• CEO Welcome 

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

  • CATSINaM at conferences, forums and symposiums

  • ​Upcoming Events

  • Reviewing CATSINaM Position Statements

  • The NHLF, Uluru Statement and the Redfern Council Report 
  • WA Graduate Nurse and Midwife Program 
  • Developing a Cadetship and Graduate Program National Resource
  • 2017 Stakeholder and Member Forum Series 
  • Te Mauri Pimatisiwin 
  • AHPRA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group
  • Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer monthly newsletter 
  • Being a Board Member: An interview with Ben Gorrie

CEO Welcome 

Winter is a different experience from a temperature perspective, depending on where you live across Australia. Our activities over the last three months have taken us to different parts of this beautiful country we share, so we certainly experienced this variation. Coming from frosty Canberra, this was very welcome!

During this time CATSINaM presented at a range of national and jurisdictional conferences and symposiums, a few are profiled in this newsletter. We continued our 2017 Stakeholder Forum series by travelling to Perth where we were warmly welcomed, both by the weather and the people. We are starting to unpack the learning from the series, which will factor into our planning as the Board considers the next Strategic Plan. We have a few highlights for you in this newsletter.

A major activity is the preparation for our Conference this year from October 10-12th in the sunny Gold Coast. As I write, we have filled all our places, so we are expecting a vibrant three days with over 170 people in attendance. Our little team has been fully committed to making this another fantastic event, and assisting students who have been awarded scholarships to attend, both from CATSINaM and other stakeholders. I look forward to seeing many of you there.

The official launch of LINMEN – the Leaders in Indigenous Nursing and Midwifery Education Network - will occur at the Conference welcome reception. I hope you will join us in celebrating the beginning of what we believe will be a very important mechanism for increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in the workforce, and raising understanding and capacity for all nurses and midwives to deliver culturally safe health care.

Finally, another positive development is CATSINaM’s new initiative to develop a Cadetship and Graduate Program National Resource – more about this in the article below.

Kind regards,
Janine Mohamed

How is CATSINaM working for you at a national level?

Political engagement

Each few months we are involved in a variety of activities that work towards our intention of shaping the political and policy context to reflect the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives. Four key activities since July are:

Close the Gap Campaign: Leonie Williamson attended the strategic planning day for the Close the Gap Campaign in August. The Campaign is a growing community-driven national movement whose goal is to close the unacceptable gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and life expectancy by 2030. The Campaign works in a non-partisan way to build political support for this goal. The Campaign also monitors government performance against commitments made under the ‘Closing the Gap’ funding allocations. This Strategic Plan will guide the direction and activities of the Campaign for the next three years. 

Palliative Care: Janine Mohamed attended a think tank session on palliative care in August hosted by the Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt. The aim was to discuss current and future challenges for the aged care sector given the increasing numbers of people entering the system. Individuals, families and health professionals will need to have the right information, at the right time, including information and supports to prepare for the inevitable, and do more than just ‘hope’ for a good death.

Needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children: Colleen Gibbs and Vicki Wade participated in the Commonwealth Department of Social Services consultative roundtables during September. The roundtables are exploring opportunities to develop practical actions that enhance the responsiveness of mainstream programs to better meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children.  Attendees included Aboriginal and Torres Strait representatives, families and children sector peak bodies, service providers, and workforce representative organisations.

Hospital funding: Colleen Gibbs and Vicki Wade also participated in the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Roundtable discussion in September about a future blueprint for a 10-year agreement for hospital funding. This is in response to a request from the Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt, for the AHHA to contribute to the ideas informing what a longer-term funding agreement should look like from 2020. 

Liaison with Australian and jurisdictional Health Departments

As a consequence of Janine Mohamed’s address to the Indigenous Health Division of the Department of Health in February this year, the Division completed cultural safety training with the facilitators that deliver CATSINaM’s cultural safety training, Sharon Gollan and Kathleen Stacey. Over the June – August period, 87 staff participated in one of five workshops.

All participants were asked to complete a brief evaluation survey, and 80 or 92% completed it. Two of the questions had rating items where the options were: 1 = not at all, 2 = slightly, 3 = moderately, 4 = very, and 5 = extremely. In total, 87% of the respondents reported the training was ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ useful to themselves personally, and almost 90% reported that they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ likely to recommend it to others. These are very positive outcomes. However, more importantly, we hope Division staff will put their learning into practice in their ongoing work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

National reviews and submissions

In our last newsletter, we talked about the development of a new edition of the National Health Quality and Safety Service (NHQS) Standards by the Australian Commission for Safety and Health in Health Care (ACSQHC). The ACSQHC released the National Health Quality and Safety Service (NHQS) Standards Guide for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health for consultation in the June-July 2017 period. The aim of this guide is to assist and ensure health organisations develop organisational competence for culturally safe care. 

