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SEPTEMBER 20-22, 2023




As an Aboriginal organisation, Indigenous Conference Services knows how important it is to work in a culturally safe and respectful environment wherein workers in the industry providing support to our people genuinely understand the importance of culture, country, history, community and family as well as achieve a level of cultural competency so that they can work collaboratively and respectfully alongside our people.

In Australia, the protocol is to recognise the Traditional Owners of the land to which we are gathering. Therefore, all presentations must begin with an acknowledgement to country and acknowledgement to local Traditional Elders. All presentations must begin with words like, “We wish to acknowledge and respect the traditional custodians whose ancestral lands we are to meet upon. We acknowledge the deep feelings of attachment and relationship of Aboriginal peoples to Country. We also pay respects to the cultural authority of Aboriginal peoples visiting/attending from other areas of Australia who are present here”.


The 2023 National First Nations Closing the Gap Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Conference is scheduled to be held at the Hilton Hotel in Cairns QLD on September 20 - 22, 2023 which aims to bring together mental health workers, AOD support workers, Head to Health Aboriginal & Torres Straits Islander mental health practitioners, emotional and social wellbeing workers from Indigenous and Non-Indigenous organisations throughout Australia and present unique opportunities for Mental Health workers to meet and discuss issues specifically centred on First Nations peoples' mental health and wellbeing. The increasing frequency and severity of mental health and wellbeing issues throughout Indigenous Communities has reached a crisis level through the length and breadth of this country. However, this is not news to Indigenous peoples. Communities have proclaimed the need for action to address the needs of many First Nations peoples.  

This year’s conference theme will be based upon the principles of we all have a role to play in healing wherein a range of issues brought to the forefront by our communities will be examined and as such will endeavour to heighten the need for Government, Non-Government, Primary Health and Community-controlled organisations to refocus on their duty of care to First Nations peoples.


The event is based upon the principal belief that Indigenous health must be approached from a holistic view, which encompasses body, mind and spirit; thus, leading to the fundamental rights of self-determination.


The conference recognises that treating our health must be done by treating the whole person, through mind, body, soul and culture. No matter what your culture is. If you are a First Nations person, statistics show that health, education and the justice system is monstrously weighted against First Nations People. In today’s society Indigenous people have a varied lifestyle, ranging from inner-city living to isolated communities.


The conference is designed to bring together both government and non-government agencies who are working in the Indigenous health sector, therefore focusing on Mental Health and strengthening the life expectancy of First Nations people to equal that of non-Indigenous people. ​In Australia, the most successful initiatives in First Nations Health are the Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) and now the partnerships between government and communities. The first Aboriginal community-controlled health service was established in New South Wales and has been operational for the past forty (40) years.  Today, there are over 120 AMS and countless numbers of Primary Health Care Posts in First Nations communities in Australia. 


The philosophy of this conference is to provide an educational platform to the wider community and endeavour to sensitively assist in a culturally appropriate way with the healing of spirit, mind, body and soul of First Nations peoples throughout the world. This conference is formulated by Indigenous Conferences Services whose employees and their families have been profoundly affected by, in one way or another, the issues of stolen generations and inter-generational trauma wherein mental health issues commonly arise from. The core belief of this conference is that the journey of healing will take generations to come, whilst healing varies from one individual and their family to another. The overarching aim for the conference is to assist with the journey of healing and to act as an open and frank discussion and forum where not just ideas are shared but also have the potential of further uniting First Nations peoples and to highlight to the government that our journey is far from complete. The conference will undoubtedly be educational, inspirational, eye-opening, thought-provoking, initiates brisk debate and certainly provides plenty of opportunities for food for thoughts. Moreover, the conference shall strive to increase cultural awareness and understanding as well as hopefully aid in some way with the long journey of healing. As First Nations Peoples, it is now imperative that we unite and rebuild as sovereign independent nations, in order to assert our sovereign title and rights throughout Australia. This will be a major political and legal fight, but it is our future for not just us, but for our children and grandchildren.



