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11th National Closing The Gap

Indigenous Health Conference 

8th - 10th May 2019
Pullman Cairns International Hotel 

acknowledgment TO COUNTRY 

​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 acknowledgment 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 11th National Closing the Gap Indigenous Health Conference will be held at the Pullman Cairns International Hotel on the 8th-10th May, 2019. It is the only conference that has been continuously running since the establishment of the Closing the Gap concept and is the largest gathering of delegates from all sectors outside of Indigenous national associations. The conference is held annually and over the past ten years has attracted thousands of attendees bringing together representatives from all states and territories governments, Aboriginal medical services and mainstream health sectors, community controlled organisations, First Nations communities, allied health professionals and non-government organisations, researchers and interested individuals. The conference is hosted by Indigenous Conference Services (Australia) with great line up of First Nations speakers not only from all around Australia, but also from New Zealand and United States of America. This year's conference is a prelude to the 2020 World First Nations Health Conference to be held in Hawaii.

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 2017/2018 Closing the Gap 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 space, therefore focusing on Closing the Gap 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 100 AMS and countless numbers of Primary Health Care Posts in First Nations communities in Australia. 



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.



On the 22nd February 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison tabled the Closing the Gap report 2018/2019. It clearly highlighted that the Closing the Gap campaign is only making small in-roads into the gap between Indigenous people and the wider community in regards to health issues and has still got a long way to go. Some of the points highlighted were;

​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 Australia

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

  • Employment targets not met

  • Many Indigenous Health Targets were falling short off the mark


The Federal Government has made a commitment to create 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 nurtures optimism rather than entrench despair

  • Do things WITH Indigenous people, not TO Indigenous People

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


The Prime Minister has committed himself and the government to work with Indigenous Australians, not just in delivering programs but listening to First Nations People in developing partnerships with Indigenous Communities. The Prime Minister stated the government must be innovative in creating effective solutions in partnership with First Nations Communities. The Prime Minister has taken the stance and announced that Closing the Gap must be more than another government policy.  For more information on the Closing the Gap Report 2018/2019, click the Closing the Gap image above or the preceding link.



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 2019 National Indigenous Health Conference aims to

  • Provide an open and frank forum for discussions

  • Lend support to individuals and groups working in the field of First Nations Health

  • Help grow a network for the sharing of  information and resources in the field of First Nations Health

  • Bring together both government and non-government agencies working in First Nations 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

  • Bring together both government and non-government agencies who are working in the field of First Nations health

  • Exchange information regarding the successes of community projects 

  • Reduce incidences of poor health at all levels within the community

  • Strategies for linking holistic policy with health interventions

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

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

  • Develop new partnerships


Guidelines for Submitting Paper

  • Papers should not contain offensive language and take in to account cultural sensitivities.

  • Papers may treat the themes in a manner that contributes to a further discussion of the conference aims.

  • Conference papers must be presented in the finish format not less 60 days prior to the event.

  • Second round of call for papers will be closed by 30th January 2019 .

  • Papers should be submitted in IBM and Microsoft Word format (word).

  • A brief outline of paper (maximum 350 words online).

  • Presentation time at the conference for your papers will be allowed a maximum of 45 minutes, this will include Q & A time.

  • Call for papers registration fee of $650 will apply to all persons submitting papers, payable upon acceptance of papers.

  • Papers should explore ways in which the themes show up in the philosophy of the conference.

  • A maximum of two presenters for each paper are eligible for the discounted call for papers registration fee. If 2 presenters, then 2 biographies are required.

  • Two paragraphs outlining the proposed speaker’s biography.

  • All papers must be presented in a positive and informative light, maximum of 2 paragraph, 8 lines TOTAL.                                              

  • A Head and Shoulders photo on a white background of papers’ authors/presenters are required within 14 days of confirmation of acceptance of paper.

  • Authors agree to have their paper published as part of the conference proceedings

  • Authors to agree to allow biography of themselves and their photo published as part of the conference promotion.

  • Authors agree to consent to media interviews, if required.

  • Authors and presenters must show due respect and acknowledgement to Traditional Owners and must include “Acknowledgement To Country” at the beginning of their presentation.

  • The correct wording will be provided as part of your confirmation letter if chosen and successful in being accepted with due respects and acknowledgement to traditional owners of land where we will be convening.

  • Author/s of papers presented at the conference will be formally notified of acceptance.




