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Keynote Presenters

Proudly supported by the Queensland Government


Professor Gracelyn Smallwood AO,  James Cook University
Monday 4 September 2017 | 3.50pm


Professor Gracelyn Smallwood AO is Professor of Nursing at Central Queensland University and Adjunct Professor at the Division of Tropical Health and Medicine at James Cook University (JCU), Townsville, Queensland (QLD).

I am a Birrigubba, Kalkadoon and South-Sea Islander woman born in Townsville in 1951. I grew up in a condemned house with a dirt floor, 18 siblings (14 of us in one family, five more when my father re-married) of whom I am the third eldest. In 1972, I became a registered nurse and used my qualifications to work in communities such as Alice Springs, Palm Island, remote Western Australia and South Australia. I was a volunteer member of the Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health service in 1974, and worked as a volunteer Registered Nurse with two volunteer doctors. Later I became a registered midwife.

I was awarded the Queensland Aboriginal of the Year in 1986 and an Order of Australia in 1992 for service to public health, particularly HIV-AIDS education. In 1993, I was the first Indigenous Australian to receive a Masters of Science in Public Health (JCU) for my work on HIV education in North Queensland Indigenous communities. I have been employed as an advisor to the World Health Organisation on HIV-AIDS and Indigenous communities, and by the Queensland Health Minister Ken McElligot and Queensland Minister for Family Services Ann Warner because of my expertise on health and domestic violence inequalities.

In 2007 I had one of my greatest achievements, the Deadly Award for Outstanding Lifetime Achievement in Indigenous Health. I was especially delighted with this award, as it is peer and community judged.
In 2011, I completed my PhD thesis Human Rights and First Australians Well-being.
In October 2013 I was awarded the United Nations Association of Australia Queensland Community Award – Individual, in recognition of service to public health, in particular, HIV-AIDS, contribution to Australian Universities, and consultation to the World Health Organisation. In 2014, I received the prestigious award of NAIDOC Person of the Year.

In 2015 I was appointed Member, The Harvard FXB Health and Human Rights Consortium.


Mayor Fred Gela, Torres Strait Regional Council
Thursday 7 September 2017 | 9.00am

Mayor Gela’s strong vision for the region is founded in his deep commitment for his people.

Serving his third term Mayor Gela is committed to improving essential services, ensuring Council’s sustainability, rehabilitation of failing infrastructure and developing economic opportunities
and has a strong vision for greater autonomy through Regional Governance Reform.

Mayor Gela believes the 21st century is the time of innovation, where we must embrace new ideas and forge new partnerships, whilst maintaining faith with the communities we serve.

Mayor Gela is a returning member of the LGAQ Policy Executive and is the Deputy Chair of the newly established Community Enterprise Queensland Board.

the International Union of Architects (UIA) award for the long term alleviation of poverty and the UN’s World Habitat Award from 250 projects submitted by 82 countries.

Dr Beth Woods, Director-General, Department of Agriculture and
Fisheries, QLD

Tuesday 5 September 2017 | 9.00am

Beth Woods completed her DPhil in Agricultural Economics as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. Is currently Deputy Director-General of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Beth has served on committees of the Grains R&D Corporation, the Policy Advisory Council of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the CSIRO Board, the Gatton College Council and the Rural Adjustment Scheme Advisory Council. Chaired the RIRDC, ACIAR, and the National Drought Policy Review in 2004, and the International Rice Research Institute from 2008-10. Is currently a Director of the QRAA, and Chair of WorldFish, headquartered in Penang.

Dr Woods is currently a Director of the QRAA, and Chair of WorldFish, headquartered in Penang.