CEO's Welcome

As this financial year draws to a close, so does our current funding contract. Following an external review of CATSINaM, along with our sibling organisations – AIDA, IAHA and NATSIHWA - the Department of Health has confirmed we will be refunded. We are very excited to be in the final stages of negotiating the funding contract, which we expect will be for the next four years at a higher level.


A great outcome in the last three months is finishing resources for three initiatives we have worked on over the year. The resources produced through the Enrolled Nursing Qualifications Teaching and Learning Materials initiative are now available. They can be accessed through attendance at a CATSINaM-led Orientation Workshop – see the article in this newsletter for more details.


The Cadetship and TPP Program initiative has resulted in the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Cadetship and Transition to Professional Practice Programs: Guiding principles and a framework for implementation resource. It applies to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students and graduates across a range of health professions. The resource has a core document that provides clear guidance to organisations that want to establish a dedicated Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cadetship and/or TPP program, or strengthen existing programs. It includes brochure templates that organisations can adapt to promote their programs across the organisation and to potential program participants.

I want to express a special thank you to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cadetship and/or TPP programs in NSW Health and Vic Health for their support and sharing their experience. They are doing great work in supporting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery students and graduates, many of whom are our Members.


Through the Clinical Placements initiative, we have created the Good Clinical Placements Guide for Nursing and Midwifery Students resource. The final draft is under review and we plan to launch it at the October 2018 meeting for the National Network of Clinical Coordinators (in nursing and midwifery). We will make both resources available on the CATSINaM website in the next two months once the graphic design phase is complete. In the meantime, we can forward you copies if you are interested.


I was honoured to be nominated as the Chairperson of the National Health Leadership Forum recently, which I accepted. This is a critical forum for national Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health peaks and organisations for engagement with and advice to government on heath policy and programs for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians. Our recent submission to the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is profiled in this newsletter.


As we enter the 2018-2019 year, we look forward to continuing and expanding our work as we start implementing our new Strategic Plan. As always, we greatly look forward to talking, meeting and working with our Members and colleagues across the nursing and midwifery profession, and the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health sectors. Remember to join us at the 2018 CATSINaM Professional Development Conference in Adelaide, 17-19th September. This will be an extra special event as we celebrate 20 years as CATSINaM.


Finally, it may be cold in July for many of us, certainly in Canberra, but it also brings NAIDOC Week. We hope that you are part of local, jurisdictional and national celebrations for NAIDOC, and honour the amazing women who have laid the foundations for what we do now as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives – ‘Because of her, we can  !’


Kind regards,


Our new strategic plan 

Over the last year, the CATSINaM Board has developed a new Strategic Plan for 2018-2023. We are putting the finishing touches on the document and will promote it widely to Members and stakeholders. Here is a quick overview of our four priorities over the next five year period.

Priority 1: Develop and support recruitment and retention strategies for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples in nursing and midwifery.

Priority 2: Inform national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education policy agendas.

Priority 3: Provide a cultural hub for resilience and leadership development of our Members.

Priority 4: Inform best practice in culturally safe learning, workplace and health service delivery environments for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians.

How is CATSINaM working for you at a national level?

National submissions and consultations

This has been a very busy space in the last three months. We wrote nine submissions or responses to a broad range of topics relevant to the health of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians. This includes core priorities for our Members as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians (three topics in the middle of the graphic) and as part of the nursing and midwifery profession (six topics in the outer circle). We will feature our joint response as part of the National Health Leadership Forum to the Joint Select Committee Inquiry on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in this newsletter.

Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples: the National Health Leadership Forum Response

CATSINaM is a member of the National Health Leadership Forum (NHLF), the national representative health forum for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak bodies. Since being established in 2011, the NHLF has become an influential collective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak health bodies who provide advice and negotiate with successive Australian Governments on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

The NHLF made a submission to the Joint Select Committee Inquiry on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The NHLF asked the Joint Select Committee inquiry to:


“…pay particular regard to the positive impact constitutional change could have in improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and in so doing, providing the basis for fair and equitable outcomes for all Australian citizens under the Constitution.”


The Inquiry must be centrally concerned with and be framed around addressing chronic disadvantage, which continues to be experienced at disproportionate levels by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. 


