Facilitating Generational Change

Journey into Physiotherapy

Kate Malpass, Physiotherapist and NAIDOC Award Winner

Kate MalpassPresenter biography: Kate Malpass is a Noongar girl from Perth and a recent Aboriginal physiotherapy graduate. Kate was awarded the highest honour by the 2013 National NAIDOC Awards Committee National Youth of the Year for her work with Aboriginal communities and promoting physiotherapy as a career for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Kate had interaction with physio as a child and at 13 years of age she represented WA in basketball at the Under 16 National Championships and went on to captain WA teams in the under 16s, 18s and 20s. At 15 years of age she was selected for the Australian junior camp, and travelled to the AIS to train.

Education was always important in Kate’s family so when she graduated from Mercedes College in 2005 Kate was awarded the Henrietta Drake Award for achieving the highest TER of any WA Indigenous student. She was also awarded the Mercedes Medal—for outstanding achievements in her final year at high school. Kate chose physio as a career and while completing her physiotherapy degree she managed to play four years of WNBL with the Perth Lynx and West Coast Waves. She has continued to play basketball since completing her degree and moving to Melbourne this year. Kate now captains the Sandringham Sabres in the SEABL competition. She mentors young Aboriginal women through the David Wirrpanda Foundation on a weekly basis in the “Deadly Sista Girlz” program.

Off the court, Kate works at the Richmond Football Club as their first Aboriginal physiotherapist, and also privately in a Kieser Training clinic in South Melbourne. Kate is also the head physio for the under 16 AFL Australian Flying Boomerangs football team that competed at the Under 16 National Championships.

Abstract: What motivates a young Aboriginal woman to aspire to be an allied health professional that is an expert in movement and function who works in partnership with their patients, assisting them to overcome movement disorders?

This presentation will outline Kate’s journey towards becoming a physiotherapist, her work mentoring young Aboriginal women in the ‘Deadly Sista Girlz’ program and her current role as a physiotherapist for the Richmond Football Club.

As Kate knows, being an Aboriginal woman studying physiotherapy takes dedication, hard work and a strong support network. A love of sport and a fascination with the workings of the human body are also a strong motivator.

This presentation will look at some of the challenges that faced Kate as she completed her degree and some of the strategies used to overcome them. It will explore what motivates her and keeps her passion strong in this competitive and challenging career.

Y we’re needed: Gen Y – Leaders of Tomorrow

Justin Cain

Justin CainBio of presenter: Justin Cain is a trained exercise scientist from Moree, but has moved around the state of NSW and lived in many Aboriginal communities. As a student Justin was heavily involved in the National Rural Health Students’ Network in the role of Indigenous Health Portfolio representative. Now Justin is living in Canberra, ACT working as the medical education officer for the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association focussing solely on the student strategy, engagement and support. Alongside his role at AIDA Justin still works part-time as an exercise scientist and tutors a number of students studying at Wollongong. He is also a current director on the board of IAHA and is passionate about the recruitment, support and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to health careers regardless of discipline.

Abstract – For many years society has labelled ‘Generation Y’ as lazy & incompetent in this presentation I’ll be addressing the myths surrounding the perceptions of ‘Gen Y’. Demonstrating how Gen Y are the leaders of the future and why time and energy need to be invested in this group of people. Because it has been shown that despite all the criticism received ‘Gen Y’ have the skills, determination and ability to move the nation forward. Skills such as communication, information technology, determination and honesty need to be nurtured with mentorship from people who have experience and already developed leadership. Capacity building is crucial for this group of people and if nurtured correctly the ability of this cohort is endless and this will be necessary if we’re to address the issues surrounding Indigenous health in Australia.

