• CEO Welcome 

  • How is CATSINaM working for you a a national level?

  • CATSINaM at conferences, forums and symposiums

  • Where have we been with the Stakeholder and Member Forum Series?

  • ​Upcoming Events

  • ​The inaugural Mary Buckskin Award

  • Final official version of the CATSINaM Nursing and Midwifery Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework

  • Success! The LINMEN becomes a reality
  • Member developments
  • CATSINaM Mentoring program 
  • the Revised National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategy : 2016 - 2023
  • International Alliance
  • New CATSINaM Workshop: introduction to mentoring 
  • Interview with Ali Drummond

CEO Welcome 

I am excited to share highlights from CATSINaM’s last three months. We have been involved in high profile events, achieved positive outcomes from our long-standing advocacy work to establish a Leaders in in Nursing and Midwifery Education Network or LINMEN, and continued with priority campaigns for change in the health workforce and system.

The high profile events include providing plenary presentations and workshops at a number of national and state conferences, Reconciliation Week and being one of the earlier groups to meet formally with the recently appointed Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM. A very special and poignant event was presenting the inaugural Mary Buckskin Awards for Excellence by an Aboriginal nurses or midwife at the SA Health Nursing and Midwifery Awards. We have articles on all these events in this month’s newsletter.

After over 2.5 years of solid work, CATSINaM has been successful in gaining funding to establish the LINMEN – as we explain in the LINMEN article, it is substantially less than initially planned, but sufficient to build a base. At a time when it is challenging to achieve additional funding, the Board sees this as a significant achievement. We have also received a small grant to develop resources that support clinical placements in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health services, which we know is an important in expanding clinical placement options for our nursing and midwifery students.

Our other significant news is that the importance of embedding responsibility to address cultural safety in health professional legislation, which we have promoted over the last year, is starting to gain traction. Recently, AHPRA entered a conversation with us about this legislation. We look forward to how this may develop.

I hope you enjoy reading about the work we have progressed both with you and on your behalf. Our shared commitment to better Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, and a larger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce keeps feeding this work. Thank you for all that you do with us.

Kind regards,
Janine Mohamed

How is CATSINaM working for you at a national level?

Political engagement

Our purpose as an organisation, the positive impact of our work, our contributions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health at the national level, and the growth needed in our workforce, as well as the reasons why, were the primary messages Janine Mohamed shared with the recently appointed Minister for Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM. CATSINaM met with the Minister for Indigenous Health and staff representatives of the Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt, on  May 25, together with the CEOs from AIDA, IAHA and NATSIHWA.

This was an important opportunity for CATSINaM to emphasise the importance of enhancing existing efforts to grow and support the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce, given that we play such a vital role at the forefront, in fact, in every aspect of health service design and delivery, as well as part of the Government’s ongoing ‘Closing the Gap’ work.

On May 22nd, CATSINaM also met with Senator Skye Kakoshke Moore with the Nick Xenophon Team in South Australia to introduced our organisation and identify where Senator Moore could promote our priorities within her role.  Visits also occurred with the Hon Warren Snowdon, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Health, regarding Labour’s Health policy and how it can consider and reflect CATSINaM’s priorities.

Liaison with Australian and jurisdictional Health Departments

As a consequence of Janine Mohamed’s presentation on CATSINaM’s work to the Department of Health, Indigenous Health Division in February, the Indigenous Health Division expressed interest in cultural safety training. As CATSINaM is funded by the Health Workforce Division, this was a valuable opportunity to develop a stronger relationship with a critical section of the Department. One of the roles of the Indigenous Health Division is to lead the work on the Social and Cultural Determinants of Health aspect of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan Implementation Plan. As mentioned in our last newsletter, we attended those consultations and put in further submissions to the national consultations occurring on the Social and Cultural Determinants of Health.

CATSINaM is heartened by the fact that this interested turned into a commitment for all of their staff to participate in cultural safety training with Sharon Gollan and Kathleen Stacey, who co-facilitate CATSINaM’s training. Two workshops occurred in June, and we understand three more workshops will occur over July-August. We look forward to our ongoing work with the Division, knowing they will have a better understanding of what cultural safety means to our Members, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in general.

