AIDA Annual Report 2022

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Celebrating the past



About our 25 Year Anniversary Artwork

The artwork on the cover of this annual report, and shown in full here, is by AIDA member Dr Gene Slockee. Created with the consent of the Bundjalung custodians, it does not incorporate traditional songlines from their Country. Rather, it embodies the traditional knowledge of the Bundjalung community, incorporating traditional cultural ideals within a medical model. These ideals, which were once implemented in pre-colonial times, have now been reimagined and revitalised.

The concept of the artwork embodies the AIDA symbol in the centre, with a meeting place surrounding it. The earth-colour concentric gradient background depicts sound waves, while the overlay is again concentric circles with different artistic representations from various tribal groups (cross-hatching, dot art and Torres Strait Islander design).

Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) Ltd. Freecall 1800 190 498 | Email


AIDA acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners of the lands across Australia on which our members live and work, and to their Elders and ancestors, past and present. We pay respect to the Ngunnawal people as the Traditional Owners of the land on which AIDA’s office stands.


Dreamtime Creative 2 • Annual Report 2022 Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
Contents Our Organisation 4 Our Values and Principles 5 Strategic Plan 2021-2024 6 A Message from Our President 8 Our Secretariat 10 Our Board 12 Our Organisational Structure 2022 14 Celebrating the Past, Challenging the Future: AIDA turns 25 16 Our Key Achievements 18 Our Policy Initiatives 20 Revolutionising the specialist workforce: AIDA launches the Specialist Trainee Support Program 22 Our Cultural Safety Training Program 24 Membership 26 Supporting Our Members 28 A yarn with Dr Member Dr Rachel Farrelly 30 A yarn with Student Member Kyle Ryan 32 Our Events 34 AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 3

Our Organisation

The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA) is the peak professional body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students. As a member-based organisation, AIDA has a strong commitment to providing career pathways into and through medicine for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and supporting the growth of this cohort to bring about meaningful change to the Australian health system.

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Our Values and Principles

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Strategic Plan 2021-2024

In 2021, AIDA released its three-year strategic plan, with a strong focus on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students at all levels of their medical career.

Our Vision:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have self-determination and equitable health and life outcomes in a culturally safe health system.

Our Principles:

• We are respectful of our connections to the past, present and future

• We maintain our cultural integrity, honesty, transparency and respect

• We apply our unique medico-cultural perspective

• We demonstrate excellence and integrity in leadership

• We respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and practices in caring for country

• We are committed to the pursuit of social justice and Indigenous human rights

• We foster the highest standards of professionalism and excellence.

AIDA’s purpose is to grow ethical and professional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors who will lead and drive equitable and just health outcomes for all our peoples.
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Strategic Priority 1

Grow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Doctors

• Promote medicine as a career choice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors

• Develop and advocate for best practice recruitment, retention and support strategies to be implemented across the medical training continuum

• Support students and doctors

Strategic Priority 2

Shape health outcomes

• Drive collaboration nationally and internationally to improve Indigenous health and life outcomes

• Foster relationships with key national health and medical organisations

• Lead and influence change across the health care system

Strategic Priority 3

Best practice care and cultural perspective

• Provide our unique medico-cultural perspective

• Promote the transformation of the healthcare system to be culturally safe

• Promote the significant contribution of traditional knowledge, medicines and practices

• Contribute to improved health outcomes for all Australians

Strategic Priority 4

Communicate and celebrate

• Share our knowledge and expertise

• Celebrate our achievements

• Strengthen connection to community

Strategic Priority 5 Our members

• Demonstrate professional advocacy and support

• Provide leadership and development opportunities

• Connect with members

• Support our members

Strategic Priority 6 Sustainability

• Demonstrate best practice governance and management

• Care for Country

• Invest in AIDA’s future

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A Message from Our President

As my tenure as AIDA President comes to a close, I reflect over the past two years, and I am deeply humbled and honoured that members have placed confidence in me to serve their interest.

I have been extremely privileged to work with very talented people and have learnt from all of them. I have no doubt that whoever steps into the President’s role will bring new ideas that will benefit AIDA.

I want to focus on some of the key achievements of AIDA over the past 12 months:


• I have continued to participate in all AMA Federal council meetings and have Co-Chaired the AMA Indigenous Health Taskforce together with the AMA President.

