AMSA Global Health Intensive: Indigenous Australian Health

The inaugural AMSA Global Health Intensive (AGHI) has come and gone, and what a ride it’s been. Formerly known as Training New Trainers, AMSA’s flagship training program was entirely redesigned in 2018. We decided that we needed to reshape and refocus on providing capacity building for Australian medical students at the standard that they expect, and in the areas that they’re passionate about. So, with a blank canvas, we began designing a 2.5 day program with the goals of developing knowledge, increasing skills and sharing stories amongst an intimate, passionate, and dedicated group of students.

In its inaugural year, we all agreed that Indigenous Australian Health needed to be the Intensive’s focus – “Our First Peoples, Our First Priority”. We believe that the healthcare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians continues to be neglected at all levels, including the medical curriculum. The Gap remains large, and is a shameful reflection on our country. Medical students are craving an education in this space, and want to be allies in achieving reconciliation and closing the gap in Australia, but are not being equipped with the tools they need to do this in a culturally safe way. And so, whilst AMSA recognises that the Global Health Intensive barely begins to scratch the surface, it represents the beginning of a sincere dedication to increasing its involvement in this space.

The amazing organizing team in Deja, Ryan, Meg, Ash and Bec first came together in March, and threw themselves into preparing the Intensive program. As with all programs of this nature there were many challenges along the way, particularly those associated with this being a “first”, but the enthusiasm and careful thought that each of the organizing team applied was reflected in the quality of the sessions that were delivered, and in the impressive engagement of the delegates that prioritised this key aspect of their education.

Students (read: Global Health Intensivists) journeyed from around Australia to Wurundjeri Country, and engaged with the Intensive in the best way possible. All agreed to listen first, then talk, and for respect to take pride of place as the guiding principle of the Intensive. We were treated to a powerful opening discussion with Professor Sandra Eades and Doctor Ngaree Blow, who set the standard for the Intensive. On the rest of day one we began to develop our understanding of working in partnership with community and the devastating ramifications of transgenerational trauma, before the LIME network(Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education) introduced us to Indigenous Health in the medical curriculum.

Day two focused on community-based health programs, and Aunty Kerrie Doyle’senthralling and often comedic insights proved to be another highlight of the Intensive. Wayapa Wuurrkreminded us of our connection to the Country that surrounds us, providing us with the space and the guidance to foster our own wellbeing. And from there, Global Ideas helped us to develop human-centred designs with a view to anchoring our learning in the real world.

Day three was pitch day, designed to be more skills focused – delegates presented their human-centred designs to a panel of judges and received feedback on both their design and their presentation. They benefited from a high-impact tutorial on how to campaign effectively, equipping them with further insight into how to effect change. Finally, small yarning circles were the perfect space to debrief and reflect on the powerful storytelling and learning that we had shared throughout the Intensive.

So what happens next? AMSA Global Health in partnership with the National Executive will enter into consultation with the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association to discuss how we can develop in further collaboration and change in this area. A report on the Intensive will be presented at Global Health Council Two, and the extensive feedback collated at the conclusion of this year’s intensive will be used to help design another amazing program next year. Thank-you to the speakers and organisations who so generously supported the event, to the inspiring delegates who prioritised this important aspect of their education, to the incredible organizing team who designed and delivered the program and to the support from those within AMSA who helped to turn this vision into a reality. We know it’s only a start, but it’s a start that we’re really proud of, and we are so thrilled to see where this goes next.

Stay tuned for news about next year’s Intensive!


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