While non-Indigenous Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world, Indigenous Australians live 10-17 years less than non-indigenous Australians according to Oxfam Australia.
When it comes to closing this gap and developing Indigenous health education, Curtin University is leading the way. The University won the Educational Partnerships and Collaborations award for a course unit in Indigenous Culture and Health at the Australia Awards for University Teaching 2014.
The Awards, which recognise quality teaching practice and outstanding contributions to student learning throughout Australia, celebrated Curtin’s strong partnerships with health organisations and the Indigenous community.
The Indigenous Cultures and Health course unit teaches Health Science students the importance of diversity and Indigenous health. Through the unit students examine culture and diversity in local, national and global Indigenous populations, as well as the impacts of specific policies and historical events on Indigenous people.
Curtin’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies Director Professor Marion Kickett said the unit makes an important contribution to student learning through strong industry connections and an innovative approach to improving Indigenous health.
“Coordinators of the unit work in partnership with local and national Aboriginal organisations and community members to ensure students are aware of the need for cultural awareness when working as health professionals,” she said.
The unit is not only one of the most popular practical units with students, but has also had a great influence on a national Health Workforce Australia consultancy to create an Indigenous health curriculum framework.
Professor Kickett said she’s honoured Curtin’s dedication to Indigenous health education has been recognised as the best in Australia.
“With approximately 3,300 health sciences students completing the unit in 2014, we’re delighted that the unit is being acknowledged for its innovative structure and industry links,” she says.
Minister for Education, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP congratulated the recipients of the awards.
Mr Pyne said the Awards recognise and value outstanding teachers and are part of the Australian government’s commitment to high-quality learning and teaching in universities.
“I remain committed to ensuring Australia has the best higher education system in the world and believe we need a strong focus on the quality and impact of higher education learning and teaching,” Mr Pyne said.
“These Awards celebrate the best and most innovative teaching in the nation.”