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Studio portrait of Janine Mohamed

Indigenous health leader  
Victoria | 2024 Australian of the Year

Dr Janine Mohamed is a Narrunga Kaurna woman who has dedicated her career to the First Nations health sector. With more than 20 years’ experience in nursing, management and policy, Janine is an advocate for culturally safe and appropriate healthcare.

She has also worked to develop and support the Indigenous health workforce and community-controlled health services, critical components of improved access to quality healthcare for First Nations people. Janine is currently the CEO of the Lowitja Institute, the national institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research.

When I went into nursing, there was this deficit discourse about Indigenous people – how they were ill and how we, as nurses, needed to help them. The problem was always placed on Indigenous peoples, rather than the system that was causing harm.

I think we have to understand what racism looks like, feels like and what it produces to be able to envision a different future.

Child’s shoes

Janine was raised by her grandmother on Point Pearce Mission in South Australia. There were few opportunities for Indigenous Australians on and around the mission, meaning many lived in poverty. Janine’s family saved up to buy her these shoes. It was a combined effort and took time.

Janine has travelled far from the mission but has never forgotten the value of good shoes – they mould to your feet and make walking easier. She owns many shoes now. Some have higher heels and are more expensive, but she’s proud of them all.

Photo of a pair of children’s shoes

Child’s shoes from Janine Mohamed

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.

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