John Conley, MD Lecture on Medical Ethics

About the John Conley, MD Lecture on Medical Ethics

This award, named for an esteemed leader in the specialty, is based on Dr. John Conley’s passion for head and neck surgery and belief in the professionalism of the practice of medicine.

2024 Lecturer

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ear Health in Australia, an Indigenous Perspective

Saturday, September 28, 8:00 – 9:00 am (ET), presented during the Opening Ceremony

Professor Kelvin M. Kong AM, MBBS BSc, FRACS, MD, is a practicing otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon in Newcastle on Awabakal and Worimi Country in New South Wales, Australia. He treats a wide range of pediatric and adult patients, with a particular focus on otitis media, pediatric airway, cochlear implantation, and voice disorders. Graduating from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), Dr. Kong brings a wealth of expertise across various sectors including clinical research, medical education, health policy, and Indigenous education.

In addition to being a professor at the University of Newcastle’s School of Medicine and Public Health, Dr. Kong is an honorary professor at Macquarie University and an associate professor at UNSW. He is the senior examiner of the ORL mini court for the RACS and a member of the National Ear and Hearing Health Partnership Committee.

As one of only five Indigenous surgeons in Australia, Dr. Kong is passionate about addressing the disparity in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. Each year, he spends a portion of his time working in, and for, remote Australian communities providing access to quality healthcare that would otherwise be limited or unavailable.

Dr. Kong strives to close the gap in ear health to bring all Indigenous Australian children to the same level of well-being and to provide access to healthcare as non-Indigenous children. The rates of ear disease are higher for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children across Australia, with some communities having 90% of young children affected. Hearing loss as a result of ear disease can lead to disadvantages in early learning and development of language and social skills, which can have lasting repercussions.

In recognition of his commitment to equity and the welfare of all, he received Australian honors in 2024 as a member of the Order of Australia General Division for his outstanding contributions to health. He was also named the 2023 NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) Person of the Year, among other awards and recognitions.

About the Lecture

In this session, Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon will examine the issues of ear disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Drawing from personal experiences, Dr. Kong will offer valuable insights into the challenges of managing this common health issue and the dichotomy of ear disease in Australia. Through an Aboriginal lens, attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, social, and systemic factors contributing to the prevalence of ear disease. The lecture will also provide an outlook on potential solutions and strategies for addressing this pressing issue.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the complex interplay of socioeconomic factors, cultural nuances, and healthcare access contributing to the high prevalence of ear disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  2. Gain valuable insight into the unique challenges facing healthcare professionals in Australia in diagnosing, treating, and managing ear disease within these communities, including cultural sensitivities and historical trauma.
  3. Explore promising interventions and initiatives aimed at improving ear health outcomes and fostering community-led solutions, highlighting the importance of culturally competent healthcare delivery and holistic approaches to wellness.

Previous Lecturers:


  • 2023: Jennifer R. Grandis, MD
  • 2022: Andrew G. Shuman, MD, HEC-C
  • 2021: J. Nwando (Onyejekwe) Olayiwola, MD
  • 2020: Anand K. Devaiah, MD
  • 2019: Dana M. Thompson, MD, MS
  • 2018: Ronald Kuppersmith, MD, MBA
  • 2017: Michael M. Johns III, MD
  • 2016: G. Richard Holt, MD, D-BE, MSE, MPH
  • 2015: G. Scott Morris, MD, M.Div.
  • 2014: Rosemary Gibson
  • 2013: Nancy L. Snyderman, MD
  • 2012: Itzhak Brook, MD
  • 2011: Marlee Matlin
  • 2010: Gerald S. Healy, MD
  • 2009: Arthur L. Caplan, PhD
  • 2008: Nancy M. Kane, DMA
  • 2007: William G. Enright, PhD
  • 2006: Thomas R. Russell, MD, FACS
  • 2005: Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD
  • 2004: Her Majesty Queen Noor
  • 2003: Arthur S. Levine, MD
  • 2002: Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes
  • 2001: Daniel P. Sulmasy, OFM, MD, PhD
  • 2000: Pastor James D. Miller, PhD
  • 1999: C. Everett Koop, MD, ScD
  • 1998: Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller
  • 1997: Leo J. O’Donovan, SJ
  • 1996: Lasalle D. Leffall, Jr., MD
  • 1995: Thomas E. Starzl, MD, PhD
  • 1994: Bruce N. Ames, PhD
  • 1993: Benjamin Carson, Sr., MD
  • 1992: John Fletcher
  • 1991: Leland R. Kaiser, PhD
  • 1990: Edmund D. Pelligrino, PhD
  • 1989: Louis Sullivan, MD
  • 1988: John McLaughlin, PhD
  • 1987: Mark Medoff
  • 1986: Morris B. Abram, JD
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