Canada - Australia RoundTable on Indigenous Health and Wellness

Date & time

5pm 11 December – 3.30pm 13 December 2016


The John Curtin School of Medical Research, The Australian National University,  Building 131 Garran Road, Acton, ACT, 2601



The Roundtable has been developed by the High Commission of Canada in partnership with The Australian National University and The Lowitja Institute – Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research. It has also been supported by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australian Government; the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. The event brings together subject matter experts and community representatives from Canada and Australia to discuss fundamental approaches to, and initiatives in, Indigenous health and wellness in both countries.

The event will begin with a reception on the Sunday evening. The Monday roundtable program covers a wide range of topics including: scene setting and international frameworks, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; government policy in Canada and Australia; the impacts of colonisation, and racism in systems, and the value of acknowledging and implementing Indigenous knowledges and values. Issues important to Indigenous-led approaches and governance of health & wellness will also be covered, including the ethics and governance of research, and data sovereignty (regaining control of the gathering, use and interpretation of new and old data). The final session of the day will bring Indigenous paradigms of health to the fore, moving the discussion away from the “deficit” narrative which frequently surrounds Indigenous health (focussing unhelpfully on problems and failure) and towards a more constructive and culturally informed understanding using notions of wellness, wellbeing and strength.

On the Monday evening there will be a screening of the Canadian film Fire Song at the National Film and Sound Archive, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A on the film. One of the first films by a First Nations director to deal with two-spirited people, Fire Song is a debut feature by Adam Garnet Jones and focuses on Shane (Andrew Martin), a young Anishinaabe man at a crossroads. Fire Song confronts some of the most pressing questions facing First Nations communities in Canada.

A half day of sessions will be held on the Tuesday which will include a consideration of Indigenous health & wellness from a services perspective. Again, this discussion will aim to bring Indigenous self-governance in health systems to the centre. Service delivery approaches for remote Indigenous communities will be considered here. The final session of the roundtable will be informed by the overall goal of the roundtable – which is to identify two or three issues or areas in Indigenous health & wellness, which are relevant to both Canada and Australia, for future work. These would be areas where there is a common understanding that there is a gap, or a better approach is needed, and where collaborative bilateral work between Canada and Australia would be particularly beneficial.

Following the close of the Roundtable a BBQ lunch will be held at Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service (AHS) and in the afternoon there will be a Faceless Dolls workshop, also at Winnunga Nimmityjah AHS. This workshop is in remembrance of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.


Opening Reception Sunday 11 December 2016 4.45 - 6.30pm

Morning Sessions: Monday 12 December 8.30am-12.30pm

Afternoon Sessions: Monday 12 December 2016 1.15 - 5pm

Evening Fire Song Screening: Monday 12 December 2016

Morning Sessions: Tuesday 13 December 2016 8.15am - 12.30pm

Afternoon at Winnunga Nimmityah Aboriginal Health Service: Tuesday 13 December 2016 12.30-3.00pm


The High Commission of Canada would like to convey our sincere thanks to the following people and organisations that have supported this Roundtable. Without their assistance, this event would not have been possible:

  • Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, ANU
  • The Department of Health
  • The Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, Australian Government
  • The John Curtin School of Medical Research, ANU
  • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
  • The Lowitja Institute – Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research
  • National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
  • Research School of Social Sciences, College of Arts & Social Sciences, ANU
  • Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service

A special thanks to:

  • Mr Romlie Mokak, CEO of The Lowitja Institute
  • Dr Jerry Schwab, Director, Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, ANU

Other organisations which have provided valuable assistance:

  • National Centre for Indigenous Studies (ANU)
  • National Centre for Indigenous Genomics (ANU)
  • National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (ANU)

We would also like to thank all the speakers who have agreed to participate and who have travelled from other states and countries to be involved in this symposium.




Updated:  19 September 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director, JCSMR/Page Contact:  Web Manager