A Centre of Excellence in Indigenous Medical Education is being mooted for UWA.
Associate Professor Helen Milroy, head of the Centre for Aboriginal Medical and Dental Health (CAMDH), said she had wanted to develop a Centre of Excellence for some time.
It is timely because CAMDH has developed a strong national profile and is one of the national leaders in Indigenous medical education.
“We are the only Medical School in Australia that has published outcomes in Indigenous health (education),” she said. “We have an excellent track record and we meet all the criteria in the Healthy Futures report.”
The “Healthy Futures – Defining best practice in the recruitment and retention of Indigenous medical students” report was put out by the Australian Indigenous Doctors
Association in 2005 and suggested various ways to attract and retain Indigenous students.
“We also cover off most of the CDAMS framework, which is the national framework for teaching Indigenous health and medicine,” Associate Professor Milroy said.
“It seems to me that if we were able to expand some of the resource materials and other things, we could actually assist other Medical Schools in developing their Indigenous health curricula.”
To develop a Centre of Excellence, CAMDH would require Federal funding to expand its work, establish a Chair in Indigenous medical education, and obtain research assistants to increase the research component.
“Although people want us to train medical students and they want us to educate medical students in general about Indigenous health, there has been no external financial support for an Indigenous academic workforce,” Associate Professor Milroy said.
At present, CAMDH depends fully on the Faculty for its support, even though it meets many national policy directives for health.
Its staff have also won a series of national awards, scholarships and positions.
Associate Professor Milroy was presented with a National LIFE (Living Is For Everyone) award in the Indigenous category by Suicide Prevention Australia in Brisbane in September. The citation said the award recognised her ongoing commitment to mental health and suicide prevention among Indigenous people.
“This commitment is reflected in her position as chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Committee of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and her recent appointment to the National Advisory Council Advising the Minister for Health and Ageing on mental health,” it said.
Associate Professor Milroy said her emphasis was on the mental health of Indigenous children.
“It is often neglected and we often only look at the pointy end of the spectrum, which is severe end adult mental health,” she said.
“There has got to be more emphasis on supporting families and making sure children get off to the right start. That may require looking after the mental health of their mothers but also providing good early childhood intervention services.”
In other achievements by CAMDH staff, Senior Research Fellow Dr Tamara Mackean has won the inaugural Indigenous scholarship with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. And she has been appointed to the National Indigenous Health Equality Council.
In addition, Adele Cox, a Lecturer with CAMDH and the Rural Clinical School, has been appointed to the Australian Suicide Prevention Advisory Council.
“Not bad for a little centre at UWA,” Associate Professor Milroy said. “Perhaps we can collectively make a difference in Canberra.”