Indigenous researcher makes Western Australian of the Year shortlist

May 28, 2015

Professor Rhonda MarriottAboriginal health researcher Professor Rhonda Marriott has been shortlisted in the Western Australian of the Year Awards.

She is one of four finalists in the Aboriginal Award, which recognises excellence in professional and/or personal achievements and contributions to the Western Australian community, and as an inspirational role model for the Aboriginal community.

If successful in this category, Professor Marriott will be in the running for the overall award which was last year won by Murdoch Chancellor and Atlas Iron chairman David Flanagan.

The winners will be announced at a Gala Dinner on Friday, May 29, at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Professor Marriott said the nomination was an unexpected surprise.

“I’m so honoured to be recognised as deserving of this nomination by my colleagues,” she said. “And it is such a timely nomination because we are formally launching our Murdoch University Reconciliation Action Plan for the next three years; and I am Chairing the working group overseeing its implementation.”

The Reconciliation Action Plan will outline the ways in which the University will continue to work towards equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the areas of governance, learning and teaching, research, external engagement and human resources.

Professor Marriott has enjoyed a 40 year career which has encompassed clinical work as a nurse and midwife, senior university management roles at Murdoch University and high profile research projects.

She is currently leading a major investigation into the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal women and young children in the Pilbara town of Roebourne with a final report due to be published later this year.

The Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing TripleWrap research project has seen Professor Marriott and her team working with the the Yindjibarndi and Ngarluma people of the region and local agencies since 2011 to create locally responsive programs that aim to contribute to the social and emotional wellbeing of grandmothers, mothers, daughters, infants and young children.

The project has been funded by the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Indigenous grant and supported by the Telethon Kids Institute, the University of Western Australia, the Nursing and Midwifery Office at the Health Department of WA and also the Nurses Memorial Charitable Trust.

Professor Marriott is also currently leading a four year project which is investigating the way maternity services support Aboriginal women in Western Australia during pregnancy and birthing.

Central to the project, which began last year, is understanding how urban maternity services and staff can best support the culturally important philosophy of ‘birthing on country’, which ensures a spiritual connection to the land for an Aboriginal mother and her baby.

The annual Western Australian of the Year awards recognise the highest level of contribution made to Western Australia by those born and bred in Western Australia, or those who have chosen to make Western Australia their home. The award ceremony kicks off the WA Day long weekend.

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