The conference is not politically biased. Rather, it should be seen as an opportunity to access information that is not readily available. Today the world has become smaller with the invention of the internet and jet travel.  As such, we are of the belief that there is nothing more empowering and more effective than people having an opportunity to network and collaborate. The conference vision for this event is to embrace the philosophy of First Nations community-controlled and mainstream service providers through promoting an informative forum of research, health education and training of staff for the betterment of Indigenous health.


This event guarantees the opportunity to enlarge your network and information base, thus empowering all delegates to make greater informed decisions within their professional and extended communities. Furthermore, it has been proven time and time again that events such as this empower and reinvigorate workers with new ideas and enthusiasm, with a greater feeling of support and new contacts that may be utilised for the betterment of their own local community. Whether you are an allied health professional, Indigenous health worker, medical professional or in an administrative clerical role within the organisation, this conference will provide excellent opportunities to gain and share information that will be of use to you and your organisation back in your community.  The opportunities that this Conference provides to people involved in First Nations Health is the sharing of knowledge and development of long-term friendships/partnerships.  This conference is designed from an Indigenous perspective, in which we all lend support to each other regardless of our employers. With all this in mind, we invite you to actively participate in the upcoming event.


The 2023 National First Nations Closing the Gap in Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Conference aims to

  • Provide an open and frank forum for discussions

  • Highlight inspiring initiatives, successes and challenges faced by mental health workers and Aboriginal & Torres Straits Islander social and emotional well-being workers

  • Lend support to individuals and groups working in the field of Indigenous Mental Health & well-being

  • Help grow a global network for the sharing of  information and resources  

  • Bring together both government and non-government agencies working in the field of Indigenous Health

  • Show that poor health is no longer tolerated or acceptable in today’s society

  • To bring together organisations as a united voice in closing the gap

  • Exchange information regarding the successes of community projects in the field of Indigenous Health in general

  • Reduce and prevent the incidence of suicide within the community

  • Strategies for linking holistic policy with health interventions

  • Explore methods for improving accountability at all levels to ensure sustainable progress

  • Provides an opportunity to network and meet face to face to exchange ideas, valuable information and successful programs in place in their communities.


To ensure grassroots community programs are highlighted, no less than 50 per cent of the conference proceedings are and is devoted to community groups. If your paper is selected, you may have more than one presenter to present your paper. However, only two presenters will be entitled to the registration discount. If you are chosen to present at the conference, your paper will form part of the conference proceedings and be distributed at the conclusion of the event with all other presentations. To further ensure the continued success of the conference, an Indigenous working group is being established to advise on correct adherence to cultural equilibrium. If you are interested in submitting a paper please, Click here to read more 



(This agenda may change without prior notice to ensure a smooth flow of the conference proceedings on the day of the event.)

SEPTEMBER 20, 2023 (DAY 1)

8:30am      Registration    
9:00am      Master of Ceremony         Welcome & Safety Announcements Sharon Finnan-White, Director & Co-Founder,

                                                            Finnan-White Consulting & Sport, Culture and Leadership Academy QLD     
9:15am      Welcome to Country         Dr. Uncle Bernie Singleton, Elder & Senior Member Wuunta P/L followed by

                                                            Traditional Performances QLD
9:45am      Keynote Session               Formal Opening Keynote, Hon Shannon Fentiman Minister for Health Queensland

                                                            Department of Health QLD      

10:30am    Morning Tea                   Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 
11:00am    Keynote Session               Cultural Responsiveness and Cultural Healing in Communities Uncle Ara

                                                            Harathunian, Managing Director Kultchafi QLD
11:45pm    Keynote Session               Exploring Best Practices for Indigenous Youth Suicide Prevention Dr. Amber Logan,

