Below we announce the program for #IHMayDay15 on Friday – a day of action and listening on Twitter on all matters to do with the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. It runs from 7am-10pm.

Please tune into the hashtag over the next few days and most especially on Friday: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to share their views and knowledge about some of the wide-ranging issues affecting health, and non-Indigenous people are encouraged to participate by retweeting and listening.

It is the second such event, following the successful #IHMayDay held on 1 May last year, which generated almost 26 million Twitter impressions in one day, and trended number one nationally on Twitter during the day.

#IHMayDay15 is moderated by James Cook University Nursing, Midwifery and Research academic Dr Lynore Geia – @LynoreGeia – a Bwgcolman woman woman from Palm Island; and by Summer May Finlay – @OnTopicAus – a Yorta Yorta woman, a public health practitioner and PhD candidate based in Canberra (more details are here).

We are delighted that Senator Nova Peris – @NovaPeris – will join the conversation throughout the day, and other politicians are also encouraged to engage.

Matthew Cooke, chair of NACCHO, will guest tweet for @IndigenousX during the day, while Pele Bennet from QAIHC will make a special guest appearance at @WePublicHealth.

We also hope to have an interview early evening with Leeanne Enoch MP – @LeeanneEnoch – Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works and Minister for Science and Innovation, after she delivers the 2015 Annual Eddie Koiki Mabo Lecture at James Cook University in Townsville.

Her lecture is titled: Taking up space, taking our place – Indigenous participation in the political process. We plan to live-tweet the lecture.

Update, 28 May. Today (Thursday) at 5pm AEST, Summer May Finlay will be speaking on Periscope about #IHMayDay15. To join the interactive livestream, download the free Periscope app. Follow Summer on Twitter (@OnTopicAus) to receive a link to the broadcast.

Update, 29 May. There was a last-minute program change as Sandy Davies from WA had to withdraw (if anyone has found his iPad, lost at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle, please get in touch). Many thanks to Scott Avery from the First Peoples Disability Network Australia for joining the program at the last moment.


Program (moderators’ bios follow below)

7-8am: Lynore Geia
Introduction and reflection: looking backwards, looking forwards…

8-9am: Ali Drummond
Nursing’s contribution to Indigenous health.

9-10am: Summer May Finlay
#JustJustice: finding evidence-based, culturally appropriate and community-led solutions to over-incarceration.

10-11am: Scott Avery
On the importance of personal narratives about disability.

11-12 noon: Mark Lock
How can policy processes be made more transparent and responsive to community needs and wishes?

12noon -1pm: Richard Weston
Healing works.

1-2pm: Les Malezer
Human rights and health.

2-3pm: Michelle Lovegrove
Racism in the media: a journalist’s perspective on what this means for health.

3-4pm: Kerry Arabena
What are universities doing to improve Indigenous Health?

4-5pm: Kelvin Kong
Hearing for health.

5-6pm: Adele Cox
On #SOSBlakAustralia and the health threats of community closures.

6-7pm: Sean Gordon
Health through empowering communities and self-determination.

7-8pm: Kelly Briggs
Women’s health.

8-9pm: Luke Pearson
Engaging with the Twitter community.

9-10pm: Dameyon Bonson
Founder of Black Rainbow: on Indigenous LGBTI wellbeing and suicide prevention.

Croakey moderator and journalist Marie McInerney is volunteering her time to cover the event, and will report on it at Croakey next week. You can track #IHMayDay15 stories here.

For coverage of last year’s #IHMayDay, see here.

Also check out this short film featuring some of last year’s tweets, made by Mitchell Ward, of Rock Lily Design & Consulting. We acknowledge and thank all those moderators and participants who contributed to last year’s discussions.

#IHMayDay15 is hosted by Croakey, and held in collaboration with @IndigenousX and NACCHO. Dr Geia encourages Croakey readers to engage with the event as an opportunity to contribute to strengths-based discussions and counter-narratives about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health.

She said:

“We would like the day to provide a constructive critical discourse on Indigenous health.

“We do not all have to agree about everything, but I encourage everyone to engage in the discussions with respect and goodwill, and to refrain from personal attacks.”


