5 Minutes with Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Director of Menzies School of Health

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 22.09.08

1. What is Ochre?
'Ochre - supporting Indigenous health through art' is an auction of Indigenous art which is raising funds for research into Indigenous child health at the Menzies School of Health Research.

2. Who are the Menzies School of Health Research?
Menzies is Australia's leader in Indigenous health research. Based in Darwin in the mighty Northern Territory, Menzies has been conducting its ground breaking research into Indigenous health for almost 25 years. With a staff of almost 200 dedicated researchers and a budget of over $22 million, Menzies' expertise spans Indigenous child health, mental health, social determinants of health and chronic disease as well as tropical infectious diseases and international health.

3. Why is this research that you are fundraising for so important?
The health of Indigenous Australians is an issue of enormous complexity, but however complex it is we can't afford to ignore the fact that Aboriginal people are dying prematurely. They are dying mainly as young to middle-aged adults. They are dying of the same diseases that non-Aboriginal people are dying of, but at much higher rates and at a much younger age.

The majority of causes of premature death in Aboriginal adults are rooted in early life and in early childhood. That is why it is so important to get it right from the start. It's a sad fact that young Indigenous people are more likely to suffer from diseases such as pneumonia and that four in five children in remote Indigenous communities experience hearing loss because of severe ear infections. Young Indigenous children are more likely to be hospitalized than non-Indigenous kids, and seven out of every ten Indigenous children can expect to have scabies and skin sores in the first year of their life. Poor health and poor education are strongly linked. A child suffering from poor nutrition or multiple ear infections will have poor concentration and learning ability which can seriously affect the way they live their lives into the future.

4. What does Menzies Health hope to achieve through this research?
At Menzies, we want to help the Indigenous children of today become the healthy adults of tomorrow. Our researchers are discovering better ways to prevent and treat common problems and we are working with local people to help them gain the skills to improve the health of the next generation of Indigenous adults. Through research, we want to break the cycle of poor health faced by Indigenous Australians. We want to make a difference, we want to change lives.

5. How will you acquire the artworks for auction?
Ochre has taken a very unique approach to the way that the artworks have been pulled together. Rather than asking for artists to donate their works, as is the 'norm' in most charity art auctions, sponsorship has been secured to allow artworks to be purchased direct from community art centers therefore ensuring that we fostering local economic development and employment opportunities and also ensuring that the highest ethical standards have been maintained. 14 artworks from some of Australia's most sought after Indigenous artists have been purchased and brought together in an exquisite collection. This includes works from John Mawurndjul, Eubena Nampitjin and Makinti Napanangka, winner of the 2008 National Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Award.

6. When and where is the auction and how can an Aboriginal art enthusiast attend? If they can't attend, what other ways can they support this cause?
The auction will take place at Mossgreen Auctions on 14th October from 5.30pm. With an intimate performance by Indigenous singing sensation Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu sponsored by Paspaley Pearls, and hosted by TV legend Mr Ray Martin, Ochre will not only be remembered for the quality of the artworks on offer, but also for being a fabulous event and a night to remember. RSVPs for Ochre are essential due to space restrictions, so please make sure you RSVP if you are interested in coming along. Alternatively, telephone bids are also available via Mossgreen Auctions. People can support Ochre by making donations on line at www.menzies.edu.au/ochre

7. Who can I contact to know more?
Lisa Stapels - 03 97260551 or e mail lisa.stapels@menzies.edu.au or visit the Ochre artworks on line at www.mossgreen.com.au

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Last modified: September 22, 2008 9:43 PM