Strengthening our First Nations Health Sciences academics team

First National Health Science academics team

Torrens University Australia places great importance on embodying and embracing our Reconciliation Action Plan – and embedding it into everything we do.

As we celebrate NAIDOC Week under this year’s theme 'For Our Elders,' it is a poignant reminder of the importance of our Reconciliation Action Plan and the role we play in promoting cultural awareness and understanding for our staff, students, and our community. This theme resonates deeply, particularly in a year that continues to be challenging.

NAIDOC Week celebrates and recognises the history, culture and achievements of First Nations peoples each July. This year the theme acknowledges the cultural knowledge holders, trailblazers, nurturers, advocates, teachers, survivors, and leaders.

Our First Nations Health curriculum team is growing

We are proud to introduce three new Indigenous Identified Academic roles in our Health Sciences team, Learning Facilitators - Debbie Morgan-Frail, Dr Jola Stewart-Bugg, and Dr Tuguy Esgin. Their extensive collective knowledge across various Indigenous education and healthcare sectors will contribute to our ongoing process of incorporating First Nations perspectives in our curriculum.

Furthermore, the subject Debbie, Jola and Tuguy will be teaching - ‘First Peoples Culture, History and Healthcare,’ is designed to enhance understanding of First Nations cultural considerations and provide valuable insights into the 'Gap' in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The subject provides key resources to support culturally safe and accessible care that is also responsive to the needs of First Nations Peoples. It was first developed with our Bachelor of Nursing course, then refined to share with other Health courses. Lesli Kirwan, Senior Learning Facilitator First Nations Curriculum who joined Torrens University last year, coordinates this subject that is now broadly shared across our undergraduate programs in the Health and Education faculty.

Improving health outcomes for Indigenous communities

‘First Peoples Culture, History and Healthcare’ allows students to apply health promotion and health care best practices, and critical reflection for the safe and effective delivery of services for First Nations Peoples.

Health issues are examined in terms of their historical, political and policy origins, as well as the antagonism between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People and colonialist values. The subject also covers how historically determined power relations between healthcare professionals and First Nations Peoples have impacted their health, and demographic and socioeconomic trends.

The subject analyses the factors influencing health care access and explains the importance of health promotion, health care and trauma informed care that is evidence based and culturally sensitive.

Our students learn to incorporate cultural awareness and knowledge of cultural safety to improve interprofessional health practice, health statistics and advocate for improved health outcomes, whilst empowering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Building cultural capacity through educating our staff

As part of our Tuition Reduction Benefit Scheme, which provides staff with 100% scholarships for work-related study, the subject has been made available free to all our staff to enable the development of cultural safety awareness within our workforce. We are committed to our mission for Torrens University to become a leader in this space so building our teachers’ cultural capacity through education is a vital step to then supporting our students’ cultural awareness and safety.

Just as First Nations Elders have guided and paved the way for each generation, our recent additions to the Torrens University academic team are another step in the right direction to guide our students and staff and provide valuable opportunities for their learnings and understanding of First Nations knowledge.

As we welcome new additions to our academic team and expand our offerings to staff, we take another step forward in honoring and valuing First Nations knowledge and our commitment to our Reconciliation Action Plan. We are committed to continue to take meaningful steps toward reconciliation and creating a more equitable future for all.

Hero Image Credit: NAIDOC Week Poster, Artist: Bobbi Lockyer.

Check our Health Courses to learn more
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