There is no better way to learn and appreciate the complexity of Aboriginal health than to live in a remote community and witness the immense disadvantages in the socio-economic determinants of health.
Laura Sharley, 6th year medical student, Mimili 2014 and 2015, Mutitjulu 2017
The Anangu Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara (APY) Exchange is a mutually beneficial youth holiday program, facilitated by the Adelaide Medical Students’ Society (AMSS), that delivers healthy lifestyle advice to children living in remote communities.
Each year during the July school holidays, eight University of Adelaide medical students are invited by the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjara and Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council to stay in the APY Lands for one week.
During this period, the future doctors immerse themselves in Aboriginal community life and culture to build their knowledge around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health while providing the communities with a fun, interactive and engaging youth holiday program.
Using their knowledge in health and nutrition, AMSS APY Exchange volunteers deliver education through activities such as interactive cooking demonstrations, craft, games and sport.
This year the AMSS volunteers spent time in the communities of Mutitjulu and Imanpa. The people of Mutitjulu are the traditional owners of Uluru and live within the boundary of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Imanpa is located 160 kilometres east of Uluru and has a community of approximately 220 people.
The volunteers were able to visit Kata Tjuta and Uluru with community members where they cooked up Malu Wipu (kangaroo tail), and spent the afternoon weaving baskets and making wood art.
Now in its fourth year, the program continues to gather more support from communities and the NPY Women's Council, after students demonstrated their ongoing commitment to improving the health of First Australians.
The 2017 APY Exchange program was sponsored by GPEx.
As a pre-clinical student, I’d previously had no experience with remote communities or Aboriginal patients and I feel the exchange has given me significant preparation for future work in Aboriginal health.
Bianca Kennedy, 2nd year medical student, Mutitjulu 2017
GPEx is also supporting GP registrar Dr Amy Broadley who is undertaking a 12-month academic post to review the impact that the APY Exchange program has on the medical students who are involved, working under the supervision of GPEx Medical Educator, Associate Professor Jill Benson AM, and Professor Nigel Stocks, Discipline of General Practice at the University of Adelaide.
Funded by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the academic post is an Australian General Practice Training term where registrars learn academic skills through individualised learning plans with mentoring and support from training organisations, universities and RACGP.
Amy will focus on how the students’ experience of the APY Exchange program influences their perceptions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health care and if it changes their confidence in dealing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. In addition, she will explore whether the students experience impacts on their likelihood to choose GP career paths within rural and remote medicine and or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. Her research will be completed in early 2018.
For more information about GPEx, visit gpex.com.au.
This program has helped me develop a sensitivity around cultural issues and build skills in communication that will translate well into working in a healthcare setting.
Jack Mintz, 6th year medical student, Mimili 2016, Imanpa 2017