CEO Welcome

Dear Members,


This is the last time I write to you as the CATSINaM CEO. I look forward to welcoming the new CEO who begins early 2019. As I handover the reins of your organisation, to Melanie Robinson, many things have changed since 2013. While we share the same commitments to increase, recruit, support and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in the health workforce, there are more of us to do the work. Our membership has grown enormously, from 155 in June 2013 to 1538 of December.


While we remain focused on the importance of cultural safety, we have taken many steps to equip our non-Indigenous nursing and midwifery colleagues to better understand cultural safety and their role in it, to advocate for cultural safety alongside us, and to integrate cultural safety into course accreditation standards, curriculum, registration requirements, codes of conduct and health service accreditation. Just this week we had a welcomed announcement from Minister Wyatt granting CATSINaM $350,000 to develop online cultural safety training for the professions.


CATSINaM’s has strengthened its profile and reputation in a national context, both in nursing and midwifery and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Thank you to the many nursing and midwifery organisations with whom we have worked and partnered, particularly those who stood strong with us in times of adversity. Thank you also to the Indigenous organisations who were always a font of knowledge and support through the revitalisation of CATSINaM as an organisation, and for me as an individual.


My sincere thanks to the Board for their support, commitment and wisdom – including all Board Members with whom I have had the pleasure of working since 2013. You have guided the strategic directions of CATSINaM as it has grown in membership, national recognition and stature. Thank you to all the staff who have worked hard to support CATSINaM’s growth and development since 2013 – this could not have occurred without your energy, dedication and enthusiasm.


Last but not least, a heartfelt thank you to the CATSINaM membership. You have trusted and supported me. I greatly value the relationships I have built with you. In the years to come, the resounding memory will be the time we have spent together. As Maya Angelou has said, “I have learned people will forget what you said, will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

We are in good shape as an organisation, and I look forward to watching CATSINaM go from strength to strength under the leadership of Mel.


Kind regards,

Janine Mohamed

Our Year in Review - Launched at the 2018 Conference

With great pride we launched the 2017-2018 Year in Review video at the 2018 Adelaide Conference – it is pride of place on the CATSINaM website home page. Just below it you will find many photos from the conference, as well as the link to our new 2018-2023 Strategic Plan.

CATSINaM working for Members at the national level

CATSINaM continued its participation in many national activities. This requires sustained effort over months as we promote the needs and contributions of our Members and contribute to work focused on improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Highlights from the last quarter

We were delighted to achieve several positive landing points during the last quarter – here are some highlights. As Chair of the National Health Leadership Forum, Janine Mohamed co-chaired her second Implementation Plan Advisory Group (IPAG) for the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan (NATSIHP). An outcome was for CATSINaM to provide cultural safety training to the section of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) that is responsible for developing measures to assess cultural safety in the health system (an indicator within the NATSIHP). This occurred in December, with 24 people participating.

Marni Tuala, CATSINaM Deputy Chairperson, at the National Library of Australia launch of ‘Nurses of Australia: The Illustrated story’, which features several CATSINaM Members and on which CATSINaM was a key collaborator along with the Australian College of Nursing.



Janine Mohamed with Glen McGrath – the McGrath Foundation collaborated with CATSINaM to create a special breast cancer awareness t-shirt for our 2018 Conference. They are now discussing the possibility of CATSINaM working with them to develop online training for their nurses that provides an orientation and brief introduction to cultural safety.

We delivered the new ‘National Safety and Quality Health Standards: Embedding cultural safety’ two-day workshop twice – one in Western Australia and the second in South Australia. We had many enthusiastic participants as they learned what this meant for their organisations. The next workshop is on 21-22nd January 2019 in Brisbane.

The December Board meeting was held in beautiful Cairns. It was a great opportunity to catch up with CATSINaM Members and visit the Grannie’s group at Yarrabah and two of the local ACCHS - the Gurriny Yealamucka Primary Health Care Service at Yarrabah and Apunapima in Cairns, which services Cape York.

Watch this space...

