Poster Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

What is your experience of learning about Aboriginal health and [how] does it change you? A multiple methods exploration (#302)

Sally A Fitzpatrick 1 2 , Megan Williams 1 , Lisa Jackson Pulver 2 3 , Lois Meyer 2 , Jan Ritchie 2 , Melissa R Haswell 2 4
  1. Centre for Health Research, Western Sydney University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  3. Office of Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership, Western Sydney University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  4. School of Public Health and Social Work, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

It is now expected that a set of baseline Indigenous public health competencies must be embedded in Master of Public Health programs in Australia (Genat, Robinson & Parker, 2009). Such mandating has seen the development of courses and program specialisations where student ‘transformation’ is highly valued by facilitators (Norman 2014). However, little is known of change experienced by students of Indigenous health and how to measure it.

Between 2010-2015 postgraduate students at UNSW Australia were invited to contribute to the evaluation of two Indigenous health courses delivered by Muru Marri, the university’s Aboriginal health unit in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine. The courses could be taken as electives or as core courses in an Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing specialisation stream. We sought to capture group changes as they were actually occurring within students’ lives using multiple methods, including through the Growth and Empowerment Measure (GEM), an instrument developed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to measure processes and outcomes of empowerment interventions (Haswell et al. 2010). At the time, we were unaware of the GEM's use with predominantly non-Indigenous groups. Alternative tools to measure transformative learning in an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander context were not apparent.

The survey data from 147 students, together with students’ online discussions and post-course feedback offered a rich opportunity to theorise participants’ change processes. This poster will introduce the broad study design, then focus on Phase 1 of a multipronged, multiple-methods analysis of aspects of growth and positive change reported by students; results of the GEM

  1. Genat, W. 2008 (on behalf of PHERP Indigenous Public Health Capacity Development Project Reference Group), National Indigenous Public Health Curriculum Framework, Onemda VicHealth Koori Health Unit, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  2. Haswell, M. R., Kavanagh, D., Tsey, K., Reilly, L., Cadet-James, Y., Laliberté, A., Wilson, A. & Doran, C. 2010, ‘Psychometric Validation of the Growth and Empowerment Measure (GEM) Applied with Indigenous Australians.’ Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 44, no. 9, pp. 791–99.
  3. Norman, H. 2014,‘Mapping more than Aboriginal Studies: Pedagogy, professional practice and knowledge’, The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 42–51.