Meet Victoria Sinka
Victoria Sinka is a Research Assistant in the ARDAC Kidney Health Study at the Centre for Kidney Research, based in Kids Research, SCHN. Victoria is of Aboriginal, Australian Southsea Islander and Maltese descent. We like to acknowledge her Pitjantjatjara , Australian Southsea Islander and Maltese ancestors, especially this International Women’s Day.
Victoria’s dedication to her work in healthcare and research started from her roots. On her Indigenous side, her family and ancestors are known knowledge holders, and are deep thinkers and diplomats. On her Maltese side, her ancestors were in the Order of the Knights of St John Malta in the oldest running humanitarian and medical order.
“I give credit to my ancestors for shaping and guiding me in my work in healthcare provided through research.”
“Having also had a premature baby in 2009, I was grateful for the care by the staff at Grace Ward in the Children’s Hospital at Westmead and I knew I wanted to give back and make an impact on Australia’s health.”
How are you pushing boundaries in your field?
As an Indigenous researcher, I feel a great responsibility to contribute to research by bringing Indigenous methods and approaches in how we synthesis and conduct our research, especially including Indigenous people in the data and co creating the research.
Why is empowering other women important?
There is so much work to do, especially in research and healthcare. We, as women contribute so much to the field of STEMM and we need to empower other women, to build a support network and a tribe around us.
Someone has to carry on my work after I retire, let it be more women!
How are you achieving this?
I am privileged to be regularly invited as a guest lecturer at universities and am honoured to have the opportunity to speak to many young people (and young women) on the potential you can have in a career in research.
What is your advice for other women wanting to further themselves and their career?
I encourage everyone to try. Let your lecturers and teachers know of your interests. Find and align yourself with a mentor, apply for opportunities in student scholarships and simply give it a go. A little spark can start a fire!
In keeping with the “Choose to Challenge” theme, what do you think is the most important thing to challenge?
For Indigenous people to be included in health research design and data sets and the way we fundamentally conduct research overall. It is a crucial step to closing the gap and I hope my fellow colleagues and community will continue to challenge this.
What has been the biggest thing that has helped you in your career?
I have a wonderful support network around me - family, friends and colleague. Many are women and mothers themselves, with a lot of experiences in their field that continue to guide and support me.
My mother in particular, has also been a great source of support and I can’t thank her enough.
What has been your greatest challenge and how do you inspire other women to choose to challenge?
Although there are other Indigenous people in the study, I am the only Indigenous woman working in my core team. This comes with challenges, especially with the methodology of the work we do.
I highly encourage other women to choose to challenge this as we, as women have a lot of wisdom to offer in our respective fields.
What values do you hope to instil in others about women in the workforce?
To remember that you deserve to be here. Women before us have fought hard for us to be where we are today and we should take every opportunity to thrive in the workforce.
Who is your role model/inspiration?
I’d like to highlight 2 Indigenous women, that continue to challenge in having Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands at SCHN; Rita Williams, Senior Aboriginal Education Officer who founded ARDAC.
“Because of her, we can”.
Without her challenging the system, myself and many Indigenous experts wouldn’t be here doing this research study, that is going into its 20th year. Also the formidable Kerry Smith, Aboriginal Child and Mental Health Service Priority Advisor, who worked to challenge and improve the support for suicide prevention in Aboriginal communities for Aboriginal community-led developed and implemented initiatives.