The Australian Centre for Student Equity and Success acknowledges Indigenous peoples as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our campuses are situated. With a history spanning 60,000 years as the original educators, Indigenous peoples hold a unique place in Australia. We recognise the importance of their knowledge and culture, and reflect the principles of participation, equity, and cultural respect in our work. We pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future, and consider it an honour to learn from our Indigenous colleagues, partners, and friends.

You are reading: Indigenous students’ journeys to and through allied healthcare programs

Written by Dr Andrea Simpson1

Communication between practitioner and patient is key in developing a trusting clinical relationship. However, interactions between Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander[1] patients and medical and allied health practitioners can be problematic due to cultural misunderstandings. Many Indigenous people have reported poor past experiences with their non-Indigenous healthcare providers, a significant barrier to the delivery of successful health care for Indigenous people (Downing et al., 2011). Building capacity in the Indigenous health workforce has been suggested as one way of improving the healthcare experience, thereby enhancing Indigenous health outcomes.

At the time of writing, Indigenous people were poorly represented in healthcare professions with 0.4% of medical professionals and 0.4% of allied healthcare professionals identifying as Indigenous (IAHA, 2018; AMA, 2014). Publicly available statistics on the percentage of Indigenous practitioners for many healthcare professions can be found by searching the appropriate regulatory body. However, the numbers of Indigenous students within healthcare fields, particularly the allied health fields, are less well known. Examining Indigenous student participation for specific allied health professions was therefore one aim of the current Fellowship.

Read the full Fellowship report: Indigenous students’ journeys to and through allied healthcare programs


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