Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) awards QUT Centre for Data Science Research Fellow Dr Stephen Corporal one of its highest honours, the IAHA Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award recognises a long-standing commitment by an IAHA member in improving the health and well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“I have been in the health and welfare space for over 30 years and am very honoured to get an award from other Indigenous Allied Health Professionals,” said Stephen.
Stephen is an Eastern Arrernte man with close family connections to many other First Nations people. He has focused on two main challenges in his health work.
“The first is getting Indigenous students into university to study and work in health. Then, it’s about getting those new health workers back into the communities to help those people who need a hand,” says Stephen.
Stephen played a big role recruiting Indigenous students into medicine. At The University of Queensland, Stephen worked as the Indigenous Recruitment Manager at the School of Medicine. He then worked at the Health Faculty, Griffith University to develop and implement a strategy to increase the recruitment and retention of Indigenous students in all schools of health.
“It’s so fulfilling to see these students and community members become medical doctors, knowing they got there through a pathway that I and others helped foster,” says Stephen.
Stephen recently completed a PhD titled, “Identity, roles, and expectations influence on Indigenous university students when building the Indigenous health workforce. He is now a Research Fellow at the QUT Centre for Data Science and a Sessional Tutor for QUT in Health Needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Stephen says there are still difficult challenges to tackle when it comes to the health of First Nations peoples.
“The average community member is still struggling with health and access to affordable health care. The challenge is how we relate some of the good things that are happening in this space back to people who may be struggling,” says Stephen.
As a Research Fellow in the Centre for Data Science, there are two other things he is also focusing on now.
“Data literacy and data sovereignty are so important right now. It’s not only important that we understand what the data is saying about Indigenous health, but that we also understand who is collecting the data and whether they are working with Indigenous communities to do that,” says Stephen.
“If we can get this right with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations, it will better protect them and help them grow.”
Stephen has been on the IAHA Board of Directors for six years and is currently Deputy Chair of the IAHA NT WD.
IAHA presented Stephen the Lifetime Achievement Award at its 2022 National Conference held this year in Canberra.