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2023 First Nations Big 4 Chronic Diseases

Cancer, Diabetes, Renal & Heart diseases

Integrated Care Conference

October 4-6, 2023

rydges hotel

Newcastle NSW

now calling for papers

round 1 open




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 to local Traditional Elders: “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”.


Indigenous Conference Services acknowledges and pay our respect to the Traditional people of the Country. "Welcome to Country" ceremony and "acknowledging the traditional custodians" of the land shows respect for Aboriginal people as Australia's First Peoples. Ceremonies and protocols are a fundamental part of Aboriginal culture.


The National First Nations Big 4 Chronic Diseases Conference is scheduled to be held on October 4-6, 2023 at the Rydges Hotel in Newcastle, New South Wales. Over the past ten years, the conference has attracted thousands of attendees bringing together representatives from all states and territories governments, First Nations medical services and mainstream health sectors, community-controlled organisations, First Nations communities, allied health professionals and non-government organisations, primary health networks and researchers. The conference is hosted by Indigenous Conference Services (Australia) with a great line up of First Nations speakers from all throughout Australia in partnership with grassroots community organisations. The conference will provide insights into the successes of Indigenous organisations and health care professionals, focusing on solutions to First Nation’s peoples with chronic diseases and highlights the successes of chronic disease policies and management programs implemented in Indigenous communities.


The conference will highlight many of the achievements gained against the four major chronic diseases namely cancer, diabetes, kidney and heart failure issues and the battle to stem the ongoing diseases within First Nations communities. 


Cancer is a significant health issue among First Nations populations, with higher rates of some cancers and poorer outcomes compared to non-Indigenous populations. First Nations patients often face barriers to accessing healthcare, including geographical isolation, cultural differences, and a lack of healthcare resources in rural and remote communities. 


These factors can result in late diagnosis and a lack of access to effective treatments, leading to higher rates of cancer-related deaths. Addressing these disparities requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account the unique cultural and socio-economic circumstances of Indigenous populations and involves community-led solutions to improve access to cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment.

Similarly, First Nations Australians are disproportionately affected by diabetes with rates of diabetes being two to four times higher than in non-Indigenous populations. The reasons for this disparity are complex and multifactorial, but include a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. The impact of diabetes can result in a range of serious health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. Diabetes can also impact on mental health, reduce quality of life and increase the burden of care on families and communities. 

Furthermore, kidney disease is a significant health issue affecting Indigenous people in Australia. Indigenous Australians are overrepresented in the rates of kidney disease, with Indigenous people four to five times more likely to develop end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) than non-Indigenous Australians. This high prevalence of kidney disease is largely due to the higher rates of diabetes and hypertension due to lack of access to healthy food, limited access to healthcare, and a higher burden of infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and C, which can also cause kidney disease. Addressing these issues will require a multi-faceted approach that addresses the social determinants of health, improves access to care, and promotes greater cultural understanding and sensitivity in the healthcare system.

Moreover, heart disease is another major health concern for First Nations peoples with studies showing that the prevalence of heart disease in Indigenous populations is about 50% higher. This disparity is largely due to a higher prevalence of risk factors such as smoking, poor diet, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure. One of the key contributing factors to the high rates of heart disease in First Nations communities is the legacy of colonization and the ongoing socio-economic disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians. This includes limited access to quality healthcare services, limited opportunities for physical activity, and exposure to unhealthy diets and environments. Furthermore, the ongoing impacts of trauma, including the Stolen Generations, have had a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, including their heart health.

Despite the high rates of heart disease in Indigenous communities, there has been limited investment in culturally appropriate and evidence-based programs to prevent and treat heart disease in these populations. This has resulted in a lack of access to appropriate and effective care, leading to poorer health outcomes for Indigenous Australians. To address this disparity, there is a need for a coordinated and sustained effort to address the underlying social determinants of health, as well as increasing investment in culturally appropriate and evidence-based programs to prevent and treat heart disease in Indigenous populations. This includes improving access to healthcare services, promoting healthy lifestyles, and addressing the ongoing impacts of colonization and socio-economic disadvantage. With the right support and resources, it is possible to improve the health and well-being of Indigenous Australians and reduce the burden of cardiovascular diseases in First Nations communities.

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.  The 2021/2022 Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Report further highlights how wide the gap is. In today’s society, Indigenous people have a varied lifestyle, ranging from inner-city living to isolated communities. Therefore, there is no set approach to dealing with health issues, as you have to look at the environment that you live in and, more importantly, the agencies that are available to assist.


The conference is designed to bring together both government and non-government agencies who are working in the Indigenous health sector, therefore focusing on Indigenous Chronic Disease 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 conference theme includes:

  • Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and cancer affecting Indigenous communities

  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander health care coordination

  • End of life care

  • Place-based initiatives

  • Primary health network initiatives

  • Building capacities for improving health outcomes

  • Contemporary health initiatives, health policy, researchers, model of care

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leadership, workforce sector development, e-health, tools/applications and resources.

