Heal Country! Dr Brett Shannon’s drive to equalise access to health
NAIDOC WEEK 2021
As an advanced trainee in Occupational and Environmental medicine I strive to advocate for my Indigenous patients, understand who they are, what is important to them and where they come from. I find this is invaluable when working in an occupational injury setting where we strive to provide holistic treatment by incorporating psychological, cultural and social aspects of wellbeing into rehabilitation. This may include providing additional support services for injured workers and the use of multidisciplinary culturally appropriate care.
NAIDOC week, Heal Country, heal our nation, the focus for me is on the healing process. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors like myself, healing goes beyond treating disease or physical harm. It is about working towards a holistic sense of balance in the physical, spiritual, emotional and cultural lives of our people. Relationships with the land, with language and with other forms of cultural practice are part of the healing journey for Indigenous peoples. As an Indigenous medical professional, I believe we need to show leadership by continuing to promote all dimensions of Indigenous health including the healing strengths of connecting with family, country and culture and ensure culturally appropriate healthcare is delivered across all levels of the health system.
In the 1990’s my mother, Professor Cindy Shannon developed the Bachelor of Applied Health Science (Indigenous Primary Health Care) degree at the University of Queensland that graduated more than 70 students in just under a decade. At a young age I was privileged to meet Aboriginal and Torres Strait university students from all over Australia undertaking this program and travel to a number of Indigenous communities. This experience allowed me to learn about the diversity of our Indigenous peoples and the factors that were driving health inequities in discrete communities. This was a driving force behind why I pursued a career as a health professional.
I encourage all Australians to learn about our shared history, the diversity of Indigenous lands and culture, and the many contributions Indigenous peoples have made, and are making every day. Recognizing the unique knowledge and perspectives of Indigenous Peoples, and the importance of preserving our culture is an important step towards healing and reconciliation.
Brett is a proud Ngugi/Quandamooka descendant and a 2021 Australian Universities' John Monash Scholar. With his Scholarship, Brett intends to undertake a PhD at the University of Illinois – Chicago, on the topic of Occupational Injuries, to review occupational injury management and prevention strategies in Indigenous and vulnerable populations. Brett has extensive experience in occupational and environmental medicine for Indigenous and vulnerable populations.