Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, the highly acclaimed ear, nose and throat surgeon, Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, has been awarded the prestigious Menzies Medallion.
A Worimi man from Port Stephens, the breadth and depth of Associate Professor Kong’s work over the years is far reaching and includes his role as chief investigator for the Menzies-led Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
Associate Professor Kong was presented with the award – the highest offered by the Darwin-based Menzies School of Health Research – on Friday in recognition of his leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy, and research.
He currently practices in Newcastle (Awabakal Country) as a surgeon, specialising in paediatric and adult otolaryngology, head and neck surgery (ear, nose and throat surgery), and lectures in allied health at the University of Newcastle.
Associate Professor Kong also participates in a project group at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).
HMRI Director, Professor Tom Walley, said Associate Professor Kong was a superstar of Indigenous health research, adding it was gratifying to see him receive recognition, particularly during NAIDOC Week.
Earlier this year, Associate Professor Kong also received a five-year, $1.12 million Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grant earlier this year to explore a telehealth ear, nose and throat (ENT) model, based in metropolitan, rural and regional Aboriginal community controlled health services.
Professor Walley said this Indigenous-led telehealth research would improve Aboriginal children’s access to specialist ENT care and reduce the waiting time for treatment during the vital years of early childhood ear and hearing health.
“HMRI is providing an office in its building for the research program, named in honour of Associate Professor Kong for his tremendous contribution to Indigenous kid’s health and research,” Professor Walley said.
“The space will be a public focal point by HMRI of the importance of community-led Indigenous health research.”
Professor Walley added Associate Professor Kong was profiled in the prestigious international medical publication – The Lancet – last month as a trail blazer for Indigenous health in Australia.