National reviews and submissions

In November 2017, the newly developed Version 2 of the National Health Quality and Safety Service Standards will be launched, with assessment based on Version 2 commencing from January 2019. This will be particularly important for many of our Members working directly in hospitals and health services, as there are revised standards regarding the quality of care provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, as follows.

  • Action 1.21: The health service organisation has strategies to improve the cultural competency and cultural awareness of the workforce to meet the needs of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
  • Action 1.33: The health service organisation demonstrates a welcoming environment that recognises the importance of the cultural beliefs and practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 
  • Action 2.13: The health service organisation works in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to meet their healthcare needs.
  • Action 5.8: The health service organisation has processes to routinely ask patients if they identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and to record this information in administrative and clinical information systems.

CATSINaM’s advice was to include the language of cultural safety in the Version 2 of the standards, in addition to the current terms of cultural competence and awareness. It is not certain whether this recommendation will be adopted, but we hope the submission we are currently preparing for the specific ‘Guides’ regarding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health that will emphasise cultural safety again, may be influential. If you are interested, these are the links for the current guides and the draft of the guides for Version 2.

Engaging with universities

In late June, Janine Mohamed was invited to spend a day working with the University of South Australian School of Nursing and Midwifery to advise on their ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health’ initiative, which is designed to strengthen their current approach to student support, and curriculum design and delivery. The curriculum being developed will, ultimately, be used across the Faculty of Health Sciences for all health professionals as a core unit they complete in Year 1 of their degrees.

While there, Janine delivered a two-hour workshop with Kathleen Stacey for staff who will lecture or tutor students in the new unit. It addressed the health policy context, current health situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, the difference between cultural awareness and cultural safety training, a brief exploration of racism, and considered the types of challenges they will need to manage with students as part of their learning journey about cultural safety and providing health services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

CATSINaM at conferences, forums and symposiums

14th National Rural Health Alliance Conference

Plenary presentation: ‘How will our history be told?’ was the title of Janine Mohamed’s plenary presentation for this popular conference, held in Cairns this year. In sharing her hopes for the future, Janine invited the audience to travel 20 years into the future with her as she described what she imagined happening in Australia in 2037. 

“Self-determination is not an aspiration or even a dream for my great grandchildren. It is their daily reality. In school, they learn about our many Indigenous health heroes - about people like Professor Tom Calma, Aunty Pat Anderson and Aunty Gracelyn Smallwood. It is not only my grandchildren who are learning about the strengths and proud history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - so are their non-Indigenous classmates. Together, they are learning a shared, true history of this place we call Australia.”

The speech was extremely well received, and led to a flood of positive social media commentary, particularly through Twitter, including from CATSINaM Members in attendance. Audience members shared how they found the presentation uplifting and inspiring, as it imagined a situation that we could achieve through our collective efforts.

If you would like to hear the entire presentation, then go to the CATSINaM Vimeo site. 

Pre-conference workshop: As a lead-in to the conference, CATSINaM ran a joint 2.5 hr ‘Culturally safe and responsive health care workshop’ with IAHA, AIDA and NATSIHWA that was attended by over 50 people. CATSINaM focused on the terms used in ‘cultural training’, NATSIHWA spoke about the importance of considering cultural loads of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners, AIDA shared their developmental work on cultural safety training for doctors, and IAHA introduced their Cultural Responsiveness in Action Framework.

Over 80% of participants responded to the invitation to provide feedback on their workshop experience. As shown in this graph, 92% found it ‘mostly’ or ‘completely’ helpful for thinking about their work role, and over 97% indicated they were ‘mostly’ or ‘completely’ interested in doing further training in this area.


ANMF Victorian Branch Annual Delegates Conference, June

This was the first of three invitations from different branches of the ANMF for CATSINaM to address their members and assist in their appreciation of the importance of their role in creating culturally safe health services. In July we will address the NSW ANMF Conference in July, and the SA ANMF Annual Professional Conference in August.

In Victoria, Ben Gorrie and Kathleen Stacey presented on considerations for cultural safety at an organisational level. In the NSW and SA conferences, we intend to pick up on the following themes: the history of nursing and midwifery professions in Australia, and working towards a formal acknowledgement of the profession’s involvement in colonising practices that had detrimental effects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Where have we been with the Stakeholder and Member forum series?