• The focus of this group for 2021-2022 has continued to be management of the pandemic / endemic including all aspects of training for our upcoming students and junior doctors as well as the current issues facing our public hospital system.

• The council has completed cultural safety training this year which was very well received by council and some members have made enquiries on hosting further training in their state.

• I have worked with the AMA in implementing a meaningful Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) and the AMA Indigenous task force have been working on cultural safety with this being a continued focus for the group. There are early discussions about workforce research and what that would look like for our members.

Cultural Safety

• Cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients remains a high priority for AIDA and in late 2021 we launched our online introduction to cultural safety. AIDA is looking at ways of expanding our offerings and improving our cultural safety training delivery.

Student Representative Council (SRC)

• I was lucky to attend the SRC face to face meeting in Canberra in April and meet our SRC members. They are a wonderful bunch of people, and I am certain that the future is in safe hands with these leaders. I would like to acknowledge the work of our students, it is a great privilege to contribute to a better health system for our people, especially in these challenging times.

Specialist Trainee Support Program

• AIDA Specialist Trainee Support program (STSP) consortia successfully secured 12 months’ funding to establish a nonGP Specialist Trainee support program. This funding will enable AIDA to establish the STSP, which supports the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors commencing, or currently undertaking, non-GP specialist medical training.


• The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR), as consortium lead, administers the funding on behalf of the consortium of specialist medical colleges. We are excited about this work and continuing to work with the colleges on the success of this program.


• In July I attended the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors' Congress (PRIDoC) in Vancouver Canada. What a great honour it was to represent AIDA at such an event. The ability swap stories and share our success is always a great honour and I value the learning they provide.

• The AIDA dance was a success and was enjoyed by all.

• AIDA was announced as hosts for the next PRIDoC 2024.

These have been difficult times as we continue to be impacted by COVID-19 and as we move from the pandemic to endemic phase of the virus.

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As we continue to learn how to live with COVID it is important that we all stay strong and connected.

Mental health and wellbeing of members their families and communities continues to be a priority and I encourage everyone where possible to take some time for self-care and to spend some quality time with those most important to us.

2022 is our 25th anniversary year and I am pleased with the extensive work we have undertaken to showcase the achievements of AIDA and our members.

I look forward to the culmination of our 25th anniversary celebrations at Conference in October.

I would like to acknowledge the work of the AIDA Board and the support from the AIDA Secretariat and their commitment to the work of AIDA over the past year.

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Our Secretariat

The past twelve months have been significant on several fronts as we adapted to living with COVID, embraced a hybrid model of how we work, how we engage with our members and how we continue to support the growth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.

Our work on cultural safety was enhanced in October 2021 with the release of our online cultural awareness module. Our face-toface cultural safety workshops then followed, with a strong response indicating the importance of providing culturally safe workplaces and practices for Indigenous doctors and patients.

We continued our representation on fortyplus medical and health bodies and attended a range of consultation meetings. This included representation on the Commonwealth Department of Health COVID-19 Advisory Committee and working with the AMA, the AMC, CPMC, Medical Deans, and medical colleges.

We continue to work closely with the Coalition of Peaks (COP) to monitor jurisdictions’ implementation of the Closing the Gap National Agreement 2020-2030 (the Agreement).

In late 2021, the Department of Health announced that the FATES funding submission to support the development of the Specialist Trainee Support Program (STSP) by a consortium of 11 non-GP colleges led by RANZCR and AIDA had been successful. We are very excited to be working on this program and the results and feedback so far have been very positive.

A renewed focus on our policy and media area has been fundamental in developing a stronger leadership position for AIDA among the community.

This work has resulted in a record number of policy submissions and a sharp rise in our media coverage.

Throughout 2022 we have been celebrating our 25th anniversary, ‘Celebrating the past, Challenging the future’.

Since our beginnings in Salamander Bay in 1997, our membership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students have grown steadily. We now have a strong network of nearly 1000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors who we are proud to support and who support one another.

We held our inaugural International Women’s Day Breakfast on 8 March 2022 and brought together an impressive panel of local and national leaders to explore how we can inspire change and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women; we shared our learnings from the pandemic and considered how to influence Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years.

On Gadigal Country (Sydney) in June, we held our 25th Anniversary Gala Dinner with over 300 guests reflecting on the organisation’s evolution, celebrating our achievements and looking forward to the next 25 years with AIDA.

