Issue 16
Monday, 25 September 2017
Charles Darwin University
PhD candidates Melanie Underwood, Leena Panicker and Pia Harkess. Photo: Sharon McGregor
PhD candidates Melanie Underwood, Leena Panicker and Pia Harkess. Photo: Sharon McGregor

Indigenous health rights talk wins 3MT comp

By Leanne Miles

PhD candidate Leena Panicker has won the top award at this year’s CDU Three Minute Thesis competition for her compelling exploration of the health rights of Indigenous people in renal care.

Leena, who is undertaking her research through the School of Health, likened the cultural shock and distance from family for Indigenous people travelling from remote areas of the Northern Territory to Darwin for treatment as akin to travelling to far-flung destinations overseas.

“Imagine you had to move overseas, away from your family to receive treatment while you were sick,” Leena said.

“More than 85 per cent of renal patients in the NT are Indigenous and yet the current policies and frameworks pose challenges to recognising the health rights of Indigenous patients requiring renal care,” Leena said.

Her PhD, titled “An exploration of health rights for Indigenous patients in renal care”, aims to inform future policy and workforce development to improve health rights of Indigenous people.

“The importance of in-country care for Indigenous people suffering from kidney disease cannot be understated,” she said. “Health is a fundamental right all Australians should be afforded.”

Adhering to the strict rules of the competition, Leena used a single PowerPoint slide as her only visual aid and had just three minutes to summarise her research.

As the winner of the CDU final, Leena received a $2500 research grant and will represent the Northern Territory at the Asia Pacific final to be held at the University of Queensland on Friday, to compete for a share of research grants valued at $8000.

Other winners included competition runner-up PhD candidate Pia Harkess, from the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, and People’s Choice winner from the School of Health Melanie Underwood, who both received a $1000 research grant.