Other work in which we are involved continues to take shape. We will share more information and outcomes as they emerge:

  • Keep an eye out for the work of the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Working Group, formed through a partnership between the National Health Leadership Forum and AHPRA, on developing a shared definition of cultural safety. This follows on from AHPRA’s Statement of Intent, released in mid-2018.  Recently they called for public submissions regarding the definition of cultural safety – if you want to know more about the process, please contact
  • The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health at the University of Sydney is collaborating with us to hold three 2-day Mentoring Training workshops, two in Sydney and Dubbo in 2019. One Sydney workshop has occurred, with the Dubbo workshop planned for February and the second Sydney workshop in March.

Supporting Members in representing CATSINaM

We have had several opportunities to support Members to participate in external forums, including to represent CATSINaM. This included a recent initiative for Members to participate in a cultural immersion experience with the Central Aboriginal Australian Congress Aboriginal Corporation, the major ACCHS based in Alice Springs. Here are three other examples:

IAHA Conference 2018

Rochelle Pitt did an amazing job representing Australia and CATSINaM as both an attendee and performing at the South Pacific Nurses Forum.

Karel Williams spoke at the annual Ngunnawal Lecture held by the University of Canberra on Birthing on Country on behalf of CATSINaM, and Alicia Mohamed was MC for the event.

In memory of Norman Dulvarie

It was with heavy hearts that we learned of the unexpected passing of a CATSINaM Member and Board Director, Norman Dulvarie, on January 6th. CATSINaM extends its condolences and care to Norman’s children and extended family at this extremely difficult time.

LINMEN activities

Professional Development

LINMEN has held two professional development events in the last quarter that were both well attended and highly valued by participants.



Cultural safety training: The School of Nursing, University of Melbourne hosted a two-day cultural safety training in November. Many of their staff attended, along with colleagues from La Trobe University and GOTAFE, an RTO with multiple locations across the Goulburn Valley in Victoria. Participants were inspired to integrate their learnings into their workplace, curriculum, and support processes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. We wish them well in this work and hope they will share their progress with the wider LINMEN network in upcoming events and forums.

Central Queensland University also held a two-day cultural safety training in November at their Rockhampton campus for their School of Nursing and Midwifery staff, including staff who deliver the Diploma of Nursing, which was both well attended and received.

Mentoring Workshop: A two-day mentoring workshop was held in Sydney on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 10th and 11th of December. LINMEN’s First Mentoring worship was held! Representatives attended from Western Sydney University, Curtin University, University of Technology (Sydney), University of Canberra, and University of Wollongong, as well as representatives of Hospital services with in the Western Sydney Local Health District. The Workshop introduced practices associated with culturally safe mentoring and addresses additional challenges in the workplace and learning environment related to racism and cultural safety.  A huge Thank You to Western Sydney University for hosting the first LINMEN Mentoring Workshop.

The LINMEN Resource Hub

The LINMEN Website and Resource Hub continues to expand and is attracting increasing interest and activity from LINMEN Members. If you haven’t yet had a good look, we strongly encourage you to do so. Part of the resource hub includes the opportunity to see who LINMEN members are, search on their shared interests with you, and follow them up to share your work. Currently, we have over 30 organisational members, including 23 Schools of Nursing and/or Midwifery, and 130 individual members.

If you haven’t yet joined LINMEN but are interested in what we are doing and how you can contribute and benefit, please sign up at and share the site with friends and colleagues.

Putting our plans into action

As a result of the August LINMEN planning day, we have finalised a plan and are busy implementing it. A priority idea emerging from the planning day was offering on-site visits to Universities and/or RTOs. We are preparing two on-site visit packages that Universities or RTOs can book with us by negotiation for either a one-day or two-day visit. Both include the CATSINaM half-day workshop on ‘Key considerations in nursing and midwifery curriculum on Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health, history, culture and cultural safety’ for teaching staff, while the second package will add customised elements that support a localised roundtable on progressing your implementation of information gained through CATSINaM and/or LINMEN that addresses needs in your higher education environment. We will promote details of this directly to members and potential members early in 2019.