As many Members and Stakeholders know, during April and May we came to a venue near you to hold a joint ‘Stakeholder and Member forum’. Our first series of forums occurred in 2015/2016 and due to its success, we will hold them every ~18 months. This is a snapshot of where we have been so far, and the number of participants in each location.

This year we invited both Members and Stakeholders to speak about the work they do, which is connected to CATSINaM’s priorities, including collaborative work they are doing with CATSINaM. We also asked participants to consider what collaborate work they are interested in doing with CATSINaM in the future. We will share what we learned in the September Newsletter, after the August Perth forum and September Alice Springs forum.

Upcoming events

CATSINaM Annual Professional Development Conference, Dinner and Awards: 10th – 12th October 2017


This year, our 19th annual conference will be held at the Sofitel Broad Beach on the Gold Coast. It will be a mixed mode experience that includes plenary speaker sessions, panels, short presentations, and continuing professional development workshops. Register here and join us in highlighting the very real difference being made by our Members to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Find out more here.

The Perth CATSINaM Forum - 24th August 2017

The Perth forum from our recent Stakeholder and Member Forum series has been rescheduled to Thursday, 24th August from 6-10pm. The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at WA Health, Karen Bradley, invited CATSINaM to extend the trip so a breakfast meeting can be held on Friday 25th with their broader nursing and midwifery network. We are looking forward to promoting our work more broadly in WA, and exploring any opportunities for collaboration.
If you are a Perth-based Member, please join us. In fact, if you know other potential CATSINaM Members, it would be a great time to bring them along so they can consider joining.

An invitation to Alice Springs from the Centre for Remote Health, 7-8th September 2017

The Centre for Remote Health is linked to Flinders University, and based in Alice Springs. They have invited CATSINaM to present at their seminar and workshop series, which will allow us extend our ‘Stakeholder and Member Forum series to Alice Springs for the first time.

On Thursday 7th September, a free seminar on ‘Supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce’ will run at 6-7pm. This is a valuable opportunity for CATSINaM Members and potential members to network with industry colleagues, share their work and hear from both other Members and external stakeholders about what we can achieve if we pool our efforts.
On Friday 8th September, Janine Mohamed will stay on to co-present a fr
ee two-hour workshop with Kathleen Stacey at 9am on ‘Unpacking key terms in Aboriginal ‘cultural training’: How do we embed cultural safety in individual and organisational practice?’ This will be advertised widely across the Alice Springs health and university sector. We hope it will promote informed dialogue and reflection on cultural safety amongst health professionals, academics and policy makers, and what further steps they can take to make cultural safety in health services a reality for Aboriginal Australians.

If you are in Alice Springs, please join us! You can book for one or both events at: crh.seminars@flinders.edu.au.

The inaugural Mary Buckskin Award

After many months of planning, the Mary Buckskin Award was awarded for the first time at the May 2017 SA Nursing Awards. This was led by CATSINaM, having gained the support and approval of Mary’s family, and was achieved through the cooperation and support of Lydia Dennett, the Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer at SA Health. The pre-existing Aboriginal nurse or midwife award category was renamed to honour Mary’s contributions as a nurse, midwife and mentor in South Australia. Standing alongside Peter Buckskin, Mary’s husband, Janine Mohamed delivered this speech.

Mary Buckskin, a Narungga and Ngarrindjeri woman, was a trailblazer for Aboriginal nurses in South Australia, and an original member of CATSINaM or CATSIN as it was known when it began in 1998.

Mary was born at a time when most of the smaller country hospitals refused to provide services to Aboriginal people, including maternity services. Hence our people were required to travel to bigger country hospitals for treatment. Mary’s arrival was unusual, as she was the first Aboriginal child to be born in Dimboola Hospital in Victoria – the year was 1958. This exception was mainly due to the intervention of her father’s non-Aboriginal friends. Soon after Mary’s birth, her family moved back to South Australia where her seven younger siblings were born.

Just considering Mary’s parents and siblings, loss was a frequent experience in their lives. Mary lost her older sister before she was born, then three brothers and her father before she turned 46 years old. These experiences influenced Mary’s decision to go into nursing and stay committed to Aboriginal health, regardless of barriers, for all of her working life.

Fairly early in her nursing career, Mary worked as a full-time nurse at the Aboriginal Community Centre - a very small service at that time that grew into Nunkuwarrin Yunti. In 1983 she moved to what was known as the Aboriginal Health Organisation or AHO, which eventually developed into what we know now as the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA).