To date the Constitution and how it has been applied in relation to the rights and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians has not been adequate to ensure comparable treatment and opportunities with non-Indigenous Australians. The overwhelming evidence of this disadvantage is not in dispute; it continues to be reported, with far too little progress being made in many key areas of health and wellbeing, and the social determinants of health. In practice, the Constitution and Australian laws have not enabled the equal enjoyment and participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in important social and economic aspects of life.


The deficit in health and life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples clearly illustrates inequality in the application and impact of Australian laws and policy settings.  These issues are not inherently intractable. For instance, much of the disease burden suffered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples could be avoided or reduced through education and appropriate opportunities to access preventive care. It should be a fundamental right for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have access to culturally safe and responsive health services in their communities.  These should be guided by safe and robust policies founded on strengths-based frameworks. This approach would not only contribute to the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, but also strengthen the positive participation rates and social and economic circumstances of the nation as a whole. Constitutional recognition would underpin these frameworks.


The evidence clearly indicates that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage is a systemic issue, and that addressing it requires a clear, coordinated and systemic response. The need for structural change for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to have a greater say in the legislation and policy that impact us is long overdue.


The NHLF also emphasised that it endorses the priorities identified in the Uluru Statement from the Heart– a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution and a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process for agreement-making between governments and First Nations, and truth-telling about our history.

National Strategic Approach to Maternity Services: Ongoing consultation

This national consultation is still underway. The Department of Health has negotiated with CATSINaM to hold a consultation session at our September 2018 conference – please look for this on the conference agenda, which is about to be released.

Ongoing developments for LINMEN

The work of LINMEN is continuing to develop following our successful event in April 2018 at the National Centre for Cultural Competence Conference, University of Sydney, April 4-5th.


LINMEN hosted representatives from 20 Schools of Nursing and/or Midwifery and held the inaugural LINMEN Networking Dinner with a keynote address from Professor Tom Calma AO on April 4th. Over 40 people attended the dinner. Along with the conference, attendees found both events to be a valuable networking and learning opportunity. 

We are busy developing the LINMEN website and resource hub. Our aim is for the website to be online in September, in time for the CATSINaM Annual Conference - keep an eye on The resource hub will include good practice curriculum resources and associated resources on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, history, culture and cultural safety for nursing and midwifery educators. These will include resources such as those recently produced by The Lowitja Institute, which are profiled in this newsletter. 


If you have, or know of resources you think would be beneficial to share on the LINMEN resource hub, please send references or more information to Phoebe Dent at


In the meantime, you can sign up as a LINMEN member and find out about LINMEN projects and events on the CATSINaM website LINMEN page. Here are two events in the next quarter.


LINMEN Strategic Planning Workshop

9am - 5pm, 2nd Aug 2018, Southern Cross University, Gold Coast Campus


We are inviting representatives from Schools of Nursing and/or Midwifery to attend a one day strategic planning workshop for LINMEN where we will discuss how LINMEN can best work for you and how members can contribute.


If you are interested in contributing to the future direction and priorities of LINMEN please click here to register by Friday 6th July or contact Phoebe Dent on The workshop is free for LINMEN members. Thank you to Southern Cross University for hosting the workshop at their Gold Coast Campus.


LINMEN Annual Professional Development Forum

9am - 5pm, Mon 17th Sept 2018, Hilton Adelaide, 233 Victoria Square, Adelaide


The annual LINMEN Professional Development Forum will be held as part of the CATSINaM Conference. The Forum will provide an opportunity for nursing and midwifery educators to come together and learn more about cultural safety and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, history and culture. It will be followed by the CATSINaM conference on 18-19 September.

Register via the CATSINaM Conference link

An orientation workshop: Teaching and learning resources for Diploma of Nursing ‘CHCDIV002 Promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety’ unit

CATSINaM has recently finished creating a comprehensive set of teaching and learning resources for ‘CHCDIV002 Promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety’, a required unit in the Diploma of Nursing. This is perfect timing with the advent of the new HLT training package which operates from July 2018 onwards.

We would like to acknowledge ANMAC’s support with this initiative, who are keen to see RTOs utilise and deliver the CATSINaM resources. ANMAC are working with CATSINaM to organise the first orientation workshop in Sydney on Monday July 23rd to be held at NPS MedicineWise Offices, 7/418A Elizabeth St, Surry Hills.

