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Douglas Gordon Oration


The Douglas Gordon Oration commemorates the contribution made by the late Douglas Gordon to public health, and will now be held in association with the PreventiVE Healrh Conference. Douglas Gordon was born on April 19, 1911 and grew up near Maryborough, Queensland. He began studying medicine at the University of Melbourne in 1931 but the Depression and family hardship forced him to abandon his studies and become a farmer for seven years. In 1938, he entered the second year of the medical course at the newly established Faculty of Medicine at the University of Queensland. He graduated in June 1942 and served as a Medical Officer to RAAF airfield construction squadrons in the Dutch East Indies. After the war, he spent 10 years as head of Industrial Hygiene in the Queensland State Health Department, before becoming the first full-time professor of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Queensland in 1957. He was Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1962 to 1967. He published extensively, both in the areas of social and preventive medicine and in medical history. He retired in 1976 and died in October 1993.

2024 Orator

Donna Ah Chee.jpg

Dr Donna Ah Chee

Chief Executive Officer,

Central Australian Aboriginal Congress

Dr Donna Ah Chee is the Chief Executive Officer of Central Australian Aboriginal Congress, an Aboriginal community controlled primary health care service employing over 500 staff to deliver integrated services to Mparntwe (Alice Springs) and nine remote communities across the region.

Donna is a Bundjalung woman from the far north coast of New South Wales who has lived in Mparntwe for over 30 years. She is married to a local Yankunytjatjara/Arrernte man and together they have three children and three grandchildren. 

Donna has devoted herself to the movement for health and justice for Aboriginal people at a local, Territory and national level. Her advocacy to improve health and wellbeing outcomes through collaborative action, and her firm commitment to holding governments accountable for closing the gap in health outcomes has earned her a national profile. She has made significant contributions to the health of Aboriginal people through her leadership in primary health care, research, education and public health. She has also made important contributions to reducing the harms caused by alcohol, and to improving early childhood outcomes for Aboriginal children. 

Donna has been appointed to numerous high level positions including serving as CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), as Chairperson of the Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT), as Chairperson of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum, and as inaugural independent chair of the Northern Territory Children and Families Tripartite Forum (2018-2023). 

In 2022, Donna was awarded with the title of Honorary Doctor of Arts from Charles Darwin University, in recognition of her significant contribution to the health of First Nations peoples.

2024 Oration

'The politics of prevention: Aboriginal community-controlled health services from self-determination to post-Referendum'

Aboriginal community-controlled health services (ACCHSs) were first established by in the Northern Territory in the 1970s. Since then, the ACCHS sector has grown and is now a major provider of comprehensive primary health care across the Territory. From their start, many ACCHSs were politically engaged, seeking not just to deliver treatment and preventive services, but also to speak out on matters that affects the health of the communities they serve. In the 2024 Douglas Gordon Oration, Donna Ah Chee (CEO, Central Australian Aboriginal Congress) will describe the history of the organisation and how Congress has used its voice over the last fifty years to campaign for the health of Aboriginal people of the region. She will describe Congress’ decades-long advocacy for alcohol regulation in Central Australia as a case study of a politically engaged prevention strategy that has led to significant health and social benefits, not just for Aboriginal people but for all residents of Central Australia. She will then look ahead to the challenges faced by Aboriginal voices and the community-controlled sector in driving change in the post-Referendum world. She will consider the need for reflection about comprehensive primary health care and the ACCHS sector today, and how to continue a politically engaged commitment to prevention.

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