College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences

Publish Date

26 June 2020

Discussing women’s rights, health and gender issues in PNG

JCU is celebrating the upcoming International Day of the Tropics with a public seminar on health and gender in Papua New Guinea.

On Thursday 27 June, three JCU researchers will be presenting their innovative research projects examining women’s rights, health and gender issues in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

State of the Tropics Project Manager and SDG seminar organizer, Ann Penny, says this seminar will feature two research presentations.

"This upcoming seminar is a special one because it will be our way of celebrating the 2019 United Nations' International Day of the Tropics on the 29 June," Ann says. "It recognises the day the Inaugural State of the Tropics Report was launched in 2014.

"During the seminar, Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren and Rachael Tommbe will be presenting how they are responding to requests for information about sexual health from women in PNG. Then Elizabeth Gumbateki will share her study examining the experiences of girls going through puberty in PNG.”

According to Ann, the seminar will demonstrate the impact JCU research is having on addressing The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in PNG. The UN SDGs are a call to action for institutions to combat global challenges such as inequality, health and wellbeing.

“PNG is an incredibly biologically and culturally diverse country but unfortunately one where challenges in health and wellbeing persist," Ann says. "The three guest speakers have all focused their work in PNG researching women's rights, equality, health and wellbeing issues and importantly, including local participation in the work that they do."

During the seminar, the latest State of the Topics report Health in the Tropics will be released.

“This year, the State of the Tropics will be releasing its 2019 report about health in the tropics on the day of the seminar,” she says. “The report analyses the health statistics and trends that are occurring across the Tropics. We will ask everyone at the seminar who would like a copy to get in touch and we will provide one.”

Researchers Rachael Tommbe and Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren
Group of young Papua New Guinea people
Rachael Tommbe and Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren research ways to improve sexual health in Papua New Guinea

Research that makes a difference

During the six-month seminar program, JCU academics are presenting research that impacts the outcomes of the Sustainable Development Goals, from local to global examples.

The seminar series will include presentations on JCU’s large-scale and new emerging projects led by researchers and PhD candidates.

"Future seminars will cover the business of the SDGs, urban planning and leadership for sustainable development," Ann says.

In 2016, JCU became the first Australian university signatory to UN SDGs campaign. Since then, JCU continues to support and promote the principles of the SDGs through its research, teaching, and operations.

“The JCU sustainable development working group is implementing those goals at JCU by identifying where our research and activities fit into those goals and looking at what we are doing at a local, state and global level,” she says. “It is important for an institution like JCU, who does have a focus on the tropics, to contribute to research to help achieve the UN SDGs in tropical Australia, our close neighbours in Asia and the Pacific, and the broader tropics.

“Because it is a global agreement that addresses everything from the environment, health and wellbeing to government, governance and institutions, it makes sense that JCU should be a leader not only in the research that we do but also the actions that we put in place on our campuses as well," Ann says.

Discover JCU Public Health and Tropical Medicine

Improve the health and wellbeing of local and international communities in need

Researchers profile picture

Featured researcher

Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren

Senior Research Fellow

As the Associate Dean of Research Education in JCU Medicine and Dentistry, Michelle strives to create spaces that support successful higher degree students and their advisors. As a public health researcher, Michelle facilitates qualitative and mixed-methods research.

Michelle co-researches with Indigenous peoples, especially Pacific Islander and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to improve sexual and reproductive health, to reduce transmission of infectious diseases, and to strengthen health systems. Michelle is also exploring arts-based approaches to public health research through poetic inquiry.