2018 IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Awards

A night of celebrating excellence and action – the Gala Dinner is the premier national networking event in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health.

The purpose of the IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Awards is to recognise the contribution of IAHA members to their profession and/or improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Awards showcase the outstanding achievements in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health and provides identifiable allied health role models to inspire all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to consider and pursue a career in allied health.

Read about the six categories below.

Congratulations to our 2018 IAHA National Indigenous Allied Health Award Winners L-R: Rikki Fischer (Allied Health Inspiration Award), Nicole Velkoski (Indigenous Allied Health Student Academic Achievement Award), Corrine Butler (Indigenous Allied Health Professional of the Year), Tom Brideson (Lifetime Achievement Award Winner), Stephanie Armstrong (Commitment to Indigenous Health Award), Mitchell Walley (Future Leader un Indigenous Allied Health Award). 


IAHA Lifetime Achievement Award

Tom Brideson, Social Welfare/Mental Health 

Tom Brideson is a Kamilaroi/Gomeroi man born in Gunnedah north-west NSW. Since the early 1990’s Tom has been actively involved in mental health and health policy; social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB); clinical mental health care; suicide preven­tion; education and mental health leadership.Since 2007, Tom has been the State-wide Coordinator for the NSW Aboriginal Mental Health Workforce Program and lives in Orange, NSW. He has published articles regarding the Aboriginal mental health workforce and advocates for the broad emerging professional workforces to ensure meaningful career pathways across all health and human services. Tom is currently the Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership in Mental Health. He sits on the Community Advisory Council with the NSW Mental Health Commission. 

Sponsored by  IAHA





Future Leader in Indigenous Allied Health Award

Mitchell Walley, Speech Pathology

Mitchell is a proud Ballardong man from the Noongar Nation and has been an active student member of IAHA since 2017. He is currently in his final year of study in the Bachelor of Speech Pa­thology degree at Edith Cowan University (ECU), Perth WA. He is currently the only male aboriginal student studying this degree in Australia and in 2019 he will be the first Aboriginal male com­pleting a Bachelor of Speech Pathology in WA.

Mitchel did his placement with the Western Australia Centre for Rural Health (WACRH) student program in Geraldton and Mount Magnet and was able to connect with the community and be a role model for the young Aboriginal people.

Sponsored by


Indigenous Allied Health Student Academic Achievement Award

Nicole Velkoski 

Nicole is a Wiradjuri woman that has just completed her final year of her Psychology undergraduate degree with a  distinction average. She is a mother of two children, works full time and up until this year has been studying full time. On top of the re­sponsibilities that Nicole has in both her personal life and her study and work life, Nicole has been actively engaging in build­ing a supportive community within the Edith Cowan University campus as well as outside in the Perth community.

Nicole volunteered within the ECU peer mentoring program in 2018 and was nominated and successfully sat on the Vice Chancellor Student Advisory committee two years in a row,  where she actively contributed to conversations around the  rights of all her peers as well as passionately ensuring that such opportunities and many other opportunities continue to exist or are created for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in years to come. Nicole sat on the  Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) student representative committee in 2018 and amongst all this, Nicole has also been volunteering as a drug and alcohol counsellor.

Sponsored by Australian Council of Deans of Health Sciences 



Indigenous Allied Health Inspiration Award

Rikki Fischer

Rikki is a proud Wiradjuri woman living and working on Larrakia Country in Darwin. She has a Bachelor of Health Science (men­tal health), Cert IV in AOD, Cert IV in Human Resources, Cert IV in TAE and a Diploma in Auditing.

Rikki has been a member of IAHA since 2014 and has played an active role in supporting IAHA’s NT Aboriginal Health Academy. Her passion is working with high school students to achieve their dreams, lives their lives to their full potential and to have a healthy lifestyle. She is dedicated to growing and supporting the next generation, the future workforce and future role models in the community.

Sponsored by


Commitment to Indigenous Health Award

Stephanie Armstrong

Stephanie is a proud Gamilaraay woman and has worked to in­crease the understandings around how to provide support for young Aboriginal women following theirs dreams. Stephanie has co-lead Weenthunga Health Network to provide leadership in strength based approaches to young women and their sense of identity. Her other focus is to increase the knowledge and understandings of Australians who wish to support improved Indigenous health out­comes. Her energy has seen her present workshop from schools to Universities so as to provide an informed network of supporters to local students. Always encouraging all to work with compassion, love and courage. Her respected position now sees her being termed as an Aunty, not only within her local Bendigo community but further afield in Victoria. She volunteers on many committees and boards. She is proud of being seen as a role model to many local Aboriginal women and especially to her two daughters.

Sponsored by


Indigenous Allied Health Professional of the Year Award

Corrine Butler, Occupational Therapist

Corrine Butler is an Aboriginal woman with strong family connec­tions to Yarrabah, Far North Queensland. She received an Occupa­tional Therapy degree from James Cook University in 2009. She joined IAHA in 2009 as a fourth year Occupational Therapy student. Corrine has participated in multiple professional development op­portunities, volunteering at IAHA Stalls and mentoring programs. She is co-founder of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island­er Occupational Therapy Network. Corrine has worked as an Occu­pational Therapist in regional and remote areas across Queensland and the Northern Territory. She has worked for the Deadly Ears pro­gram in Queensland since 2015.

Sponsored by