                                                            Health Psychologist Dr Joe Stone, Clinical Psychologists Indigenous Development

                                                            Specialists USA/NZ     

12:30pm    Lunch Break                  Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 
1:30pm      Concurrent Session A       Reasons for Presentation to Oral Health Centres Among Indigenous Australian Patients:

                                                            A Review of the Literature Dr Neeraj Vyas, Oral Surgery Registrar Nepean Centre for

                                                            Oral Health, University of Sydney NSW

1:30pm      Concurrent Session B       Empowering First Nations Financial Prosperity: Unleashing Indigenous Economic

                                                            Potential, Destiny Dewis Community Development & Projects Officer

                                                            First Nations Foundation VIC
2:15pm      Concurrent Session A       Ear Train, Joanne O'Malley & Jean Tsembis, Manager Strategic Projects TAFE NSW

2:15pm      Concurrent Session B       A new paradigm for trauma recovery, Pamela A Trotman, Director 

                                                            Pamela Trotman Counselling & Consulting Pty Ltd NT

3:00pm    Afternoon Tea               Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 
3:30pm      Keynote Session               Community recovery from trauma: The Aurukun RESET Phoenix Dr Timothy White,

                                                        Founder, Remote Environments Skills Employment and Training (RESET) QLD

4:15pm      Keynote Session               A Trauma informed workplace: What does it look like and lessons learnt Veera Judin,

                                                        Director & Dr. Tim White, Founder RESET Aurukun QLD

6.30pm      CONFERENCE NETWORKING DINNER CRUISE (Aboard Reef Magic Boarding Time @ 6pm SHARP)


SEPTEMBER 21, 2023 (DAY 2) 
8:30am      Registration                     
9:00am      Keynote Session               Partners in play: Supporting healthcare delivery to Aboriginal children in community

                                                            Jesse Butler, QLD Program Manager Starlight Children's Foundation QLD
9:45am      Keynote Session               Yarning up After Stroke: Community led development of a self-management tool                                                                                                           
   to empower Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders to determine their stroke

                                                            recovery, Dr Heidi Janssen, Research Fellow and Simone Owen, Physiotherapist                                                                                                          Hunter Stroke Service & Community Stroke Team Hunter New England LHD NSW

10:30am    Morning Tea                   Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 
11:00am    Concurrent Session A       Enabling better care for people living with dementia through team-based initiation of

                                                            advance care planning and palliative care, Jon San Martin, Clinical Nurse Consultant

                                                            The Advance Project Dementia NSW

11:00am    Concurrent Session B       A South Australian Approach to Aboriginal Comfort Care - Caring for Aboriginal

                                                            People in their Final Stages of Life, Cindy Paardekooper & Kathy Pearce, Aboriginal

                                                            Workforce, Nurse Unit Manager    Department of Health and Wellbeing QEH & Central

                                                            Adelaide Palliative Care Service SA
11:45am    Concurrent Session A       The Meriba Omasker Kaziw Kazipa (Torres Strait Islander Traditional Child                                                                                                                    Rearing Practice) Act 2020 Elsie Seriat, Cultural Support Officer, Office of

                                                            Commissioner CZarke Maza Meriba Omsaker Kaziw Kazipa QLD

11:45am    Concurrent Session B       Development of an Indigenous methamphetamine treatment programme 

                                                            Dr. Amber Logan, Health Psychologist & Dr Joe Stone, Clinical Psychologist

                                                            Indigenous Development Specialists NZ/USA              
12:30pm    Lunch Break                  Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 
1:30pm      Keynote Session               Embedding Culture, Improving Wellbeing Bernard Sabadi, Program Manager DIYDG

                                                            Founder & CEO, Kunjur First Nations Men's Collective QLD

2:15pm      Keynote Session               KidneyCheck: A Culturally appropriate Kidney Screening intervention for remote

                                                            Indigenous communities Catherine Turner, Senior Research Coordinator    

                                                            Can-SOLVE CKD Network CANADA

3:00pm      Afternoon Tea                Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 
3:30pm      Interactive Workshop       Building community capability through Compassionate Communities Initiatives

                                                            Maria Callaghan, Manager and Acting Lead, Older Persons Health & Palliative Care

                                                            Northern Queensland Primary Health Network QLD

                                                            ENTITLED TO A CERTIFICATE OF PARTICIPATION.  