(This agenda MAY change without prior notice to ensure the smooth flow of conference proceedings on the day)

8th May 2019

8:30 AM                  REGISTRATION & Master of Ceremony Announcements

9:00 AM                  Welcome to Country  

9:15 AM                  Traditional Cultural Performance  

9:45 AM                  Formal Opening Keynote Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations Are Leaders

10:30 AM                MORNING BREAK ~ Network with exhibitors and service providers

11:00 AM                Keynote  Trauma in Healthcare – First People's Issues & Solutions, Dr Joe Stone (USA) & Dr Amber Logan (NZ),

                                Clinical Psychologists, Indigenous Development Specialist

11:45 AM                Keynote  Deadly Livers - Curing HCV, Michelle Kudell, CEO & Samantha White, Operations Manager Hepatitis QLD

12:30 PM                LUNCH BREAK  ~ Network with exhibitors and service providers    

1:30 PM                  Concurrent Session A: Improving Health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with Acute Coronary Syndrome                                    Reitai Minogue, Manager, Lighthouse Hospital Project The Heart Foundation  

                                Concurrent Session B: LMARG Fluoride Varnish Initiative Pilot Program for Aboriginal Children Rahila U Christian &

                                Dallas Widdicombe Regional Fluoride Varnish Coordinator Bendigo & District Aboriginal Cooperative 

2:15 PM                  Concurrent Session A: Cultural Component of Family Diabetes Program Harry Callaghan, Aboriginal Health Promotion Officer 

                                South Western Sydney Local Health District

                                Concurrent Session B: Partnering with Indigenous Community Groups to develop better health resources Rosemarie Draper &

                                Diversity Coordinator  Bolton Clarke  

3:00 PM                   AFTERNOON TEA ~ Networking with Exhibitors & Service Providers

3:30 PM                  Keynote  Strengthening Communities of Practice Henry Neill  & Marion Norrie, Cultural Educator  James Cook University

                                General Practice Training Program   


6:30 PM                  Conference Networking Dinner Cruise Aboard the Spirit of Cairns (Departure Point @ Marlin Marina. Boarding Time is 6:00pm)

9th May 2019

8:30 AM                  SIGN-IN & Master of Ceremony Announcements

9:00 AM                  Keynote A new way forward to manage intergenerational trauma and break the cycle of suicide Dr Joe Stone (USA) &

                                Dr Amber Logan (NZ), Clinical Psychologists, Indigenous Development Specialist

9:00 AM                  Keynote Exploring relationships to strengthen parenting for current and future generations Jane Leung Project Officer,

                                 Jane Doyle, Clinical psychologist & Joanna Hamilton, Senior Health Promotions Officer St John of God Social Outreach

10:30 AM                MORNING BREAK ~ Network with exhibitors and service providers

11:00 AM                Concurrent Session A: Putting the 'Advantage' back into the 'Disadvantage': One paediatric clinician's experience of Closing the Gap

                                Ms Olwen Forker Paediatric Speech Pathologist BackChat Speech Pathology

                                Concurrent Session B: Validation of an accelerated diagnostic protocol for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients                                                          with suspected Acute  Coronary Syndrome Laura Foran, Project Officer, Accelerated Chest Pain Risk Evaluation Project,                                                        Queensland Health Tania J Davis, Advanced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker, Cardiology Department, Cairns                                        Hospital QLD Health  

11:45 AM                Concurrent Session A: ANFPP Contribution to Closing the Gap in Maternal and Child Health Outcomes: Challenges and Successes 

                                 Anar Ulikpan, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer & Jade Ratnayake, Program Administrator Abt Associates 

                                Concurrent Session BCultural adaption of DESMOND: Type 2 Diabetes Self-Management Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait                                        Islander people.Natalie Jetta, Aboriginal Health Coordinator  Diabetes WA  

12:30 PM                LUNCH BREAK  ~ Network with exhibitors and service providers    

1:30 PM                  Keynote:  Indigenous Family Health & Wellbeing Programs Rachel Amini-Yanner, CEO Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation

2:15 PM                  Keynote:  Characterisation of Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults from Moree and                                                  Cessnock Rebecca Miles, Medical Student  & Prof Peter Wark, Senior Respiratory Medicine Specialist Hunter Medical Research Institute     

3:00 PM                  AFTERNOON TEA ~ Networking with Exhibitors & Service Providers

3:30 PM                  Keynote  Health in the Workplace: The First Australians' Work Engagement Model Dr Claire Ryan, Psychologist & Senior Researcher                                    Mr Dean Bunker, Manager yourtown 

4:15 PM                  YARNING PANEL by Elders, Guest Speakers & All Delegates 

5:00 PM                  END OF CONFERENCE: Distribution of Conference Certificates of Attendance


10th May 2019

For 2019, we offer new and exciting innovation for our conferences. Day 3 is devoted to 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. 

POST-CONFERENCE MASTERCLASS A - 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 where in 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 inter-generational trauma and break the cycle of suicide in our communities.

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


Dr. Joseph B. Stone, PhD, an Anasaki-pikuni ceremonialist and traditionalist and member of the OKKAN (Sundance), the Last Star Thunder Medicine Pipe and Beaver Lodge.  He is a clinical psychologist and with his partner, Amber Logan, owner of Indigenous Development Specialists of Havelock North, New Zealand.  Dr. Stone works at Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga – a Kaupapa Maori Health Provider; Awhina Whanu Family Services, and the Napier Family Centre all located in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.  He has clinical experience with adult prisoners and corrections and juvenile justice in both New Zealand and USA.  He is affiliated with the National Center on Trauma and Project Making Medicine – Indian Health Service Assessment and Treatment of Child Abuse at Oklahoma State University. He has presented too and served as consultant to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs of Native Youth Suicide.  Dr. Stone’s publications include articles on trauma, suicide, and other cultural / behavioural issues. 

