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Closing the Gap on Indigenous Health

Elly Mackay

17 March 2022: A new UC Pro short course aimed at educating participants on the gap in First Nations healthcare has been launched this week, in line with Close the Gap day.

The online course, which will begin in April comprises of 10 modules and runs for 11 weeks.

Titled First Nations Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing, the course was designed under the guidance of Ngunnawal Elders, and will guide participants on historical and contemporary issues affecting the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the context of health and wellbeing.

“An integral part of any UC Pro course is that participants will walk away more informed on the issues that affect our communities, and more equipped in how to combat them,” said Professor Jennie Scarvell, Acting Executive Dean at the Faculty of Health.

“We believe the learnings from this course are in high demand across a number of sectors and disciplines, and there is evidence that it will have a dramatically transformative learning effect on those involved.”

The course, which already exists as an in-house unit for undergraduate students, was developed by the Restorative Healthcare team and was awarded the 2021 University of Canberra Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning.

University of Canberra Elder in Residence Aunty Roslyn Brown advised on the development of the course, which has been crafted using a restorative justice approach – to allow for truth-telling but also support just, reconciled relationships and a flourishing of trust and hope.

It will also incorporate a Yarning Circle concept – with weekly circles to provide participants with an opportunity to engage with Australian First Nations facilitators.

“As with all our courses – the curriculum has been designed with Aboriginal ways of teaching and knowing in mind, and the Yarning Circle is one way to facilitate those areas,” Professor Scarvell said.

“Providing that contact for participants with an Elder, or other key Indigenous community members, fosters a connection with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and gives participants an insight into Indigenous perspectives on the issues they’re learning about.”

Key learnings include the history of colonisation and its impact on First Nations Peoples’ health and wellbeing, types of racism and how to identify and prevent it, and how to be an agent for positive change, to support reconciled relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

It aims to equip individuals with the knowledge they need to form culturally safe relationships in the workplace.

Registrations close 12 April.