NT health expert, trainee nurse honoured

Aaron Bunch
·2-min read

An Indigenous health expert is the Northern Territory's nomination for Australian of the Year, while an Aboriginal trainee nurse has been awarded the Top End's highest honour for young people.

Health advocate Wendy Page was announced on Wednesday as the NT 2021 Australian of the Year at the annual Darwin award night ceremony.

For 30 years, Dr Page has served communities in North East Arnhem Land after joining the Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation in Nhulunbuy.

The 65-year-old has also worked tirelessly to highlight and eliminate a parasitic roundworm, which is widespread in Aboriginal communities across Northern Australia.

This included setting the first national workshop for strongyloidiasis, a stomach disease caused by the Strongyloides worm.

These efforts have made Dr Page a world expert on the worm and helped reduce the percentage of people suffering from the disease in East Arnhem Land communities to less than 10 per cent.

Dr Page is also passionate about mentoring young doctors.

Stuart McGrath, 29, was named as the 2021 NT Young Australian of the Year.

The father of two is set to become the first Yolngu registered nurse upon graduation from his studies.

But he has already overcome significant challenges to follow his dreams, including leaving his family in a remote Indigenous community to go to school in Canberra.

He has also had to complete his first year of a nursing degree remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to work full-time.

In between that, Mr McGrath also found time to contribute to the 'Ask the Specialist' podcast to help improve communication between health professionals and patients.

He is committed to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and it's hoped his passion for helping his community will inspire other First Nations young people to join the health workforce.

Aboriginal activist, educator and artist Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann was awarded the 2021 NT Senior Australian of the Year and police officer and safer communities advocate Sergeant Erica Gibson was named the 2021 NT Local Hero.

The four Territorians will join award recipients from other states and territories on Australia Day eve next year when the 2021 national award winners are announced.