If you work in or have connections with an RTO in NSW, please encourage them to book in to the CHCDIV002 Promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Safety Orientation Workshop.


If you are in other jurisdictions, please let them know about the workshop and they can express an interest for a workshop to be held closer to them.

We look forward to sharing the outcomes in the September 2018 Newsletter.

Did you express interest in higher education teaching?


It was great to learn about the level of Member interest in higher education teaching – thank you to everyone who completed the survey earlier this year. We want to be able to share your contact details with RTOs and universities that inquire with CATSINaM about possible staff. If you have been sent a personal email with the survey link, please reply ASAP.


We would love to tell the RTOs that attend the workshop that we have Members who are interested in teaching.

Cultural safety and the 2nd edition National Safety and Quality Health Standards: A new CATSINaM Framework


For the first time, the 2nd edition National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NSQHSS), which became operational as of January 2018, specifically addresses the needs of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples within the health system. This will help the ‘Respect’ element of the endorsed Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights become real and further build on the work that CATSINaM has done to embed Cultural Safety into systems. If this work is done well it will assist in the recruitment of our Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians into nursing and midwifery, as well as other health professions and roles.


To support health services to address the cultural safety elements of the standards, CATSINaM has created a new planning and implementation framework along with an associated workshop on how to apply the framework. 


Our framework offers practical and achievable guidelines for meeting the new standards, as well as promoting and improving cultural safety at all levels of health service decision making and service delivery. For each standard, we have considered ways of knowing, being and doing to promote cultural safety with building partnerships being a strong focus in this framework.  


As part of our development work CATSINaM invited a range of organisations to participate in a pilot of the workshop in April 2018. We thank the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care who kindly donated their training room for this event. The workshop enables health services staff to:

  • promote cultural safety as an integral part of implementing the new National Safety and Quality Health Standards
  • describe effective practices in promoting cultural safety in health care settings
  • use strengths-based approaches to promote cultural safety
  • recognise racism and champion anti-racism strategies in health care settings
  • enter collaborative partnerships with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health praticioners and community members
  • create and implement effective processes for identifying Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health service users
  • complete cultural safety mapping activities
  • plan the next steps in their organisation’s journey to promote cultural safety.

The pilot workshop was a great success. The 21 participants gave great feedback through the evaluation form that we used to refine the framework and workshop, with a view to providing future workshops for health services on implementing the NSQHSS.


If you would like to express an interest in a workshop, please contact Colleen Gibbs: or 02 6262 5761.

Rural Locum Assistance Program

Rural LAP is a component of the Australian Government’s rural workforce capacity agenda managed by healthcare solutions provider, Aspen Medical. The program aims to provide targeted rural and remote support services to general practitioners (obstetricians and anaesthetists), specialists (obstetricians and anaesthetists), nurses, midwives and allied health professionals in rural and remote Australia. All Aboriginal medical services throughout Australia are eligible to receive locum support.


For more information visit


See how the Rural LAP helped with Nursing accreditation with locum support

Located in the Corangamite Shire, also known as the Lakes and Craters region, Camperdown has a steady population of over 3,300 residents. It is two and a half hours west of Melbourne and just over an hour south of Ballarat with the Great Ocean Road a 30-40 min drive away.


The Camperdown community comprises primarily of farming and small businesses with a small percentage of welfare-based families and an increasing number of elderly residents, all of whom require access to quality and affordable healthcare services. 


Camperdown Clinic provides cradle-to-grave healthcare across the Great Ocean Road to Mount Elephant and Lismore. They have employed practice nurses for over 14 years and provide educational opportunities for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and skills maintenance for their staff. The local hospital is run by General Practitioners and is supported by highly proficient nurses who care for their inpatients.

Mark Leddy, Practice Manager for Camperdown Clinic, is responsible for ensuring that appropriate staffing levels are met to provide continuity of service within the local community, especially during CPD training. Mark said, “it is always a human resource issue to rely on other team members to adjust their lifestyle to cover a position when training is undertaken”.


Mark first heard about the Australian Government-funded Rural Locum Assistance Programme (Rural LAP) in 2011 and he was glad the initial conversation took place.


“The assistance, guidance and professionalism were at the highest level. The whole evolution was undertaken with clear advice and, surprisingly, minimal paperwork. The quality of candidates put forward allowed management to select the most appropriate locum to cover the position. If I had been recruiting for a full-time practice nurse, all three of the candidates would have been on my interview short-list” Mark explained.


