• Introduction

    A survey of medical students from the University of Melbourne in 2001 found there was only one hour of Aboriginal health curriculum in the whole medical program across six years (Rasmussen, 2001).

    The survey also found most students did not previously learn Aboriginal studies in primary and high school. So why should we be surprised that a majority of first-year medical students understand very little about the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples?  

    Despite Aboriginal studies being included in the national K-12 curriculum since 2014, we still do not see any coordinated strategic investments at Federal, State or local levels in teacher confidence or teaching and learning resource accountability measures, aside from the individual whim of a principal or teacher.  

    Further, what is taught is often about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures rather than the truth of genocide and the impacts on outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples today, thus rendering the studies romanticised and reductive. 

    Studies have shown that before learners can learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and programs, the curriculum, pedagogy, and teacher must first help them unlearn in a transformative manner what they didn’t know they had learned. In other words, to unlearn their potential for white privilege, unconscious bias, discrimination and racism.  

    Transformative learning is learning that transforms problematic frames of reference—sets of fixed assumptions and expectations (habits of mind, meaning perspectives, mindsets)—to make them more inclusive, discriminating, open, reflective, and emotionally able to change.

    Sophisticated pedagogy requires organisations to take a strategic, stepped and continual approach to cultural safety. It is about individuals learning throughout their careers and lives. It is also about knowing that transformational unlearning is required before learners become receptive and respectful of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and programs.

    The following topics will be covered in this online learning resource.

    Learning about others

    Learning about myself

    Learning about impacts

    Topic 1: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and histories

    Topic 7: Awareness alone is not enough

    Topic 15: Holistic health concepts, including social and emotional wellbeing

    Topic 2: Colonisation

    Topic 8: Communication

    Topic 16: The historical and contemporary impacts of policy

    Topic 3: Traditional Owners

    Topic 9: Equity and Equality

    Topic 17: Intergenerational trauma and trauma-informed care

    Topic 4: Acknowledgements, Welcomes and culturally informed introductions

    Topic 10: Power Differentials

    Topic 18: Power and privilege and the impacts on health

    Topic 5: Current and previous populations

    Topic 11: Rights-based approach to care

    Topic 19: Racism and it's impacts

    Topic 6: Terminology and definitions

    Topic 12: Cultural safety: benefits of a culturally safe workplace

    Topic 20: Aboriginal health workforce, roles and assistance

    Topic 13: Allyship and courageous conversations

    Topic 14: Reflection on my role and impact