This fellowship proposed a coherent program of activities, developed in partnership with existing national and international collaborators, to clarify and work through these barriers. The fellowship generated and refined a framework of educational strategies to aid the emergence of self-reflective, culturally safe practitioners. ‘Closing the Gap’ requires health professionals not only able to embrace the complexity inherent within Australian Indigenous health presentations, but with the capability, further, to respond successfully and to work well with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Dissemination measures, including a major symposium and roundtable, a national series of workshops, and the production and release of a range of online resources, aimed to weave good practice through the national pedagogical repertoire.
‘Closing the Gap’ in Indigenous/non–Indigenous health outcomes is a bipartisan national priority (Australian Government, 2014, p. 1). The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–2023 (NATSIHP) recognised, however, that new approaches were necessary to achieve equity in health by 2031. The Australian Government Minister for Indigenous Health at the time called for ‘bold’ approaches, that there were ‘new agendas to embed’ to achieve the plan’s vision of a health system ‘free of racism and inequality’, one where ‘all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have access to health services that are effective, high quality, appropriate and affordable’ (Australian Government 2013, pp. 3–7). Developing an appropriately skilled and culturally safe health workforce is central to this task. When students enrolled in health professional training courses respond to challenges arising from Indigenous health curricula with resistance—and in particular with disengagement—then teaching and learning can fail (McDermott & Sjoberg 2012). Institutions can also resist. Where a commitment to incorporate Indigenous–preferred pedagogy is not seen as central to developing an effective health practitioner, it can not only dilute the comprehensiveness of Indigenous health subjects and jeopardise their ‘core’ status, but also undermine the rationale for faculty support for measures to facilitate a student journey through difficult terrain… read more.