We believe the content included in the User Guide for each of the six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific actions is comprehensive and sound. In addition to this content, we also argued that the Guide would benefit from: 

  • greater discussion of cultural safety and background on the responsibilities of all health service organisations in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care
  • more information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care considerations for other actions in the NSQHS Standards 
  • being more user friendly, e.g. aligning the structure more closely to other NSQHS Standards Guides, such as the hospital guide and hospital accreditation workbook
  • being expanded to include other action areas where specific consideration of the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is required.

Engaging with universities

We continue engaging with universities in multiple ways, including through the 2017 Stakeholder and Member Forum events and our work to establish and launch the Leaders in Indigenous Nursing and Midwifery Education Network.

A new development is the recent invitation to CATSINaM to join the Conference Organising Committee for a Trans-Tasman Midwifery Conference on ‘Transforming midwifery practice through education’, slated for September 20-21st 2018 in the Gold Coast and hosted by Griffith University. The draft aim of the conference is:

To strengthen midwifery education by facilitating a forum to generate and share best practice approaches to midwifery education, and an opportunity to consider, address, and discuss challenges facing contemporary midwifery education. This includes: undergraduate, postgraduate, professional development, pre-registration and post-registration.

We will bring you more news as our involvement expands and more details are available.

CATSINaM at conferences, forums and symposiums

These last three months have been rich with invitations to present to a range of national, international and jurisdictional conferences and symposiums. Here are six from different contexts:

ANMF South Australian Branch Annual Delegates Conference

On a wintry Adelaide day in early August, Janine Mohamed addressed a packed audience of over 250 nurses and midwives at the ANMF Delegates State Conference as one of the plenary speakers, as well as contributing to a panel session. As she has done at some recent state and national nursing and midwifery conferences, Janine issued an invitation to the profession to consider developing an apology regarding the roles that nurses and midwives have played historically in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

This would follow the lead already taken by the Australian Psychology Association. Early conversations are occurring between CATSINaM and national nursing and midwifery associations, and we hope that this translates into concrete action in the coming months.

Science in Australia Gender Equity Symposium

In September, Janine delivered a 1.5 hour workshop on ‘Building environments inclusive of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ to the Science in Australia Gender Equity or SAGE National Symposium in Brisbane for an audience of over 90 people involved in the sciences in academia, including research institutes. They were gathered to focus on the application of the 10 principles making up what is called the Athena Swan Charter in the UK, but were also interested in how they need to consider other areas of inequity within sciences. Topics included appreciating the historical and ongoing contemporary context of racism, the critical importance of cultural safety training, and taking an organisational approach to addressing cultural safety. The last point is consistent with the Athena Swan principles

Centre for Remote Health, Alice Springs

CATSINaM were invited to be part of the Centre for Remote Health Seminar series, which consisted of a one-hour presentation in the evening followed by a two-hour workshop the following morning. Janine’s evening presentation focused on ‘Supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce’, including who CATSINaM is, what we do and why. Our work in higher education, mentoring, embedding cultural safety and building links in nursing and midwifery across First Nation’s people was profiled.

The workshop picked up on key themes CATSINaM has been promoting this year, as it was entitled ‘Unpacking key terms in Aboriginal ‘cultural training’:  How do we embed cultural safety in individual and organisational practice?’ Over 25 people, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal participants, attended and participated in several activities that helped them consider the distinctions between cultural safety and cultural awareness training, do an initial exploration of racism, and consider what is needed in their own organisations to strengthen cultural safety on an organisational basis.​

New Zealand Nursing Organisation Conference

CATSINaM was invited to give a keynote at the New Zealand Nursing Association in August in Aotearoa, ultimately to 350 delegates. Janine’s presentation, ‘Songlines: an international alliance’, explored CATSINaM’s work on cultural safety, the need for historical truth-telling about Australia’s history and the impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Critically, she talked about the shared journeys of First Nations peoples in Australia, New Zealand and other colonised countries, which were profiled at the 2016 CATSINaM International Conference, and how that has resulted in a shared commitment to establish an International Alliance of First Nations Nurses and Midwives, which we profiled in the June newsletter.

We believe that the strength and warmth of the connections we are creating with our sisters and brothers in New Zealand, and other countries participating in the International Alliance, will provide a solid basis to continue our work in Australia, as well as influence the international nursing and midwifery context.

