Image of smiling female nurse in blue nurse outfit standing in a hallway.

Negative feelings and attitudes can be shared by medical staff towards Aboriginal communities and patients due to their lack of cultural experience and understanding, representing the increased need for exposure among medical students and staff to Aboriginal communities and health workers to provide care that is culturally competent.

The Research

Research has found that an increased exposure to Aboriginal communities and health workers has been linked to an improvement in cultural understanding and positive attitudes amongst medical students and staff.

How to improve cultural sensitivity within the workplace

  • Provide work placement initiatives within Aboriginal communities at culturally diverse medical clinics
  • Provide cultural awareness training within the workplace
  • Increase the amount of Aboriginal health workers
  • Retain current Aboriginal health workers

Providing these opportunities and mentors (Aboriginal health workers) to medical students and staff is important as much knowledge can be learnt from them through personal and/or second-hand experience that cannot be learnt solely from within the classroom.

Case study - Mulla

Georgina O’Neill, also known as Mulla, is an Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer and Aboriginal Health Education Officer at the Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital. She is featured in the Murrumbidgee Matters Magazine, discussing her family, upbringing and culture.

Mulla talks about how she shares her cultural knowledge and community with medical students at the Hospital and their interest in the information she provides, as much of the knowledge and experiences that she shares is not taught in the classroom.

Georgina O’Neill, Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer and Aboriginal Health Education Officer at Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital.

Image caption: Georgina O’Neill, Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer and Aboriginal Health Education Officer at Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital. Sourced from the Murrumbidgee Local Health District Facebook Page.

 

Her role also involves meeting and helping Aboriginal people in the hospital system and looking out for their emotional and social needs, ensuring that they are receiving care that is culturally competent.

Mulla is an excellent example of the importance of having Aboriginal health workers as liaisons for Aboriginal patients and mentors for medical students and staff, helping to close the gap of cultural knowledge and understanding.


Information sourced from:

National Center for Biotechnology Information
Murrumbidgee Local Health District - NSW Government

Georgina O’Neill image sourced from:

Murrumbidgee Local Health District Facebook Page

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people please be advised that there may be images, videos or names of people on this website that are deceased, which may cause feelings of sorrow or sadness.