The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy is an innovative, community-led learning model that is about re-shaping and re-designing how training and education are delivered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in high school, embedding the centrality of culture and a holistic approach to health.

The model is designed to work collaboratively across disciplines and organisational structures (health, education and training, employment) to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school student engagement, retention and successful completion of Year 12 with a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance. It aims to demonstrate the success of education and training outcomes when social and cultural determinants are considered and partnered with wrap-around supports brought together and led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, families and communities.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy works with High School students from Years 7-12 starting with health literacy and transitioning to leadership and career planning, then transitioning into the National Academy in Years 11 and 12 if they are interested in pursuing a potential health career through a fully supported School-Based Traineeship that involves on the job training and wrap-around supports for an individual learning program.

The main goals of the Academy are to:

  • Encourage local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students to stay engaged in education from years 7-10 and go on to complete Year 12 successfully;
  • Support students to complete a VET sector qualification in Allied Health Assistance with employability and job-ready skill;
  • Offer mentoring, support and role modelling from graduated and practising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and medical professionals;
  • Engage students in appropriate career pathway opportunities and expose students to the varied employment opportunities in the health and related sectors, including acute care, primary healthcare, private practice, community health services, aged care and disability;
  • Provide positive learning experiences within the tertiary setting, which encourages goal-setting and aspiration and develops students’ confidence and knowledge of opportunities to pursue a career in health; and
  • Establish a culturally safe and responsive learning environment that expects success and achievement while providing holistic support services in partnership with the local community.

The first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy was established in Darwin in partnership with AMSANT (Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory) following four years of engagement with Northern Territory students, families, communities and stakeholders.