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ECU working to improve healthcare outcomes for Indigenous Australians

Monday, 15 March 2010

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A team led by ECU’s Professor Cobie Rudd has been awarded $220,000 to help improve understanding and empathy between healthcare professionals and Indigenous people

The project aims to influence the underlying attitudes of health professionals through a story-based approach which will help students to ‘walk in the shoes’ of others.

Entitled ‘Creating cultural empathy and challenging attitudes through Indigenous narratives’, the project will help to address a federal priority of ‘closing the gap’ between the health outcomes of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Through the collection of narratives about Indigenous people’s experience of health services, students will be engaged, and will learn to develop empathy through a genuine understanding of their issues and experiences.

Professor Cobie Rudd said that one of the first steps in addressing the health inequalities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is to address the attitudes of health professionals.

“This begins with empathy; feeling another’s feelings, looking into their eyes and walking in their shoes,” she said.

“The narratives will be used in simulated learning environments as we believe that immersing students in these real-life situations will help build confidence, competence and culturally-safe practices.”

The project team also includes representatives from the University of Western Australia, the Health Consumers’ Council, University of Notre Dame, the Combined Universities Centre for Rural Health, and Curtin University.

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