When Mary started at the AHO in 1983, it was a direct service delivery organisation that employed Aboriginal Health Workers, Community Health Nurses around the stage, with only one Adelaide-based Medical Advisor. This meant Mary spent many years travelling all over the state, delivering health services from Oak Valley to the APY Lands, Coober Pedy and Port Lincoln, to name a few locations.

Mary then left AHCSA for a number of years to work in Canberra with Commonwealth Government Department, Winnunga Nimmityjah and NACCHO, but returned to AHCSA as the Policy Officer, before she became the CEO in 2005.
In this role Mary demonstrated strong and consistent leadership in Aboriginal health at state and national levels, particularly for the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector, and was an admired and much loved role model for Aboriginal nurses, including myself. I had the absolute honour of working with Mary for 7 years.

Tragically, Mary did not get to choose her next step in her career and her life, as cancer made that decision for her. All through her struggle with cancer, Mary believed in a positive outcome. In fact, just weeks before she passed, she expressed an intent to me to come back to her role as CEO of AHCSA.
In mid-2015 many people gathered to honour her, celebrate her life of 57 years and mourn her loss. We still feel her loss deeply, but are incredibly grateful for everything she contributed to advancing Aboriginal health, and inspiring Aboriginal nurses and other health professionals to work with our people to improve health outcomes. In fact, Mary’s son has just become an RN. It is only fitting that SA Health supports a Nursing Award in Mary’s name.

The worthy winner of the inaugural Mary Buckskin award was Ms Jessica McKenzie, a midwife at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and also a CATSINaM member, who was overwhelmed at receiving this honour. 

The worthy winner of the inaugural Mary Buckskin award was Ms Jessica McKenzie, a midwife at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, and also a CATSINaM member, who was overwhelmed at receiving this honour. 

Final official version of the CATSINaM Nursing and Midwifery Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework

The final version of the CATSINaM Nursing and Midwifery Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework can now be downloaded from our website. We want to thank everyone who contributed to its development over the past 18 months, and appreciate the high level of participation from many Schools of Nursing and/or Midwifery in the February 2017 Orientation workshop series. This brings Phase 1 of this initiative to a close.

So, what is happening in Phase 2? In July we will start working with the Indigenous HealthInfoNet to develop the resource portal. We are also planning a pre-conference workshop on October 10th at our Annual Conference in the Gold Coast – it will be an opportunity to learn more about the Framework if you missed the February 2017 Orientation Workshop series, but also hear how universities are implementing the framework.  Come and join us – just book in via the CATSINaM Conference registration site

Success! The LINMEN becomes a reality

The good news! It has been a long road, but after almost three years of solid work we have been successful in gaining funding to establish the LINMEN. Even better, the annual funding is a three-year commitment. This graphic shows how we got there.

The other news! The funding is substantially less than initially planned, but sufficient to build a base for us to grow LINMEN over its first three years, and gain the support of universities to continue and grow further. We have ‘cut our cloth’ to suit by revising the core functions of LINMEN to the three domains in this diagram. 

Based on our discussions with universities and the earlier scoping study, these are the highest priority areas for universities. CATSINaM will dedicate some of its resources to expand the funding, and we will be seeking contributions from participating universities. More on that later because LINMEN doesn’t officially start until ~August and we are aiming for a formal launch at the October Conference.
In the meantime, join us in being excited and celebrating this important success.

CONNMO National Priorities

In late March 2017, the CONNMO National Priorities were endorsed. As a member of CONNMO, CATSINaM commend the CONNMO position and was pleased to fully support these priorities. Two priorities are consistent with our priorities, namely:

  • Priority 5: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, history and culture is a core element of nursing and midwifery practice. A National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategy involving the nursing and midwifery professions is urgently required.
  • Priority 6: Nurses and midwives must adopt a zero tolerance approach to bullying, racism, harassment, sexism and all other forms of discrimination that have no place in nursing and midwifery practice.

We are continuing to advocate for the creation of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Strategy, which is well supported the health economics analysis report we commissioned two years ago – follow the hyperlink for a copy of A cost-effective approach to closing the gap in health, education and employment: Investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing education, training and employment.

