Stan Grant to host forum addressing issues around First Nations communities and COVID-19

24 AUGUST 2021

Stan Grant to host forum addressing issues around First Nations communities and COVID-19

Professor Stan Grant to lead a public forum raising awareness of the issues that are impacting First Nations communities during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Charles Sturt University to hold ‘COVID: Our Lives Matter’ public forum bringing together First Nations leaders and health experts
  • Professor Stan Grant to lead a discussion about the work required in First Nations communities to address COVID-19
  • Free online event to be held from 10.30am-11.30am on Thursday 26 August

Stan Grant Junior will host a public forum raising awareness of the issues that are impacting First Nations communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will highlight the obstacles that have led to inequitable access to testing and vaccinations.

Professor Grant, Charles Sturt University’s Vice-Chancellor's Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging, will lead an expert panel for ‘COVID: Our Lives Matter’: an online discussion and question-and-answer session to be held from 10.30am-11.30am on Thursday 26 August.

This is not just a First Nations issue, with the ongoing spread of the Delta strain through communities in western NSW including Wilcannia, Walgett and Dubbo, the Charles Sturt-run forum will bring together First Nations leaders and health experts to ask and address questions like:

  • Why have First Nations communities not received vaccines?
  • How are we protecting our communities First Nations and others?
  • Why have we failed once again to ensure that First Nations Australians receive equitable health care?

Approximately 30 per cent of First Nations Australians over 16 years old have received one vaccine dose with just 16 per cent fully vaccinated, figures which lag well behind the nationwide rates of approximately 50 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

Military and medical emergency teams have been dispatched to western NSW in an effort to increase vaccination rates which underscores the fact that First Nations people are in “a race against time”, according to Professor Grant.

“The Delta strain is threatening our communities; communities which are already among the most vulnerable and exposed,” he said.

Information is crucial, getting people vaccinated is critical, and Charles Sturt University can help at this vital point in time.

“The forum will draw on Charles Sturt University’s expertise and its deep community contacts to open up a dialogue, help build some trust and make sure our people get the information they need.”

The COVID: Our Lives Matter’ panel will be comprised of:

  • Professor Stan Grant, Charles Sturt University Vice Chancellor's Chair of Australian-Indigenous Belonging. Professor Grant is one of Australia's most respected and awarded journalists with more than 30 years’ experience in radio and television news and current affairs.

  • Professor Juanita Sherwood, Charles Sturt University Pro Vice-Chancellor of First Nations Engagement. Professor Sherwood is a proud First Nations woman with Wiradjuri, Murri, Maori and Anglo-Celtic lineages. She has been a nurse, teacher, lecturer and researcher for over 35 years, and her work has improved health and education outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

  • Mr Jamie Newman, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Aboriginal Medical Service. Mr Newman is a proud Wiradjuri descendent who completed a Bachelor of Health Science, Community and Public Health at Charles Sturt University Dubbo. He has more than 20 years’ experience in Indigenous health research projects ranging from data, workforce, population health, models of care and integrated care.
  • Dr Donna Hartz. Mrs Hartz is a registered nurse and registered midwife with more than 35 years’ experience as a clinician, educator, consultant, project manager and researcher. She has recently returned from Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service where she and two colleagues work to supplement the COVID-19 vaccination workforce.

  • Mrs Nikki Trudgett, General Manager of Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing for Western NSW Primary Health Network. Mrs Trudgett is a proud Wiradjuri woman and mother from Bathurst with strong links to the Beemunnel mission on the outskirts of Warren.
  • Rachael McPhail, is in her final year of a Bachelor of Social Work through Charles Sturt University. Ms McPhail is a proud Gomeroi woman, who was successful in her campaign to ask Australia Post to include traditional place names in addresses. She is now campaigning for the creation of a database of traditional place names.

‘COVID: Our Lives Matter’ is part of Charles Sturt University’s Yindyamarra Talks series.

Charles Sturt University Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov said the event aligns with the University’s ethos of ’yindyamarra winhanganha’, a Wiradjuri phrase that means ‘the wisdom of respectfully knowing how to live well in a world worth living in’.

Charles Sturt University is an anchor institution in our regions and we take pride in fulfilling our social responsibilities by building First Nations engagement and cultural safety,” Professor Germov said.

“I encourage people to join this important forum which will give our First Nations communities the information they need to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”

For more information on the forum click here.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor Stan Grant please contact Lisa Ditchfield at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0417 125 795 or

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