Dr Ngaree Blow: an AFR 100 Women of Influence

Dr Ngaree Blow
Dr Ngaree Blow (Department of Medical Education)

Congratulations to Dr Ngaree Blow (Department of Medical Education) who was recently named as one of the Australian Financial Review's 100 Women of Influence for 2019.

Dr Blow, a Noonuccal, Yorta-Yorta‚Äč woman, was recognised in the "Young Leader" category for her leadership in First Nations Health education and public health research.

She is a leading voice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, having worked passionately to improve health inequalities for First Nations Australians.

"There are a lot of strategies and government policies in place, to close the gap, and to encourage funding for research in this area," Dr Blow said.

"Much of the work in this field, however, has a deficit-approach and I would like to see more strengths-based research that highlights our resilience and strong culture," she said.

"Although there are some incredible First Nations researchers in this field, I felt there was room for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers to be actively participating in research within their own communities, to ensure the process and protocols are set with the community right from the start."

Dr Blow's education research has focused on informing curriculum for teaching medical and health students, across the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences (MDHS), on health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

"Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had experience with health disparities in their own families," Dr Blow said.

"We have all seen our elders pass away too early, and it is heartbreaking, and we are not seeing our communities live to those late ages that non-Indigenous people do," she said.

"We all have our own stories, and First Nation people are very diverse, but we face similar challenges and I want to do what I can to influence and change the story."

Dr Blow is an active member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) and has been involved in many Indigenous health and education roles.

"We still have a colonial system which doesn't particularly cater for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," Dr Blow said.

"It's important to start early with education on these issues, and to shape minds before they actively begin working as a medical professional," she said.

"Hospitals have a certain culture, which is hard to change, and it's important for medical students to understand how to deliver best practice care, which is culturally appropriate, to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the chance of having the best outcomes."

"Equity is beyond equality; it is making sure the unique needs of each individual is met with the support and resources that the person needs."

"In the hospital system, an equity approach is having Aboriginal Liaison Officers available to support, facilitate and navigate the system, working as a team in collaboration with doctors and health professionals, to offer best practice care."