Closing the gap between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Australians requires an approach that empowers young people with the resources to shape a healthy future. To this end, QIMR Berghofer takes its popular student seminar program on the road with the Regional High School Lecture Series (RHSLS).
The RHSLS is an outreach program for the benefit of both Indigenous and non-indigenous students and involves several of the Institute’s top scientists visiting a number of regional and remote Queensland locations that have a higher proportion of Indigenous students. Presentations on the ground-breaking work underway at QIMR Berghofer, along with discussions around career opportunities in health science and medical research, make for an interesting and engaging day.
Each individual school program runs for approximately 2 hours, either via a morning session between 9am and 11am or an afternoon session between 1pm and 3pm.
The 2 hour program is generally broken up as follows:
The 30 minute morning/afternoon tea allows students the opportunity to interact with the scientists in a more relaxed face to face setting. Here, they can ask further questions and obtain more detailed information and guidance on their science-based interests and aspirations. All catering costs are covered by the program.
CLOSE THE GAP
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has pledged to work towards closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage and reduce the burden of illness for Indigenous Australians.
A community consultation forum attended by QIMR Berghofer staff highlighted the need for more education and promotion of Health Science to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school leavers. Already established programs within the institute targeted mostly urban based Indigenous Australians, however, a higher proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in regional and remote localities. This key detail shaped the development of the Regional High School Lecture Series; allowing the program to target and engage larger proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students by delivering the program in regional and remote localities.
The Queensland Government and the Department of Education and Training have implemented a STEM strategy in schools across the state. Part of the government’s strategy is to promote targeted initiatives to lift student performance in STEM fields, including scientific literacy. Additionally, the strategy seeks to increase opportunities and participation rates of students in STEM subjects, particularly girls and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
The RHSLS compliments this STEM strategy by stimulating learning and discussion around relevant health topics while promoting the importance of scientific health and medical research and health science career pathways. Additionally, the series targets regional and remote Qld areas where a higher proportion of indigenous students can be reached per engagement.
Greg Pratt, Manager of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research Gregory.Pratt@qimrberghofer.edu.au
Greg is an Aboriginal man and descendant of the Brown family of the Noonucal tribe of the Quandamooka people of Stradbroke Island. He is a family man, a husband and father to four (three boys and one girl). He spent much of his childhood years with the Ghughuyalanghi people of Cape York, growing up in the township of Laura. With the support of his community and his family, Greg undertook study at the University of Southern Queensland, where he later graduated with a degree in psychology.
With an interest in people, mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, Greg spent his post graduate years working in rural New South Wales as an Indigenous mental health practitioner.
Since then, Greg has worked in both community and government sectors, in policy development, service delivery and project management. Before commencing with the QIMR Berghofer in December 2012, Greg was with the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health in Cairns and the Health Quality and Complaints Commission in Brisbane. Greg is passionate about community empowerment, emphasising strength based approaches to change motivation and the ability of Indigenous Australia to lead the way with respect to better health and wellbeing.
Corey Jones, Communication Projects Officer, Indigenous Health Research Program Corey.Jones@qimrberghofer.edu.au
Corey has a background in Public Health and Health Promotion and holds an undergraduate degree in Applied Public Health. As a part of his studies, he completed a student placement with Greg Pratt and the Indigenous Health Research Program at QIMR Berghofer where he worked on the Regional High School Lecture Series.
He has a passion for health promotion, community development, social support and program planning and also works part time with vulnerable/at risk populations in the alcohol and other drug health services sector.
Corey returned to work with QIMR Berghofer in an official capacity in early 2018, where he now serves as the Communication Projects Officer for the Indigenous Health Research Program. He has come full circle from his studies; reprising his connection with the Regional High School Lecture Series where he now serves as Project Coordinator.