Improving and Integrating Urban Indigenous Health Services


2023 Aunty Pamela Mam Oration

As Patron of IUIH, over the years Aunty Pam’s guidance has staunchly driven IUIH in relentless pursuit of creating transformational change for Our People.  For in Aunty Pam’s words “Nothing is to stop, everything must continue”. 

In the continuance of Aunty Pam’s legacy, we are pleased to announce Mr. Neil Wilmett as the 2023 orator of the Aunty Pamela Mam Oration, with the theme being ‘Living in Yes: A Drive to Create Change’.

Living in Yes: A Drive to Create Change

The 14th of October 2023 is a date that will go down in the history of this Country. A date in and amongst many dates but is it a date that will go on to define us? 


Join us as we reflect on not only our learnings from Aunty Pam and to celebrate 50 years of Community Control in South East Queensland, but to also discuss the challenge of what the next 50 years will bring.  

Our Orator for this year’s event is Mr. Neil Wilmett; a Waanyi and Kuku Yalanji Man from Far North Queensland.  Neil has a historical connection to Aunty Pam and to the political mobilisation of our communities throughout significant points of time in Queensland.


Neil is a national leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander housing, health, economic development and administration. He is known as a leading thinker and for his work in strategy and policy development and implementation.

Throughout his career, Neil has led a number of peak body organisations and is the former Chief Executive Officer of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC). While the Chief Executive Officer of QAIHC between 2017 and 2020, he built member sustainability, improved partnerships and advocated strongly for inward investment in the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heath Sector.

With national and international experience in business strategy, policy and change leadership within dynamic business environments, Neil has a proven track record in achieving outcomes. This has been forged while in leadership roles in Australia, government, the private sector and whilst a visiting (Winston) Churchill Leadership Fellow in the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

Neil brings a deep understanding and broad experience of community control, leadership and governance. 


Date: Tue, 28th November 2023

Time: 6 – 9pm

Where: The Ballroom, Victoria Park, 309 Herston Road, Herston


The Staying Deadly Survey Findings

By the people for the people: Landmark survey amplifies community voice to reform mental health system

A landmark study, released this month, has engaged Southeast Queensland’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to speak about their mental health, report their preferences for care, and guide lasting mental health system reform.

The four-year project, known as The Staying Deadly Survey (or the Queensland Urban Indigenous Mental Health Survey) commenced in 2018 and was led by The Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR) in partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

The cross-sectional population survey of more than 400 adult First Nations Australians in Southeast Queensland (SEQ) was undertaken with considerable planning and community consultation to determine the most suitable and culturally appropriate methods for undertaking the survey.

Lead Investigator and QCMHR researcher, Associate Professor Alize Ferrari said the study is the first of its kind in Australia to provide a comprehensive picture of the mental health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in an urban setting.

“The study found that members of the SEQ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community who participated in the survey had faced significant mental health adversity and had clear preferences for the type of care they wanted for their mental health,” Associate Professor Ferrari said.

“For instance, in the 12 months prior to the survey 40 per cent of respondents experienced a mental disorder and 10 per cent experienced harmful substance use.

“These rates are high, but it is also important to acknowledge that a large proportion of participating community members were well during this time with many participants reporting that they had abstained from alcohol or illicit drugs use altogether.”

The survey also asked participants to report their experiences with mental health services, with 74.4 percent preferring those provided by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services as opposed to mainstream service providers.

“While the majority of respondents did not feel they needed a service for their mental health in the past 12 months, 22 per cent reported that they needed a service but did not access or receive any care,” Associate Professor Ferrari said.

“Some reported this was because services did not help them when they asked for it, or services were too expensive to access.

“These findings offer important information to assist service planning and guide service providers and policy makers to understand where the barriers to care exist and how to address them.

“As expected, we also found the COVID 19 pandemic had an impact on our respondent’s mental health, with more than 22 per cent of participants reporting that they required increased mental health support, often due to changes in work circumstances, distress caused by separation from family or close friends, or restriction of life events or participation in social activities.”

Importantly, participants who reported higher connection and belonging to culture, participation in cultural events and activities, and feelings of empowerment were less likely to experience a mental disorder or hazardous substance use in their lifetime compared to those who reported less cultural connection and participation and felt disempowered by their circumstances.

“We hope these findings highlight the value of future research to understand and quantify the protective role of cultural identity on the health and wellbeing of First Nations People, and how this information can be used to shape intervention strategies and community mental health programs and services,” Associate Professor Ferrari said.

IUIH Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Carson, said the survey provides valuable information for policy makers, service planners and service providers in reforming mental health services to better meet the needs of First Nations people.

“I congratulate the research team and our Indigenous interviewers on completion of this study during particularly difficult circumstances including the COVID-19 pandemic and local floods,” Mr Carson said.

“They have taken a culturally safe and sensitive approach to conduct honest and open yarns with Mob on particularly difficult subjects and have made a significant contribution to the evidence base for mental healthcare reform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

“Our people have spoken and presented a challenge for the Queensland health system to respond.

“Since the survey, Queensland Health has been quick to act by investing in the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled specialised mental health service hubs in SEQ.”

