The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) landed in Bowraville on Friday to win the hearts and minds of our future doctors and nurses.
Indigenous kids were bussed in from surrounding schools to engage in a range of activities at the ‘Future Health Champions Expo’ which aimed to pique their interest in a career in health.
Watch: The official welcome to the expo
Alongside the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) and the Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD), AIDA had more than 30 Indigenous doctors, nurses, midwives, nutritionists, and physiotherapists attending the school to deliver activities demonstrating some of the day-to-day procedures that occur in their respective fields.
Through applying plaster casts, delivering a mannequin baby, operating on organs and participating in pre-game exercises undertaken by players from the St Kilda and Melbourne Victory teams, they showed students the variety of jobs available to them if they embark on careers in health.
“It is so encouraging that we have so many people, organisations, families and community members supporting this important event. We are really excited to bring Indigenous health workers into the community to engage with students about the many options they have regarding careers in health,”AIDA president Dr Kali Hayward said.
This is the first time that AIDA has come to the area, usually visiting more remote Indigenous communities like those in the Tiwi islands.
But with renewed focus on Bowraville as a hub for growth and development, particularly in the area of health services, Bowra and the greater Gumbaynggirr country might just be the best place to grow the couple of thousand Indigenous doctors needed to reach population parity – that is, three percent of all Australian health professionals being of Indigenous heritage.
The AIDA program has already shepherded a couple of hundred students into medical studies, but it’s a little way off its target yet.
“We know that if we want to see long-term sustainable change to health outcomes, we need a strong representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and workers across the many diverse careers in health,” IAHA Chairperson Nicole Turner said
“Engaging our young people and sharing the amazing opportunities available is part of growing that health workforce into the future”.
CATSINaM were there to show how rewarding a career in midwifery can be, especially when it means a hand-on career in reducing the Indigenous infant mortality rate.
“Building the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce through targeted investment in our young people is critical to closing the gap on health disadvantage – we are proud to be part of an initiative that works with our communities in delivering a tailored approach to health education and training pathways,”CATSINaM CEO Janine Mohamed said
Watch:An interview with Dr Kali Hayward about the need to encourage more Indigenous kids into health careers.
Luisa Eckhardt, on behalf of MNCLHD, was instrumental in pulling the event together at the local level and engaging with the community to ensure this event was a success for everyone who attended.