A temporary farewell to Phoebe Dent

Everyone at CATSINaM wishes our LINMEN Coordinator Phoebe Dent well, as she leaves us for a few months to be with her beautiful new baby, Leonardo, born on December 19th. We trust all goes smoothly for Phoebe and José, and his big sister Amalia, and look forward to hearing about his development.

CATSINaM/RFDS clinical placement: Student reflection

De'Karla-Maree Kickett - 27 May -9 June 2018

I was excited to be travelling to Alice Springs for the first time to complete a clinical placement in a remote location. As a young Aboriginal woman, it has always been an opportunity to go out to a remote area and help our people in need which I had the chance to accomplish. Before arriving in Alice Springs, I had in my mind that the hospital would be just a small little clinic because it was in remote area but the first day I arrived at Alice Springs Hospital I was wrong, the hospital was bigger than I imagined.


My experience completing placement in a remote location so far was great and it would be something I would definitely love to have the opportunity to do again. I must admit I have always been a city girl, so it was difficult not seeing those big city lights but it sure is a wonderful opportunity to get out to the community and help those in need.


I definitely found while being on clinical placement in Alice Springs that there were different medical conditions/issues dealt with throughout the hospital we don’t see as much throughout the city hospitals. During my time at the hospital I had a great buddy nurse who helped me throughout placement which I believe has assisted me accomplish goals I can now take into action for my future nursing career.


I must say I wasn’t on a Paediatric ward while on placement, but I did enjoy the surgical ward I was on. My future nursing career is to be a Paediatric nurse, so I can help young children get better because it is something I have always wanted to do and as someone who was sick as a child I know what it’s like to be in pain, so I would like to give back to those children in need. Furthermore, I would like to help our Aboriginal people who are suffering from diseases prevent these from happening to help reduce the life expectancy.


I hope my nursing career would take me around the world to help all these people in need because nursing is my passion so if it gets me to places, there’s another smile on another face.


Thank you to RFDS and CATSINaM for the great opportunity for providing financial assistance during my clinical placement, it is really appreciated.


Expressions of Interest for the 2019 RFDS Scholarships is open now, visit the CATSINaM website.

CATSINaM at conferences, forums and symposiums

It was an exceedingly busy time with conference and forum presentations for CATSINaM in the last three months. We have provided a selection of these here.

Healing our Spirit Worldwide, November 2018: Janine Mohamed presented at the Healing our Spirit Worldwide 2018 conference, held in Sydney in late November. The theme was ‘Our Knowledge, Our Wisdom – Our Promise: For Our Grandchildren’s Grandchildren.” The paper was co-authored with Dr Robin Barrington, Ms Kathleen Musulin, Mr Bob Dorey and Dr Melissa Sweet who are members of a ‘Lock Hospitals Working Group’, auspiced by the Shire of Carnarvon in Western Australia. It presented a case study of historical truth-telling as a healing intervention in response to the legacy of lock hospitals in the lives of individual who were incarcerated and their families. The paper spoke “to the cultural determinants of our health and wellbeing –- and the importance of centring culture in our historical truth telling”.

“Truth telling is a difficult and painful process, but at the same time it can be healing and empowering. It is as much about confronting the trauma of history as it is of the strength and resilience of my own and many other Aboriginal families, especially those whose lives and relationships have been fractured by the impact of colonisation and government policies.”   Dr Robin Barrington

It emphasised how historical truth-telling can guide us in reshaping our future – for our grandchildren’s grandchildren – where “cultural safety has become so embedded into all systems that it has become the norm -- rather than something exceptional that people have to learn when they start training to be a nurse or a doctor”.

Truth-telling Symposium, October 2018: Truth-telling about the past, present and future was the focus of this symposium led by Reconciliation Australia and The Healing Foundation, which CATSINaM contributed to and attended along with 100 others in Barangaroo, Sydney. Croakey has an excellent article on the symposium: Historical truth-telling as a healing intervention: an invitation to the health sector to engage.





“The trauma we face in our day-to-day lives, either directly or indirectly, has its genesis in the violent early history of Australia’s Frontier Wars and the genocidal policies that followed, including the forced removal of children. We must remember that the reason for removal in all policy documents was to give people a better life. The abuse our people suffered as a result demonstrates the exact opposite.” Richard Weston. An inspirational event was delivered by CEO’s Karen Mundine, and Richard Weston.