The revised National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategy: 2016-2023

A high priority national representation role for CATSINaM is sitting on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Working Group (ATSIHWWG), which is convened by the Department of Health. Earlier this year, ATSIHWWG released their third iteration of a National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategy, which remains current until 2023. It is based on the same vision and similar principles to those identified in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, as all national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health documents are meant to be aligned.
There are six ‘key strategies’ and each has a list of “suggested mechanisms” that you can view in detail in the document:

  • Strategy 1: Improve recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals in clinical and non-clinical roles across all health disciplines.
  •  Strategy 2: Improve the skills and capacity of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce in clinical and non-clinical roles across all health disciplines.
  • Strategy 3: Health and related sectors be supported to provide culturally-safe and responsive workplace environments for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce.
  • Strategy 4: Increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying for qualifications in health.
  • Strategy 5: Improve completion/graduation and employment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health students.
  • Strategy 6: Improve information for health workforce planning and policy development.

Many of CATSINaM’s existing priorities and programs have a close fit with the “suggested mechanisms” for each Strategy; this is particularly the case for Strategy 1 and 3. Now that a LINMEN will be established, CATSINaM can assist higher education providers to be more effective in achieving outcomes against Strategy 5.

The CATSINaM Mentoring Program

2017 is the year for our Mentoring Program to start moving ahead. NSW Health has signed a formal partnership with us to run the first CATSINaM Mentoring Program that will provide further support to the cadetships they already offer to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives. The first training program with 17 participants has only just been held in Coffs Harbour. We look forward to sharing the outcomes in the September Newsletter.

Another exciting development is that St Vincent’s Hospital in  Melbourne will hold mentoring training in early September this year. In the meantime, we are exploring how they will collaborate with CATSINaM on their mentoring program, and how many graduates and/or cadets can be involved. 

New CATSINaM workshop: Introduction to mentoring

We delivered the new ‘Introduction to mentoring’ half-day workshop for participants in the Victorian ‘Aboriginal Cadetship and Graduate Program’ in early April. The topics include: what mentoring is, how it differs from coaching or supervision, characteristics of successful mentoring and ethical considerations in mentoring.

Of the 11 participants, 73% found it mostly or completely helpful at a personal level. When asked if they would encourage other Cadets and Graduates to attend if it was run again, 100% said they would ‘mostly’ or ‘definitely’ likely do this.

On the same day, this group also participated in the half-day ‘Cultural safety and resilience’, which was co-facilitated by CATSINaM Member Sye Hodgmann, in partnership with Kathleen Stacey. This workshop provides an opportunity for participants to talk about the reality of racism in their lives, learn more about different forms of racism, reflect on their existing self-care and resilience strategies for managing racism, and develop further strategies. Over 83% said it was mostly or completely helpful to them personally, and they were ‘mostly’ or ‘definitely’ likely to recommend it to other Cadets and Graduates.

The Aboriginal Cadetship and Graduate Program’ were very pleased with the outcomes of the training day, and are considering offering it again to their next round of participants.

Facilitating an International Alliance of First Nations Nurses and Midwives 

In recent months, we have continued our work on establishing this Alliance. The Alliance Members include: Australia, New Zealand, Hawai`i and Canada, with some other Pacific Island nations also included through the Pacific Nursing Section of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO). The Members are considering a draft project plan for 2017-2018, which we will promote when it is endorsed by Members’ organisations.

In the meantime, Members were keen to take up opportunities to promote the Alliance and implement its priorities. One of these is to increase the recognition, value and voice of First Nations nurses and midwives within the nursing and midwifery profession at an international level. Therefore, CATSINaM wrote to the President of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) about the role the ICN can play in enabling this to be realised through formally including First Nations nurses and midwives within their governance structures. We arranged for our Member, Ali Drummond to meet with the President at the May ICN Conference in Barcelona, along with Rosemary Bryant, a long-time CATSINaM supporter.

Although there is no clear outcome at this point, especially as a new President was elected at the conference, we hope this starts a conversation about reconsidering the governance structures and representation of First Nations nurses and midwives in the ICN that we can pursue with the new President. Janine Mohamed will go to the September 2017 NZNO Conference to meet with Members of the Alliance and keep progressing its work. We look forward to sharing more news about the Alliance over coming months.