Cranlana News

The 2016 Medicine & Society Oration – A question of value: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health

How do we value the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and what price do we pay as a society for not getting it right? We have any number of strategies, policies and programs that are unrealised: where are the results? Why does the nexus between dollars spent and positive outcomes appear to be broken?

In his oration, Mr Mokak will challenge the value of ‘value’ as a construct inextricably linked to the investment quantum. He will identify how this construct gets played out in the polity and results in the marginalisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the national agenda, even where there is a semblance of engagement and commitment.

Mr Mokak will discuss the injury we self-inflict for getting it wrong. Whether it is indifference towards Australia’s First Peoples or fatigue with a broken record, we – a society that perceives itself to be fair, democratic and inclusive – pay a price.

More importantly, Mr Mokak will address the transformational potential of changing the focus and narrative from marginalised suffering to agency and control – of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples scaling up and government letting go.

Click here to book tickets to this event.


Romlie Mokak is the CEO of the Lowitja Institute, an organisation that, together with its predecessors, has transformed the narrative of how health research is done in this country from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being the subjects of research to them being in the driver’s seat, setting the priorities and providing expert knowledge. Under Mr Mokak’s leadership, the Institute is undergoing a transformational process from sole reliance on government funding to a bold program of business development that will deliver positive health outcomes, as well as the evidence to inform effective policies and programs. Mr Mokak is the immediate past Chair of the National Health Leadership Forum, which encompasses all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander national health organisations and successfully negotiated the Implementation Plan for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 late last year. For nine years until 2014, he led the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association during which time the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians enrolling in medicine reached parity with the non-Indigenous cohort (from a very low base of the first Indigenous medical doctor graduating in 1984). Romlie Mokak’s distinguished career as a leader in health policy saw him successfully negotiate at a Federal level the game changing development and rollout of Opal fuel which has radically reduced the incidence of petrol sniffing among remote communities all across Australia.


The Medicine & Society Oration is an annual event hosted by the Cranlana Programme. Delivered over dinner in the intimate surrounds of the Cranlana ballroom, the oration offers alumni the opportunity to engage with a leading thinker on a topic critical to the idea of a good society. The address will be recorded by ABC Radio National and broadcast on the Big Ideas program.


Tickets are $150 per person, including dinner and drinks, and can be booked via the form below or be clicking here. The event takes place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 10 August 2016. All are welcome.