NSW Aboriginal Health Workforce ‘Stepping Up Forum’, October 2018: Once again, CATSINaM presented at this forum, along with our colleagues from NATSIHWA – Karl Briscoe and IAHA - Donna Murray and member Tanika  

Healing our Spirit Worldwide, November 2018: CATSINaM held a dinner for the International Alliance of Indigenous Nurses at this conference, as many were in attendance, including Nina Siversten and Lisa Mona Bearskin

International Hospitals Conference, October 2018: Janine Mohamed spoke at this conference in Brisbane. It was fantastic to connect with CATSINaM Members who also attended.



National Conference on Indigenous health Workforce Leadership Program, November 2018: Another trip to Brisbane for Janine Mohamed to speak on a panel, along with Professor Roianne West. We believe the panel session is available on the LIME website. Other CATSINaM Members were also present.

WA Clinical Senate meeting, November 2018 – ‘Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing is Everybody’s Business: Our collective roles for improvement’: Janine Mohamed addressed the WA Clinical Senate for WA Health as part of their process for developing 10 recommendations for Aboriginal advancement in the health system, which emerged through discussion between senior Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders, clinicians and managers.

Good practice in clinical placement

We have now finalised a new resource, the ‘Good Clinical Placements Guide’. The primary purpose of the guide is to:

  • better prepare Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery students for their clinical placements
  • better prepare workplaces for hosting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery students on clinical placements
  • assist higher education providers and workplaces to consider and address the complexities faced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery students when entering clinical placements.

The secondary purpose is to prepare non-Indigenous nursing and midwifery students for placements in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander health contexts. We commend it to you and hope it supports the work of higher education providers and host workplaces to strengthen their process for clinical placements and the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. You can access the resource on the LINMEN Resource Hub

Book a CATSINaM training program for your organisation

Have you tapped into one of CATSINaM’s seven different training programs that can be delivered for organisations or groups in their locations?

An overview of the focus, learning outcomes, fees and recommended participant numbers are available at the CATSINaM Training Programs page on our website. CATSINaM can also help bring the two-day Cultural Safety Training program to your location - this is the same workshop we have hosted each year in Canberra.

Participant responses to the 'A brief introduction to enabling culturally safe health care' workshop

We delivered this new half-day workshop twice in the last quarter – for the Nursing and Midwifery Council of NSW in October, and the Melbourne-based Nurse and Midwife Support Service in November – as well as to Diabetes Queensland earlier in August. Over 45 people have participated to date. The workshop is a stepping stone towards undertaking cultural safety training. It encourages people to engage in critical self-reflection, and introduces the contemporary context for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians and key concepts in relation to historical, social and cultural social determinants of health. It also helps participants to understand what they would examine in greater detail through cultural safety training.

Overall, the workshop has been received very positively by participants, with a rating of 4.2 out of 5 for being personally helpful and 4.4 out of 5 for recommending it to others. It has also stretched a few people who found the critical self-reflection challenging. For those of us who have been involved with facilitating learning about cultural safety, this will not be a surprise as working through reactivity and defensiveness is part of the journey. We hope the organisations involved support their staff to continue the journey and work towards strengthening cultural safety for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff, clients and patients

Supporting RTOs to deliver the new Diploma of Nursing 'CHCDIV002: promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety' unit

In July we held the first orientation workshop for RTOs on the CATSINaM teaching and learning resources for the Diploma of Nursing ‘CHCDIV002 Promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety’ unit in Sydney. In November, we took the workshop to Melbourne. In combination, 22 people attended representing 13 RTOs.

The purpose of the orientation workshop is to

  • gain an orientation to the CHCDIV002 teaching and learning materials
  • clarify any contextualisation that can occur to reflect local/jurisdictional contexts
  • compare the CATSINaM materials with RTOs’ current approach
  • identify preparation steps for delivering the CATSINaM materials
  • explore how to create safe places and processes for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students.

