Meet Chris Bourke – Australia’s first known Aboriginal Dentist


Dr Chris Bourke served in the ACT Legislative Assembly from 2011-2016 and held many Ministerial portfolios including Education, Children & Young People, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Disability, Corrections, Industrial Relation, Small Business, Arts, Veterans Affairs and Seniors.

Chris is a graduate of The University of Melbourne and the first Indigenous Australian dentist. He holds postgraduate qualifications in Public Health and Implant Dentistry and is currently completing a Master of Business Administration at the University of Canberra.

After an extensive career in public dentistry Chris moved to Canberra in 1993 where he ran a successful private dental practice for 16 years. His strong focus on community health led him to provide his clinical skills pro bono and policy making skills in many political and professional arenas.

As Strategic Programs Director with the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Chris continues to advocate for improved access to culturally safe health care, including dental health, as well as for growth in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce. Chris says “oral health is fundamental to overall health, wellbeing and quality of life. A healthy mouth enables people to eat, speak and socialise without pain, discomfort or embarrassment”. 

To coincide with dental health week, the Indigenous Dentists Association Australia have worked with the Australian Dental Association to produce some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander relevant oral health promotion material which can be found here.

In a recent journal article ‘Assessing the support of health leadership for increased Indigenous participation in the health workforce’, Chris and his co-authors argue that greater alignment of state and territory Indigenous health workforce plans with contemporary diversity management knowledge could improve recruitment and retention of Indigenous peoples and, ultimately, Indigenous health outcomes. You can read the full article here.

August 3, 2020


Posted by: Renae Kilmister