Significantly, the ability to perform person-centred care in a culturally safe manner is more imperative in the health professions. In a country with a national identity of Indigenous communities, the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to be actively involved in developing and determining health programs affecting them is a priority.
A team of lecturers in the Faculty of Health Sciences are passionate about providing students with the foundation for culturally safe practice through the lens of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
With 80% of lecturer content coming from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders perspective and background, the unit HLSC120 Indigenous Health and Culture is an overdue innovation that is making a difference to the lives of our people.
“We have a unique pedagogy in this unit that is based on the custom, traditions and lore of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge – we teach it differently!”, said Dr Doseena Fergie, Lecturer and Early Career Researcher in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, Melbourne.
“Our students engage in yarning circles where we are all equally privileged,” Doseena said.
Students have said that the unit has helped them to have a greater appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Below are quotes received from students:
“In school, each assembly we did an Acknowledgment to Country. It was just a process to me, I didn’t really understand the significance of it, now I can really appreciate the History of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and I value the importance and recognition of an Acknowledgment.”
“I cannot comprehend the fact that I’ve grown up in Australia, I’ve had Australian schooling, I’ve heard of the Stolen Generation, yet... I’ve only just now realised what actually happened to the Stolen Generation and the impacts that has on our present Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
Students have learned how important it is to have a cultural safety perspective when supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.
The Faculty of Health Sciences is committed to the University’s strategies for Indigenous education and research, and closing the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care.
Such commitment is reflected through the Faculty of Health Sciences, together with First Peoples and Equity Pathways, securing two innovative scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academics - Ashleigh Bolt and Joshua Pierce in Melbourne.
Both are Registered Nurses and are well on their way to studying a Masters in Public Health. Both academics bring a wealth of experience to the teaching of the Indigenous Health and Culture unit and will inspire future generations of graduates and health workers to be mindful of the health needs of Aboriginal communities across Australia.
Dr Doseena Fergie, Richard Taylor, Janet Turpie-Johnstone and Ashleigh Bolt.