Getting to know Kate Russell

12 April 2021

RANZCOG welcomes Kate Russell to the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisor. Kate is a proud Arrente/Larrakia woman, originally from the Northern Territory, now based in Dja Dja Wurrung Country (Bendigo). Her background is diverse, having worked in academia (Indigenous Learning), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, Cultural awareness training, clinical midwifery, and Women’s Health. She has also been a midwife for seventeen years. Kate answered a few questions about herself and her role.
Kate, your role will assist with bringing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Women’s health to the forefront of the organisation. What are your goals at the College?

I would see some of the goals for the College being the holistic incorporation of First Nations Australian culture and knowledge. Also, educating staff, trainees, members, and the wider community, to promote health and wellness for First Nation Australians, women and families, with the use of evidence-based research in collaboration with community and other stakeholders.
I would also continue to highlight, through sociological discourse, the inequalities in health for vulnerable groups. Ideally, through an advocational, empowerment and educational role.
Working in collaboration with the Australian Aboriginal community, I would like to see the prioritising of health and wellbeing of First Nations women and children in a tangible grassroots sense where there are actual changes in the mortality and morbidity rate.
In addition, research applied to real-life issues for families, and change being enacted around those findings, is also important.

What are some of the challenges that lie ahead in Indigenous Women’s Health?
We’ve been doing things the same way in healthcare, and the gap in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health is getting worse, not better, so what is being done at the moment isn’t working, so we need to find a new way, a different way.  We need to look to the oldest existing culture for the answer.
How did our ancestors not only survive but thrive? Perhaps a melding of the medical and health knowledge of Indigenous peoples and traditional western medicine?

What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about midwifery, social justice, First Nations’ issues of equity and equality.

One of my dreams is to do a PhD; study with the Ngankari – the traditional healer from Ngaanyatjarra, Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara land (North West, South Australia) and learn more about traditional ways of healing and how they could be incorporated into, say, western medical practice.

What do you do in your spare time to unwind/relax?
In my spare time, I like to support live music, travel, go to wineries, eat out, horse ride. A perfect day would be riding a horse to a winery, have lunch, and seeing a band. 
I also do roller derby, paint, and potter about in my garden attempting (unsuccessfully) to grow vegetables. I also like hanging out with my pooches.



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