The University of Newcastle, Australia

Improving Foot Health Among Aboriginal Australians

Monday, 1 April 2019

Your support for the 2017 Larapinta Trail Challenge has funded an outreach program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Indigenous Australians are almost four times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes. Indigenous Australians are also known to have disproportionately high rates of diabetes-related foot complications – including lower-leg amputation rates up to 38 times higher than non-Indigenous Australians of the same age.

Your support for the 2017 Larapinta Trail Challenge has funded an outreach program delivering podiatry and foot care education to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through the University’s podiatry clinic on the Central Coast.

“I grew up in the bush living off bush tucker until I was fifteen, then I moved into a real house, and then came fast food…The impact of the lifestyle and diet change on my family has been devastating. This clinic helps us to understand why diabetes is so rampant in our communities and how foot care is an essential part of looking after our wellbeing.” - Jenni McEwen, Clinic patient

The podiatry teaching clinic is led by Associate Professor Vivienne Chuter, and offers patients practical support and a way to engage with other health services, like dieticians, to provide the type of preventative care and education that Indigenous Australians are less likely to access. For students, it provides a unique clinical and cultural training opportunity, making them more skilled future podiatrists. It is a model that can be shared to improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians of all ages across the country.

Aunty Nola Leslie and Associate Professor Vivienne Chuter

“We are so grateful to the trekkers and their supporters. Thanks to you, we are training better future Podiatrists and helping more Indigenous Australians to look after their feet and overall health.” - Associate Professor Vivienne Chuter (GC Practice of Tertiary Teaching 2009),  School of Health Sciences (Podiatry), Project Lead

Rise to the Challenge: Ikara-Flinders Ranges Trek

Would you like to join our Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge Champions on an epic adventure through the South Australian outback?

This once-in-a-lifetime challenge is a way for our community to unite in support of Indigenous education and health research. Beginning 9 September 2019, a group of inspirational Champions will take on the challenge to help others – supported by an even larger group of generous donors. The aim is to raise over $100,000 to enable University education and research projects that transform the lives of Indigenous Australians.

The five day trek will take in the arid heart of the Australian outback, traversing one of the oldest geological landscapes in the world. The group will be guided by experts including Indigenous representatives of the local Adnyamathanha people.

The 100km challenge starts at the head of the Heysen Trail, rated as one of the world’s premier long distance trails. Though the hike will be tough, our Champions will experience the stunning Wilpena Pound, with one-of-a-kind views at Tanderra Saddle.

The last challenge was in 2017, where 27 keen trekkers, including staff, students, alumni and community representatives, gathered for a 65km trek along the Larapinta Trail  in the Northern Territory. Together we raised an impressive $152,431! These funds are already making a life-changing impact through scholarships and research initiatives, including the University  podiatry teaching clinic.

Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park has a rich and complex cultural heritage combining Aboriginal and pastoral history. We would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Adnyamathanha people, for permitting us to visit the area.

Liz is joining the Challenge Team again in 2019

Professor Liz Milward

Professor Liz Milward was one of the intrepid Larapinta Trail Champions. She recently had the opportunity to visit the University podiatry teaching clinic to meet patients and hear firsthand how the money raised makes a difference.

“It’s rewarding to see how the funds we raised have been put to work – to hear that whole families attend the podiatry clinic and that it is making a real difference to Indigenous peoples’ overall health – that’s what the Challenge is really about.” - Professor Liz Milward,  School of Biomedical Sciences and Deputy President (Research) of the University’s Academic Senate

Learn more about the trekkers and pledge your support at

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