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

The Menzies Medallion is the highest award given by Menzies School of Health Research (Menzies).

A/Prof Kong was presented with the award in recognition of his leadership in Aboriginal health service delivery, advocacy and research and his work to improve ear health in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.                                                                             

A Worimi man from Port Stephens, A/Prof Kong specialises as a surgeon in paediatric and adult otolaryngology, and ear, nose and throat surgery. He lectures in allied health at University of Newcastle plus participates in a project group at the Hunter Medical Research Institute investigating Alloiococcus Otitidis.

He is also a chief investigator for the Menzies-led Centre for Research Excellence in Ear and Hearing Health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children and is joint chair of the Hearing for Learning Initiative; a community-based training initiative that focuses on the early detection of ear issues in young children.

Menzies Director Professor Alan Cass said he was pleased the award was presented to someone who has contributed significantly to improving hearing outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

“Kelvin brings passion, energy and expert skills as a surgeon and researcher to improve ear health in remote, rural and urban communities,” Prof 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 (OM) and hearing loss in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.”