Given this, it was very encouraging that participant reasons for attending the workshop were aligned. They wanted to: gain a better understanding of what is in the Unit (58%); increase their skills and knowledge to ensure competency so they can teach to others (53%); and increase their awareness of cultural safety and the difference to cultural awareness, and/or provide leadership on cultural safety expectations in their RTO (32%).

Satisfaction with the workshop experience was very high – an average rating score of 4.7 out of 5 – and participants reported gaining highly valuable learning for their future use of the teaching and learning resources. Their feedback focused on how the workshop: was informative and met the needs of teaching the unit, provided authentic experiences, had competent facilitators, increased their awareness of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people's experiences and offered great resources. They also mentioned that it provided an opportunity for reflection that was thought-provoking, emphasised cultural safety and the need for cultural belonging for staff (i.e. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander staff), and offered good networking through discussions they had with other participants.

The workshops also generated interest in RTOs undertaking cultural safety training, with several staff from one of the RTOs attending the LINMEN cultural safety workshop in late November.

The Midwifery Cultural Safety Training Standards

As part of our role on the Birthing on Country project, which being managed by the Australian College of Midwives, CATSINaM is developing cultural safety training standards for the midwifery profession. The standards will help ensure that training is consistent with the concept of cultural safety and distinct from other forms of cultural training that are available, e.g. cultural awareness training, and create an ongoing quality assurance process for the delivery of cultural safety training for the midwifery profession.

Together with the working group members who joined us on the day – Donna Hartz, Pam McCalman, Karel Williams, Cherisse Buzzacott and Machellee Kosiak, (pictured on right) – we reviewed background information to inform the standards and analysed the 2011 NACCHO Cultural Safety Standards we are using as a base with NACCHO’s permission.

We plan to complete the standards by early February, ready for review and endorsement by the Board, then finalise the process for implementing them. Later this year, the standards will be promoted to cultural safety training providers, who can apply for their training to be formally reviewed against the standards. If they meet or exceed the standards, they can identify this in their training information and will also be listed on the CATSINaM and/or ACM website as providers who meet the standards.

A community designed, responsive and owned RTO: An interview with Faith March

Faith March is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman, living and working on Dunghutti Country, a descendant of the Stolen Generations – Kinchela Boys Home and Cootamundra Girls Home. She is a CATSINaM Member who has worked with Booroongen Djugun College in Greenhill via Kempsey (NSW) for 22 years, and has been the Director for several years.

Can you tell us about how Booroongen Djugun was established?

Booroongen Djugun began operating in 1991, and the first community services started in 1992, but its establishment had been talked about for a long time. Two key people were Gary Morris, a Dunghutti Elder, and Val March, a non-Aboriginal woman who, together with other health and welfare workers, started discussing the development of an Aboriginal Aged Care Facility in 1989. Both Gary and Val received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in 2011 for services to Indigenous communities, particularly for their work to establish and support Booroongen Djugun.

In the planning stage, they travelled across the country to consult with many different Aboriginal communities and share a model of what our community wanted, which included the totems of fire, water, earth, and sun in the design of Booroongen Djugun. For example, Elders wanted rammed earth walls because the earth is an important totem and a tin roof as they wanted to hear the rain. This travel allowed them to look at other facilities, specifically for Aboriginal people, to make sure we were on the right track with our plans.

Elders wanted culture to be strong, for the facility to be culturally safe so Aboriginal people could feel like it was their home. In our cultural ways, families look after their Elders so this was a new concept of putting a family member into a facility when traditionally we provide that care at home. Previously, very few of our people had been in mainstream aged care facilities. We wanted to ensure families felt confident and safe with us, and people who lived here knew it was their home in which they had a say, were comfortable, and could do things they wanted to do.

The College came a little later, in 1994. It was established because Aboriginal people of working age in our area were 92.5% unemployed and other training organisations hadn’t been successful with training Aboriginal people. We needed Aboriginal workers to look after our Elders, so we decided to train our own staff. Through establishing the aged care facility, we learned what the training involved and wanted to target local Aboriginal people. We often say that we came into training “through the back door”.  The first accredited training we offered was the Certificate III in Community Care Services, Assistant-in-Nursing.

