2015 IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Awards

Congratulations to our 2015 IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Award Winners!

Pictured L-R: Jordana Stanford (Allied Health Inspiration Award), Samara Dargan (Indigenous Allied Health Professional of the Year), Lin Oke (Commitment to Indigenous Allied Health Award), Kerry Arabena (IAHA Lifetime Achievement Award), Kimberley Hunter (Future Leader in Indigenous Allied Health), Sarah Logan (Indigenous Allied Health Student Academic Achievement Award). 

Professor Kerry Arabena – IAHA Life Time Achievement Award

Professor Kerry Arabena is a descendant from the Torres Strait’s Meriam people. A Social Worker with a Doctorate in Human Ecology, she has an extensive background in public health, administration, community development and research working in senior roles in Indigenous health and policy, sexual health and in higher education. She spent eight years in central Australia, including several years working at the remote Kintore Aboriginal settlement where she became Administrator at age 21, then in Alice Springs as the TriState Project coordinator developing strategies to reduce the high burden of STIs and preventing HIV.  She then moved to Cairns to develop a northern Australian sexual health strategy and was a key implementer of the Well Person’s Health Check in north Queensland after which time she became the CEO of Apunimipa the Cape York health Council.  She also worked on health strategies across Australia and became an international consultant with communities across the Asia Pacific region, and has maintained her own consulting business ever since.

Professor Arabena’s years of work have brought her to the forefront of Indigenous affairs in Australia. She was the inaugural Chair of the national Indigenous peak body, the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, a collective voice to lobby governments on Indigenous issues. She was also the inaugural CEO of the Lowitja Institute, which commissions health research for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Her PhD won the prestigious JG Crawford Prize for academic excellence and she has since published a book based on her Doctorate.

In January 2013, Professor Arabena was appointed Chair for Indigenous Health and Professor and Director, Indigenous Health Equity Unit, University of Melbourne, and was previously Professor and Director of Indigenous Health Research in the School for Indigenous Health, Monash University. She is on the Board of Indigenous Community Volunteers, Kinnaway Aboriginal Chamber of Commerce and Indigenous Women in Business and is developing a research and policy platform focusing on the First 1000 Days – from conception to age 2.  Her work continues to make contributions across many states and territories, in areas such as gender, social justice, human rights, addressing family violence, promoting access and equity, service provision, harm minimisation and capacity building. She has also represented Australia in international forums on HIV/AIDS and climate change.

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Ms Kimberley Hunter – Future Leader in Indigenous Allied Health Award

Nominated by her University, Kimberly Hunter is a Nyiki na woman from the Lower Fitzroy River, in the remote West Kimberley region of Western Australia however she was born and raised in Adelaide. She is described by her program director as a woman who “is determined to assert her identity and to take a leadership position on cultural and other issues with her student group.” Currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Applied Science Occupational Therapy, our winner is an active participant in her university’s Indigenous student services events and is also a student representative member of the Division of Health Sciences Indigenous Strategy Group that responds to the University’s Reconciliation Action Plan and crossing the horizon strategy.

Kimberley has completed placements at the Wiltja Residence PCP community development project with Indigenous youth and the leadership and sensitivity Kimberley showed throughout the project was reflected in her outstanding performance, recognized by both her agency and university supervisors.

hroughout her degree Kimberley has volunteered as a mentor for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), even being named ‘Mentor of the Month’. She is described as having “unique and culturally diverse views and ideas and promoted discussion and a commitment to equity.” And that “she is a confident and proud Aboriginal woman and has had an incredibly positive impact on the student group.” She continues to demonstrate her leadership capabilities by recently applying to travel to Central Australia to promote health careers to high school students in rural and remote schools through the Health Network Northern Territory’s Rural Health School Visits Program.

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Ms Sarah Logan – Indigenous Allied Health Student Academic Achievement Award

Sarah Logan is a Walpri woman from the western desert of the Northern Territory. A high achieving final year student within the Bachelor of Pharmacy program (with a current GPA of 6.15 out of 7), our winner has been awarded a Vice Chancellors Top 5% of Health Science award for her academic achievements.  Upon graduation our winner will be the first identified Aboriginal person to graduate from UniSA with this degree.

