QUT awards Honorary Doctorate to First Nations health pioneer

13th December 2019

First Nations health pioneer Aunty Mary Martin AM has been recognised by QUT for her exceptional service to the community and to the university with an Honorary Doctorate.

A member of the QUT Faculty of Health Advisory Committee since 2010, she was conferred with the Honorary Doctorate, the university’s highest honorary award, at a ceremony on December 9.

Aunty Mary has been a respected nursing practitioner, health educator and leader for nearly five decades. Her father is a Noonuccal man of North Stradbroke Island and her mother a Bidjara woman, whose family was removed to the Cherbourg Mission. 

Aunty Mary Martin and QUT Faculty of Health Executive Dean Professor Ross Young.


She began her career as a registered nurse at the Mater public hospital and then went on to work at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community and Health Service Brisbane. It was here, in the formative days of Aboriginal Health, that Aunty Mary cut her teeth in community control and, with many esteemed community members, developed a politically staunch and compassionate mindset which has guided her throughout her life and working career. 

Alongside other community Leaders, Aunty Mary was instrumental in the establishment of what is now the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), the peak organisation representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services in Queensland. Initially serving as the inaugural chairperson, representing the Yulu-Burri-ba Health Service, Aunty Mary went on to become QAIHC’s first employee, working as a cultural policy officer and general practice education and training officer. In 2008 she was inducted into the QAIHC Hall of Fame.

She has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Health Consumers Queensland Ministerial Consumer Advisory Committee, and was involved in development of a national curriculum on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health that is now a required part of training for medical doctors.

In 2011 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and to the community of nursing.

From left, QUT Director of Indigenous Health Ali Drummond, QUT Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) Angela Barney-Leitch, Aunty Mary Martin, QUT Associate Professor Debbie Duthie, QUT Elder-in-Residence Uncle Cheg Egert. Image: Elite Photographics


QUT Faculty of Health Executive Dean, Professor Ross Young, said Aunty Mary’s contribution to the faculty as a member of the Health Advisory Committee had been invaluable.

“Her strategic, operational and curriculum advice has helped us to improve our capacity to respond more effectively to Indigenous Australian cultural and health issues and to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study health courses at QUT,” Professor Young said.

“Over her time with the committee, the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students enrolled in the faculty has increased threefold.

“We congratulate Aunty Mary for her outstanding contributions to Queensland, the Indigenous Australian community and to QUT, and we are delighted that she is continuing to provide advice regarding our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health strategy.”


Main image top: QUT Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Margaret Sheil and Chancellor Tim Fairfax with Aunty Mary Martin after she was awarded her Honorary Doctorate. Image: Elite Photographics


QUT Media contacts: Karen Milliner, 07 3138 1841 or k.milliner@qut.edu.au
After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901 or media@qut.edu.au


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