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Sunshine Coast artist helping to close the gap

21st May 2019

A James Cook University (JCU) initiative, designed to help close the gap, will feature the work of local Aboriginal artist, Lyndon Davis.

The work, Ganga and Julara, will form the banner for a web page on JCU’s GP training site.  The page enables doctors undertaking GP training to explore training opportunities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health throughout Queensland.

JCU GP Training Head of Operations, Carol Kahn, said the University is committed to developing a GP workforce that works effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to improve health outcomes.

“Two-thirds of Queensland’s approximately 100,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people live within the JCU GP training region, which means our registrars have the opportunity to develop the cultural and clinical expertise required to address specific Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues,” Ms Kahn said.

“We aim to ensure our registrars have the skills to contribute to closing the gap in healthcare outcomes.”

To this end, JCU’s GP registrars undertake Cultural Education training, including Cultural Awareness Workshops, and those working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander training posts work with Cultural Mentors.  Their training also includes compulsory units in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

JCU GP Training Cultural Educator Henry Neill, who’s based in the University’s Sunshine Coast office, works with registrars and JCU staff across Queensland equipping them with the necessary engagement skills to improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

Mr Neill said while the training has common learning objectives and evaluation, the content is tailored to reflect the culture, history and current local issues of each region.

“A lot of people think that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are generic,” he said.

“But we are not the same.  We have differing histories, cultural beliefs and languages, and each area has a different set of local issues.”

“The only way to provide good health service is via culturally appropriate engagement, and you can’t engage with our community unless you are aware of our cultural norms and history, the positive bits and certainly the different bits which make up the fabric of the community.”

Mr Neill said the cultural awareness programs are developed in close consultation with the local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander communities in the area.

“They are from the community and they know the community,” he said.

Kabi Kabi artist Lyndon Davis’s piece, Ganga and Julara will feature at the University’s Sunshine Coast training centre and on the JCU GP Training website.

Mr Davis says his work highlights the connections between his people, plants, animals and their land.

“This painting represents men coming together to share culture, time together and men’s business.  It represents them following the footprints of their ancestors and the lore of the land, teaching younger generations and providing for their family.

“It shows that living off the land provides a rich diet and nutrients for good health and emphasises eating fresh, organic seasonal foods,” Mr Davis said.

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