​This year, we offer new and exciting innovation for our conferences. Day 3 is devoted to a professional development workshop or masterclass. As such, we have introduced several exciting networking and professional development innovations which is an extra cost for your chosen masterclass. However, this is optional so please make sure you complete your registration form with the masterclass included if you intend to attend either the Healing Circle Works or the Gatekeepers Culture & Sensitivity - Become an Interventionist to Suicide.​​



For 2023, we offer new and exciting innovation for our conferences. Day 3 is devoted to a professional development workshop or masterclass. As such, we have introduced several exciting networking and professional development innovations which is an extra cost for your chosen masterclass. Day 3 is optional so please make sure you complete your registration form with the masterclass included if you intend to attend. 



The Healing Circle Work masterclass addresses emotional challenges and barriers faced by people who have had traumatic experiences. Healing Circle Work is not a therapeutic program, but therapeutic outcomes are experienced. As participants, you will learn to live life in the moment recognising and understanding your own spirituality, and gaining the ability to enter the moment to reaffirm yourselves. 

This workshop will teach you to learn to appreciate and be accountable for your highest good, and the highest good of others around you.  Healing Circle Work is provided in group sessions, and is suitable for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants over 18 years of age. Reserve your place now and

let us unlock this ancient Aboriginal wisdom and knowledge shared with all peoples.

Healing Circle Works Masterclass is optional and an extra cost of $350 per person. Pre-booking is required. Limited to 10-12 places.


OPTION 2 - CONFERENCE MASTERCLASS - The Gatekeeper Cultures and Spirituality - Interventionist to Suicide 

Worrying about how your team, family and community effectively assist and manage clients experiencing intergenerational trauma? Indigenous peoples around the world endured several generations of trauma and other neurological effects and compromised behavioural immunity which leads to behavioural indicators such as substance abuse and suicide.  Our current generation is impacted by structural violence, poverty, racism, governmental neglect and ongoing hostilities, and unfortunately, our mob have learned our lessons in traumatiSation as well wherein many situations, we have internalized the trauma imposed on ourselves and turned onto our own families, communities, and selves.   


This workshop will teach you:

  • The strong benefits of recapturing and revitalizing our languages, cultures and spirituality

  • How to become an interventionist to suicide in your communities

  • Understand and utilise trauma-informed care to heal ourselves, our clients, and our communities.

  • Strategies in managing clients and families affected by intergenerational trauma and break the cycle of suicide in our communities.

  • In Just One Day You Can Learn Strategies for how to become an interventionist to suicide and work effectively with your clients who are experiencing intergenerational trauma and their families.  




The 2023 National First Nations Closing the Gap in Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Conference is blessed with a kaleidoscope of First Nations guest speakers, sharing stories, successes and challenges they’ve overcome, presenting great opportunities and inspiration for delegates to participate in an event that is devoted to the sharing of Culture, Empowerment, Education & Networking. Drawn from a variety of cultural backgrounds, professional careers and grass-roots community commitments, this year’s conference speakers are the difference between an ordinary and extraordinary event; one that is soon forgotten and one which lingers in attendees' memories, a source of tremendous benefit long after the conference is over.


To view each speaker’s profile, please Click Here


Register early to get a discount! Please note that registrations are set out in an affordable way for organisations, which changes on a monthly basis. Hence the earlier you register, the more savings for your organisation. Registration fees include all day access to the event, available conference papers, daily lunch and refreshments for registered delegates only. Fees do not include travel costs or accommodation. Registration fees must be received within 7 DAYS of from being issued an invoice. Otherwise, bookings will not be considered.  To register, please click on the registration button and complete the form or you can also request a conference brochure and the registration form to be sent to you by email at  


We wish to invite Indigenous and non-Indigenous worker from Australia and throughout to attend the conference to share and gather information. We also extend an invitation to participants to join us at the conference dinner in a relaxed atmosphere.


