Indigenous and Intercultural Health/Introduction

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Doing this subject will raise your awareness of how culture can impact on health and health care. You will develop intercultural knowledge and skills, increasing your confidence and competence work effectively with Indigenous and other Australian cultural groups.

Culture shapes how we all think, feel and behave, much of it at a subconscious level. It also shapes human systems such as health care institutions which then reflect societies' dominant cultural values. Therefore, raising self-awareness about the influence of our own cultural background is an essential first step in developing intercultural competence. Knowledge of some key cultural concepts will help you to develop communication and other skills needed for effective health and social care.

While this subject has a major focus on Indigenous cultures, the first module also includes other culturally distinct Australian communities.

Case examples include Australians whose backgrounds are:

You will be supported to examine your own and others' attitudes to Australia's diverse cultures, develop knowledge of cultural respect and safety, and to reflectively apply practical skills.

This subject includes a balance of topics that applies to:

  • All intercultural encounters ('Culture-General'), and
  • Particular cultural groups ('Culture-Specific'), with a major focus on Indigenous health and wellbeing.

This subject is being developed through a collaboration between the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the Faculty of Health Sciences at La Trobe University. A combination of online, face-to-face and community-based experiential learning and assessment activities are used.

Some of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander materials for this subject have been developed in partnership with Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO).

Notes on key terms:

  • Here ‘Indigenous’ refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, many Indigenous groups prefer the term 'Aboriginal' or regional names such as Koori (in south eastern Australia), Noongar (in south western Australia) and Murri (in Queensland). The best way of knowing the most appropriate term in a particular context is to politely ask!
  • 'Health’ is used broadly to include social, spiritual, cultural and community wellbeing.

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