Indigenous Cultural Competency for Health
These modules have been developed as part of the Indigenous Cultural Competency Model Grant from Universities Australia and extend on the University of Newcastle's ground-breaking CD-ROM Healing Our Way (1999).
All artwork is taken from the Culcha Disc (1999)
What is Aboriginal Health?
The modules focus on aspects of Aboriginal Health and Well-Being, noting the definition used by the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO):
'Aboriginal health' means not just the physical well-being of an individual but refers to the social, emotional and cultural well-being of the whole Community in which each individual is able to achieve their full potential as a human being thereby bringing about the total well-being of their Community. It is a whole of life view and includes the cyclical concept of life-death-life.
A key element of the modules is the inclusion of perspectives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members who participated in focus groups at the University of Newcastle's three main domestic campuses at Newcastle, Ourimbah and Port Macquarie. A University of Newcastle, Teaching and Learning Strategic Grant funded the focus groups.
The Project Team acknowledges the Traditional Owners of these sites: the Awabakal; the Darkinjung; and the Biripi. We also acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from other areas who participated in the project and in the materials sourced from other sites.
The participants drawn for this project had diverse organisational affiliations, ranging from the University, TAFE, Land Councils, Registered Training Organisations (RTO's), Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS), the Catchment Management Authority (CMA), Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (AECG) and Women's and Elder's Groups. Their views should be regarded as representative of a cross-section of the communities to which they belong, but are not the views of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
What do you know?
Many students have little knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, yet this knowledge is considered increasingly important for health services. Before looking at the modules complete the Self Evaluation Tool for the Health Professions. This will alert you to issues you need to consider when developing your culturally competency. While your studies will develop your skills, some aspects of competency will only mature with practice and reflection on the job.
For an overview of Aboriginal cultures, historical experiences and explanations of key terms such as racism
* The University of Newcastle has also purchased Interactive Ochre. Staff can request a CD or blackboard upload from Estelle Johnstone at the Wollotuka Institute.
The following documents have been recently updated from Interactive Ochre:
Linking community perspectives and employment criteria
Focus groups conducted with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members were asked to nominate their priorities for student knowledge when working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.
The top priorities were:
- Recognising the importance of the Aboriginal Medical Services.
- Understanding the importance of respectfully engaging with communities.
- Recognising the need for partnership with between communities and service providers.
- Female elders stressed the need to understand the gendered nature of service- with the example of birthing practices given.
- Men's health was also seen as critical.
- Background knowledge on history and cultures.
- Recognising the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
These community priorities correspond with employment criteria for people in the health professions. We surveyed a range of job advertisements from across the health sector (from GP's; nurses; midwives, occupational therapists and others) and identified the recurring themes. The most common of these are shown below. Click on the job criteria to access a web page with more information. You will also be introduced to online resources that can help expand your knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and health issues.
- An interest in Aboriginal health issues
- Ability to deal with cross-cultural issues and knowledge of EEO principles
- Demonstrated understanding and commitment to Aboriginal health, Aboriginal culture, and the philosophy and practice of Aboriginal Community Control
- Demonstrated ability to build and maintain effective links with Aboriginal families, communities and agencies
- Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal maternal and infant health issues, and the ability to work within a culturally sensitive framework
- Working with remote and Indigenous communities
- Experience in the Indigneous or reconciliation field is an advantage