Dr. Amber R. Logan is a traditional Kahungunu Maori Whine and a New Zealand Health Psychologist and Doctoral Fellow in Public Health at Otago University.  She teaches health psychology course work at the University of Auckland and Otago University and is well-known in New Zealand for her work in Methamphetamine education and community activism.  Amber Logan is a consummate grant writer, health services evaluator and health services program designer.  She has presented extensively in Australia, Canada, and the USA at Harvard University, the University of Washington, and to the US Federal Government.

This Masterclass is strictly limited to 30 people only. Cost is $330 per person.

Call or email us to register for this workshop or CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.



As they say, all work and no play makes for a dull conference. So to overcome this, the conference secretary has organised a conference dinner to be held on the second night of the event. This dinner with give delegates the opportunity to further network whilst lets your hair down in an informal setting. The conference dinner will be at a cost of $150 per person for a three course meal. The conference dinner is additional to the conference fees and bookings must be made prior to the event. For those who wish to see more of the area, the conference secretary has also negotiated a special rate for those delegates who may be interested. Delegates can avail themselves of these offers.

Conference Networking Dinner Cruise - Waterside Dining

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 Spirit of Cairns 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 Spirit of Cairns dinner cruise departs from the Marlin Marina at 6.30pm and returns at 9pm. Check-in and boarding is at the boat, moored at Marlin Marina, between 6pm-6.15pm. A complimentary drink is served on arrival and the bar is open for you to relax on board prior to departure. The dinner cruise operates every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening.

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, Spirit of Cairns 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.




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 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 Pullman Cairns International Hotel. Please Quote Booking Code: 2167459 when calling on (07) 4050 2152 to book your accommodation. Alternatively, you can email the Reservations Team at: 

Directions from Cairns International and Domestic Airport to PULLMAN CAIRNS INTERNATIONAL: When exiting the airport, turn left on to the Captain Cook Highway. Follow this road for approximately three kilometres. Turn left on to Mulgrave Street and continue until turning right on to Abbott Street. Continue heading along until you see Pullman Cairns International on your right. 


2. TRAVEL: We have engaged Hello World (formerly Harvey World Travel) Hervey Bay to negotiate with all the relevant airlines for special or discounted airfare rates.


3. CONCESSION: A special rate for university students is being offered for a flat rate of $650 upon provision of Student Number.



Cairns is truly a destination to impress every one. From the moment you fly in over lush tropical green rainforest and aqua blue reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, you know you are truly in a special part of the world.  Pullman Cairns International (formerly The Sebel Cairns) is the most prestigious 4.5 star hotel and is perfectly located in the heart of Cairns, just moments from the city’s best shopping, dining and cafes. Within a few minutes’ walk is Cairns Esplanade and swimming lagoon, Pier Shopping Plaza, Cairns Central Shopping Centre and train station and an excellent selection of shops and restaurants. Pullman Cairns International is an upscale hotel, perfectly located in tropical Cairns, Australia. Overlooking Cairns Harbour and lush mountain hinterland, this 321 room hotel is spectacularly positioned to take advantage of all the city has to offer. You can choose from a range of accommodation and suites in the Pullman Cairns International. Pullman Cairns International is proud to be the flagship hotel of the area, renowned for holding memorable indoor and outdoor events of any size.  Dine in Coco’s Restaurant or even unwind in the Day Spa. With the latest wireless technology, Pullman Cairns International Hotel Australia will keep you perfectly connected during your holiday accommodation in Cairns.​



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. When asking for a quote through Helloworld Travel (Hervey Bay) you must pick:​

Airfares & Accommodation

Helloworld Travel (Hervey Bay) can be contacted on 07 41281900 Toll free 1800 688993   


Indigenous Conference Services (Australia) also recognises that some NGO’s or other agencies will need to seek additional funding to attend, therefore Helloworld Travel (Hervey Bay) quotation can be made out to either pay ASAP or to take into account the time that is required to obtain funding. Further advantage to using Hello World Travel for your airfares is that if something goes wrong, you have greater access to your travel agent if required.

sponsorship opportunities for organisations 

Flexible sponsorship packages are available. 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 e-Mail:


contact us


Indigenous Conference Services (Australia)

Postal Address: 8 Kiwi Court, Pt Vernon QLD 4655 Australia



Phone: 07 4194 2803, +61 4557 76 668

Please note this website is continually being updated.

Indigenous Conference Services SPIRIT OF
Indigenous Conference Services SPIRIT OF
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