Leading the way with culturally responsive training for Allied Health Assistants to bring about generational change

Cindy Mathers

Cindy MathersPresenter Biography: Cindy Mathers has been working with Aboriginal people for the last fifteen years in the health, community services and education fields. This includes remote Aboriginal communities as a nurse and a teacher. She is passionate about Closing the Gap in all areas of inequality for Aboriginal people. This current project has given her the opportunity to use her qualifications in education, adult training, mental health, community health and general nursing to develop a program that suits the learning styles of Aboriginal people and which is taught in a holistic manner that relates to their concept of wellbeing. The principle of substantive equality is informing her work which acknowledges that often a different path has to be travelled to reach the same destination.

Abstract – A shortage of Aboriginal people employed in health in our rural area sparked the development of an Allied Health Assistant trainee program in our organisation. Innovative thinking and a willingness to develop culturally responsive training have underpinned the training being provided by West Gippsland Healthcare Group (WGHG).

We have developed a workforce model that is based on the principle of substantive equality. We understand that Aboriginal trainees are often disadvantaged in their life and learning experiences, which can limit their opportunities for the future.  Therefore, we have engaged a holistic approach to our training, which reflects the Aboriginal concept of wellbeing, which is inclusive of social, emotional, spiritual and physical health.

A broad curriculum is being offered so that on graduation trainees will be able to seamlessly move into other areas of health and community service and play the vital role of providing culturally responsive care to their community. It is our view that this program will promote generational change in the trainees, their families and community.

Already our organization has benefited from the experience of having this cohort of Aboriginal trainees in the workplace and our goal to provide a pathway for a sustainable workforce in the Aboriginal community is becoming a reality. We are working collaboratively with other health organizations in our area, are being funded by the Close the Gap Funding, working closely with the Indigenous Employment Program and have found a training organization who are prepared to develop a program specifically for training Aboriginal Allied Health Assistants.

Our aim is to develop a model of delivery and a training package that will then be made available to other organizations so they can provide opportunities for Aboriginal people to gain employment in the health sector. We believe this process will culminate in ongoing employment and sustainable outcomes.

A Case Study in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership and Innovation: Murra Mullangari – Pathways Alive and Well

Dr Kali Hayward & Nicole Turner


Kali HaywardDr Kali Hayward is a descendant from the Warnman people, of the Martu language group of Western Australia. Dr Hayward graduated from The University of Adelaide with a MBBS in 2005. In 2010, she completed General Practice training and obtained RACGP Fellowship in September 2010.

As well as working as a General Practitioner at Nunkuwarrin Yunti, the largest Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation in South Australia, Dr Hayward serves on the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Board as Vice President.



Nicole TurnerNicole Turner is a Kamilaroi women and one of very few Aboriginal Nutritionist in Australia. Nicole obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science in Community Nutrition early last year and is also a Board of director at Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service, Kempsey NSW. Nicole sits on a large number of state and national committees, chiefly those on Indigenous Chronic Disease and Nutrition. She currently works as an Indigenous Health Academic for Newcastle University, and is involved in a large number of research projects.  She has 4 children aged 8 to 19 years and a 4 month old grandson who keep her fit and active. Nicole is very passionate about Aboriginal health and believes prevention is the answer to a lot of our health problems.


Abstract: The inaugural Murra Mullangari – Pathways Alive and Well Health Careers Development Program was run by Indigenous organisations, for Indigenous youth. The Program brought together 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary school students in April 2013 with the aim to provide information and support on pathways into health careers. The program is based upon the Patty Iron Cloud National Native American Youth Initiative hosted by the Association of American Indian Physicians. Evaluations of this program have demonstrated the significant impact of the Program in educating and encouraging Native American students to pursue healthcare professions.

Murra Mullangari – Pathways Alive and Well has been adapted to suit an Australian context. Working in partnership with Indigenous Allied Health Australia and other peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health organisations, and auspiced by the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, the program focuses on the support, retention and graduation of Indigenous high school students, strengthening pathways into health careers, and offers leadership development. This paper will share the Murra Mullangari program objectives and results while also presenting a case study of collaboration between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peak Health Organisations at the programs level.