Health Humanities Speaker Series: Chelsea Watego delivers a powerful presentation on decolonising healthcare at our opening event

Recently, Monash Arts launched the Health Humanities Speaker Series.

This event series is designed to explore various topics within the field of Health Humanities (also known as Medical Humanities) and coincides with the establishment of Health Humanities as a new major now available within our Bachelor of Arts.

It consists of six showcase events, each designed to engage the general public in pressing issues in the Health Humanities field, such as decolonising healthcare, creative and collaborative approaches to health and healing, and harnessing the potential of psychedelic therapies.

The first of these events took place on 22 March 2023 and featured Professor Chelsea Watego as she delivered her powerful response to the question: Can we decolonise health and community care?

Below is a short recap of our opening event, co-hosted at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne – and keep reading to learn more about the new Health Humanities major at Monash Arts.

Chelsea Watego: “Can we decolonise health and community care?”

In front of a sold-out event, Professor Chelsea Watego began by giving us her short answer to this question: a resounding no.

She then went on to clarify her position by explaining that her many years spent working within Aboriginal healthcare could not possibly have led her to draw any other conclusion.

As she continued, Professor Watego suggested that only when we can shift the paradigm from which we are operating can we even begin to change outcomes for Aboriginal healthcare. She then called on fellow Indigenous members of the healthcare sector to continue to fight, to continue to hold the system accountable, and to continue to show courage in the face of adversity for the sake of Aboriginal healthcare now and into the future.

Following this, Professor Watego was joined by Robyn Newitt and Petah Atkinson to discuss the need to challenge settler-colonialism through Indigenist health humanities and foreground Indigenous intellectual sovereignty in research. They also considered the role that Health Humanities will play as a new field committed to the survival and autonomy of Indigenous people on both a local and global scale.

“We were deeply honoured to present Chelsea Watego’s lecture at the Wheeler Centre in partnership with Monash University Faculty of Arts.

Professor Watego is one of so-called Australia’s most brilliant and urgent writers and thinkers, and her book Another Day in the Colony is essential reading. The opportunity to hear her, and her fellow panellists Robyn and Petah, speak to the important question of ‘Can We Decolonise Health and Community Care?’ is one that clearly resonated deeply with the event’s sell-out audience.”

– Veronica Sullivan, Head of Programming, The Wheeler Centre.

You can watch the full recording of Professor Chelsea Watego’s presentation here.

What is Health Humanities as an area of study?

Here at Monash University, we’re extremely excited to announce that we now offer the Health Humanities major as part of our Bachelor of Arts.

The Health Humanities major problematises the relationship between health, knowledge and power through critical, interdisciplinary humanities and social scientific methodologies.

This new area of study is particularly suited to students interested in a career in the health, NGO and governmental sectors. It will prepare you to work with local, state, regional and global authorities and other stakeholders to improve your understanding of health and disease and expand the toolkits for tackling concerns at the heart of the human condition.

We’re positive that all who choose to study this major will find it incredibly engaging, thought-provoking and applicable in their future endeavours.

You can find more information on the Health Humanities major here.

Learn more about Health Humanities at Monash Arts

Monash Arts is proud to be leading the way in the Health Humanities field in Australia.

Through the introduction of this new major, as well as our six-part event series, we intend to inject the field into public consciousness and share important information with the relevant sectors, professionals and interested members of society.

If you’d like to learn more about studying Health Humanities at Monash University, reach out to us today.

Keep an eye out for the next instalment in our Health Humanities Speaker Series coming soon.