Australian College of Nursing Forum

Another August presentation occurred in Sydney for the ACN Nursing Forum. Janine gave the opening keynote presentation to 380 attendees about ‘Making change happen’. Consistent with the themes of other presentations, this covered the critical importance of achieving cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in health care contexts, acknowledging our shared and truthful history, imagining a different future where cultural safety exists and reconciliation has been realised. She drew on the inspirational stories of who we believe is our first Aboriginal nurse, May Yarrowick, a change maker of her time, and Professor Moana Jackson, a current change maker in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Watch the recording

NSW Nursing and Midwifery Association Annual Conference

Earlier, Janine was in Sydney for the NSW Nursing and Midwifery Association Annual Conference in July, doing another keynote presentation to 450 delegates on ‘Growing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery workforce’. This outlined the current status of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce nationally and for NSW, the range of steps CATSINaM is taking to help address this, and how the nursing and midwifery profession in NSW could continue and strengthen their work with CATSINaM to achieve meaningful change.

In particular, Janine highlighted the decision that NSW Health has taken to commence a partnership with CATSINaM for a Mentoring Program to enhance the existing work they do to grow and strengthen the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce.

Upcoming Events 

Launch and the inaugural ‘Leaders in Indigenous Nursing and Midwifery Education Network’ (LINMEN) Annual Professional Development Day

We are very excited that we will launch LINMEN on Tuesday, October 10th at the Welcome Reception of our Conference (6pm-8pm), and hold the inaugural LINMEN Annual Professional Development Day earlier that day (9:00-3:30). The focus of the day is: An introduction to LINMEN and the CATSINaM Nursing and Midwifery Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework.

Ali Drummond and Leonie Cox, who were on the Steering Committee for the CATSINaM Nursing and Midwifery Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework, will lead several sessions about the Framework and provide examples of preparing to implement the Framework, following an introductory session by Janine Mohamed. 

EOI for Cultural Safety Training in early 2018

We hope to run another two-day Cultural Safety Training workshop in the first half of 2018. Dates are yet to be set, we are taking expressions of interest. Please email Chloe Peters: admin@catsinam.org.au or call her on (02) 6262-5761.
If you are keen to participate, we greatly encourage you to come with a colleague as you will gain greater benefit from the experience as you will be able to debrief with each other and consider what this means for taking the learning, and potentially cultural safety training, into your own organisation.

Reviewing three CATSINaM Position Statements

Under CATSINaM’s policy development framework, we review policies and/or position statements three years after initial endorsement and then every three years after that. Three position statements endorsed in 2014 were due for review this year: recruitment and retention, clinical placements and cultural safety.

The review involved a two-stage process: a survey of members, then analysis of papers using members feedback. The survey went live on August 1st and closed on August 31st. It sought members’ experience relating to the issues of recruitment and retention, clinical placements and cultural safety. We had a 26% response rate, which is our best result so far – thank you to everyone who participated. We are currently collating and analysing the results, and will share the outcomes in the December newsletter.

We hope the survey information will provide a baseline for testing the relevance of these three position statements. If updates or significant change are required, we will seek further feedback from Members in early 2018. We also intend for the survey to become a platform for an annual members’ survey to measure progress, and provide input into future policy development.

NHLF, the Uluru Statement and the Referendum Council Report 

Conversations about Constitutional recognition have occurred over several years, with the matter initially arising from a commitment in 2007 by the then Prime Minister John Howard to hold a Referendum on the matter.  This work continued with both major sides of politics. Labor established an Expert Panel in 2007, and more recently there was bipartisan support for establishing a Referendum Council to conduct a series of regional consultations. These recent  consultations culminated with the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in May 2017, which produced the Uluru Statement from the Heart which called on:


‘Constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country.’

‘The establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution.’

‘A Makarrata Commission to oversee agreement making between governments and First Nations.’

Following the Statement, the Final Report of the Referendum Council was handed down in late June. It contained two recommendations:

  • That a referendum be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament. 
  • That an extra-constitutional Declaration of Recognition be enacted by legislation passed by all Australian Parliaments, ideally on the same day, to articulate a symbolic statement of recognition to unify Australians.


CATSINaM supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Referendum Council Report recommendations.

It is worth noting that the Referendum Council did not address the widely-discussed proposal to amend or delete Section 51 or the ‘race power’ section of the Constitution, as they favoured a simpler approach to a referendum question and argued that the proposed body would act as a check on any potential discriminatory powers arising from this Section.

