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Indigenous people and cancer: a shared agenda for Aotearoa, Australia, and Pacific nations

Ngā iwi taketake me te mate pukupuku: He kaupapa tiritahi mō Aotearoa, Āhitereiria me ngā iwi o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa

Monday, Tuesday 19, 20 February 2018

Cancer is one of the most important health problems facing our region. Renowned regional and global collaborators will join participants in this symposium to provide the most up to date picture of the impact of cancer among the Indigenous peoples of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. We will identify, debate and discuss strategies that aim to reduce cancer incidence and improve cancer outcomes among the region’s Indigenous populations.

We will discuss questions such as:

  • How can we better measure cancer among Indigenous people of the region?
  • Do Australia and New Zealand profit from cancer-causing exports to the Pacific?
  • Are we doing everything we can to prevent cancer in our region?
  • How can we ensure that Indigenous peoples in our region have access to affordable, appropriate, effective and timely cancer treatment?


  1. To bring together people from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific nations to share information, ideas and potential solutions relating to cancer among Indigenous peoples of the region.
  2. To foster the development of current and new regional and international networks aimed at improving cancer outcomes among Indigenous peoples of the region.
  3. To understand political and societal factors influencing cancer in the region.
  4. To use a self-determination and strengths-based approach to explore key cancer control strategies for Indigenous peoples of the region including cancer monitoring, prevention and treatment.
  5. To identify key factors that can be incorporated into Indigenous cancer control strategies for the region, and potentially more widely.
  6. To advocate for improvement in cancer control strategies for Indigenous peoples of the region..

Style of course

This is a symposium – there will be multi-speaker presentations and panel discussions.

Who should attend?  

This symposium is aimed at anyone with an interest in cancer prevention and control, health services management, clinical management or cancer research in Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand or the Pacific. These groups may include those working in Ministries of Health, Non-Governmental Organisations, relevant international organisations, health care providers, health service planners and administrators, cancer researchers, advocacy groups, community groups and others with an interest in improving the health of Indigenous peoples of the region. 

Draft timetable - Day 1 Monday 19 Feb

Note: there may be a Pōwhiri on Sunday evening. This will be confirmed shortly.

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
9am Mihi whakatau
Why is this important? What do we hope to achieve

Diana Sarfati
Gail Garvey
Paula Vivili

10..00am Reflections from our whānau
(Chair: Teresa Goza)
10:30am Morning tea
11am Framing cancer within Indigenous paradigms
Rongoa Māori perspectives 
Bridget Robson
11..45am The importance of cancer surveillance and how we can do better

Introduction to the Pacific Cancer Registry hub
(Chair: Gail Garvey)
Freddie Bray
12:30pm Lunch break


Preventing cancer:
Control of NCDs in the Pacific: roles of tobacco and obesity
Role of Infection: the case of H Pylori
Tobacco control among Indigenous Australians (TBC)

Panel Discussion
(Chair: Diana Sarfati)

Paula Vivili
Andrea Teng
3pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Cancer screening
Screening for cervical cancer in Samoa
Cervical Screening in Indigenous women in Australia
Inequalities in screening: bowel cancer
Breast cancer screening among Indigenous Australians

Panel discussion
(Chair: Nina Scott)

Lama Tafuna’i
Lisa Whop
Melissa McLeod
Sue Moore
5pm Finish
5.15pm EVENING Public Lecture - Freddie Bray

Draft timetable - Day 2 Tuesday 20 Feb

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:45am Coffee
9am Challenges for cancer care in the Pacific and how to move forward
(Chair: Sunia Foliaki)
Neal Palafox
Kiki Maoate
Jane Skeen
10:30am Morning tea
11am Evidence of treatment inequities in Australia and NZ
Addressing inequities: moving forward
(Chair: Bridget Robson) 
Diana Sarfati
Sue Moore
Nina Scott
Teresa Goza
Gail Garvey
12:30pm Lunch break




Palliative care issues in the Pacific
Palliative care: how can we do better for Māori ? 


Lama Tafuna’i
Tess Moeke-Maxwell

2.15pm The importance of planning for cancer control
(Chair: Neal Palafox) 
Hai-Rim Shin
3pm Afternoon tea

Panel discussion: Moving the agenda forward
What next?
(Co-Chairs: Paula Vivili, Diana Sarfati)

Wrap up, evaluation and finish

5pm Finish


  • Dr Freddie Bray is Head of Section of Cancer Surveillance at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, in Lyon, France.
  • Dr Sunia Foliaki is a public health physician and cancer researcher who has worked extensively throughout the Pacific in both research and policy contexts.
  • Prof Gail Garvey is an Indigenous researcher who plays a leadership role in Indigenous cancer research in Australia nationally and internationally. She leads a National Centre of Research Excellence in Cancer and Indigenous People, and was the organiser of the World Indigenous Cancer Conference in 2016.
  • Teresa Goza (Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Haua, Ngāti Matakore, Ngāti Raukawa) is a health promotor currently working with the Cancer Society, and leading a Waitangi claim relating to unequal outcomes for Māori patients with cancer.
  • Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell (Ngāi Tai & Ngāti Pōrou) is a Research Fellow for the Te Ārai Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group, School of Nursing, University of Auckland.
  • Professor Neal Palafox (University of Hawaii Cancer Center) has been focused on improving health capacity and health policy toward reducing health disparities in US-Affiliated Pacific Island (USAPI) jurisdictions. This work has been done utilizing a community-based, participatory approach and developing key partnerships with health leadership, policy-makers and community advocates. These efforts have resulted in US Center for Disease Control (CDC)-funded Comprehensive Cancer Control programs in each of the USAPI jurisdictions and in the development of a Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry in the region.
  • Assoc Prof Bridget Robson (Ngāti Raukawa) is the director of Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare at the University of Otago, Wellington. Her research interests are in the areas of social and economic determinants of health, inequitable treatment in the health system, the impact of racism on health, and the development of kaupapa Māori epidemiology.
  • Prof Diana Sarfati is a public health physician, cancer epidemiologist and health services researcher at University of Otago, with extensive expertise in research aimed at improving cancer outcomes among Indigenous peoples
  • Dr Nina Scott, Ngati Whatua, Nga puhi, is a public health physician and current Chair of Hei Āhuru Mōwai, the Māori Cancer Leadership Board.
  • Dr Hai-Rim Shin (World Health Organization, Manilla) is the Coordinator for the Non-communicable Diseases and Health Promotion Unit of the Division of Non communicable Diseases and Health through the Life-Course, World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Manila, Philippines, since July 2010. Dr Shin holds a concurrent position as Acting Director for the DNH Division, World Health Organization, since 1 August 2017.
  • Dr Malama Tafuna’i is a GP and cancer researcher based in Samoa with particular interest in cervical cancer, and palliative care.
  • Dr Paula Vivili is ‎Director of the Public Health Division at Secretariat of the Pacific Community, based in Noumea, New Caledonia.

Course cost and registration

The cost of the 2-day symposium is $600 early-bird, $800 after 20 December 2017.

A 50% discount is available to University of Otago staff.

A special 2-day rate of $150 (earlybird) and $200 (after 20 Dec) is available to unwaged, full time students and those working in relevant community services, without access to funding for professional development. For details on how to access this rate, please email the course convenor, before you register.

Register now