Introduction: It is widely recognised that a culturally capable health workforce is vital if health services are to meet the health care needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Higher education providers play a pivotal role in developing the cultural capabilities of the future health workforce. Ensuring all health care professionals develop their cultural capabilities before graduating will help improve health care delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content across health curricula is key to developing these capabilities.
In 2013, Curtin University was contracted to develop a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework to provide a model for implementing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curriculum across health professional programmes.
Method: The Framework was developed using a consultative, inclusive approach. Engagement with stakeholders from the education and health sectors, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, and accreditation and regulatory bodies, was integral to the development process.
An online consultation process, interviews with key informants, workshops, case studies and desk‑based research also informed development.
Results: The Framework includes a set of principles, graduate cultural capabilities, curriculum content and assessment and learning outcomes, and is presented in a user-friendly package. The package includes guidelines to support higher education providers in implementing the Framework, and accreditation guidelines which suggest criteria that demonstrate the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curriculum is being delivered in line with (developing and improved) regulation standards.
Conclusion: Implementing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curricula has received considerable focus across individual disciplines and organisations. Increasing recognition of the importance of different health professions working together to provide culturally safe health care also calls for collaboration across health professions and a shared understanding of cultural capabilities required in service providers.
The Framework is an inter-professional package that offers higher education providers with a tool to support effective implementation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curricula across health professional programmes, while also providing individual health professions with a shared language and vehicle to support a more coordinated understanding of cultural capabilities required in the health workforce.