20 Torres Strait Islander Doctors and Medical Students Head Back to Country 

30 Apr 2024
Media Release

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) has proudly brought together 20 Torres Strait Islander Doctors and medical students with local Community leaders and state and federal politicians as part of AIDA’s Igiliyawa – Custodians of Life 2024 Program – which is running for five days starting on Monday 29th April. 

To open the program on Monday, the Honourable Malarndirri McCarthy Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Assistant Minister for Indigenous Health joined AIDA on Thursday Island and the Honourable Shannon Fentiman, Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women is also supporting the Program. 

Igilyawa is a celebration that aims to create an opportunity for reciprocity through cultural exchange and clinical leadership. Establishing and strengthening connections between Torres Strait Islander doctors / students with Community, including knowledge exchange with Elders, is foundational to the delivery of culturally safe healthcare and enhancing the medico-cultural perspective of these unique healthcare leaders.  

This beautiful term, Igilyawa was gifted to AIDA by local Elders in 2003, which was the first time AIDA brought a group of Indigenous doctors to the Torres Strait.  This term was regifted to AIDA on this occasion, as a wonderful, strong connection to that first visit. 

The purpose of AIDA is to grow the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical workforce and to help create a culturally safe health care system for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.   

AIDA CEO, Donna Burns reflected on the significance of the Igilyawa Program: “We are so grateful for the invitation to bring our members back to this beautiful country on the lands of the The Kaurareg People and continue to create memories we will cherish.   

“It is truly amazing to know there are now 127 Torres Strait Islander doctors registered as medical practitioners across Australia. We hope to see the numbers continue to rise because we know that improving health outcomes requires a comprehensive and culturally-led approach” Ms Burns said.  

“We are committed to the knowledge exchange with Community, Elders, and young people to ensure we respectfully give back to the community. We hope to do this by inspiring the next generation through meeting and yarning with Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students.” 

The Igiliyawa – Custodians of Life 2024 Program has been made possible thanks to support from The Torres Strait Regional Authority, QLD Health, North Queensland PHN, Medibank, Health Workforce Queensland, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. 


30 Apr 2024