More information is below about the moderators – follow them on Twitter

Scott Avery is from the First Peoples Disability Network, a national organisation established by and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Our Board is comprised in its entirety of First Peoples with a lived experience with disability, and it is the narratives of their lived experience which guide our policy and advocacy work. My road to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disability policy and research has certainly not been a linear one. I spent my early career in health, education and operations, but always at the fringes of applied policy and research. I’m a descendant of the Worimi people and I’m now working with the national peak body: First Peoples Disability Network, based in Redfern. I’m the policy and research director, dealing with a cross-section of issues that people with disability face. The diversity in my experience has been a good grounding as disability impacts on so many policy areas. This has taken me to the corridors of Parliament, Government Agencies, and the United Nations to advocate for the rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability. Much of this work is about awareness raising, but we always try to combine a rigorous analytic approach with a practical “what can be done about this” approach. So when I’m over on UNSW campus working through a professional doctorate in Indigenous disability,  I tend to describe myself as a  “pracademic” (i.e. a practical academic).  Oh, and I am profoundly deaf by the way, but this is only really a disability when the batteries for my cochlear implant run out.

Professor Kerry Arabena is Chair for Indigenous Health and Professor and Director, Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, and formerly the Professor and Director of Indigenous Health Research in the School for Indigenous Health, Monash University. A descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait, and a former social worker with a doctorate in human ecology, Professor Arabena has an extensive background in public health, administration, community development and research working in senior roles in indigenous policy and sexual health. Her work has been in areas such as gender issues, social justice, human rights, access and equity, service provision, harm minimisation, and citizenship rights and responsibilities. She was a founding Co-Chair of the new national Indigenous peak body, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, a collective voice to lobby governments on Indigenous issues.

Pele Bennet, General Manager, Queensland Aboriginal & Islander Health Council (QAIHC). Pele is a descendent of the Waggadaggam People from St Paul’s Village on Moa Island in the Torres Straits. Totemic association: Kadal (Saltwater Crocodile) & Baidham (Tiger Shark). She was born and raised in Brisbane and is a proud member of the Indigenous community of Brisbane. Pele is also a Director on the board of Queensland’s oldest community-controlled health organisation (ATSICHS), and Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee (AHPA) and director on the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA). Pele continues to lead the way in innovation and building effective, multidisciplinary primary prevention capacity within the community controlled health sector. Previous to these positions, Pele has been an Indigenous Health Worker and has been employed within the health sector (both government and past employee of ATSICHS) for approximately 16 years. During this time she has continued to maintain a clear sense of obligation to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers, families and communities.
It is not only part of her working role, but just as importantly as a Torres Strait Islander woman, mother and extended family member; it is her cultural obligation to address the priorities of her community to achieve better health outcomes and opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Pele has also gained qualification in Bachelor in Health Science – Aboriginal Community Development from the University of Sydney.

Dameyon Bonson, Founder of Black Rainbow, Managing Director of Indigenist, and Advocate of Indigenous Genius, Indigeneity and Wellbeing.  I am a Mangyari and Maubiag man. A First Nation Australian of both Indigenous and Caucasian descent. I live where I have always wanted to holiday, Broome WA. It is also a place where I believe my academic and community engagement skills can transfer best. I am a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention Evaluation Project (ATSISPEP). I have worked extensively across the Kimberley region delivering upstream suicide prevention activities. My work is underpinned by liberation rather than benevolence or charity. I also work within an empowerment and recovery framework where the facilitation of an environment where myself and the client are viewed as allies is fundamental. I have a background in social work and draw on applying these learnt skills rather than intervening with them. I believe that there is capacity in everyone and that capacity strengthening is best practice and a non-oppressive approach in comparison to capacity building. I have presented nationally and internationally on Aboriginal men’s health, Indigenous Social Work and Suicide Prevention.

Kelly Briggs is a Gamilaroi woman and an award-winning writer, blogger and Tweeter. She writes for The Guardian and Croakey blog. Her Twitter profile says it all: “Big Black Gomeroi Woman. Feminist. Social Justice Warrior. Racism Fighter. Aboriginal Rights Supporter. Prob playing Left 4 Dead on Xbox n listening to Slayer.”




Matthew Cooke is a proud Aboriginal and South Sea Islander from the Bailai (Byellee) people in Gladstone, Central Queensland. Matthew was elected as Deputy Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) in 2011, then appointed as Chairperson in November 2014. He was previously the CEO of Nhulundu Wooribah Indigenous Health Organisation Inc, the Aboriginal Medical Service in Gladstone, for more than 6 years. During this time Matthew served as the Deputy Chair and Secretary of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC). In 2014 Matthew was appointed CEO of QAIHC. Matthew’s active involvement spans all four levels of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Sector – national, state, regional and local.

