19 November 2010

Queensland’s first Indigenous doctor, Associate Professor Noel Hayman, has been named Queensland’s Australian of the Year for 2011.

A graduate of The University of Queensland’s (UQ) School of Medicine and now director of Inala Indigenous Health Service, Associate Professor Noel Hayman was recognised for his work in Indigenous health and his mission to improve the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians.

Associate Professor Hayman was part of the first wave of Indigenous medical graduates and has since paved the way in inspiring many more Indigenous doctors.

He established and is now Clinical Director of Inala Indigenous Health Service, he has been instrumental in demonstrating how mainstream primary health care services can be made appropriate to the needs of urban Aboriginal populations.

“It was there that I felt my combined life-experience and my qualifications could help make a difference. Indigenous health is my passion. It was all I ever wanted to do,” Associate Professor Hayman said.

Over the past decade he has helped increase the number of patients from 12 to 2500, with Indigenous patients travelling from all over Brisbane to visit the centre. His work is assisting with better management of diabetes and increasing immunisation rates in the local community.

He is also actively working to recruit and train Indigenous doctors, as well as increasing the health community’s exposure to Indigenous health issues. The Inala Indigenous Health Service has proven to be a great environment for teaching Indigenous health with the centre hosting medical students, advanced trainees in paediatrics and GP Registrars.

“Back when I was a medical student there were few Indigenous doctors and only a small number of black academic role models. In those days medical schools didn’t pay much attention to Indigenous health, but now I give lectures on Indigenous health to packed lecture theatres,” Associate Professor Hayman said.

“I love what I do. A career in medicine is very fulfilling and I am so pleased it gives me an opportunity to care for my people and to influence Indigenous Health policy.”

The Queensland Australian of the Year award recipients will join recipients from the other states and territories as finalists for the national awards. The national award winners will be announced on 25 January 2011.

Media: Brian Mallon at UQ’s School of Medicine (07 3365 5254 or b.mallon@uq.edu.au)