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Project aims to develop advanced health outcomes for Indigenous people

Professor Chelsea Wateg

By Georgia Parsonson

Indigenous academic Professor Chelsea Watego will join QUT at the end of July to lead a $1.7 million project to develop Indigenous Health Humanities.

Professor Watego joins QUT from the University of Queensland (UQ). She said the project is intended to develop Indigenous Health Humanities as an innovative field of enquiry.

The funding for the project was announced as part of the Federal Government’s ARC Discovery Indigenous scheme for 2021.

“We are aiming to bridge the knowledge gap that hinders current efforts to close the gap in Indigenous health inequality,” Professor Watego said.

“The project will bring together health and the humanities and will examine how race and racism operate within the health system in producing health disparities experienced by Indigenous peoples.”

According to Professor Watego, the potential benefits include a more sustainable, relational, and ethical approach to advancing new knowledge, research careers, and health outcomes for Indigenous peoples. It provides work opportunities for academics, artists, and activists to participate in podcasts, writing retreats, and public seminars. It will also involve contributions from QUT, UQ, and the Australian National University (ANU).

Professor Watego is a Munanjahli and South Sea Islander woman. She has spent more than 20 years within Australia’s Indigenous Health sector as a Health Worker and researcher.

“My work has focussed on interpreting and privileging Indigenous Australian experiences of the health system, including examining the role of Aboriginal health workers,” Professor Watego said.

QUT has recently introduced its Campus to Country Strategy. It aims to connect its campuses to places, not only physically but through connecting and engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Watego said she was enthusiastic about joining QUT, mainly due to the university’s transition under Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) Angela Barney-Leitch.

“There has been a perception that universities have not been welcoming places for Indigenous people, but at QUT, there is a really strong appetite for working collectively and collaborating, and that’s really exciting,” Professor Watego said.

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