Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health (UDRH) at Charles Sturt University has given practical, collegial and financial support to an initiative providing mentoring training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives. The mentoring training has upskilled current nursing and midwifery professionals and academics.
Three Rivers UDRH is committed to collaboration and innovation to create a sustainable and growing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rural health workforce.
It has collaborated with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM), Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD), Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD), and the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health (SNMIH) at Charles Sturt University in the mentoring program.
The initiative has included the delivery of workshops facilitated by CATSINaM in Wagga Wagga and Dubbo, as well as support for monitoring and evaluation. Feedback from the training was extremely positive, with participants noting:
“[The] content, presentation, location was all very well organised and facilitated”, and that it was
“Excellent, vibrant, respectful, informative, empowering, [and] challenging to self”.
The purpose of the mentoring program is to provide both clinical and culturally supportive care to nurses and midwives as they transition from university to the workforce. Increasing the support provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses aims to strengthen and improve recruitment and retention, and thus to increase representation in the workforce.
The program is being led by Angela Damm, Clinical Nurse Specialist - Aboriginal Leadership and Development, at the MLHD. Angela describes the impact of the work of the collaborative for program delivery:
“The purpose of the program is to provide an extra layer of support for new nurses transitioning into the workplace. Being able to deliver this as a part of a collaboration has been a rewarding experience and demonstrates how organisations with similar objectives can work together to achieve a common goal.”
The mentoring program is being evaluated in an upcoming joint research project between SNIMH, the MLHD, and Three Rivers. This project has attracted $10,000 support from Charles Sturt University’s Faculty of Science Compact Seed Grant.
Three Rivers Indigenous Health Success Lead and proud Wiradjuri woman Jayarna Kay acknowledges the amazing work from the collaborative partners, and their ongoing commitment to leading workforce change.
“As a leader in my community and as the Indigenous Health Lead at Three Rivers UDRH, it is vitally important that we establish and maintain these strong partnerships to deliver successful outcomes. It is our duty of care to ensure that these programs are well supported and implemented effectively both culturally and professionally for when our health professionals step out into the workforce.
“The collaboration of all members of the working group alongside our elders and wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities has been a deadly journey thus far; and the extensive knowledge, valued input, and behind the scenes work has been very well respected and acknowledged”, Ms Kay said.
The ongoing work of the collaborative will support a train the trainer model facilitated by CATSINaM, and another mentor workshop later in the year. Mentors who have completed the mentoring training will have the opportunity to become a facilitator after completing the train the trainer workshop.