How did you get involved in Booroongen Djugun?

When all this was happening, I was away at University doing a teaching degree. I paused when I became pregnant and came home to have my son. A year later I was one of the 2nd intake of students to do the Assistant-in-Nursing course in 1995. When I finished I became an administration trainee. At that point, the aged care facility and college wasn’t built, so we held training in central Kempsey above a restaurant and used the local hospital for the practical elements.

We had an “Approval in Principle” for Booroongen Djugun aged care facility. It took a lot of backwards and forwards between Gary, Val, and the Commonwealth Government to determine and agree to the funding arrangements. Over this period we lost Elders who had been a great support. It took almost four years to achieve a building and start the aged care facility.

It was a long while before we could build training rooms (the College). At first we used the ‘Meeting Place’ at the back of the aged care facility to do our training while we filled the 60 beds. When we got the College building, it was purpose built. Initially we had three administration staff and what is now our administration office was three classrooms. Since then we have built a new section to create classrooms and more recently a nursing laboratory - a simulated health care environment - to deliver the Diploma in Nursing.

During our community consultations we visited other communities to ask for their input and to talk about our Elders’ vision for the aged care facility. People were very interested in what we were doing. They were curious about how we were doing it as they wanted to start one in their own community. We also talked to the Elders and Community members about our plans to train our own staff. These conversations led to us to training in other communities.

As a community-driven RTO, when people tell us about the type of training they want, we listen. If we do not have it, and the need is there, we add it to our Scope of Registration.  Booroongen Djugun College, was, and continues to be, a very mobile college in every sense. We go to where people want to do their training.  Training in other communities started happening about three years after we started our first local course.

What are you teaching at Booroongen Djugun?

Our initial focus was on community care services, Assistant-in-Nursing (AIN) and Ancillary Services (Wardsmen and kitchen staff). In the beginning, it was a struggle to get people into nursing because they thought it would be too difficult and they might not make it, but everyone wanted to do the Ancillary Services course. We worked hard to encourage our people to do the Assistant-in-Nursing course. Aboriginal people were telling us that all they could do was the cleaning and cooking side of things. There was a mindset you had be very smart, become a RN and get a college degree. The very term “nursing” was an obstacle.

However, as people started doing the Assistant-in-Nursing course there was a word of mouth effect - “Come do this, it’s not as hard as you think it will be”. In fact, most of our student recruitment still happens through word of mouth.

We have a College Elders group with whom we discuss what type of courses we run or are hoping to run. They provide input and advice about what we should do. For example, they told us that “healthy land means healthy people” and said we should offer courses on land management. Our site is 60 acres so there is a lot of land. We started a horticulture course, planted native plant gardens with bush medicines and bush tucker. Some Elders are still using bush medicines and bush tucker, so through this initiative we could have them growing on site. That is still a popular course – especially the men want to do this training. We also do management courses, like business administration and management. We currently have 24 courses on the College’s Scope of Registration.

Another part of our work is our community outreach services, focusing on home and community care and respite care initially, although this language has changed over the years. We needed to train our people in these sectors, so we started focusing on training people in the Health and Community Services Training Packages, so people could look after their Elders in the community who needed support with day-to-day living but not nursing care.

We use Booroongen Djugun as a continuum of care which creates an easy transition into the aged care facility. Lots of our staff work in both community support and residential aged care, so people are familiar with who they are receiving care support from.

The Diploma of Nursing course (Enrolled Nursing) was something I have wanted to do for 10 years. I’ve known a lot of people in our community who started the course, but because they had to go away for a period of time from the community to complete it, they didn’t finish as they didn’t want to leave home, their kids and their partners. Initially, TAFE were the only RTOs able to offer the course until recently when the training package was re-written; now an RTO can add it to their Scope of Registration.

I know there is an unacceptable shortage of trained Aboriginal nurses. If we are to make a difference to Aboriginal health and the life spans of our peoples, we need trained Aboriginal nurses and health workers. As an Aboriginal owned and Aboriginal controlled organisation, Booroongen Djugun College has an obligation to help ‘Close the Gap’ by offering this training. Our College Elders group strongly support this action.   

