NAIDOC 2018: Meet our team

(L-R) Belinda Ford, Patricia Cullen, Keziah Bennett-Brook, Caroline Lukaszyk, Julieann Coombes, Melanie Andersen, Kelly Thompson


The theme for this year’s NAIDOC week, held nationally between 8 and 15 July, is ‘Because of her we can’. The theme celebrates the contributions and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

As part of The George Institute’s NAIDOC celebrations, we are putting a spotlight on the hard working women within our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Program by asking them what this year’s theme means to them:  


Tamara Mackean

"I’m incredibly fortunate to have a strong Aboriginal mother, grandmother and great-grandmother who laid a path that I am privileged to follow."


Julieann Coombes

"Firstly, I would like to acknowledge my mother who always made sure I knew who I was. I am a strong Murri woman who was born into a heritage of strong Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal women. My grandmother kept culture alive for me and my Aunties continue to inspire me with their Aboriginal knowledge and spirituality. It is because of them that I can today continue to pass on my knowledge to my granddaughters."


Keziah Bennett-Brook

"I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded with and inspired by many strong and resilient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in my life who teach me to be proud in my culture and encourage me to share my voice."


Rebecca Ivers

"I am privileged to learn from the many strong and fearless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women I work and partner with."


Courtney Ryder

"Reflection and respect, for those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who went before us. But as a mother, being an example of a strong, resilient and determined Aboriginal woman for my daughters."


Kelly Thompson

"The wisdom, integrity, support and leadership from my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous female colleagues who work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health has empowered me to embark on my first research project in this space.  Combining and leveraging off our unique strengths to achieve greater impact is what ‘because of her we can’ means to me!"


Patricia Cullen

"Best part of my research life is working together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities. This is only possible because of brilliant, hard-working colleagues & mentors - all women that I admire: Kathleen Clapham, Tamara Mackean, Julieann Coombes, Marlene Longbottom, Keziah Bennett-Brook."


Sallie Cairnduff

"Both my work and world view has been shaped by the vibrant, insightful and resourceful Aboriginal women I have been privileged to be mentored by.  This year’s NAIDOC theme is a chance for me to thank these fabulous women for their generosity in sharing their knowledge and culture with me."


Belinda Ford

"It represents those who have come before us and paved the way to equality, those who inspire us, those who believe in us, those who teach us, and those who challenge us."


Caroline Lukaszyk

"This year’s NAIDOC theme presents an opportunity to acknowledge the women who have impacted our lives in meaningful and important ways: from the women who support us and inspire us on a day-to-day basis, to those who have been pioneers, enabling us to access the opportunities we have today."


Melanie Andersen

"This theme makes me think about the countless Aboriginal women who’ve made significant contributions to Australia, often under very difficult circumstances, whose stories we may never know. It makes me think about the importance of capturing “herstory” alongside history. I also think about the awesome Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women I’ve met who are passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and who’ve welcomed me as a non-Aboriginal researcher keen to join them on this journey."