Cultural Mentoring for Students on Clinical Placement: A critical component of learning and practice

Mrs Kathryn Fitzgerald1, Ms  Carole Minney1, Ms Sarah-Jane  Dymond1

1WA Centre For Rural Health, Geraldton, Australia


Allied Health Students on placement at the WA Centre for Rural Health who complete all or part of their work integrated learning placements in Mt Magnet, Western Australia, complete a local program “Understanding Yamatji” and a Clinical Yarning workshop prior to commencing in Mt Magnet. Once in the community, they are supported by a local Aboriginal staff member who works as a cultural mentor alongside the clinical supervisors. This presentation will outline the role of the cultural mentor. The cultural mentoring program is based on the six key capabilities of the Indigenous Allied Health Australia’s Cultural Responsiveness Capability Framework and has the following aims for the students who participate;
• increased confidence in working with Aboriginal people within the students’ disciplines.
• integrating knowledge about cultural awareness to practice.
• appreciation of the diversity within Indigenous peoples and families and reflect on how this impacts on their practice.
• build on existing knowledge of Aboriginal culture in relation to individuals and groups they are working with.
• have an opportunity to practise yarning
• experience peer support and learn interprofessionally about each other’s disciplines in culturally responsive practice.
The guidelines and format for the cultural mentoring will be described, as well as an outline of how this program supports the students’ professional learning and the collaboration with the community.


Kathryn Fitzgerald has worked in rural and remote areas as an Allied Health professional in clinical practice, in policy and program development and in health professions’ education for over 30 years, and has been involved with SARRAH since the organisation’s early days. She currently works as the Clinical Education Manager for the WA Centre for Rural Health based in the Midwest of Western Australia.

Culturally safe and accessible service development; An Occupational therapy and Home and Community Care partnership

Ms Robyn Glynn1, Mrs Moira Mau2

1Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, Thursday Island, Australia, 2Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council , Bamaga, Australia


The gap in health status between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) Australians and non-Indigenous Australians remains unacceptably wide. One of the factors in improving health care is ensuring services are culturally responsive and safe to optimise access and effectiveness.

In a quality improvement activity, using a case study approach, two service providers, one Indigenous Home and Community Care (HACC) Service coordinator and one non-Indigenous occupational therapist, reflected on their five years of collaboration to make the outreach occupational therapy service culturally safe. The challenges and strategies were identified and were then compared with the literature on culturally responsive and safe occupational therapy practice.
The challenges, mostly consistent with the literature, were categorised thematically. These included cultural safety of Indigenous clients when receiving a home assessment service from a non-Indigenous clinician, difference in priorities between clinician and client, communication and the impact of cultural roles on therapy interventions and outcomes. The strategies identified from the case study included activities not documented in the literature.

Two key conclusions were that:

  • Partnership between Indigenous and non-Indigenous service providers can enable implementation of culturally safe and competent health professional practice that is consistent with research and service quality standards requirements.
  • Service hours need to be allocated to establish partnership and processes for culturally safe services


Moira Mau:Coordinator of the Northern Peninsula Area Home and Community Care Service. Has worked 16 years as a care support worker to acting supervisor now coordinator. Is committed to supporting people both from her Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal cultures to feel culturally safe to connect with visiting services
Robyn Glynn: Currently working primarily as an allied health manager with a component of clinical practice. Prior to this has worked for nearly 20 years in remote Australia providing occupational therapy services in Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities.

The challenges of appropriate service provision with Aboriginal people with disability from remote communities in Central Australia

Ms Heather Jensen1, Dr Angela  Dew2, Dr  John  Gilroy3, Dr Rebecca  Barton3, Professor Michelle  Lincoln3, Ms Lee Ryall4, Ass. Professor Kerry  Taylor5, Professor Vicki Flood3, Ms Kim  McCrae4

1Centre For Remote Health,  Flinders University, Alice Springs, Australia, 2University of NSW, Kensington, Australia, 3University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia, 4Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, Alice Springs , Australia, 5Poche Centre of Indigenous Health, Alice Springs, Australia


Background: Aboriginal people’s significant connection to Country means that leaving their homelands to access ageing or disability services can have a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. The rates of service participation by Aboriginal people with disabilities are lower, with geographic remoteness resulting in limited service access.

Method: In-depth interviews and focus groups were held with 47 workers from 16 agencies delivering services for Aboriginal people with disability from remote Aboriginal communities in Central Australia and regional centres to establish what makes for a good life for people living on the Ngaanyatjarra, Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands.

Results: Thematic analysis identified challenges in services provision, due to geographic isolation of these communities, systemic issues associated with funding and organisational structures as well difficulties in providing a culturally appropriate service.  The results highlighted the importance of relationship building between workers and Aboriginal people, families, and communities as well as gender protocols and communication. The majority of workers were non-Indigenous and employed in mainstream agencies.  Many of these participants were aware of the barriers their own cultural assumptions created and were working to overcome these.

Conclusion: For service provision to be effective for Aboriginal people with disability from remote and very remote communities, there needs to be greater understanding of the environmental, systemic, and cultural barriers between service providers and their clients. Agencies must work with community members to ensure appropriate cultural preparation for workers. The presentation will provide examples of challenges and ways to overcome these issues.


Heather Jensen is an occupational therapist and academic who has been working at the Centre for Remote Health in Alice Springs since 2004. She continues to practice as an occupational therapist in Central Australia, currently working part time at Western Desert Dialysis, an Aboriginal community controlled health service. While at CRH she has developed and delivers a number of topics in the post graduate Remote and Indigenous Health programs. Heather also has developed workshops on dementia and disability in Indigenous communities which have been presented around Australia. These courses provide opportunities for knowledge translation from her research into these same areas. She is also interested in models of allied health service delivery.
She was for many years the Northern Territory representative on the SARRAH Advisory Committee and continues to be an active member, is a Board member of Disability Advocacy Service in Alice Springs, and a member of the Central Australian NDIS Advisory Group.

