The Western Sydney University (Western) Indigenous Health Attachment (IHA) commenced in 2011 following the release of a commissioned report (Morgan & Woolford 2009). This paper details the activities developed in response to that report by Western’s School of Medicine to prepare medical students for attachments in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service environments, and to ensure an effective and meaningful experience for both students and the Aboriginal services and communities they serve.
Western’s School of Medicine is dedicated to serving the interests of those who have had poor access to high-quality health care, and to improving the health and quality of life of those living in the Greater Western Sydney community and beyond. As Greater Western Sydney has a large Indigenous population, an important part of the School’s vision is to play an active role in addressing the health inequities experienced by the local Aboriginal communities through developing a workforce that is equipped to work effectively with those communities.
The IHA was developed to provide an opportunity for every final year medical student to better understand the medical, social and cultural aspects of Aboriginal health. To achieve this, the program places students in an urban, rural or remote Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) to facilitate a practical health care experience in a culturally safe environment. It also provides a unique opportunity for the students to observe the complex roles of Aboriginal health professionals, to see multidisciplinary health care in action, and to understand the importance of community control in health care delivery and associated services (Goodall 2012).