Ways to Learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture
1 month ago by Chris
Australia is a multicultural community and within that diversity, Australia has one of the oldest continuing living cultures in the world: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. Around 20% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live in what is classified as very remote and remote areas.
Learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is important for all Australians, but especially if you wish to go into the medical field to care for others. It is important to understand Indigenous history and culture, and the issues relating to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous communities around the country.
Many medical interviews cover topics relating to Indigenous health, and it is therefore important that you are familiar with the issues facing such communities. This is particularly important if you are applying for James Cook University, which has an emphasis on rural, remote, tropical and Indigenous medicine.
Below are some options to guide you.
Did you know that on average, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants die at twice the rate of other Australians and those who live past infancy have a life expectancy that is 10-17 years shorter than other Australians? What’s more, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer chronic diseases, such as heart disease, at much higher rates than in the non-Indigenous populations.
Oxfam helped launch the ‘Close the Gap’ campaign to garner support for improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For more information, check out: https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/indigenous-australia/close-the-gap/
Australian Indigenous Health Network
The Australian Indigenous Health Network aims to provide ‘the knowledge and other information needed for practitioners and policy-makers to make informed decisions in their work.’ The group looks at topical health issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. For more information, visit: https://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/learn/health-topics
The Lowitja Institute is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation working for the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples through high impact quality research, knowledge translation, and by supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers. They provide tools and resources to help those in the medical field improve the quality and cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health care journeys. For more information, visit: https://www.lowitja.org.au/page/services/tools/health-journey-mapping
Podcasts, books and other resources
- The University of Technology, Sydney has a list of the top 10 Indigenous research resources. This includes their ’10 ways to connect with Aboriginal Australia.’
- You could listen to a podcast with topics such as, ‘Coronavirus-COVID-19 and its impacts on Indigenous Australians’, ‘The changes in Indigenous health over the past 30 years’, ‘Men’s health, mental health and reducing domestic violence’. Podcasts can range from 30 to 60 minutes.
- NITV, National Indigenous Television, is a TV channel that is free to air. It broadcasts programming produced largely by Indigenous Australians. There are programmes about health and society issues, but also check out their ‘Excellence’ page with stories about success in the community. The NITV recommend ‘5 Indigenous films that changed the national conversation.’
- The ABC recommended their top 7 must read books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors. Indigenous narratives offer what Bundjalung/Kullilli/South Sea Islander presenter Daniel Browning describes as an "authentic and unvarnished version of Australia".
So, if you want to be someone who shows respect for Indigenous people, so that you can build better relationships and be more effective in your future work as a doctor, spend some time learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. This will also be very helpful for your upcoming medical interviews!