The Queensland Urban Indigenous Mental Health Survey was funded by the Queensland Department of Health and the report is publicly available here.


Media contact: Kate Gadenne, QCMHR,


Our ways. A BiOC short film series

Birthing in Our Community has developed a series of short films to celebrate more than a decade of intensive support to families across South East Queensland, Australia.

The second short film “Our ways. Strong deadly parents.” follows a yarn with real BiOC families benefiting from the original program.

Or to reach the friendly BiOC team call 07 3274 5700.

For all media enquiries, email


Our journey. A BiOC short film series

Birthing in Our Communities has developed a series of short films to celebrate more than a decade of intensive support to families across South East Queensland, Australia.

The first short film “Our journey. Walking beside our families.” deep dives and explores the stories of real BiOC families benefiting from the original program.

Although brief, the insight (and gratitude) shared is absolute, and the team are exciting for what is on the horizon.

For more information about the success of BiOC’s program, view the latest article in The Lancet.

Or to reach the friendly BiOC team call 07 3274 5700.

For all media enquiries, email


Improved birthing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
families generates savings to the health system

A birthing service established by three South East Queensland health organisations has reduced preterm birth rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies by 38% and demonstrated significant cost savings to the health system.

Results published in the Lancet Regional Health Western Pacific this week highlighted improved outcomes for women having a baby through the Birthing in Our Community service. The reduction in preterm birth rates meant that women accessing the program required fewer costly interventions, procedures and neonatal admissions, resulting in savings of $4,810 per mother/baby pair. Additionally, the BiOC service reduced two thirds of women’s out of pocket costs by bringing the service closer to home.

The cost-effectiveness study concluded that replication of the Birthing in Our Community service across Australia has the potential to reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies born preterm by 965 each year, thereby potentially saving the Australian health system $86,994,021 per annum.

The Birthing in Our Community service and model of care was established in 2013 by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) Brisbane and Mater Health in Brisbane in response to a need for women who are pregnant with an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander baby to access culturally and clinically safe care throughout their pregnancy and at birth.

Ms Renee Blackman, ATSICHS Brisbane CEO, said that “the success of the Birthing in Our Community service shows what can be achieved when partners work together with a shared vision and a commitment to Aboriginal-led models of care”.

“Investing in developing an Indigenous workforce to support women has been key to keeping women engaged in the program and also supports employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the region”, she said. “Every mum at Birthing in Our Community gets their own midwife 24/7 working side by side with a multidisciplinary workforce to make sure all our women feel confident and safe to access the care they need for themselves and their bub”.

Lead researcher, Professor Sue Kildea, said the results from the BiOC service are unprecedented. “Knowing that nationally the preterm rates for First Nations babies have not reduced since Close the Gap was announced in 2008, it is extraordinary to see a 38% reduction,” she said. ‘When a cost-effectiveness lens is applied, the economic impact is also considerable”.

IUIH CEO, Adrian Carson, said that the improved outcomes demonstrate the success of Aboriginal community controlled health services (CCHSs) leading system reform with mainstream maternity services. “The CCHS sector has long advocated that models of care specifically designed for First Nations people and delivered by CCHSs can achieve better outcomes for our people be more cost-effective. This research provides strong evidence for replication of this service model across Australia,” Mr Carson said.

Mr Carson said, “the model is achieving preterm birth rates for First Nations families that are better than those achieved by the Australian health system for the general population. Supporting its expansion makes sense from both a healthcare delivery and economic perspective, and I would like to see the savings generated from the model reinvested into the establishment of more Birthing in Our Community services across Australia.”

The service is First Nations led, culturally responsive, clinically and cost effective and popular with all stakeholders. Such a model has the potential to address much needed reform in the Australian health system and improve birth outcomes for First Nations mothers and babies in Australia with significant cost benefits.

The full article, Birthing on Country service compared to standard care for First Nations Australians: a cost-effectiveness analysis from a health system perspective study, can be found at:

For further information and interview:

Renée Brown

Manager – IUIH Communications and Marketing


Mobile: 0428 792 535.


2022 Aunty Pamela Mam Oration

The Aunty Pamela Mam Oration; is held annually by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in partnership with the UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, as a ceremonial act of honouring Aunty Pamela’s legacy and all that she taught us. 

Join us as we reflect on not only our learnings from Aunty Pam but the socio-political factors our communities and organisations in South East Queensland will need to consider with the move to embed a Voice to Parliament.  

Where: Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

Mezzanine Level (M3)

When: Tuesday, 29 November 2022 from 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

RSVP by the 5pm 21st November 2022

The theme of the 2022 Aunty Pamela Mam Oration is Our Voice – Our Governance: Action on Our Terms of Reference.  

Nearly 50 years ago, Community Control Organisations of South East Queensland were birthed in a climate of inequity and a failure of the Government of the day to act. Under the leadership of Aunty Pamela Mam; and other notable Community Members, a political mobilisation occurred to disrupt the status quo and ensure the voices of our people were heard.

But in the succeeding years, have we become accustomed to being service providers rather than governors of our own circumstances?

