The Indigenous Hui, organised by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and funded by the Foundation for Surgery, will be held at a marae (gathering place) in Auckland city.
Hui means “meeting” in te reo Māori but Professor Kong, Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon, says the event is really about having a “chin wag”.
“In both Aboriginal and Māori culture the concept of connection is important. The hui will give us a chance to have frank conversations, face-to-face and without interruptions.”
One of those conversations will centre on the barriers many Indigenous doctors and surgeons face in their professions.
In a keynote address, Professor Kong, along with Professor Jonathan Koea, who was the only Māori general surgeon in Aotearoa when he first finished his surgical training in the late 1990s, will aim to remind attendees of how far the College has come in terms of accepting and supporting Indigenous surgeons.
The hope is to generate ideas about how structures can be more robust and consistent so biases don’t creep in and the environment is more attractive to Indigenous doctors.
“There is some amazing young talent coming through and we hope that in 10 to 15 years the community of Indigenous surgeons will be even bigger and stronger.
“We need processes that work for, and support and encourage, all Indigenous doctors into surgery as a profession.”
By backing the event, he says the College of Surgeons has shown it places a high value on diversity and building the workforce of Indigenous surgeons. He and others involved in the hui are determined to “pay it forward” by helping the College adapt and smooth the path for future Indigenous surgeons.
Professor Kong describes Aotearoa as his “second home” and is looking forward to the warm smiles that always greet him when he visits.
He’s also looking forward to connecting with some of his “heroes” on the other side of the Tasman, including Professor Jonathan Koea and Dr Maxine Ronald, a general surgeon based in Aotearoa and the first Indigenous person to sit on RACS’ governing Council.
Professor Kong was announced as NAIDOC Person of the Year 2023 earlier this month, for his work to address disproportionate rates of ear disease in First Nations children.
Other keynote speakers at the hui include AIDA Vice President Dr Jonathan Newchurch, and, from Aotearoa, prominent Indigenous rights academic Professor Margaret Mutu and public health academic Professor Papaarangi Reid.
Find out about our keynote speakers.