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Honouring NAIDOC week: celebrating Indigenous research and leadership

  • 08 Jul 2024

Bundjalung man Troy Combo was featured in Wiley’s 2024 NAIDOC collection and First Nations Researcher Features. 

Today, at the start of NAIDOC week, we honour the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  

We celebrate this year’s NAIDOC theme, ‘Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud and Proud’, which invites everyone to stand in solidarity, amplify First Nations voices, celebrate Indigenous identity, and commit to justice and equality. 

NAIDOC Week is an opportunity for all Australians to engage and learn from Indigenous communities, fostering a greater appreciation for the contributions and significance of the oldest living cultures in the world. 

Bundjalung man Troy Combo, program manager of Burnet Institute’s Aboriginal Health Plan in the Eliminate hepatitis C Australia Partnership (EC Australia), has worked in Aboriginal health for 30 years. This year, he is featured in Wiley’s 2024 NAIDOC collection and First Nations Researcher Features

With a robust background in Aboriginal health, Mr Combo has contributed to significant public health outcomes by advocating for community-driven solutions. 

“NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate our resilience and an opportunity for me to reflect on my family and our people’s leaders,” he said. 

“This year’s theme is really important, following our defeated referendum last year. Many of us felt like walking away ... But for me, it’s about acknowledging that we also need to keep showing up. 

“My grandfather and grandmother were born and grew up on Cabbage Tree Island. My great-grandfather was considered a dissident and was kicked off the Mission for challenging the Mission managers for Aboriginal rights back then. 

“It’s important to reflect on and acknowledge the footsteps we walk in because of our earlier advocates." 

Mr Combo oversees the Every Yarn Counts Hepatitis C health campaign, implemented by a network of Aboriginal controlled health services across the country. He is also a chief investigator on an NHMRC Synergy Grant and an associate investigator on the Connect C Partnership Grant, focusing on engaging and treating Australians with hepatitis C, particularly within Aboriginal communities. 

Mr Combo co-authored an article on how group model building can assist the health and well-being of urban Indigenous communities in Australia, highlighting how essential it is to include the perspectives of Indigenous stakeholders, when creating and carrying out effective and culturally- appropriate responses to pandemics. 

“COVID-19 was a successful public health story regarding Aboriginal communities, because our voices were heard quite early, and reflected in the Series of National Guidelines (SoNG),” he said. 

“We need to keep being at the table ... so now even more so it’s about truth-telling and acknowledgement of Australia’s history – of our past and where we want to go together as a country.” 

Read more of Mr Combo’s profile on Wiley here.