VanessaLee is celebrating following her graduation this week from Griffith University School of Medicine, as its first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Public HealthPhD graduate.

Her research identified the important role of the Aboriginal staff in balancing the local Aboriginal community’s needs with the organisational requirements of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service.
“Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services are best positioned to meet the health and social needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” says Dr Lee. “However governmental requirements imposed on these services often meant that they were in a constant state of organisational change.”

Parallel to her PhD, Dr Lee was instrumental in the Public Health Leaders in Indigenous Education Network reviewing the Master of Public Health program implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander core competencies in curricula by Australian Universities.

“From 2011 to 2015, I was the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Vice President of the Public Health Association of Australia and this coupled with my teaching expertise and my PhD will enable me to apply my epidemiology and socio-epidemiology knowledge to enhance the means of which services are delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” she says.

“I am very humbled and proud to share in the celebrations for the conferment of Dr Lee’s PhD, the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student to receive this accolade through the School of Medicine,” says Professor Simon Broadley from Griffith’s School of Medicine.

“Dr Lee’s contribution to the understanding of the role of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services will, I am sure, provide a lasting legacy for the ongoing betterment of the social and emotional wellbeing of First Australians across the country. This is an outstanding personal and community achievement.”