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Rural Health West sponsored allied health and medical students to attend the 2023 Aboriginal Health Conference and WA Ear and Hearing Health Forum in 2023.

The Aboriginal Health Conference brought together health professionals from across rural WA to learn from those who came before us, hear their stories and reflect on how we can move through the challenges faced by so many, to find a way forward together.

The WA Ear and Hearing Health Forum provided a supportive environment to learn from leading WA researchers supporting ear and hearing health and participate in hands-on interactive upskilling and education on current guidelines and protocols. The forum provided an opportunity to engage and network with other health professionals and providers working to reduce the burden of ear disease.


Edward Price. Occupational Therapy student, Curtin University.

In November 2023, I was awarded a fantastic opportunity to attend the Aboriginal Health Conference. The conference was full of passionate, caring and intelligent people seeking to address the health inequalities experienced by First Nations people.

I felt a great amount of pride in the work that has been done by others in this area. It allowed me to build upon the knowledge I have gained through my previous life experiences and my studies at university.

I found the talk from Dr Ivan Lin and Professor Dawn Bessarab a remarkable insight on the importance of yarning. The talk from Dr Elise Alexander on the Kimberley Indigenous Cognitive Assessment (KICA) was particularly insightful for me and is something I had not considered previously. Stephen Morrison spoke about violence and drug relapse prevention with intensity and understanding that only comes from a place of authentic compassion.

I walked away with feelings of pride for my fellow health professionals as well as greater empathy and understanding for the long-standing issues faced by First Nations peoples.


Jacinta Truda. Medical student, The University of Notre Dame Australia – Fremantle.

In November 2023, I was lucky enough to receive sponsorship from Rural Health West to attend the WA Ear and Hearing Health Forum. The conference was amazing, as I was able to hear from leaders in ear health research.

As a student spending most of my time in the classroom, it can sometimes be hard to understand how our learning translates to real life. The conference was a great reminder of this. Ear health is fundamental to so many aspects of our life – from educational opportunities to complex wellbeing outcomes in the elderly. What stood out to me about this conference was the range of experts organised to speak from so many different disciplines. There were workshops on the current state of the hearing health crisis in WA and approaches being utilised, all grounded in current research. I had such a unique opportunity to hear from the Telethon Kids Institute about a revolutionary project they’ve been working on – it is incredible to think that when I graduate these sorts of life changing advancements could be possible!

One of my favourite parts of the conference was being able to witness a live video call from an ENT practitioner in the Kimberley, showcasing the new telehealth video otoscope technology. Seeing its applicability to real patient care was so valuable. As well as understanding the scope of the problem, I was pleased that the conference also had a focus on the lifelong impacts of hearing deficits in childhood. Learning about the implementation of a new youth justice assessment protocol, which includes hearing deficits, was so powerful.

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to attend this conference and participate in thought-provoking discussions on the impacts of ear health throughout the course of someone’s life. It has really strengthened my understanding of the needs of healthcare in this area and is definitely something I will take with me into my future practise.

Acknowledgement of Country