Camperdown Clinic was eligible to receive Government-funded locum support which they used for a practice nurse who was required to attend a Pap Smear Update course that was a five-hour drive away. This meant that the practice nurse was away from the clinic for several days to provide adequate travel time and undertake the course refreshed and focused. Mark said, “without access to locum support, we would not have been able to cover their absence and their accreditation may have lapsed.”   


“The ability to allow health providers access to a staffing resource through Rural LAP certainly encourages managers to support the endeavours of their staff in maintaining currency and competency”, he concluded. 

Camperdown Clinic continues to access this Government-funded service with a locum currently deployed to cover a practice nurse on leave.


CATSINaM at conferences, forums and symposiums

The theme of this NSW Health Summit on June 22nd was Aboriginal health – it’s time to reset. The summit brought together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health executives, senior managers, policy makers and implementers working on closing the gap in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in NSW. Following a panel discussion that reflected on the concept of resetting the health system, Janine Mohamed gave a keynote presentation on the theme. She stated that:

“We MUST fundamentally overhaul the operating system so that we:

1.  Tackle racism.

2.  Embed cultural safety across all areas of our lives and work.

3.  Build trust and healthy relationships.”

Further, she started to describe what a new healthy operating system would involve for the health sector – captured in this graphic. 

Critically, Janine emphasised the importance of acting on the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which be a vital part of the process in resetting the health system.

Exceeding our membership target 

In the March Newsletter we shared how we hit our target of 1,200 Members by 2018 six months early. We have continued to grow through the year, well exceeding this target now. We set that target in July 2013. Here is a graph showing our incredible growth since this time. With 1.366 Members by the end of June – we increased our numbers nearly eight times over!

Upcoming events

2018 CATSINaM Conference: September 17-19, Adelaide

The abstracts are in and we are busy finalising the agenda for our National Conference in Adelaide. We are excited! Are you?


Make sure you have the dates in your diary because we would love to see you participate in CATSINaM Members sharing their amazing knowledge, skills and experiences as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives.


Who are the keynote speakers?

We have fantastic keynote speakers for the conference and almost all are finalised. We are excited to have confirmation from the following people present.

Dr Chelsea Bond

Ngungkaris from NPY Women’s Council

Professor Ray Lovett

Professor Tom Calma 

Professor Martin Nakata

Professor Gracelyn Smallwood

Review of the RN Accreditation Standards (2012)

ANMAC has recently announced that they are reviewing the Registered Nurse Accreditation Standards 2012, which are used to assess and accredit registered nurse programs of study. The accreditation standards are developed through extensive consultation with stakeholders. CATSINaM Members can contribute to the review by responding to the questions in consultation paper 2. Responses can be provided by:

  1. Online survey available at
  2. Written submission emailed to or addressed to:

Standards review

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council

GPO Box 400, Canberra ACT 2601

  1. Attending the consultation forum in July

Time: 10am - 3pm

Date: Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Location: Holiday Inn, 10-14 Centre Road, Melbourne Airport, Victoria

RSVP: Please provide your name, designation, contact details and any dietary requirements to

New resources from The Lowitja Institute

In 2017, The Lowitja Institute began a project in close liaison with the National Centre for Indigenous Studies at the Australia National University on the Narrative Framing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing. It examined how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing is framed in deficit terms. A second related project is the Reframing Discourse and Changing the Narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Wellbeing, which focuses on how to change the deficit discourse and reframe from a strengths-based position.


To date, the linked projects have resulted in resources below: 

Deficit discourse and Indigenous health – how narrative framings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are reproduced in policy: This short report (30 pages) describes how Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians are constantly described in deficit terms. It includes four case studies of deficit discourse in health policy: 1) Overcoming Indigenous Advantage, 2) Closing the Gap (the Australian Government response to the community-led Close the Gap campaign), 3) the Northern Territory Emergency Response, and 4) the National Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Policy and Health Performance Framework.












