Keynote Speakers

Professor James Ward

Professor James Ward is the Director of The University of Queensland’s (UQ) Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and a Professor of Public Health with the School of Public Health. He is a descendent of the Pitjantjatjara and Nurrunga clans of central and southern Australia and prior to joining UQ, was Head of infectious diseases research program – Aboriginal Health, at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

Professor Ward’s research work has focussed especially on infectious diseases and primarily on adolescent health outcomes through programs, research, community-led interventions and advocacy in the areas of sexual health, HIV, viral hepatitis and alcohol and other drugs. He has a long history working in Aboriginal communities, beginning as a men’s health educator for 29 remote communities in central Australia in the mid-1990s.

Professor Ward has held a variety of roles in Aboriginal health in public health policy, for both government and non-government organisations. In 2007, he began a formal career in research after being appointed as the Inaugural Program Head of the Aboriginal Program at the Kirby Institute- University of New South Wales. In 2012 Professor Ward moved to Alice Springs to become Deputy Director of the Baker Institutes’ Aboriginal Health Program, after which he joined the team at SAHMRI. In 2016 he completed his PhD at the University of New South Wales focused on epidemiology of sexually-transmitted infections in Aboriginal communities.

Professor Ward has been awarded more than $30 million in competitive grant funding since 2013 and has authored over 110 publications. He presently holds a prestigious Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship and is chief investigator on an National Health and MNedical Reserach Council (NHMRC) Ideas grant, a Synergy grant, four project grants, three partnership grants and two Centres of Research Excellence. In 2017, Professor Ward was recognised by the NHMRC with the Rising Star Research Excellence Award for the top-ranked application by an Indigenous researcher in the early career Fellowship scheme and by the local Aboriginal community by being awarded the National and Torres Strait Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) SA Scholar of the Year. He provides advice to the Commonwealth Government through representation on two committees – Australian National Council on Alcohol and other drugs and the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia.

Throughout his health and research career, Professor Ward has demonstrated a true commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adolescents and a dedication to awareness, education, dissemination advocacy and community engagement.

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