Adele Cox is a Bunuba and Gija woman from the Kimberley region of WA. Adele spent the majority of her early working life in the Kimberley region in media and in suicide prevention. Since 2001 she has lived in Perth and worked on a number of projects and initiatives. Most recently her work has taken her into Indigenous health research, having worked previously at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and as an academic at the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health and the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia at the University of Western Australia. She currently works as a full-time consultant on various state and national projects, predominantly in the area of Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention. Adele has been an active member of several committees at both the State and National levels. She is currently a member of the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Advisory Group, and the WA Ministerial Council for Suicide Prevention. Previously she was a member of the National Advisory Council for Mental Health, the National Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children Steering Committee, the Oxfam Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Reference Group, and the Taskforce for the Shadow Reporting of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Adele is the former Chairperson of the National Indigenous Youth Movement of Australia.

Sandy Davies
is Deputy Chair of NACCHOI am a proud father of eight kids and nineteen grandchildren. I am also a proud Nanda man of the Yamatji region, with a keen interest in football (particularly the Northampton Rams.) I am a keen supporter of all the young men who play football especially my sons, Cameron and young Sandy who are playing and Shannon and Brett who used to play football years ago, although Shannon may make a comeback.I have an extensive history in Aboriginal affairs which dates back some thirty years ago, when I first took to the road with key people such as Leadham Cameron and Bill Mallard fighting for justice and a fair go for Yamatji people. My mentors include people such as the late Robert Riley and the late Leadham Cameron who were key people in my life, they left great legacies for this region. One of my other great mentors is Margaret Colbung who herself is a fighter for Aboriginal Health injustices.I want equal rights for all our people when they are accessing health services provided by government agencies. I am passionate about social justice and making sure our people have a voice and the right to be heard.

Ali Drummond. Born and raised on Thursday Island (TI) in north Queensland, Ali is a descendant of the Dauareb people of the Murray Islands and the Wuthathi and Yadaigana people of north-eastern Cape York Peninsula. Ali is a Lecturer at the School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology. While teaching into a number of subjects, he actively advocates for the accurate weaving of cultural safety and Indigenous knowledges into the nursing curriculum. Guiding the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing students is of course a priority as well. Ali started his health career in the Torres Straits in 2004 as a Torres Strait Islander health worker; he has since nursed in numerous clinical settings. While an Assistant Director of Nursing to Queensland’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, his work involved policy development and program coordination aimed at increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in nursing and midwifery. Ali is a member of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and midwives (CATSINaM), a mentor in OXFAM’s ChangeCourse program, and a board director for the Lowitja Institute, Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research. He has a Bachelor of Nursing Science (James Cook University) and a Master of International Public Health (University of Queensland). The PhD journey is looming. Ali is passionate about nursing’s potential contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing.

Summer May Finlay is a Yorta Yorta woman who grew up on Lake Macquarie, NSW and currently lives in Canberra. Summer has extensive experience in Aboriginal health with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health organisations. She is passionate about #JustJustice because prior to working in Aboriginal health she was a youth and children’s worker and saw kids who never seemed to have the same opportunities she had. Summer has a Bachelor of Social Science with a major in linguistics, Master of Public Health Advanced with a major in Social Marketing and is currently undertaking a PhD in Aboriginal health.

Dr Lynore Geia. I am a Bwgcolman woman from Palm Island, Queensland, a mother, registered nurse, midwife, senior lecturer and researcher in Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition at James Cook University. I coordinate and teach the Indigenous Health subject to undergraduate and postgraduate nursing and midwifery students. My current research activity involves working with my home community of Palm Island in partnership with the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Sector. In 2012 I graduated with my PhD titled “First steps, making footprints: intergenerational Palm Island families’ Indigenous stories (narratives) of childrearing practice strengths”. The study encompassed decolonising praxis through privileging Bwgcolman storytellers to tell their stories that debunked the ‘master narrative’ of hegemony, and revealed a people of strength, survival and resistance.

Sean Gordon is a Wangkumarra/Barkintji man, and grew up at Brewarrina Western NSW.  Sean is the CEO of Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council. Sean is a current Director of NAISDA, and Convenor of the Empowered Communities Leadership Group and steering committee Chairperson of Barang, Commonwealth Bank reconciliation Action Plan Committee and Central Community Campus forum member.