As the report notes: 


‘Deficit discourse’ refers to discourse that represents people or groups in terms of deficiency – absence, lack or failure. It particularly denotes discourse that narrowly situates responsibility for problems with the affected individuals or communities, overlooking the larger socio-economic structures in which they are embedded. It is implicated with race-based stereotypes and there is evidence that it is a barrier to improving health outcomes. (p. vii)

















The third recent resource from The Lowitja Institute is An evaluation framework to improve Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health. The resource focuses on “identifying the essential elements of evaluation planning and practice, and highlighting the requirements needed to undertake evaluations” (vii). The intent is to develop a framework for evaluation so it can deliver benefits such as: improving policy and programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and harnessing and developing community expertise. The framework has two components: 1) What to evaluate – key principles and indicators of programs, and 2) How to evaluate – the adaptation of the research for a health justice framework.

Deficit discourse and strengths-based approaches – changing the narrative of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing: This companion report reviews and analyses a growing body of work from Australia and overseas that:



“…proposes ways to displace deficit discourse in health, or that provides examples of attempts to do so. The most widely accepted approaches to achieving this come under the umbrella term ‘strengths-based’, which seek to move away from the traditional problem-based paradigm and offer a different language and set of solutions to overcoming an issue.” (p. vi)


Several  health programs framed from a strengths-based position are described, along with the relationship between strengths-based approaches and existing concepts in health, and a rational for using strengths-based approaches.










The CATSINaM/RFDS clinical placement scholarships: Reflections from Jennifer Eckel

Jennifer Eckel was one of the recipients of a CATSINaM/RFDS clinical placement scholarship and did a five-week placement in Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory. Here is her reflection on her learnings and experiences.


On arrival at Gove Airport, it struck me then - OMG, what is this going to be like? I really have put myself outside my comfort zone. The airport was a large single building, beautifully designed to suit the setting of green bush and red dirt. My sponsor was there to pick me up and take me to my home, a two storey corrugated iron building. It was a two-bedroom apartment and it had everything I would need as I was about to start my last, ever, five weeks of placement to finish my Nursing degree, at Gove District Hospital, Nhulunbuy.


Gove District Hospital is a thirty-bed acute care facility, providing medical, surgical, paediatric respite and maternity services. It services fifteen remote communities for inpatient, outpatient and specialist care. I was going to spend two weeks in the Emergency Department and then three weeks in Ward One; here they have a mixture of medical, surgical and paediatric patients.  


On my first day in the Emergency Department I was asked to glue a patient’s head wound together, a result of the past weekend of football. This was not unusual. There were many types of illnesses with which I was confronted. One I will not forget was a snake bite victim, who had come from an outlying island via Care Flight and were bitten late at night. This patient required an escort as English was not his first language. This is very common in Arnhem Land. He was monitored and with the skills of the Doctors and Nurses in the Emergency Department, was discharged two days later and returned home.


During the time I was transferred to Ward 1, I picked up on all my nursing skills and medication knowledge that I learnt in the last three years. It was a very busy ward. You not only had the patient to attend too, but also the family carer who would be there as their escort to translate for you. This occurs a lot at the hospital. Many traditional ways are still current in Arnhem Land and they are lovely to see and follow as is the custom.


Outside of the hospital is a very social setting with the gathering of families as they wait for their family member to get well. People sit on the grass or on the outside furniture and just interact all together in the sunshine as they say the hospital is too cold – this is because of the air conditioning. I was also privileged to see and hear traditions that are kept alive by the people of Arnhem Land. It was a captivating place.


I will be forever grateful to the Royal Flying Doctors Service and CATSINaM for giving me the opportunity to work in such a unique environment. Much to my amazement I also reconnected with some family members that live in Yirrkala, a small community not far from Gove Hospital. Australia may be a big land, but you never know who you will meet and where.


The one thing that I would like to pass on to any student who may go on a clinical placement in a remote location is to be open minded to the experience and enjoy it all. It is a once in a lifetime experience, is really is different and will make you use your critical thinking skills.

Book a CATSINaM training program

CATSINaM has several training programs available to deliver for organisations or groups in their locations. An overview of the focus and content, learning outcomes, fees and participant numbers are available via this link to our website:

In addition, expressions of interest will be taken for CATSINaM’s two new workshops that are profiled in this newsletter – contact Colleen Gibbs: or 02 6262 5761:

  • Cultural safety and the 2nd edition National Safety and Quality Health Standards: A new CATSINaM Framework.
  • An orientation workshop: Teaching and learning resources for Diploma of Nursing ‘CHCDIV002 Promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety’ unit – you can register for the July workshop here.