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7 – 14 July 2024
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Professor Jacinta Elston

National NAIDOC Education Award Category
Professor Jacinta Elston

Professor Jacinta Elston, is an Aboriginal woman from Townsville, North Queensland who lives in Naarm (Melbourne), Victoria on the lands of the Bunurong people of the Kulin Nation. Professor Elston was appointed in 2018 as the inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) at Monash University, and was the head of the William Cooper Institute when it was established. The William Cooper Institute, named after the Yorta Yorta political activist and community leader, is a hub for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research, learning and engagement, and promotes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership and advancement across Monash University.

Professor Elston is a highly regarded higher education and public health advocate with a remarkable record of leadership spanning over two decades in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander advancement, education, and research. Professor Elston also has an extensive record of community engagement and board leadership.

As Monash University’s inaugural Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous) and head of the William Cooper Institute, Professor Elston led the development and implementation of the University’s Indigenous strategy, strengthening both leadership within the University and extensive Indigenous outreach and engagement.

Professor Elston, together with the Monash Business School, led the successful conceptualisation and implementation of Australia’s first Masters of Indigenous Business Leadership. This Masters program was a first-of-its-kind leadership program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, designed to strengthen our Mob’s workforce across public, private and community sectors. Recognising that many Indigenous business leaders have had limited opportunities to engage in formal education and business training, this transformational co-designed program offers unparalleled access to higher education opportunities that strengthen Indigenous community and business leaders. Monash University graduates the first cohort from the program this coming weekend.

Through innovative course design and support mechanisms, the business leadership program removes barriers to access that have prevented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from entering tertiary education. This includes tailoring the learning to create a culturally safe and engaging environment, and delivering face-to-face intensive learning, allowing students to participate without interrupting work, family or community commitments for long periods of time.

For its first eight years Professor Elston was the Chair of Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control. Something she unfortunately knows all too well, as a survivor of breast cancer herself.

Professor Elston’s many impressive achievements and contributions include:

  • Former Chair of the North Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Womens’ Legal Service
  • Former Chair of the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Health Service
  • A Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation
  • 2019 Chief Executive Women Scholar
  • Previous Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre’s Primary Care & Population Advisory Committee member
  • Inaugural and Former Chair of Cancer Australia’s Leadership Group on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cancer Control
  • Former member, NHMRC Research Committee
  • Former Professor of Indigenous Health at James Cook University
  • Former member, James Cook University Council
  • Current Board Member of Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA)

Professor Elston left Monash University at the beginning of 2022 to commence consulting work with Cancer Australia, and Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand. Professor Elston’s enduring commitment and dedication to the mentoring and advancement of emerging Indigenous leaders through education, together with the work she does to strengthen corporate Australia’s capacity to partner with Indigenous leaders to bring change to issues facing First Nations communities, ensures her incredible impact will continue to be felt well into the future.

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We acknowledge all First Peoples of the beautiful lands on which we live and celebrate their enduring knowledge and connections to Country. We honour the wisdom of and pay respect to Elders past and present.