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Fishing, health and stirring stories. The Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Essay Competition 2005

Ruth M Armstrong and Martin B Van Der Weyden
Med J Aust 2005; 182 (10): 541.
Published online: 16 May 2005

Twelve months ago, in announcing the inaugural Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Essay competition, we invited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers to “tell us your story”1 related to Indigenous health. We cast our net as widely as we could, and, in the fullness of time, pulled in an impressive haul of high quality essays from students, academics, nurses, Aboriginal health workers and others from all over Australia.

With the help of our external judges, an essay entitled Fish traps — a significant part of our health and wellbeing, by Geoffrey Angeles, has been unanimously selected as the winner. Fish traps tells the story of a traditional fishing method, now outlawed in the author’s home town of Darwin. But it is about much more — obesity, diabetes, heart disease, delinquency, substance abuse and other health and social problems abound among his people.

Angeles writes, “If we were to turn back the clock, or gather data from yesterday, the answer or solution to many of today’s chronic ailments may lie in waiting”.

Geoffrey (“Jacko”) Angeles is a Kungarakan man on his grandfather’s side and a Gurindji on his grandmother’s. He is an Indigenous Research Officer at the Menzies School of Health Research, but is better known in Darwin and beyond for his passion for fishing and preparing “bush tucker” on the ABC’s Indigenous arts program Message stick.

Angeles’ essay is published in this issue of the Journal (page 541), and he will receive his prize of $5000 (donated by the Australasian Medical Publishing Company) at the Australian Medical Association’s national conference to be held in Darwin in late May. Three runner-up essays will be published in the Journal later in the year: Affirmative action in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by Yin Paradies, Telling you our story: how apology and action relate to health and social problems in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by Wendy Hermeston, and A culture of ill-health: public health or Aboriginality by Chelsea Bond.

From the other finalist essays, our judges have also selected some “poignant passages”, which are published in this issue (Passages).

We are delighted with and humbled by the response to the inaugural year of the Dr Ross Ingram Memorial Essay Competition. We also thank the members of our external panel of judges. We look forward to drawing from the expanding pool of our Indigenous colleagues’ talent and inspiration in next year’s competition and beyond.

  • Ruth M Armstrong1
  • Martin B Van Der Weyden2

  • Medical Journal of Australia

Correspondence: 

  • 1. Armstrong RM, Van Der Weyden MB. Indigenous health: tell us your story. Med J Aust 2004; 180: 492. <eMJA full text>

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