The conference theme is based upon an approach of “Prevention is better than Cure” which require a collaborative partnership between all stakeholders, working together to support First Nations communities in addressing all forms of chronic disease. ​The foundation of the conference is to share and discuss positive models of change and initiatives. The event is structured in such a way as to develop a wider methodology towards preventative programs that are culturally appropriate and therefore more likely to succeed. This conference is devoted to showing the positives in addressing chronic diseases in our communities and families. Hence, the event has been developed with the belief that it is time to promote the positives and successes in chronic disease programs whilst still recognising that we still have a long way to go.


The conference is not politically based. 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.

THE outline of close the gap report


​To engage in partnerships with mutual respect

  • In 8 years, there’s been mixed results

  • We still have an Indigenous life expectancy around 10 years less than mainstream Australians

  • The past decade has seen a 70 per cent increase in Indigenous students undertaking Higher Education

  • Employment targets not met

  • Many Indigenous Health Targets were falling short of the mark


The Federal Government has made a commitment to creating more opportunities for Indigenous Australians to;

  • Celebrate those successes

  • Recognise “Healing Takes Time”

  • Acknowledge, embrace, celebrate the humanity of Indigenous people

  • Bring to the table policies and approaches that nurture optimism rather than entrench despair

  • Do things WITH Indigenous people, not TO Indigenous People

  • Even though Indigenous Australians only make up 3 per cent of the population, First Nations People still make up over 20 per cent of the prison population and that number is still increasing




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 most powerful mechanism that First Nations people have is the strength to overcome adversity through the power of sharing knowledge and therefore the conference will attempt to foster all of the issues set out in this conference. 

  • This conference aims to improve the cultural competence of the Indigenous health workforce with a greater focus on culture within health care education.

  • Responsible partnerships combined with strong community leadership and advocacy will optimise access, quality and sustainability of culturally safe and appropriate health services to address chronic conditions.

  • Facilitate and engage with First Nations with respect to the sharing of information

  • Contribute to identify community health needs and develop and implement local responses and services

  • Provide an open and frank platform for discussion

  • Support First Nations communities health professionals and peak bodies through further networking

  • Highlight the positives of work being achieved at all levels with respect to the many different chronic disease programs and issues

  • To paint a positive approach to the management of chronic diseases

  • Provide a stimulus for networking in co-operation/partnerships from individuals, community level through to government authorities.

  • Portraying the different various lifestyles from inner-city to isolated communities

  • Sharing of information in regards to agencies, individuals and programs that may assist in overcoming chronic disease issues

  • Bringing together both government and non-government agencies who are working in the field of Indigenous chronic diseases, focusing on Closing the Gap and strengthening the life expectancy of First Nations peoples to equal that of non-indigenous people.

  • Highlight unique issues that relate specifically to First Nations communities in relation to their environment and socio-economic status.



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. To submit a paper, Click here for the guidelines



(This draft agenda is published to guide those submitting paper. This may change without prior notice.)


OCTOBER 4, 2023 (1st Day)

8:30am            REGISTRATION ~ Network with Other Delegates, Speakers and Service Providers/Exhibitors                                    

9:00am            Welcome To Country Traditional Elder from the community 

9:15am            Opening Keynote Address Healthy Mob, Strong Future

9:45am            Keynote Session: The Indigenous health gap: raising awareness and changing attitudes

10:30am          MORNING TEA ~ Network with Other Delegates, Speakers and Service Providers/Exhibitors 

11:00am          Keynote Session: A First Nations Cultural Care Practice Framework for De-colonising Health Services

11:45am          Keynote Session: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Survivors' Perspectives of Cancer Survivorship

12:30pm          LUNCH BREAK ~ Network with Other Delegates, Speakers and Service Providers/Exhibitors 

1:30pm            Concurrent Session Room A: Indigenous Research on Kidney Diseases Management  

                        Concurrent Session Room B: Indigenous Research on Cancer Management     

                        Concurrent Session Room C: Indigenous Research on Diabetes Management                 

2:15pm            Concurrent Session Room A: Indigenous Australian Disadvantage in Ischaemic Heart Disease 
                        Concurrent Session Room B: Prevalence of diabetic retinopathy in First Nations population 

                        Concurrent Session Room C: Chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal children and young adults

3:00pm           AFTERNOON TEA ~ Network with Other Delegates, Speakers and Service Providers/Exhibitors  

3:30pm            Keynote Session: Accuracy of patient self-report of screening for diabetes, high cholesterol and cervical cancer

4:15pm            Keynote Session:  Uncovering the determinants of cardiovascular disease among First Nations peoples of Australia


OCTOBER 5, 2023 (2nd Day)

8:30am            REGISTRATION ~ Network with Other Delegates, Speakers and Service Providers/Exhibitors                                    