WA Graduate Nurse and Midwife Program

We are grateful to our WA Board Member, Melanie Robinson, for this piece, which is based on an article in the Perth Sunday Times on July 16th 2017 by Regina Titelius. Melanie is a Senior Aboriginal Health Development Officer in WA Health, playing a key role in supporting Aboriginal students and graduates, and expanding graduate health positions, including in nursing and midwifery.

In 2017, 27 nursing and midwifery jobs in the public and private health system across WA were offered to Aboriginal graduates, up from 17 in 2016. In percentage terms, it meant 66% of Aboriginal nursing and midwifery graduates secured a graduate position in the WA health system, compared to 38% in 2016. Six of the graduates are in the picture below, and range from young people through to mature age students.

How was this achieved? For the first time, WA health utilised Section 51 of the WA Equal Opportunity Act, the intent of which is to improve the employment opportunities of specific cultural groups who are under-represented in the workforce. We understand they plan to continue doing this. The WA Health Minister, Roger Cook, stated that:

“Having Aboriginal people working on the front line is incredibly important not only from a cultural perspective, but it gives people greater confidence in the treatment they’re getting.”

Melanie Robinson commented that:

“While there are lots of different language groups across the State, Aboriginal patients see a familiar face and it’s about having someone working there who understands them, you have that common ground. They’re also teaching the non-Aboriginal staff about what is good care, what patients need and what families need, and about being inclusive”.

CATSINaM wishes all of the graduate nurses and midwives well in their positions, and hope that the initiative we are currently leading will help support them and future graduates to have a good experience in the graduate program positions.

Developing a Cadetship and Graduate Program National Resource

Early in 2017, CATSINaM recognised an important opportunity to extend on work that has occurred in some states in developing and implementing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cadetship and graduate programs within their respective state health sectors. Specifically, this is to create a national resource that is relevant to the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector, as well as extending to all state/territory health sectors, while being inclusive of a range of health professions in addition to nursing and midwifery. We have identified the following needs:

  • access to a good practice resource with national reach and application
  • opportunities for cadetship and graduate programs to be extended into the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health sector
  • support for health services to improve the capacity of their health service staff to provide culturally safe work environments and health services, which impacts on the success of cadetship and graduate programs.

In July 2017, we learned that our funding proposal to the Health Workforce Division of the Department of Health was successful. We are just launching into this initiative as of September, and hope to complete it by May 2018. This is the process we will follow:

This work is consistent with Strategy 3.1 and 3.2 in our current 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, and our policy on Embedding cultural safety across Australian nursing and midwifery. Further it is consistent with the recent work of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, which is reflected in the draft Version 2 of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, i.e. Standards 1.21, 1.33 and 2.13, that are operational as of mid-2018.

If you are going to our Conference – and we hope you are – there will be a yarning circle on ‘Creating successful cadetship programs’, so come along if you would like to both hear from the panel about what helps cadetships work well for cadets and organisations. You will also get an opportunity to contribute your experience to this CATSINaM initiative, as the yarning circle will ask participants to provide their ideas for these three areas:

  1.  Reasons why cadetship programs are a good idea: If you had to convince a health service that cadetships were valuable, what are the top four reasons you would give them?
  2.  Information for a national good practice resource: What information would you like to see included in a national good practice resource on preparing for and supporting successful cadetships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives?
  3.  Which health services provide cadetships?: Are you aware of health services in your location or jurisdiction that provide cadetships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives? If you are, could you share some information with CATSINaM about where these programs are operating?

If you cannot attend the conference, or do not attend this session, but have ideas to share, please forward them to CATSINaM by Friday October 13th.

What did we learn from the 2017 Stakeholder and Member Forum series?

We had a fantastic finish to the 2017 Stakeholder and Member Forum series in Perth, held on August 24th. With enthusiastic assistance from our WA Board Member, Melanie Robinson, 33 people attended the forum including a large proportion of Members. The WA Chief Nurse and Midwife, Karen Bradley, spoke, along with Ahmi Markie – a CATSINaM Member and new nursing graduate, as well as Melanie Robinson.

Overall, this takes participation in the series to 194 overall – with the spread across locations shown in this graph. This is well more than double the 82 people who participated in the 2015 series.

We are analysing the information that forum participants shared with us in response to these two questions: What action has your organisation taken on any shared priorities with CATSINaM? What are you keen to collaborate on with CATSINaM and how?

