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Medical innovator set to inspire at Indigenous school Festival of Change event

Published:27 July 2022

Indigenous doctor Marjad Page looks at the camera in a bush setting

CQUniversity Outstanding Alumnus of the Year Dr Marjad Page.

Indigenous students at Brisbane's Hymba Yumba Independent School will hear from a First Nations doctor who 'achieved the impossible', at an innovative CQUniversity event.

CQU's annual Festival of Change is back for its fifth year, and for the first time will connect with school students, for the Innovation in Health session to be held at Hymba Yumba.

CQUniversity 2022 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and Indigenous health care leader Dr Marjad Page will present to the senior school 'jarjums' (students), at the Monday 1 August event that's also open to CQUniversity staff, students and stakeholders.

REGISTER NOW to attend Innovation in Health at the Festival of Change

Dr Marjad Page is Senior Medical Officer at Kambu Health in Ipswich and was previously the Chief Medical Officer with Gidgee Healing health services in Mt Isa, and the first Traditional Owner to practice medicine on Kalkadoon lands.

The proud Kalkadoon, Waanyi and Gangalidda practitioner began his health care journey by completing his Bachelor of Human Movement Science with CQUniversity Rockhampton in 2002, before studying medicine.

The event, coordinated by CQUniversity Brisbane campus, will see Dr Page share how his health outreach and ground-breaking research has influenced public policy and community wellbeing.

CQU Director Strategic Engagement and Associate Vice-President (South East Queensland Region) Chris Veraa said the event was an opportunity for connection and inspiration.

“CQUniversity Brisbane has a great relationship with Hymba Yumba, and we’ve been so impressed by their First Nations-led approach to education,” Mr Veraa said.

“So being able to connect the school and its jarjums with our Outstanding Alumnus Dr Marjad Page is a real privilege.

“Our Festival of Change event presents an amazing opportunity not just for the next generation of First Nations leaders to hear Dr Page’s story, but for CQU staff and students to better understand how connection to culture and country can improve our teaching and learning, and how that transforms lives and communities.”

Dr Page will also reflect on his early path to medicine, and his dream that initially seemed impossible, to become a doctor and practice on his Traditional Lands.

Dr Page recently shared his journey for CQUniversity podcast How to Change a Life, saying supportive education was key to his success, and also what's needed to help Close the Gap for Indigenous health.

"The biggest thing for me for Closing the Gap, and obviously there’s hundreds of thousands of things (that need to change), but education on both sides is so important," he told How to Change a Life.

"I really believe that sometimes we don’t focus enough on Australians understanding First Nation ways."

Dr Page explains that First Nations ways are not merely cultural, but also religious - and Indigenous religious beliefs need to be respected.

"Would you walk into a church and carry on and break things? Most likely you wouldn’t right? And so I think if you take that same approach to First Nations tribal areas, that’s a good step. Because if you go onto First Nations Country and you go fishing, that’s actually stealing," he explains.

"So if (you) go into communities and don’t have that respect, then wonder why we don't come to clinics? It's because you went onto their Land, you killed one of their pets, you went into their fridge and stole all their food… but then they don’t come into the clinic and you say they don’t care about their health?

"Well actually no, it's that they don’t like you now because you killed their pet and stole their food and didn’t even ask to come in!"

Dr Marjad credits the support of lecturers and tutors across his degree which empowered him to pursue his medical career.

"If it wasn’t for them I honestly believe I wouldn’t have graduated, and I wouldn’t have become a doctor. CQU allowed for me to be in the position I am – for example I did one assignment when I was in high school, I didn’t know how to reference properly," he says.

CQUniversity currently features Hymba Yumba Independent School in its iChange social innovation orientation program.

Presenter and proud Bundjalung man Leslie Lowe interviews principal Peter Foster about the mission to embed Indigenous education.

Mr Foster explains that Hymba Yumba means 'listening and learning place'.

"Part of teaching young people, or as we say 'Jarjums', every day we form yarning circles, and we'll do what we call the 'Diddy' or 'Dadirri', which is Indigenous meditation, and get ourselves in mind to be ready for listening and learning for the day," he explains.

"We have four values here: You respect yourself, respect family, respect community and elders. Those three all work together and respect country, respecting country, you respect the future of the land which we are on. And the future development of the future practices, that'll keep this a planet in one piece."

Innovation in Health is one of 20 events to feature in the Festival of Change 2022, held across nine campuses and online from Monday 1 August to Friday 12 August.

To explore more Festival of Change events across CQUniversity campuses and online, visit cqu.edu.au/festivalofchange.