9:00am            Keynote Session:   Framing Indigenous research towards Indigenous Australian intellectual sovereignty

9:45am            Keynote Session:   Indigenous patient navigator intervention - a pilot study

10:30am          MORNING TEA ~ Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 

11:00am          Concurrent Session Room A: AKction: Aboriginal Kidney Care Together – Improving Outcomes Now

                        Concurrent Session Room B: Heart Yarns by Mark Trebley, Aboriginal Cardiac Community Educator NSW Ambulance

                        Concurrent Session Room C: Correlation between Diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and cardiovascular disease risks 

11:45am          Concurrent Session Room A: Storytelling - Living with Diabetes (Calling for Papers from Community)

                        Concurrent Session Room B: Storytelling - Living with Chronic Kidney Disease (Calling for Papers from Community)

                        Concurrent Session Room C: Storytelling - The Heart Journey (Calling for Papers from Community) 

12:30pm          LUNCH BREAK ~ Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 

1:30pm            Concurrent Session Room A: Closing the Gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cardiovascular Health

                        Concurrent Session Room B: Foot health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in regional and rural Australia

                        Concurrent Session Room C: Prevalence and opportunity for technology use in chronic kidney disease patients

2:15pm            Concurrent Session Room A: BreastScreen Aboriginal Engagement 

                        Concurrent Session Room B: Barriers and enablers to cancer care for First Nations Australians 

                        Concurrent Session Room C: Maternal Smoking Cessation Capacity Development Project

3:00pm            AFTERNOON TEA ~ Network with Service Providers/Exhibitors 

3:30pm            Keynote Session: Traditional and Complementary Medicine Use Among Indigenous Cancer Patients in Australia

4:15pm            Keynote Session: Supportive care needs, anxiety, and depression among informal caregivers of patients with cancer 

5:00 pm           END OF CONFERENCE  



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 Three 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 is strictly limited to 10-12 people only. Cost is $350 per person.






​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 on how to become an interventionist to suicide and work effectively with your clients who are experiencing intergenerational trauma and their families.

           The Gatekeeper Cultures and Spirituality - Interventionist to Suicide is strictly limited to 30 people only. Cost is $350 per person.
























Speakers Information 

The National Indigenous Chronic Diseases 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  



The City of Newcastle acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the lands and pay respects to the Awabakal and Worimi People who have cared for and nurtured country for more than sixty thousand years. Dubbed as the beating heart of the Hunter region, Newcastle blends the best of laid back coastal life, with a city bustling with restaurants, events and nightlife. Soak up the beautiful beaches, surf, city, culture, and coffee by day, and sample some of the delicious food and drink on offer by night. It's a city big enough to get lost in and small enough to enjoy on foot.

With its many attractions, outdoor experiences and natural beauty, Newcastle is the ultimate weekend getaway in NSW. Experience the incredible panoramic vistas the coastline has to offer by following the ANZAC Memorial Walk or The Bathers Way Walk, which follows the coastline from Nobby's Beach to Merewether Beach. Explore the array of sandy beaches and take a dip at the ocean baths or iconic Bogey Hole. The great outdoors has never looked so good! The nature reserves of Blackbutt are a must-see and the Hunter Wetlands is accessible for families and bird lovers alike. Just 10 minutes from the CBD, you’ll find Glenrock State Conservation Area, nature’s very own adventure playground renowned for its mountain biking trails, and bushwalking trails that lead to Glenrock Lagoon, Burwood Beach and beyond.

Right on Newcastle's doorstep just an easy hour drive inland is one of Australia’s best wine regions - the Hunter Valley. The Hunter is famous for its Chardonnay, Semillon, and Verdelho for the whites, and Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot for the reds. If beautiful beaches and dunes are more your bag, take a day trip to neighbouring Port Stephens. The stunning shorelines of Anna Bay, Fingal Bay and Nelson Bay await. Thrill-seekers can enjoy a sandboarding or quad biking adventure and make their mark on the sprawling sand dunes. 



As they say, all work and no play makes for a dull conference. To overcome this, the secretariat has organised 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 their hair down in an informal setting. The conference dinner will cost $150 per person and is additional to the conference fees. Bookings must be made with our office prior to the event. 



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. All of our bookings 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.


​1.  ACCOMMODATION: We have negotiated a special room rate for delegates at the venue, please click this link to avail yourself of the special discount


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


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


Another prohibitive factor in attending a conference is the hotel 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.


Contact:  Phone 0740009111

 Email. to request a quote 

A 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, please note that included in your registration is 3 nights twin or double room. 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 a 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 invitation 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: 8 Kiwi Court, Pt Vernon QLD 4655 Australia



Phone: 07 40009111, 04557 76 668



Please note this website is continually being updated.

Having issues finding what you are looking for, email​​​​​​


     Big 4
Cancer, Diabetes,

Renal & Heart  

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