Prof Juanita Sherwood is a proud First Nations woman with Wiradjuri, Murri, Maori and Anglo-Celtic lineages. Her mother’s grandfather was born in Wagga Wagga and her family is connected to Country from Jerilderie through to Yass. Prof Sherwood has been a nurse, teacher, lecturer, and researcher for over 35 years. Her journey began in the early 1980s at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney when it was the only hospital responding to the HIV and AIDS crisis. Prof Sherwood was a first-hand witness of the harmful impacts of systemic discrimination on HIV and AIDS patients and their families at the time. This shaped her path toward becoming a health advocate.
In 1988, she took up the fight for First Nation’s children with very high rates of Otitis Media in her role as a child and family health nurse in Redfern. Her work changed health and education outcomes for First Nation’s children across the nation and heralded a long-standing commitment to Indigenous health research as a social justice praxis.
Prof Sherwood is widely credited for increasing the uptake of Indigenous-centred research and decolonisation methods in Australia and recognising colonisation as the primary determinant of Indigenous health, as well as being a strong proponent of cultural safety.