Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Strengthening our future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce (#24)

Donna Murray 1
  1. Indigenous Allied Health Australia, Canberra, ACT, Australia

In early 2013, Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), a national not for profit, member-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health organisation, identified a need for targeted support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health students to enable them to complete their degrees and confidently enter the health workforce.

In addition to establishing a Student Representative Committee (SRC), IAHA searched for effective student support mechanisms and discovered a unique, fun and interactive interprofessional learning experience developed for students in health degrees across Australia, the HealthFusion Team Challenge (HFTC).

Since 2013 IAHA has held an annual HFTC specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students–the first of its kind both nationally and internationally. The IAHA HFTC is an intensive two day event that enables participants to engage with a diverse range of health disciplines, building valuable skills and knowledge in leadership, public speaking, collaborative team work and holistic person-centred care. The IAHA HFTC is unique in that it is steered towards creating a culturally safe and responsive learning experience, where participants grow as future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.

There were 25 students from 11 disciplines who participated in the inaugural event in 2013 which has since grown to 36 students in 2015. Over the years there have been participants from Dentistry, Exercise Science / Physiology, Health Science–OT Pathway, Medical Science (pathology), Medicine, Mental Health, Nutrition and Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Oral Health, Osteopathy, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Psychology, Radiography, Social Work and Speech Pathology.

Taking part in an IAHA HFTC provides participants with opportunities to meet and work with other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and mentors from across Australia, combatting a common sense of isolation and developing relationships and networks that can support and sustain them throughout their personal and professional journeys into the future.

IAHA remains committed to building a health system that is more effective, accessible and culturally responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The IAHA HFTC contributes to this by strengthening the future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.