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ICYMI: farewelling a remarkable woman, condemning racism, climate justice, long COVID – and tobacco industry powerplays

As a large crowd gathers on Kaurna Country in Adelaide today to farewell Yankunytjatjara woman Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG, we link you into the proceedings, and also pay tribute to women’s leadership across diverse fields. You can also read about the appointment of Katie Kiss as the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

The column this week also brings wide-ranging updates in global health, examines the impact of long COVID on brain health, reports on “amazing and appalling” behaviour by one political party, and has a major focus on the environmental determinants of health.

The quotable?

Environmental health is human health.”


Salute!

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the glorious diversity of women and their work for justice for First Nations peoples, for climate and environmental justice, for healthier and more equitable public policy, for more equitable healthcare, and for care of Country.

We also acknowledge the suffering of women in Gaza, Sudan, Ukraine, Afghanistan and other places where war, oppression and conflict are harming women and their loved ones.

Traditional owners’ appeal against $3.6 billion Santos Narrabri Gas Project upheld by Federal Court – and see the judgement here.

Recommended reading: ‘Like the flip of a switch, it’s gone’: has the ecosystem of the UK’s largest lake collapsed?

We pay our respects to Yankunytjatjara woman Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG, whose State funeral today is live-streamed. Watch deeply moving tributes by Pat Anderson AO, family members and others, and read the Prime Minister’s speech.


Racism, condemned

A relative of two Indigenous children who were detained with zip-ties in Broome says the children were allegedly bound so tight they were bleeding when they were found, the National Indigenous Times reports. Charges have been laid.

Meanwhile, in political spheres…


Environmental determinants


Climate action

Read: A bibliometric and topic analysis of climate justice: Mapping trends, voices, and the way forward

“The journey to unravel the intricacies of climate justice is both essential and complex. Our bibliometric review offers a snapshot of the prevailing academic landscape but underscores the remaining critical gaps. From addressing the coloniality in knowledge production to the real-world experiences of marginalised communities, there is a pressing need for comprehensive, intersectional, and decolonised research. This approach, which acknowledges the legacy of past injustices and the challenges of contemporary climate dynamics, is essential to forging a path towards genuine global climate justice.”

How Medical Education Is Adapting to Climate Change

“Increasingly, health-care professionals are confronted with the reality that climate and the environment are major determinants of health. To understand disease, they need to understand the environment. To care for patients, they also need to care for the environment”


First Nations solutions

Statement by the Australian Human Rights Commission, re the appointment of Katie Kiss as the new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner.

Ms Kiss is a proud Kaanju and Birri/Widi woman who grew up in Rockhampton, Central Queensland on the lands of the Darumbal People. She is currently the Executive Director of the Interim Truth and Treaty Body supporting Queensland’s Path to Treaty.

“This is a wonderful appointment. On the behalf of Commissioners and staff, I warmly welcome Katie Kiss to the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,” said Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM.

“At the heart of Ms Kiss’s impressive career is an unwavering commitment to promote and protect the rights of First Nations Peoples. She brings decades of experience in public policy and international human rights law, and has served First Nations communities, including her own, with high distinction. Her integrity, and the respect and trust she has garnered across Australia and globally will be hugely beneficial in this role.”

Prior to her role at the Interim Truth and Treaty Body, Ms Kiss held senior positions in the Queensland Government, including Chief of Staff to the Minister for Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, and Senior Advisor to the Deputy Premier. She previously worked for eight years at the Australian Human Rights Commission, where she was the Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Team. Ms Kiss was the Director of Strategic Projects at the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples and was a Senior Manager at PwC’s Indigenous Consulting.

The incoming Commissioner has also served as a Board Member and Chamber Three Delegate of the National Congress, Board Member of Ngroo Education Inc., and participated at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The depth of knowledge and expertise the Commissioner brings cannot be overstated, whether that be in social justice, constitutional reform, cultural heritage and protection, community development, or addressing structural inequality,” said President Croucher.

“This is a delicate and critical time. Following the disappointment of last year’s Voice referendum, it has become even more imperative for Australia to heal and find solutions to support and empower its First Nations communities.

“We are delighted Commissioner Kiss can return to the Commission, to both carry on the important work of outgoing Commissioner June Oscar AO, and help chart a new course forward for First Nations’ rights.”

Commissioner Kiss commences in the role on Wednesday, April 3, the day following the end of Commissioner Oscar’s term.


COVID matters

The New England Journal of Medicine: Long Covid and Impaired Cognition — More Evidence and More Work to Do

“The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic produced in its wake millions of persons affected with long Covid, some of whom have had or are currently having cognitive challenges. A deeper understanding of the biology of cognitive dysfunction after SARS-CoV-2 infection and how best to prevent and treat it are critical for addressing the needs of affected persons and preserving the cognitive health of populations.”

The Conversation: