The National Rural Health Students' Network (NRHSN) represents 29 Rural Health Clubs (RHC) with over 9000 members located at universities throughout Australia. The NRHSN is a multidisciplinary Network.

Indigenous Health


We would like to pay respect to all elders past and present, for they are the traditional custodians of the land who maintain the culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We also would like to acknowledge the Indigenous leaders that have provided the platform for Indigenous people to rise up to their full potential.

The Indigenous Health Portfolio welcomes the health community to be part of a rapidly growing area of rural and remote Australian health. The Indigenous Health Portfolio's purpose is to service the needs of students with an interest in Indigenous health as well as to foster and facilitate future Indigenous and non-Indigenous health professionals in to rural Australia. The Portfolio's involvement ranges from Indigenous Community Festivals held around the country to cultural awareness information and training.
Although we are non-Indigenous health students, we acknowledge the unique culture and history that Indigenous people have and respect the opinions of the Indigenous community. We promise to actively engage with the Indigenous community and with students who have a passion for Indigenous health. We will ensure that a culturally sensitive and inclusive perspective is provided to the NRHSN.

The Portfolio invites anyone who is interested in Indigenous community health matters or who has a desire to be involved with Indigenous community projects and events to please contact or send any questions or suggestions to the Indigenous Health team via email. We would love to hear from you.

The 2014 Portfolio Team

Senior Indigenous Health Portfolio Representative - Sophie Alpen

Sophie was born and grew up in Griffith in south-western New South Wales. She is second generation Australian with a Welsh and Italian background. After completing high school she moved to Sydney to attend the University of New South Wales. This year she is a fourth year Medicine/Arts student studying Indigenous studies and Music. Sophie is passionate about education around Indigenous culture and the role it plays in breaking down sociocultural misunderstandings particularly in the health setting.  She has held the role of NRHSN indigenous festivals officer previously and continuing this year to help inspire and excite Indigenous high school students about healthy living and future health career pathways. Sophie is currently the Indigenous Health Representative for the rural health club RAHMS and holds the position of Rural and Indigenous Officer on the AMSA executive. She is motivated to increase indigenous student representation in the network and provide rural health clubs with avenues to immerse themselves in local communities to build positive experiences and long-term relationships.


Junior Indigenous Health Portfolio Representative - Gary J. Sit

Gary was born in western Queensland, before spending the majority of his childhood in Rockhampton with some of the high school years later spent in Gympie. He is one of a long line of proud Wiradjuri men, with his other ancestors coming across from Ireland as convicts on the First Fleet. After high school Gary studied a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at Deakin University and is now in his second year of the Doctor of Medicine at the University of Melbourne where he is based at Ballarat Base Hospital. He is also the current Officer for Indigenous Health for Outlook Rural Health Club. He is passionate about Koorie health and keen to see more Koorie faces enrolled in health courses around the country. He does not claim to be an expert on Indigenous Health, or Koorie health as he prefers to call it, but he is excited to enhance the ability of Rural Health Clubs to engage Koorie people and culture and strengthen the relationships between the two.









Indigenous Health Portfolio Stakeholders

Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association (AIDA)
Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA)
Congress of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSIN)
Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education (LIME)
National Congress of Australia's First People 
National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)
Office of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH)







2013 Goals of the Indigenous Health Portfolio

1. To increase the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander membership of the NRHSN, to reflect the percentage of the total population of Indigenous people currently engaged in tertiary study (5%)

2. To increase the cultural proficiency of NRHSN members in Indigenous health by supporting NACCHO in their goal of  Cultural Safety Training Standards and  providing extensive supporting resources for the NRHSN

3. To maintain strong relationships with stakeholders relevant to the Indigenous Health Portfolio

4. To promote involvement of rural health clubs for Indigenous events, such as close the gap, Indigenous festivals and days of significance to Indigenous people

5. To ensure that all rural health clubs establish and maintain relationships with their local Indigenous communities via the Indigenous units within each university

6. To conduct a review of the NRHSN Indigenous health policy for the future.

Significant Dates for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People in 2014

Keep a look out for activities around your area for significant dates this year from NACCHO and Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet.
 26th Jan - Survival Day 
 13th Feb - National Apology Day
 21st Mar - Harmony Day
 20th Mar - Close the Gap Day 
 26th May - Sorry Day
 27th May - 3rd June - Reconciliation Week
 3rd Jun - MABO Day
 1st Jul - Coming of the Light
 6th - 13th July - NAIDOC Week
 4th Aug -Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day
 9th Aug - International Day of World Indigenous Peoples'










The CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework

The Indigenous health curriculum framework is the medical school curriculum for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health content in medical programs, that all unversities MUST address. It is currently being reviewed, but if you wish to view a current edition of the document please click on the link below.

CDAMS Indigenous Health Curriculum Framework

Communicating with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people

As a health student it may be intimidating when you begin working with Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people in a clinical setting. You may not know what to say or more importantly, how you say it. 'Communicating Positively' is a guide for health professionals to communicate with Indigenous people in a culturally appropriate way, although NSW focussed it provides a strong foundation for you to work off. If you are interested in working with Indigenous communities or seeking to establish a relationship with the local Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander community to get involved with your rural health club, then click on the link below to access a valuable resource that will assist you overcoming the communication barrier.

 'Communicating Positively'

An Outlook on Indigenous Health

In 2010, Dr Tom Calma delivered the Chalmers Oration at Flinders university in South Australia. In his presentation Dr Calma spoke about what needs to be done to "Close the Gap" and gives an in depth view on the health of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people from his groundbreaking role as social justice commissioner. If you are passionate about Indigenous health, you should click on the link below to view Dr Calma's speech and gain a deeper understanding of the health of Australia's first people.

2010 Chalmers Oration - Dr Tom Calma




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