Keeping culture at the centre of student support

Trevor-Tirritpa Ritchie

In early 2013, Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA), a national not for profit, member-based Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health organisation, identified a need for targeted support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander allied health students to enable them to complete their degrees and confidently enter the health workforce. This is particularly important for those students who wish to go back home to live and work in remote and rural locations upon graduation.

Since 2013 IAHA has held an annual HealthFusion Team Challenge (HFTC) specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students – the first of its kind both nationally and internationally. The intensive two day event enables participants to engage with a diverse range of health disciplines, building valuable skills and knowledge in leadership, public speaking, collaborative team work and holistic person-centred care.

The IAHA HFTC is unique in that it is steered towards creating a culturally safe and responsive learning experience, where participants grow as future Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals.   At university a participant may be one of very few Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in their course, they find at the HFTC that they are in fact part of a vibrant and growing cohort of exceptional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across the nation.

Students from remote and rural areas are strongly encouraged and supported to attend the event, which holds culture as an essential component of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.  The IAHA HFTC is one way that IAHA contributes to building a workforce and a health system that is more effective, accessible and culturally responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Trevor-Tirritpa Ritchie is a Kaurna man and an Occupational Therapist. He has previously worked in Corrections, Housing and Education. He is currently working at the University of South Australia as a Lecturer in Allied Health Aboriginal Health. He is also working in Paediatrics with Country Health SA providing services to remote communities on the far West South Australian Coast. He is a current board member for Indigenous Allied Health Australia.

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