Our winner is described as an outstanding leader within the Indigenous Students services unit – volunteering at NAIDOC week, reconciliation events, football united programs and peer support events for the unit. She also mentors and supports another Aboriginal pharmacy student since this person began their degree. Sarah has already secured a pharmacy internship after graduating and has articulated a strong desire to positively influence the health outcomes of Indigenous Australians through provision of culturally appropriate and equitable medication access to Aboriginal communities. 

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Ms Samara Dargan – Indigenous Allied Health Professional of the Year Award

Samara Dargan is an accredited Exercise Physiologist and Manager of the Work it Out program, an inter-professional rehabilitation and self-management program developed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of a chronic disease. In her role, she manages the day to day operations of the program as well as managing an inter-professional team comprising a range of allied health staff and allied health assistants.  

Our winner has led the roll-out of this program from one location in 2011 to 13 locations in 2015 resulting in over 800 clients accessing the program. She also provides input and direction to the research evaluation of this program and ensures the research is conducted and disseminated in a culturally appropriate way. Samara is dedicated to her staff and her clients, often going above and beyond what would normally be expected of an allied health professional. This includes attending weekend community events to connect with the community and supporting staff though professional and personal challenges.

Under her leadership the Work it Out program has won several local and national awards, including the esteemed National Lead Clinicians Group Award for Excellence in Innovative Implementation of Clinical Practice. Samara is described as “always humble in her approach to these awards, highlighting the team effort rather than her individual contribution.” She is passionate about improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and leads by example in her dedication to delivering a high quality, evidence-based, culturally appropriate service. She is described as “a living example of reconciliation in action, leading her team in a culturally responsive approach to the Work it Out program.”

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Ms Jordana Stanford – Allied Health Inspiration Award

Jordana Stanford is a proud Kamilaroi woman who grew up in the Sydney area. She attended the University of Sydney where she undertook a Bachelor of Applied Science (Speech Pathology) which she completed in 2012. Whilst studying Jordana was awarded a cadetship with the Department of Family and Community Services- Ageing, Disability and Home Care. Amongst completion of her Bachelor’s degree Jordana commenced work as a Speech Pathologist for the Liverpool Hospital in 2013.

After a couple years in early 2015 Jordana moved to Brisbane to further prosper her love and devotion to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community by taking up employment as a Paediatric Speech Pathologist with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health. Jordana has shown great commitment to her profession by giving back by marking Speech Pathology student’s assessments for Charles Sturt University and undertaking Speech Pathology students for practical placements. Her love and passion for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is prominent amongst her co-workers. Alongside her treatment and management of children with communication disorders, including difficulties with speech, language, social communication, swallowing, fluency and voice. She practices gracefully with such great results to her patients through culturally appropriate practices.

Through her efforts she continually educates her non-Indigenous co-workers on Indigenous affairs and concepts of delivering effect health care towards their patients. Jordana is a great team player and contributes greatly to the large inter-disciplinary health team at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health. Jordana shows strength and commitment to succeeded and deliver in the under-represented area of speech pathology. Further to excel her knowledge Jordana has commenced a Masters of Public Health at the University of Queensland where she hopes to one day contribute to public policy for the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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Ms Lin Oke – Commitment to Indigenous Health Award

Lin Oke has demonstrated a career-long commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. She is a graduate of the Victorian Occupational Therapy (OT) School and is currently the Executive Officer Allied Health Professions Australia and part time Executive Officer of Weenthunga Health Network. She initiated the Koori Occupational Therapy scheme to assist First Australians in the career path of OT in Victoria and seeded the idea of an allied health association for First Australians in the early 2000’s.

Through sheer determination and hard work, she was instrumental in securing funding to start Indigenous Allied Health Australia, launched in 2010. From this she went on to focus on First Australian health in her home state of Victoria through the creation of Weenthunga Health Network, a First Australian led organisation that encourages collaboration between First Australians and Australians working in health roles, to contribute to better health and wellbeing for First Australians and their communities. She has been the Executive Officer of Weenthunga since its inception and her commitment, respect and desire to work in the space of improving outcomes for Indigenous Victorians cannot be understated.

To quote one of her colleagues she “never wants to be the one in spotlight, but rather facilitate First Australians in what and how they want to contribute to Closing the Gap. I was one of the young First Australian OT students that connected with Lin many years ago, and I have been truly inspired by her dedication and commitment to support other First Australian Allied Health clinicians from an individual to an organisational level. Her efforts are tireless and she does all of this whilst undertaking a high level Executive Officer Position in Allied Health Professions Australia – the national voice of allied health in Australia.”

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