The information gathered will support CATSINaM’s forward planning process. The top six areas that are currently identified for possible collaboration are:

  • workforce development on cultural safety (46%)
  • mentoring program partnerships and/or support (41%)
  • recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and graduates, including dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery workforce strategies and cadetship programs (27%)
  • career pathways into and within nursing and midwifery, both programs and resources (21%)
  • improving and/or expanding clinical placements, including in rural and remote locations and the Aboriginal Community Controlled Heath sector (19%)
  • integrating cultural safety into the curriculum (14%).

Te Mauri Pimatisiwin – the Journal of Indigenous Wellbeing

This is a new journal established in New Zealand, and may be of interest to many CATSINaM Members. Their most recent edition is a special issue on suicide prevention, with Pat Dudgeon as the Guest Editor and several articles by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous authors from Australia. 

AHPRA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group

CATSINaM has been participating in a new development for the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme during 2017, which is to develop an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy so that the Scheme plays a stronger role in increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the registered health professions, and strengthening the capacity of all health professionals to deliver culturally safe health care. This work aligns with our campaign to have cultural safety embedded in national law for health professions, similar to what has already occurred in New Zealand.

The agreed vision for this work is that “patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s health system is the norm, as defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples”. The group is co-chaired by Associate Professor Gregory Phillips, PhD, CEO, ABSTARR Consulting and Dr Joanna Flynn AM, Chair of the Medical Board of Australia.

Two meetings have been held so far, with the two associated communiques available here on the AHPRA website, which identifies the stage reached and the next steps for the latter part of 2018. The next meeting will be held in late 2018. If you have ideas that you would appreciate CATSINaM considering in their participation in the group, please send them through to Janine Mohamed via Chloe Peters: admin@catsinam.org.au or (02) 6262-5761.

Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer monthly newsletter 

CATSINaM receives this newsletter each month – it has a range of articles of general interest to the nursing and midwifery profession, and we get involved in the consultations, submissions and roundtables on several topics they highlight. You can access these directly by going to the CNMO website, and also subscribe personally, but for your interest here are the direct links to the:

Being a Board Member: An interview with Ben Gorrie

As we approach another AGM with the opportunity for Members to nominate as a Board Member, Ben Gorrie (Victorian Board Member and Deputy Chairperson) reflects on his Board experience.

Why did you decide to be a Board Member? My initial reason was to help out and be more involved in CATSINaM. I joined at a time when I moved back to doing more clinical work, having been involved in the education of Aboriginal nurses in hospitals and universities. I thought being on the Board would be a good way to stay involved in supporting Aboriginal students, and increasing the numbers of Aboriginal nurses and midwives. 

How has your actual experience compared with your hopes? Initially I thought that being more involved meant I would do more ‘hands on’ work, go to events and speak about CATSINaM as a representative. I also thought my main role was to be the Victorian representative. I soon learned that being on a national Board was a lot different. As a Board Member, you need to be very strategic and look at CATSINaM’s future direction, and develop corporate governance and financial knowledge.

There are many responsibilities that must consider the national reach and requirements of CATSINaM - you must look at the whole organisation and what it covers. I needed to move beyond the idea of just representing the interests of Victorian members. However, I can speak from the Victorian experience. This means I talk with Members in Victoria, understand their needs and experiences, and share them at the Board level as part of national decisions.

What have you learned from the experience so far? I have been on the Board for three years now and have learned a huge amount, as I went in with no idea of what a Board Member is. I know what that is now. The learning curve was steep but very worthwhile. I had to understand governance models and how they work, particularly the process for CATSINaM. Learning more about financial matters was important so I could understand how to read our financial statements and know we are in a good position. I have also learnt more about focusing on strategy – the strategic thinking process. Training was offered through the CATSINaM Board on these areas, but I chose to do extra in my own time by attending some short courses to help build that knowledge.

I have definitely had opportunities to do several of the things I initially thought I would. I have been a representative on national and state committees for CATSINaM, and also spoken at national and state forums; in fact, I have done three presentations just this year. I am always proud to speak on behalf of CATSINaM. These are usually good experiences and can open up other opportunities to meet and work with people in the profession.

Why would you encourage other CATSINaM Members to consider being a Board Member? I would definitely encourage others to do this. If you are thinking of joining a Board, in any area, the whole way the governance system is set up in CATSINaM will help you learn. Personally, I have appreciated the inclusiveness of the CATSINaM Board. It is a great way to contribute to CATSINaM going from strength to strength, while furthering your own education and understanding of organisations.

In fact, right now is a great opportunity because we are starting to look at the next Strategic Plan as our current plan finishes in June 2018. It is a particularly exciting stage for an incoming Board to put strategies in place that build on what we have achieved to date, and then to follow them through.