Currently, we have the Diploma of Nursing on our Scope of Registration with ASQA and are waiting on ANMAC to finalise our accreditation. ANMAC have completed their on-site audit of the nursing laboratory and now we are putting the final touches to it. Our plan is to commence the course in early 2019. To date, the College have an ‘expression of interest’ list of over 60 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people – just through word of mouth! The list includes people who are already working as an aged care worker who want to upskill to an Enrolled Nurse and people who started the Enrolled Nurses course but didn’t finish. Our first intake will be 15 people but we plan to do an intake every six months.

This course will help us with our aged care facility and other facilities across NSW by creating a higher level of Aboriginal staffing and therefore generating Aboriginal employment in the nursing sector. Aboriginal Registered Nurses (RNs) are very hard to find, especially in country areas. Not only will the Diploma of Nursing help with our own aged care facility, it will help our Local Health District (LHD) to achieve its 2.5% target for Aboriginal staff. Kempsey Hospital has set a 5% target, as Kempsey has a high Aboriginal population. We have a student placement agreement with the LHD for our Enrolled Nurse students to do their practical work at hospitals across the Mid North Coast.

You talked about how culture was centred in the design of Booroongen Djugun, how else do you support cultural safety for students, staff and clients?

Aboriginal people feel comfortable coming to an Aboriginal College. They see Aboriginal people working in our offices. Aboriginal people can relate and feel comfortable when they can talk with someone who looks like them. Coming from a small community with a very high Aboriginal population, we basically know everyone and if we don’t, we know someone who knows them. Many have relatives in our aged care facility. In fact, there are lots of family and community connections that result in people being here.

You walk into our buildings and there is Aboriginal art and cultural artefacts on display. In the College we have continuous PowerPoint presentations featuring our Elders talking about NAIDOC, Country, the Stolen Generations and reflecting on their history.

We have had people who have had issues with racism in the shops in town, then come and ask us to help. While it has nothing to do with the core business of the College, we step in to support our people. We want our students (College), residents (Aged Care Facility), and clients (Community Care Services) to come to Booroongen Djugun and say: “I am safe here. I can be myself, not put on a front”. If they are having issues, they know they can talk to us and we will help however we possibly can. We are very different. We have 20 different services that operate out of Booroongen Djugun Limited.

The whole place started with the community in mind and has been guided by community involvement. I think that the concept of ‘cultural safety’ has been infused into Booroongen Djugun since the beginning.

What do you think of the new CATSINaM teaching and learning materials for the unit on cultural safety in the EN course?

I think the resources are great.

When we had to put some more material into ANMAC after the audit we wrote that we now have the new CATSINaM teaching and learning materials for the core unit on cultural safety.

We have bought resources for this particular unit from other places. The CATSINaM materials are more focused on what needs to be taught – it is written by people that know cultural safety. The other resources don’t focus well on the elements. They ask questions like “What is an Aboriginal person?!!!” How do you answer that question? The other resources appear more focused on cultural awareness and seem to suggest that all Aboriginal peoples are the same and need the same type of services.

CATSINaM’s materials are coming from the right perspective. There is information in the CATSINaM resource I wouldn’t have thought of teaching. You may touch on the subject, but the resources go into what people need to understand about it and why. For example, I loved the term dominant culture – you can see the different perspectives this creates, and that is so important.

Upcoming events

National Safety and Quality Health Standards: Partnering for Equity, embedding cultural safety in health services: 21-22nd January 2019, Brisbane


Mentoring Workshop:  13 and 14th February 2019, Wagga NSW for Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Charles Sturt university


Mentoring Workshop:  26 and 27th February 2019, Dubbo NSW for Poche Centre University of Sydney


Mentoring Workshop:  7 and 8th March 2019, Sydney NSW for Poche Centre University of Sydney


Mentoring Workshop: week of 6-11 May 2019, for Western Local health District (NSW) venue and date to be confirmed


National Safety and Quality Health Standards: Partnering for Equity, embedding cultural safety in health services: week of 6-11 May 2019, for Mid North Coast (NSW) Local Health District venue and date to be confirmed