The Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) held their annual symposium in Canberra earlier this month with the theme “Beyond Cultural Awareness”, attracting 200 Indigenous doctors, medical students, researchers, academics and representatives from peak organisations.
AIDA is a not-for-profit, non-government organisation devoted to the pursuit of leadership, partnership and scholarship in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, education and workforce.
“Beyond Cultural Awareness refers to the concept of cultural safety. Cultural safety refers to the accumulation and application of knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, principles and norms,” says President of AIDA, Dr Tammy Kimpton.
“Cultural safety is important to our people in ensuring progress toward improving the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, as well as increasing the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within the health profession.”
They support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students, envisioning a world in which all Indigenous people have equitable health and life outcomes.
“As the peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical organisation, we are in a unique position to provide medical and cultural perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
“We also maintain strong linkages between traditional and Western medicine; we have a strong and respectful relationship with our Ngangkari, the traditional healers from whom we gain our cultural strength and knowledge,” she says.
Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Gough from the Wiradjuri Nation is currently studying a bachelor of medicine at the University of Newcastle and attended the symposium saying it was “fantastic”.
“AIDA has supported me to go to many events about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, rurally and globally, which have been incredibly eye-opening and helpful for my studies,” says Rebecca.
There are currently an estimated 175 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and 226 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander a medical student in Australia like Rebecca and AIDA strives to enable more to enter the field.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly under-represented in the health workforce. Having a strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce is important to making sure that the health system meets the needs of our people,” says Dr Kimpton.
“As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, we can advocate for the needs of our Indigenous patients as well as improve patient care for our mob. It has been proven that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are more likely to receive health care when there is an Indigenous doctor available at the service.”