COH receives awards for partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

29 March 2022

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this article

contains the names and images of people who have passed away.


The University of Queensland’s Centre for Online Health (COH) was recognised last week at the UQ Faculty of Medicine Excellence Awards – by winning the Spirit of Reconciliation Award.  The award reflects more than 17 years of highly valued partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services around the country.  The COH have helped plan, establish, and evaluate a range of new telehealth services for people living throughout Queensland, including Cherbourg, Dalby, Charleville, Cunnamulla, and the Torres Strait Islands. Telehealth services have been developed for conditions such as ear disease and hearing loss, diabetes, dementia care, and mental health. 

COH Director, Professor Anthony Smith said, “this award is a wonderful reflection on the work which we have had the privilege of doing with community-based health services.  We are grateful for the experience and yarning which has been shared, and for the opportunity to work with such passionate and dedicated people.  So many community health services have embraced telehealth as a way of keeping people in community, reducing the need for travel, and ensuring that specialist health services are accessible closer to home.  Telehealth has been a very positive way of bringing people together and encouraging collaboration between primary care and specialist services”.

“I would like to dedicate our Spirit of Reconciliation Award to our friend and former colleague Mr Cecil Brown (Pickle). Pickle was a senior Aboriginal health worker and leader within the Cherbourg Community Health Service, who was instrumental in pioneering the mobile ear screening service in Cherbourg - almost 15 years ago. Sadly, Pickle passed in December 2021, but leaves a shining legacy for his community”, said Professor Smith.  To this day,  thousands of children have and continue to have access to regular ear and hearing checks, and medical support from local services. Pickle’s determination to deliver these much-needed services within community and by the community, has resulted in a successful health screening model which is being replicated in other communities around the country.

Anthony Smith (Left) Cecil Brown (Centre) & Liam Caffery (Right) accepting ​​​​the UQ Indigenous Research and Innovation Partnerships Award in September 2021

In 2021, the COH also received the 2021 Engagement Australia Award for Excellence in Indigenous Engagement; the 2021 University of Queensland Partnerships and Translation Award (Indigenous Research and Innovation Partnerships); and the 2021 CHSR Directors Award for Reconciliation.    

“These awards would not be possible without the support and contribution from all of our research partners, who continue to inspire us with their experience, ideas, stories, and enthusiasm”.  

Professor Geoff McColl, Ms Lisa Garner, Professor Anthony Smith & Dr Helen Haydon
accept the UQ Faculty of Medicine Excellence - Spirit of Reconciliation Award