2018 International Indigenous Allied Health Forum

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The 2018 International Indigenous Allied Health Forum was successfully held in Sydney with delegates and speakers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Hawaii coming together to share Indigenous-led and strengths based approaches to building, supporting and developing the allied health workforce and strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of Indigenous and First Nations peoples.

IAHA patron, Professor Tom Calma AO, set the scene for the forum speaking on the centrality of culture to health and wellbeing. Professor Calma stated that for all First Nations people – no matter where they are – culture is innate inside us and needs to be released. Highlighting leadership and in the spirit of interprofessional practice, Professor Calma encouraged attendees to be informed, learn beyond their discipline and to recognise that as workers in caring professions, allied health professionals need to look after themselves in their professional leadership roles.

Mr Joe Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer of the First Nations Health Authority in Britsh Columbia, Canada discussed the need to grow the Indigenous health workforce from community up and the role of Indigenous health professionals in combining western medicine with First Nations wellness. He quoted an elder, Chief Dan George, who said:

“Like the thunderbird of old I shall rise again out of the sea; I shall grab the instruments of the white man’s success… his education, his skills, and with these new tools I shall build my race into the proudest segment of your society… I shall see our young braves and our chiefs sitting in the houses of law and government, ruling and being ruled by the knowledge and freedoms of our great land”.

Roxanne Waru and Krystal Harrison from Nga Pou Mana, Aotearoa delivered a presentation on Cultural Safety in addressing racism and shared their views on the issues they face in New Zealand in the health system. “Colonisation has deliberately set up society in a way which privileges Pākehā over Māori at every turn because it recognises and values one way of viewing the world, and that is a European worldview. ”

Roxanne called for frank, up front conversations to be had around discussing STRUCTURAL RACISM, WHITE PRIVILEGE and COLONIALISM. She showed us that the current health statistics show that nothing has changed, Māori are still in the worst statistics for just about everything you can imagine. And the gap is actually widening.

“For those who are fighting the good fight for the health rights of Indigenous people, you must find your allies, find those who can help you to have those brave conversations, those that will have your back or will back you up.”

Dr Sheri-Ann Daniels, the Executive Director of Papa Ola Lōkahi, the Native Hawaiian Health Board, and Chair of Nā Limahana o Lonopūhā, the Native Hawaiian Health Consortium, provided a powerful and inspirational final keynote for the day and discussed self-determination and traditional Hawaiian wisdom and knowledges.

The day concluded with a wrap up from MC, Professor Greg Phillips, and a recognised commitment from the Indigenous peoples representatives present for ongoing leadership, collaboration and knowledge sharing. The session was a confident display of Indigenous peoples’ positivity, unity and purpose. A sense of curiosity and respect was evident among participants who shared the day. A closing message from many participants was for that Forum provided a space to share, celebrate strength and make our own opportunities.

IAHA worked with several Indigenous organisations and universities over the past 12 months to ensure the first International Forum was a success, including the First Nations Health Authority, British Columbia Canada; Nga Pou Mana, New Zealand; and the University of Hawaii, USA.

Summary of Concurrent Sessions

Concurrent Sessions held at the 2018 International Indigenous Allied Health Forum include Leading in Allied Health Research, The Power of an Inter-professional Workforce, Culturally Safe and Responsive Practice and Culturally Safe – Allied Health Curricula