Leading philanthropist gives $10m for Indigenous health centre at UQ

7 Nov 2014

A Poche Centre for Indigenous Health will be established at The University of Queensland, thanks to a $10 million gift from philanthropist Mr Greg Poche AO.

UQ Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education) Professor Cindy Shannon said renowned philanthropists Mr Poche and his wife, Kay van Norton Poche, had given more than $100 million nationally to tackle major issues such as melanoma research and improving the lives of Indigenous Australians.

“The UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health will bring together Indigenous and health expertise across the University, and will work collaboratively with Indigenous community organisations and health providers,” Professor Shannon said.

She said there had been some progress in closing the gap in Indigenous health in Australia, but more work was needed.

“Nationally, there remains significant disparity between the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous people, reflected in lower life-expectancy of about 11 years and higher rates of illness across all ages.”

Mr Poche, the founder and former owner of logistics company Star Track Express, said the health and life expectancy gap was unacceptable.

“Improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians is one of our nation’s biggest challenges,” he said.

“It is vital that we do more to address this by taking practical action that delivers outcomes for Indigenous Australians.”

Professor Shannon said South East Queensland had Australia’s largest Indigenous population, currently at 65,000 and expected to reach 130,000 by 2030, and the Centre’s focus on the health of urban Indigenous populations was a strong fit with the region.

“The Centre will focus on training and growing a stronger workforce in Indigenous health, increasing the number of Indigenous Australian health discipline graduates and translating research into improved health promotion and service delivery models, with an emphasis on education and prevention,” she said.

“An integral part of the Centre’s activities will be collaboration with clinical partners to provide greater support, mentoring, career opportunities and placements in Indigenous health for students studying at university”.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said the $10 million donation was transformational, and was an exceptionally generous contribution to support vital work.

“The UQ Poche Centre for Indigenous Health will harness expertise across the University and draw on our relationships with key stakeholders to build capacity and deliver improved health outcomes for Indigenous Australians,” Professor Høj said.

Greg and Kay Poche have funded sister centres at The University of Sydney, Flinders University in Adelaide and the Northern Territory, The University of Western Australia and The University of Melbourne.

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at UQ will involve the Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education), the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit, the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences.

Key collaborators in this work include the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health, the Mater Health Services and the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council.

Media: Professor Cindy Shannon, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Education), +61 7 3346 0627,pvcie@uq.edu.au, or UQ Advancement Marketing and Communications Manager Mark Schroder, +61 403 481 758, m.schroder@uq.edu.au