Orator – Profession Megan Davis

Our Orator for this years event is Professor Megan Davis; a Cobble Cobble Woman of the Barrungam nation.

Prof. Davis is the Pro Vice-Chancellor Society (PVCS) at UNSW Sydney. Professor Davis is also the Balnaves Chair of Constitutional Law, a Professor of Law and Director of the Indigenous Law Centre UNSW Law.

She is a renowned constitutional lawyer and public law expert, focusing on the human rights of First Nations peoples. She has been a leading lawyer on constitutional reform for the recognition of First Nations rights for two decades and has led the Uluru Statement from the Heart work for the past five years. She was a Commissioner on the QLD Commission of Inquiry into Youth Detention Centres in 2016 and was the Chair and author of ‘Family is Culture’, an inquiry into NSW Aboriginal Out of Home care (2017-2019).

She is a globally recognised expert in Indigenous rights and was elected by the UN Human Rights Council to the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples based in Geneva in 2017 and again in 2019 (2019-2022) and was previously elected by the Economic and Social Council in New York serving for six years as an expert member and Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UN Headquarters in New York (2011-2016).

Prof Davis is an Acting Commissioner of the NSW Land and Environment Court, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. She is a Commissioner on the Australian Rugby League Commission, a director on the Cowboys Community Foundation Board, a Commissioner for Western Australia Rugby League Commission and director on the International Rugby League board.


2022 First Nations Health Equity in Action Conference – Speakers Announced

The Inaugural SEQ First Nations Health Equity in Action Conference will have keynote speakers from across the health system, including:

  • Mr. Adrian Carson, CEO, Institute for Urban Indigenous Health
  • Ms. Renee Blackman, CEO, ATSICHS Brisbane Ltd.
  • Mr. Kieran Chilcott, CEO, Kalwun Development Corporation
  • Mr. Jim McGowan, Chair, Metro North Hospital and Health Service
  • Ms. Libby Dunston, CEO, Brisbane North Primary Health Care Network
  • Prof. James Ward, Director, UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health
  • Mr. Shaun Drummond, Director-General, Queensland Health
  • Mr. David Gow, Chair, Children’s Health Queensland


Please note, the progression and implementation of the SEQ First Nations Health Equity Strategy relies on the collective of the IUIH Network, SEQ HHSs, Children’s Health Queensland, the Mater Hospital and SEQ PHNs working together over the two days of the conference to make important decisions.

Please also note, due to the size and nature of the conference and the content being discussed, it is key that decision makers and key staff are involved throughout the two days.

If you are unable to attend but would like to send a proxy for consideration please forward the details of your proxy to

Check out the latest program below


World No Tobacco Day 2021 awards – the winners—the-winners


COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed we live and work.  At this time, the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH)’s focus on healthy, strong and vibrant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities is critical.

In a rapidly changing environment we remain firmly focused on ensuring the best outcomes for our people.

IUIH and its member services have developed a 3 phase Pandemic Plan which informs the way we continue to provide the comprehensive range of services and programs that our community relies on for good health, wellbeing and connection in response to levels of community transmission of COVID-19 in community.

Please check with your local Community Controlled Health Service to find out what level of the Pandemic Plan they are operating under. 

I Stepped Up

Respected members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community have come together for the ‘I Stepped Up’ campaign to highlight the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

‘I Stepped Up’ is run by The Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) along with the four founding Community Controlled Health Services (CCHHSs) with an aim to empower our mob 12 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine to protect yourself, your family and your community.

For more information visit

Data modelling and COVID impact Indigenous populations across SEQ

The Community Controlled Health Services from across South East Queensland met at an urgent summit in Brisbane to discuss modelling which predicts the likely impact of COVID-19 within Indigenous populations should vaccination rates not drastically improve prior to the opening of Queensland’s border.

Click here to download the Data Modelling Snapshot 

Clinical Services 

Essential clinical services continue to be offered, increasingly via telehealth – but also through a triaging system that keeps our clinics safe for those who need to attend in-person appointments.

IUIH Member Network Clinic Locations

COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Clinics  

We have established five (5) dedicated urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vaccination and testing clinics to provide a culturally appropriate screening and vaccination services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their families.

Vaccination and Testing Clinic Locations 

Group Programs 

Our group programs are understandably postponed currently. However, our Aged Care, Respite, Work it Out and DC Fit staff are providing program participants with the opportunity to engage in online sessions, further supported by individual telephone check-ins from our social health team to support connection.

Allied Health Services

Our allied health, dental and eye health staff are providing appointments to community via Telehealth (phone or video conference) if possible, as well as developing video resources such as ‘checking your foot health at home’ and ‘staying active at home’.

Community Messaging 

Our Deadly Choices Ambassadors are spending plenty of time in front of the camera recording community messages to share on social media encouraging us to stay home, stay connected and protect our families and community.

Deadly Choices Facebook

Deadly Choices Health Promotion

And a huge amount of work is underway to move our Deadly Choices healthy lifestyle program, traditionally delivered via face to face school education sessions and community events, to a completely online platform.

Deadly Choices Website

We are all still here and we are all committed to seeing our communities through this pandemic with the very best outcomes possible.