Truth-Telling About the Past: History and Indigenous Health Research


Australia’s history of colonisation and systemic discrimination of its First Nations people permeates all facets of our health system. Professor David Thomas and PhD candidate Jo Luke are here to open your eyes to the way in which our current and historical medical research are not immune to this discrimination and racism. They will explore how this impacts practice, and how it influences Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ opinions on medical research and their trust of researchers. We invite you to consider the ways in which colonisation and medicine interconnect, how this will impact your future practice as doctors, and how you can become more aware of its influence on our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.


Professor David Thomas

Professor David Thomas is a highly regarded Indigenous health medical doctor and health researcher, working the field for over 30 years. He established and has led the Tobacco Control Research Program at Menzies School of Health Research (Darwin) since 2007 and as part of this role has completed extensive research on Indigenous tobacco control, including the national longitudinal study ‘Talking About The Smokes’. His book ‘Reading Doctors’ Writing’, looks into the ways in which medical research has been influenced throughout history by the politics of colonialism, race, and power.

MsĀ Joanne Luke

Joanne Luke is an Aboriginal health researcher and epidemiologist based at The University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Melbourne and a Masters of Public Health from Deakin University. Her current PhD project explores how Aboriginal people and their health have been constructed in cardiovascular disease research, 1933 to present.