I am grateful to work with a dedicated and inspirational team and look forward to working with them to ensure we lead and influence change across the healthcare system.

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"A renewed focus on our policy and media area has been fundamental in developing a stronger leadership position for AIDA among the community."

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Our Board

President Dr Tanya Schramm

Dr Tanya Schramm, a Palawa woman, was elected as the AIDA President in November 2020. Tanya is a former AIDA Board member, a General Practitioner and also works for the University of Tasmania as a senior lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

“It is an honour to lead an organisation which I have been part of since its foundation. I look forward to leading AIDA with a powerful voice and ensuring that voice is heard at the table when decisions are being made about the health outcomes of our people and communities.”

Vice President Dr Simone Raye

Dr Simone Raye is a proud Bardi Jabbir Jabbir woman from the Kimberley. Simone was closely involved with the initial meetings that led to the formation of AIDA.

Simone is trained as a General Practitioner and has a practice located in Marrara in the Northern Territory. She is an Aboriginal Health Training Medical Educator and is involved in cultural education and direction including GP registrar medical cultural education.

She hopes to strengthen relationships with specialty colleges to help First Nations students and trainees achieve Fellowship and be leaders within their chosen field.

Dr Glenn Harrison is a Wotjobaluk man from Western Victoria. Glenn undertakes clinical duties as a Senior Staff Specialist / Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Royal Melbourne Hospital and Epworth Geelong.

Glenn wants to develop the Indigenous workforce, expand specialty training opportunities and improve Indigenous health outcomes and equity.

Professor Jaquelyne Hughes is a Torres Strait Islander woman currently practising in Darwin as a specialist physician (nephrology) and undertaking clinical research.

She is committed to good corporate governance, transparency in decision making, and collaborative strategy.

Dr Glenn Harrison Prof Jaquelyne Hughes
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Dr Robert Blackley

Dr Robert Blackley is a Bwgcolman man from Palm Island. He has over twenty years in public administration and public policy. He is a former Mayor of Palm Island, and has worked as a Ministerial policy advisor and community development leader.

He has been actively involved in men’s, youth and charity groups.

Robert began his health journey as a paramedic and is currently undertaking his internship at Darwin Hospital. He is committed to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Dr Ngaree Blow

Dr Ngaree Blow, a Yorta-Yorta/Noonuccal/ Goreng-Goreng woman, continues her term as an AIDA Director.

Ngaree is the Director of First Nations Health for medical education at the University of Melbourne, and since 2020, Ngaree has been working with the COVID-19 response team as a Public Health registrar in the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr Corey Dalton

Dr Corey Dalton is an Arrernte man currently living and working in Western Australia as a Resident Medical Officer in the northern suburbs of Perth.

Corey has a keen focus on ear health and working towards not only closing the gap for health, but also in employment and education.

Corey also has a background in Human Resources, Employee Relations and Contract Management. Corey was also a police officer for 11 years and senior public servant for three years, and has also been represented on the board of the Department of Justice Prisoner Review and the Department of Education in an independent school.

Ms Holly Reynolds

Holly Reynolds is a Wiradjuri woman and a Dharawal Land dweller.

She is currently in her final year of medicine at the University of Western Sydney.

Holly is passionate about advocating for her fellow students and she is very excited to represent the student community.

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Our Organisational Structure 2022


Executive Manager Corporate

Finance & Administration Officer

Marketing, Events & Engagement Manager

Events & Engagement Officer

Executive Manager Policy

Cheif Executive Officer

Senior Communications Officer

Senior Policy Officer

Executive Officer

Communications Offcer 0.6 FTE

Senior Policy Officer 0.6 FTE

Executive Manager Membership & Programs

Specialist Training Lead

Specialist Training Program Coordinator

Culteral Safety Coordinator

Member Services Coordinator Medical Educator

Project Officer Workforce Eye Health Policy Support

Student Support & University Liaison

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Celebrating the Past, Challenging the Future: AIDA turns 25

In 1997, a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students came together on Salamander Bay. They were brought together by the need to form a peer and collegiate support network for other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and medical students, a culturally safe space for advocating for our peoples.

