A distinguished Murdoch University Aboriginal health researcher has been presented with a lifetime achievement award by her peers in midwifery and nursing at a recent conference.
Rhonda Marriott, who is the Professor of Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing at Murdoch, was honoured by the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) at their annual gathering which was held this year in Scarborough, Perth.
Professor Marriott said she was a very surprised but delighted recipient.
“I was there with my mother and although I knew I had been nominated for an award, we hadn’t been expecting it at all,” she said. “My mum nearly fell off her chair when my name was read out!
“The best thing about the award for me was the recognition from other Aboriginal nurses and midwives – they are my peers.”
Professor Marriott was a senior university manager at Murdoch for 12 years undertaking roles including Pro Vice Chancellor (Faculties), Faculty Dean of Health Sciences, Director of the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre and Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Before her life in academia, Professor Marriott worked as a registered nurse and midwife and maintains strong professional links through the Royal College of Nursing Australia and CATSINaM. She also maintains her professional registration.
In recent years, Professor Marriott has been able to focus more on research. She is currently leading three major research projects about different areas of Aboriginal health and well being in Western Australia and said she feels privileged and lucky to be in her current position.
“I am extremely passionate about the work I am doing now – it feels like a reward at the end of a career,” she said. “I love doing what I am doing. I get excited about coming into work every day. I have this opportunity to be doing something worthwhile which is not about me, it is about trying to make changes for Aboriginal people in nursing and midwifery.
“When I look back on what I have achieved, I still have so many ambitions and things I’d like to get done.
“Many Aboriginal people have come up to me and said that I inspire them. I feel a responsibility to them to keep going and to achieve more for Aboriginal people. I want to be the advocate people expect me to be.”
Janine Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer of CATSINaM, said that Professor Marriott was recognised and valued as a leader in the nursing and midwifery community.
“She goes above and beyond her role to support and guide our people across the higher education and health system,” added Ms Mohamed.
“In recognition of this work and with over 40 years of service to nursing and midwifery, the advancement of our professions and our people – Professor Marriott is a very deserving recipient.”
Professor Marriott was nominated by Melanie Robinson from Aboriginal Health at the Department of Health WA. Ms Robinson is currently collaborating with her on a study which is investigating maternity provision for Aboriginal women.
She described Professor Marriott as a champion for Aboriginal nurses and midwives who demonstrated that Aboriginal people can promote change and improve health outcomes across a range of settings.
Professor Marriott was a keynote speaker at the CATSINaM conference, she presented at the Student Day and at yarning workshops about birthing on country, which is one of the issues she is currently investigating.