Stay Strong – Using Technology to Increase Access to Wellbeing Support for Indigenous Australians

Christabel Lewis1, Josie Povey1, Kylie Dingwall1

1Menzies School Of Health Research, , Australia


For Indigenous Australians, cross-cultural and geographical remoteness may contribute to poorer utilisation of mental health services. Digital mental health services can provide an efficient and cost-effective opportunity to reach populations with poor service access. The AIMhi Stay Strong App is a therapist supported tablet-based application (App) designed specifically for Indigenous Australians. It utilises Motivational Care Planning therapy to facilitate a cross-cultural, strengths-based approach to wellbeing, which identifies a person’s family, strengths and worries, and person-centred goals for change. The App is designed for healthcare practitioners to use with Indigenous clients to address mental health and wellbeing concerns in a range of healthcare settings. The AIMhi approach remains one of the only rigorously tested psychological therapies specifically designed for Indigenous Australians.

Workshop participants will be introduced to the small but growing collection of digital mental health resources available to support the needs of Indigenous people and how to assess the suitability of these in practice. Participants will learn about the AIMhi Stay Strong approach and build practical skills using the Stay Strong App using the tablet devices available. Opportunities for and barriers to implementing the App in practice will also be discussed.

Both facilitators are based at Menzies school of health research and work within the Wellbeing and Preventable Chronic Diseases Division. The AIMhi program of research began in 2003 and has resulted in a wide array of resources, ongoing collaboration with a variety of stakeholders and over 1000 health professionals trained in using the AIMhi approach.


Josie Povey is an occupational therapist who has worked as a remote mental health practitioner for 5 years, travelling to remote communities in the NT to deliver mental health services. More recently she has worked within the AIMhi team at Menzies School of health research. Her current role is as a trainer and project manager for a variety of projects focusing on the development and implementation of digital health resources for Indigenous Australians.

Christabel Lewis is also Occupational Therapist who has worked as a mental health practitioner for two years. She currently works across two roles in Darwin; one as a Clinician in the headspace Youth Early Psychosis Program and one as a Project Coordinator in the AIMhi team at Menzies school of health research. Her interests lie in public health and early intervention frameworks that aim to build a more connected and resilient society.

Kicking goals – goal setting within the remote Aboriginal community context

Miss Michelle Antoine1, Miss Kate Pollard1

1Northern Territory Government, Katherine, Australia


Identifying and setting goals within the remote allied health and disability sector is a challenge, however, when done correctly is rewarding and guides clients to better outcomes. In the complex context of remote Aboriginal health, the reasons for referral are often only a small part of someone’s life. The recognition of this along with differing cultural perspectives on health and disability, language barriers and competing priorities are essential to setting appropriate client-centred goals.
Our team of allied health professionals provide community health, disability and aged care services to individuals in remote Aboriginal communities across the Katherine region. We strive to provide client-centred and culturally safe services, a key component of which is the collaborative identification and formation of meaningful and achievable goals.
We are continually adapting our approach to goal setting based on positive client outcomes seen in practice. To be successful with goal setting within the remote Aboriginal community context requires consideration of; relationship and rapport building, engagement of the correct people, open discussion, use of visual supports, and flexibility of practice.


Kate Pollard is a Speech Pathologist working as part of the NT Office of Disability, Top End remote (Katherine Region) team.

Barriers to health equality for Karen refugees in regional Victoria, Australia: a scoping review.

Miss Lisa Davenport


Purpose: Refugees are vulnerable to poor health and experience barriers to accessing health services. This scoping review presents evidence on the health issues and barriers to accessing healthcare services experienced by a specific refugee community; Karen refugees.

Background: The City of Greater Bendigo (COGB) is a regional municipality in Victoria, Australia. Since 2011, the COGB has welcomed over 1000 Karen refugees through re-settlement and migration. Currently, only one local health service offers health and re-settlement services to the Karen refugee community in Bendigo. Greater awareness of the health needs of Karen refugees will enable Bendigo’s local government and non-government health and community services to target their programs effectively, enabling improved health outcomes for the Karen refugee community.

Design/methods: A scoping review was conducted to evaluate the health issues and barriers to accessing health services for Karen refugees globally, in order to provide predictors of the health needs of Karen refugees re-settling in Bendigo, Victoria.

Results: Karen refugees experience both physical and psychological health issues resulting from war, trauma and poor accessibility to local health services prior and post re-settlement. Barriers to accessing health services post re-settlement include; social, cultural, economic and political factors.

Conclusion: Karen refugees are more susceptible to poorer health outcomes. Local health and community services need to address barriers that impact access to healthcare for Karen refugees following re-settlement, to improve health outcomes. Further high quality research that contributes to the evidence base, particularly studies based in Australia and regional communities is required.


Lisa is an Occupational Therapist with 8 years of clinical experience based in regional Victoria. Lisa currently works in a community OT role for a leading public health provider in central Victoria. Lisa recently completed a Masters of International and Community Development and endeavours to combine her background in health and OT with community development to contribute to the development of health services and programs/ information that effectively target the needs of growing CALD communities in regional settings. Lisa’s presentation is the outcome of a research project she completed as part of her Master’s.

About provides delegate registration, website and app solutions, and financial management for conferences, conventions and scientific meetings.

Terms & Conditions

All registrations and bookings are subject to our standard term and conditions.

Contact Us

Please contact the team at with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2017 - 2020 Conference Design Pty Ltd. is a division of Conference Design Pty Ltd.