Aboriginal ear surgeon honoured with Menzies Medallion

Monday, 16 November 2020

Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon, the highly acclaimed ear, nose and throat surgeon, Associate Professor Kelvin Kong has been awarded the prestigious Menzies Medallion.

Associate Professor Kelvin Kong

The University of Newcastle Associate Professor received the medal on Friday, recognising his leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy and research, in particular his work to improve ear health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

The Menzies Medallion is the highest award offered by Menzies School of Health Research, one of Australia’s leading medical research institutes dedicated to improving Indigenous, global and tropical health.

A proud Worimi man from Port Stephens, the breadth and depth of Associate Professor Kong’s work is far reaching and includes his role as chief investigator for the Menzies-led Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children.

Currently practising in Newcastle as a surgeon, he specialises in paediatric and adult otolaryngology, head and neck surgery (ear, nose and throat surgery), and lectures in allied health at the University.

He also participates in a project group at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) carrying out research investigating Alloiococcus Otitidis.

Menzies Director Professor Alan Cass said he was delighted the award was presented to someone who had made such a contribution to improving hearing outcomes for Indigenous children.

“I am very pleased to see Associate Professor Kong receive this year’s medallion. Kelvin brings passion, energy and expert skills as a surgeon and researcher to improve ear health in remote, rural and urban communities,” Professor Cass said.

“Kelvin has a strong and clear voice in advocacy to close the gap in educational and social disadvantage associated with the high prevalence of otitis media and hearing loss in Australian Indigenous children.

“In particular, Kelvin has been instrumental in raising awareness of ear health problems in the Australian community and bringing this issue to the attention of governments. His work has had a profound and measurable impact.”

Associate Professor Kong is also joint chair of the Hearing for Learning Initiative; a community-based training initiative that focuses on prevention through early detection of ear issues in young children by a locally trained and community-based workforce.

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The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.