Spirit of Healthy Horizons
On 29 September, 2012, the inaugural Spirit of Health Horizons Tri-University Conference took place at Griffith University’s Centre for Medicine and Oral Health in Southport. This was a non-profit, joint initiative amongst three student-run rural health clubs, HOPE4HEALTH (Griffith University), TROHPIQ (University of Queensland), and Bushfire (Bond University). The one-day conference was a product of discussion between health students and workers regarding the lack of opportunities to communicate positive, strengths -based research, practice and innovation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This event was intended to function as a platform to inform students from a range of health backgrounds (medicine, dentistry, nursing, and allied health) about current directions and innovations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
The day was opened with a performance from local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, the Bundjalung Kunjail Dance Troupe. This inspiring welcome set the scene for a plethora of incredible speakers from a range of health and community backgrounds, including Dr Chris Perry (ENT surgeon), Matthew Brown (Director of the Deadly Ears Program), Dr Janie Smith (Associate Professor at Bond University), Dr Natasha Coventry (Medical Superintendent from Cooktown), Tim Rowe (Indigenous Marathon Project), Paul Pholeros (Health Habitat) and Dr Stephen Godfrey (Ophthalmologist and volunteer with IRIS). Break-out sessions in the afternoon featured “hands-on” sessions including ear and eye examination techniques and boomerang painting.
Students, presenters and guests reported that the day was a welcome change to the ongoing focus on the poor statistics and health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities. Students who attended reported that they were motivated and inspired to engage more in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. They spoke of acquiring a greater understanding of the wider determinants of health. The conference was fun and informative, a celebration of health successes and culture; a demonstration of what the spirit of a healthy horizon may encompass.