The inaugural three part College of Medicine and Public Health (CMPH) and College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS) Indigenous Health Staff Forum was held on 13 and 14 November. This was well attended by over fifty Flinders University staff from all over the SA/NT Flinders University footprint.
Participants included staff from the CMPH, the CNHS and Yunggorendi at Bedford Park, as well as local and remote staff from the Poche Centres for Indigenous Health and Well-Being (Adelaide and Northern Territory), Flinders Northern Territory (Darwin and Katherine), the Centre for Remote Health (Alice Springs) and Flinders Rural Health South Australia (Riverland, Mt Gambier, Barossa and the Hills Mallee region).
The aim of the forum was to initiate a process of collaboration to advance three key areas of activity high-lighted within the recently-formulated CMPH Strategy Implementation Plan for Indigenous Health. The forum allocated a separate session to each of these areas, allowing dedicated time for an Indigenous staff get-together, an Indigenous health-related research show case and an Indigenous student recruitment, retention and support workshop. Good progress was made on: community of practice development and Indigenous group support amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff-members; capacity-strengthening and community-perspective advancement for CMPH and CNHS researchers conducting Indigenous health-related research; and group planning to improve CMPH Indigenous student recruitment, retention, successful graduation and pathways to future employment.
Discussions at all sessions were vibrant and informative with significant input from all in attendance.
At the Indigenous staff get-together there was a focus on networking and developing ways to work collaboratively, despite the wide geographic distribution, in support of common goals and activities. There was strong discussion around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff training and professional development, along with research aspirations and support networks. The session concluded with a shared lunch at the Alere Function Centre to lead into the second, research-focussed session of the day.
The Indigenous research show case included over twenty, five-minute “speed dating-style” presentations by College staff. These included a large cohort from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research units of the Southgate Institute and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute as well as a number of excellent presentations ranging in content from policy and cultural safety training to Point-of-Care testing, remote services and innovations, along with a particular focus on addressing Indigenous community well-being and care.
The third and final session on Indigenous student recruitment, retention and support was held in a collaborative workshop setting. Following an inspiring round of introductions (“Who’s your mob and where are you from?”), various short presentations were given with focus around the breadth of Flinders health related courses, present student recruitment measures in place, student support services available and the need and desire to further enhance the student experience at all Flinders campuses. It was agreed a working party with representatives from all sites should continue these discussions in the future.
Feedback from the two day forum has revealed an ongoing need and desire to keep the discussions flowing with active networking between participants, despite geographical distances, and it is anticipated that this will become, at least, an annual cross-college, collaborative event.
For further information please feel free to contact Liz Larkin, Executive Officer for the Poche Centres for Indigenous Health and Well-Being, Adelaide and Northern Territory.