To ensure that delegates attend and participate, it is important to note that to show accountability of delegates in meeting their obligation, each delegate will receive a Certificate of Attendance only when they attend 85% of all the conference sessions. In addition, delegates will receive a copy of all papers & presentations presented at the conference.


Who:        Individuals, Community Groups, NGO’s, Government Agencies & Others

When:      September 20-23, 2023

Where:    Hilton Hotel, Cairns Queensland

Time:       9.00am – 5.00pm

WARNING: Limited availability. Please register online or contact us via email, should you have any further queries.


Cairns is truly a destination to impress everyone. From the moment you fly in over lush tropical green rainforest and aqua blue reefs of the great, you know you are truly in a special part of the world. Experience the warmth of our genuine Australian hospitality at the Hilton Hotel Cairns. Prominently situated on the marina, providing guests with both a direct gateway to the reef, tours and attractions and the perfect Cairns getaway. The Hilton Cairns is deemed as the waterfront retreat near the Great Barrier Reef. Set amid tropical greenery on Cairns’ waterfront, the hotel is a gateway to  the Great Barrier Reef. The Reef Terminal, where the majority of trips depart, is just 400 meters from the hotel. It is also within 22 kilometers to reach the Crystal Cascades and Cairns Botanic Gardens. The hotel has a lagoon-style outdoor pool and treatments spa.The Hilton Hotel and Cairns is on the lands of the Mandingalbay Yidinji peoples who are the Traditional Owners of both land and sea Country and have been living on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef amongst the Wet Tropics World Heritage rainforest for thousands of years. 

CONFERENCE networking dinner cruise

As they say, all work and no play, makes for a dull conference. So to overcome this, the conference secretary has organized a conference dinner to be held on the first night of the event. This dinner will give delegates the opportunity to further network while letting your hair down in an informal setting. The conference dinner will be a private charter dinner cruise with the Reef Magic at a cost of $150 per person including a three course meal. The conference dinner is additional to the conference fees and bookings must be made prior to the event. 


A Cairns Dinner Cruise is the perfect way, to end a perfect day in paradise. Boarding our sailing catamaran at the Marlin Marina, you’ll enjoy an evening of calm water cruising on Trinity Inlet, taking in the sights and sounds of this tropical port city and its surrounding mangroves, as they transition from day to night. Every journey begins with bubbles, as all good dinner cruises should. With your glasses charged, stroll the interior or exterior decks and admire the view as the sky transforms from blue to red to orange and finally a silky black, filled with thousands of sparkling stars. Your journey takes you deep into the heart of Trinity Inlet and across the waterfront precinct of Cairns, from the Cruise Liner Terminal to the Esplanade. The water is calm, the weather mild and the night is yours to enjoy, with entertainment and a delicious  3 Course Buffet Dinner  featuring some of the region’s best produce, including seafood. The luxurious Reef Magic sailing catamaran is fully licensed, selling a range of beverages, including tropical cocktails. This is the ultimate in waterside dining.

When Do We Go

The dinner cruise departs Marlin Marina at 6.30pm and returns at 9pm. Check-in and boarding is at the boat, moored at Marlin Marina, between 6 pm. A complimentary drink is served on arrival and the bar is open for you to relax on board prior to departure. The conference dinner cruise is scheduled for the evening of Day 1.

What Will You See / Do

Enjoy a fantastic evening of calm water cruising with entertainment, delicious 3 course buffet meal and fabulous views, including sunset over the rainforest-clad mountains (depending on the time of year). Starting at Marlin Marina, the Reef Magic takes you on a journey deep into the interior of Trinity Inlet and its winding tributaries. Keep your eyes peeled, you might even see a crocodile. The cruise passes along Cairns’ waterfront and Esplanade precinct, delivering panoramic views of the twinkling night lights of this port city.

