Advancing Indigenous health

Dr Jenny Baker

A quiet achiever, Dr Jenny Baker is dedicated to the advancement of Indigenous health in Australia and internationally, through her work as an advisor, researcher and Board Member.

Dr Baker is a Mirning woman, whose family moved to Port Adelaide in the late 1940s from a small farm on the West Coast of South Australia.

‘I came from quite a poor family,’ says Dr Baker (MPHC ’95, PhD(SS) ’07). ‘My father was on the basic wage and we had few resources – no car, no telephone.’

At 18 years old, when she first arrived at Flinders University to study in 1967, the impact of the academic culture and political understandings of both staff and students was felt instantly. ‘I was overwhelmed with the university experience, the wealth of some students and especially the academic language,’ says Dr Baker.

Although she left her teaching studies for a Registered Nursing career at Adelaide Children’s Hospital, the impact of the university experience remained with Dr Baker for many years and she later returned to Flinders to study.

During her Master’s degree at Flinders, Dr Baker undertook a study at the Nunga Miminis Women’s Shelter in North Adelaide and at the Adelaide Women’s Health Service.

‘Both experiences highlighted the inequities in funding and resources faced by Aboriginal community-controlled services, but they also highlighted the ground-breaking primary health care work being done in both Aboriginal and women’s health services in Australia at that time,’ says Dr Baker.

Dr Baker has worked as an advisor, Associate Professor and lecturer in Indigenous health and Indigenous affairs. She was a State Councillor for the National Aboriginal and Islander Health Organisation during the preparation of the historic National Aboriginal Health Strategy of 1989. She has also been a board and committee member on many national and local panels, along with presenting at a range of international conferences to inform the discussion on Indigenous health around the world.

Through her analysis of the historical global positioning of Indigenous peoples within the colonial and neo-colonial context, Dr Baker has been able to create greater understanding of the health issues faced by Indigenous Australians.

‘I hope that I have contributed in some way to a better understanding of the nature and effects of dispossession and domination on the health of Aboriginal people including how that can, and does, permeate a health system especially when staff fail to stand up against racism,’ says Dr Baker.

Dr Jenny Baker was awarded a 2018 Flinders University Distinguished Alumni Award for her significant contribution within the field of public health, in particular the advancement of Indigenous health in Australia and internationally, through her work as an advisor, researcher and Board Member.

Flinders graduates have global reach and international impact, read more

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