Pictured: Councillor Robert Castors, Associate Professor John Cavalieri, Councillor Edward Walsh, Dr Lynore Geia, Professor Martin Nakata, Mayor Alf Lacey and Dr Leo Foyle.
The newly appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor from the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre at JCU, Professor Martin Nakata and staff from the College of Healthcare Sciences at JCU (Dr Lynore Geia) and College of Public Health, Medical & Veterinary Sciences (A/Prof John Cavalieri, Dr Leo Foyle, Dr Caroline Mann) met with members of the Palm Island community and Palm Island Shire Council this week.
They were warmly received by the Mayor, Cr Alf Lacey, and his Councillors and invited in to form collaborative arrangements with the community.
A key outcome of this initial meeting was to trial working arrangements between JCU and the leaders of the community to address a pressing animal and public health issue on the island.
This will provide JCU an opportunity to develop an Elective experience for final year bachelor of veterinary science students and promote the concept of a one health approach to improving community health, as well as enable students to actively engage with priorities identified by the community that are relevant to their needs and which could be addressed by students with the support of veterinarians and members of the community.
Related issues discussed at the meeting for further collaborations included managing water quality within constructed and traditional water sources, management of local populations of dogs, horses and pigs, responsible pet ownership and care, raising awareness of zoonotic diseases and engaging with schools and the community to assist with educational needs.
In the longer term, Professor Nakata and Dr Geia would like to see the partnership grow to involve other disciplines within JCU to help improve community health and education generally, and especially the future of young people’s capacity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
A focus on STEM education in Queensland schools is seen as critical to ensuring the next generation of Palm Islanders are equipped with the knowledge and skills set needed to find meaningful educational and vocational opportunities after graduating from high school.
JCU is located within close proximity to the Palm Island community, and is the largest educational provider in the broader Townsville region, Cape York, and the Torres Strait islands.
"We share a strong commitment to regional, rural and remote communities and to improving life within the tropics. An ongoing partnership between the Palm Island community and JCU makes sense on many levels," Prof Nakata said.