Dr Kelvin Kong qualified as the first Aboriginal Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, specialising in Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. Kelvin hails from Shoal Bay and the Worimi people of Port Stephens, north of Newcastle. He completed his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at the University of NSW in 1999. He embarked on his internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst and pursued a surgical career, completing resident medical officer and registrar positions at Westmead Hospital, John Hunter Hospital, Gosford District Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital and the final year of his training completed at St. Vincent’s Hospital, fittingly where his career started. Along the way, his has also been privileged in serving the rural community as part of secondments to peripheral hospitals. He is now a qualified Surgeon specialising in Adult & Paediatric Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery (Ear, Nose & Throat Surgery), being Australia’s first (and currently only) Aboriginal Surgeon. He is part of a strong, medical family, his mother is a nurse, his sister Marlene is a General Practitioner and her twin Marilyn, is Australia’s first Aboriginal Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Being surrounded by health, he has always championed for the improvement of Indigenous health and education. Complementing his surgical training, he has been involved in numerous projects and committees to help promote Indigenous education and health.


Dr Mark J Lock. A descendent of the Ngiyaampaa people of New South Wales, from Scottish convicts of the First Fleet, from a Latvian immigrant, and from English people. My academic research is about interogating policy concepts such as holism, participation and integration through a combination of theory, empirical data collection, and qualitative and quantitative analysis. I am the chief investigator for the study Aboriginal Voice Integration and Diffusion Public Health Collaboratives (AVID Study), which is about the policy principle of ‘integration’ and answering the question ‘where is my voice’. In other words, when Aboriginal people ‘voice’ their advice into committees, what happens next? How is the message of Aboriginal voice transferred from communities to the decision makers in Cabinet? Currently, I can’t ‘see’ Aboriginal voice transferred through policy processes, which therefore should be more transparent. Furthermore, if I can’t ‘see’ Aboriginal voice in policy processes, how can I assess the responsiveness to community needs and whishes? Simple questions, complex answers. Join my in the discussion about the meaning and nature of transparency and responsiveness in policy processes.

Michelle Aleksandrovics Lovegrove
Michelle is a Ngarrindjeri Latvian woman born in Port Augusta, South Australia and brought up in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Michelle is recognised in Australia as an accomplished communicator with more than two decades of experience and numerous awards for her contributions to socially responsible reporting in media. She graduated from Mitchell CAE in Bathurst NSW with a BA in Communications (Print Journalism) and later studied at the University of New South Wales for TESOL qualifications (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).  Michelle taught English in eastern Indonesia and at Wollongong University College, lectured at Wollongong University in Aboriginal Studies, and had extensive input into the creation of an Arts third-year unit “Indigenous Theories of Decolonisation”. Michelle has worked in commercial Australian television and radio across three states, and News Radio with the ABC. She is currently the national Executive Producer of SBS Radio Living Black, and Global Visiting Professor at the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, specialising in cultural competency in writing and reporting in Indigenous communities. In 2009 she joined the national First Nations Voice Project in conjunction with the Queensland University of Technology as an Industry Mentor, is a Director of the NSW Indigenous Chamber of Commerce and the female current affairs promotions voice of SBS Television. Some of Michelle’s career highlights include the 2012 Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) International Award, Best Radio Personality “Michelle Lovegrove: A Voice of Many Indigenous Stories Across Australia”; the Walkley Award for coverage of Indigenous Affairs and the UN Media Peace Award for Best Online 2012 both for “The Block: Stories From A Meeting Place; The UN Media Peace Award for Radio, “Two Decades, Too Little, Too Late for Many: What became of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody?” (group award); and Commercial Radio Industry Awards Winner Best National Newsreader (Provincial and Metropolitan) across multiple years.

Les Malezer is from the Butchulla/Gubbi Gubbi peoples in southeast Queensland. Les is the Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and has extensive experience in campaigning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights and has represented community interests at local, state, national and international levels. Les is a former head of the Qld Department of Aboriginal and Islander Affairs and is currently Chairperson of the Foundation for Aboriginal and Islander Research Action (FAIRA) and in that role he is a delegate to United Nations forums on Indigenous issues. In 2008 he won the Australian Human Rights Award, and his contribution to coordinating Indigenous Peoples’ advocacy for the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN General Assembly is well known and respected.

Luke Pearson is a digital strategist, social media consultant, researcher, writer, keynote speaker, and the founding director of IndigenousX.  He is also Associate Adjunct Professional in Journalism with the University of Canberra, & crowdfunder for projects and campaigns in partnership between IndigenousX & StartSomeGood.

Richard Weston is a descendant of the Meriam people of the Torres Strait and has worked in Indigenous affairs for over 20 years. 14 of these in Indigenous controlled health services in Far West NSW and Queensland. He commenced with the Healing Foundation in September 2010 and is responsible for its overarching strategic and operational management, and delivering the vision set by the Board of Directors. Richard works closely with the Board to support their important governing role, including ensuring compliance and that the performance of the Healing Foundation is to a high standard.





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