International artist and Indigenous health champion headlines major biennial Health Conference

15 May 2015

Internationally renowned singer/songwriter and 2014 NT Australian of the Year, Shellie Morris, will open the 13th National Rural Health Conference and share her passion for better Indigenous health.

The NAIDOC Artist of the Year has been working in communities for more than 20 years, using music as a tool for healing and closing the gap of Indigenous disadvantage.

CEO of the National Rural Health Alliance, Gordon Gregory, said the conference will focus on a wide range of ways in which the wellbeing of people in remote and rural communities can be improved.

He said having Shellie open the conference with a speech and some of her songs would set a very positive focus for the rest of the event.

“We are thrilled that Shellie is a big part of the 13th National Rural Health Conference. She will get the conference off to a great start by performing at the opening session on Sunday 24 May and is a headline act in the Arts and Health program. Her work across so many remote communities and commitment toward Indigenous Australians living longer, healthier lives is inspirational.” he said.

Shellie Morris is an ambassador for The Fred Hollows Foundation and creates songs with young people in an effort to raise awareness of trachoma and reduce its incidence.

In some communities the songs she has created are now being learnt and sung by the next generation.

Her ability to leave a legacy and sustain key health messages is due in part to her ability to connect with community and the organisations she works with.

Although she has worked with international artists like Sinéad O’Connor and Ricki Lee Jones, Shellie is proud of the songs she has written with young people about how to live a healthy and strong life.

Shellie has also worked with the Jimmy Little Foundation to promote the vision of the late Dr Jimmy Little for Australian First Nations people to live longer, healthier lives.

Mr Gregory praised Shellie’s unshakable dedication to working in communities and ability to speak a little of 14 Indigenous languages.

“Shellie has an excellent reputation as a facilitator, and is friend to many in the more than 40 remote communities she has worked with around Australia,” he said. “In addition to enjoying Shellie’s opening performance, delegates at the Conference can also join her in a yarning circle to discuss challenges, successes and hear how she engages successfully with community and the different organisations she has worked with.”

To arrange an interview with Shellie please contact Emily Murphy on 0438 866 020.