garma Festival of Traditional Culture which will begin on August 3 near Nhulunbuy in north-east Arnhem Land.

Co-ordinated by Charles Darwin University, the Forum will go beyond a simple exploration of health problems and their underlying issues. It will consider the separation of Indigenous traditional culture from the traditional western medical approach to health, and the impact of this on Indigenous health.

CDU Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Forum planning committee, Professor Helen Garnett said the gathering would consider how institutional factors in the western approach to service delivery contributed to health problems in Indigenous people.

Topics and issues that will focus discussion include:

  • Traditional healing
  • Maternal and child health
  • Social and emotional health and wellbeing

The event will bring together hundreds of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders and decision-makers from the community, business and government, as well as educators and practitioners.

International guests will describe the experiences of Indigenous people of New Zealand and northern Canada in addressing health-related issues.

'The Forum is about making a real difference in the social, cultural and economic well-being of Indigenous people,' Professor Garnett said.

Three eminent people will give keynote addresses on August 4, the opening day of the Forum:

  • Professor Helen Milroy, Indigenous psychiatrist
  • Ms Jackie Huggins, Co-chair, Reconciliation Australia
  • Justice Murray Wilcox, retired Federal Court Judge who delivered the landmark Perth Noongar native title judgment in 2006

The Garma Festival of Traditional Culture is an annual celebration of cultural traditions and practices, and is operated by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, a not-for-profit Aboriginal charitable organisation.

Visit for the complete Garma Key Forum program.