What Do You Need To Bring / Wear

​Yourself and your smile, for a great evening ahead. Tropical cocktail attire is suggested, with a light jacket for the winter months. Footwear is mandatory, with suitable shoes for boating recommended. Although it’s a calm water cruise, you will find it more comfortable moving around the boat in flat rubber soled shoes. Don’t forget to bring a little cash, EFTPOS or credit card for your bar purchases.

Highlights & Inclusions

  • A 2.5 hour calm water sunset / evening cruise

  • Luxurious air-conditioned vessel

  • Large outdoor decks

  • Complimentary glass of sparkling wine, beer or soft drink on arrival

  • Delicious hot and cold 3 course buffet, featuring fresh seafood and local produce



One of the prohibitive factors in attending a conference is the airfare component. Our company strives in making our event a lesser burden on the individual or organisation by negotiating competitive and affordable travel packages. Indigenous Conference Services (Australia) also recognises that some NGO’s or other agencies will need to seek additional funding to attend, therefore First Nations Travel Agency quotation can be made out to either pay ASAP or to consider the time that is required to obtain funding. For the best possible airfares and seat availability, please confirm your attendance ASAP. All of our booking is made through First Nations Travel, a new 100% indigenous owned travel agency here to make booking your flights stress free and relaxing for an enquiry please phone us on +61 4557 76 668 or send us your expression of interest by email:  

The event secretary has come up with some great ideas on how to save money for you and your organisation.


​ACCOMMODATION: We have negotiated a special room rate for delegates at the venue. To avail for this special discounted rate, contact us and advise your arrival or check-in date and departure date accordingly.


TRAVEL: We have engaged First Nations Travel Agency to negotiate with all the relevant airlines for discounted airfare & hotel rates.


CONCESSION: A special registration rate for university students is being offered for a flat rate of $750



Contact:  Phone 07 40009111

Email. to request a quote

Further advantage to using First Nations Travel Agency for your airfares is that if something goes wrong, you have greater access to your travel agent if required. Our company strives in making our event a lesser burden on the individual or organisation by negotiating competitive and affordable travel packages.


To book your accommodation and avail yourself of the special delegate discount rates, Indigenous Conference Services has negotiated special rates for delegates and speakers attending the conference, when you complete your registration form you will see a sector highlighted accommodation need. It is possible to stay outside the venue however this may lead to a higher cost to your organisation. Please note that when registering you have 7 days from the issue of the conference secretariat to make payment this is so your accommodation is locked in.


VISA TO AUSTRALIA due to covid-19 please follow travel advisory from Australian embassy near you.

If you are an international guest or speaker, please note that citizens of some countries require visas before entering Australia. To obtain an Australian Visa, you may require a letter of invite from the conference secretariat.  To obtain the letter of invitation, the guest must have registered for the conference and paid the required conference cost. This is refundable if visas are not approved, you should allow a minimum of 60 days for visa processing at the nearest Australian Embassy.  Please note, processing visa documents in some countries may take longer, depending on your country of origin. Visas can be obtained online from the Australian Federal Government's Department of Home Affairs website at this link



ICS Conferences have developed flexible sponsorship packages to sponsor the conference either in part or in full. Sponsorship is a great way of promoting your organisation/ company/ department to all delegates attending the conference. Sponsorship opportunities are only open to businesses and private enterprise, not individuals. Indigenous Conference Services (Australia) will be of further assistance in tailoring your sponsorship arrangement. Please phone us on +61 4557 76 668 or send us your expression of interest by email:


contact us


Indigenous Conference Services (Australia)

Postal Address: P.O. BOX 702 EDMONTON LPO QLD 4869 Australia



Phone: 07 4000 9111 +61 4557 76 668


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