This was the birth of the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

For 25 years since, AIDA has proudly supported and championed a steadily growing cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, who have achieved and accomplished so much while continuing to care for Country and giving back to the next generation of deadly doctors. We have also advocated for a culturally safe health system, and for the self-determination and equitable health and life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 17

Supporting our members during the pandemic

AIDA’s membership is one that thrives on personal mentorship and connection. It was the reason that AIDA conferences were repeatedly and consistently popular, attracting several hundreds of delegates each year. However, the COVID-19 pandemic posed a unique and unprecedented barrier to this method of connection, and AIDA had to adapt to providing a culturally safe space for its members to reengage.

This necessity birthed the AIDA Yarning Circles – an online platform hosted by Indigenous Secretariat staff and the Board of AIDA, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander AIDA members.

The online platform worked to provide a culturally safe space for members to discuss their successes, challenges, and anything in between. These Yarning Circles also covered pertinent topics such as burnout, COVID-19 protocols and concerns in the workforce, self-care, and opportunities to network and link senior and junior Indigenous medical students and doctors. These sessions proved to be incredibly successful, with later sessions focusing on members who were already specialising, or wanted to specialise, and pathways for their success.

A commitment to increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ophthalmologists

In October 2021, AIDA was pleased to partner with The Fred Hollows Foundation on the Developing Specialist Eye Health Workforce project, with an aim to increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors enrolled in ophthalmology.

The goal of this project is to work towards increasing the Indigenous Eye Health Workforce.

Under its banner, AIDA has provided support for all current registrars enrolled in the program and have also identified doctors in the prevocational space who are interested in undertaking ophthalmology training.

The developing specialist eye health workforce project has already supported one successful applicant to the training program for the 2023 uptake. Future activities will be based around strengthening the supports around the trainees and developing activities that improve the pipeline from the prevocational space to the training program itself. Work on promoting ophthalmology as a career option in the medical schools will also be a focus for the future.

Yarning Circle Rated

4.5/5 * Average Member rating. AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 19

Our Policy Initiatives

Transforming the health care system to be more culturally safe and improve health outcomes for our people

AIDA is represented on approximately 50 external committees, including on high-level government and non-government policy and decisionmaking bodies. Through this policy function, AIDA had significant input into the development of the National Medical Workforce Strategy 2021-2031, which was finalised in January 2022. This Strategy includes a focus on cultural safety and growing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors and general workforce.

AIDA is also proud of our contribution to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021 – 2031. This strength-based, holistic, and person-centred plan empowers Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) to embed the Priority Reforms from National Agreement on Closing the Gap 20202030 into the Australian health system. AIDA also significantly inputted into

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031. By embedding these objectives into decadelong mainstream workforce funding and planning mechanisms, we enable the Australian Government to better service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

AIDA’s membership of, and partnership with, other Peak bodies and organisations continue, including: Closing the Gap Campaign, Coalition of Peaks, Partnership for Justice in Health (P4JH), and the Raise the Age Campaign.

2022 MTS Survey now measures racism because of AIDA advocacy

AIDA recently led successful advocacy, leading to significant changes in how Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia measure and record racism occurring in the medical training continuum through their annual ‘Medical Training Survey’ (MTS).

The previous MTS Survey questions measured racism towards medical trainees within a broader category of discrimination, bullying, and harassment, making it difficult to accurately measure prevalence or racism specifically, of target interventions for our Indigenous trainees.

To raise the cultural safety level for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees, AIDA advocated that a more targeted approach was needed to measure, reduce, and eventually eliminate the occurrence of racism.

AIDA recommended Ahpra split this category, and measure racism as a stand-alone category.

Ahpra agreed and subsequently amended the MTS Survey questions for 2022 to include racism as a standalone category under Questions 40 and 41a.

Policy Position Statements

AIDA has released two Policy Position Statements in 2021-2022, on Cultural Safety and the Importance of Indigenous Representation in University Medical Societies, with work undertaken on a third.

To support our policy partnerships with P4JH and RTA, AIDA worked on an in-depth Incarceration policy paper, which also examines the Indigenous medical workforce within the criminal justice system.

Lobbying in the broader health and workforce policy space

Through our consultations and submissions processes, AIDA has ensured that culturally safe practices are embedded into existing, evolving, and updated health workforce policies and programs across the healthcare sector, including for students in medical schools.

AIDA contributed twelve reviews, submissions, and consultations on a range of topics during the 202122 financial year including on: Distribution Priority

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Area classification system, Australian STI Guidelines for primary care, communitycontrolled trials, medical Colleges’ Indigenous health initiatives and cultural safety statements, workforce development strategies, and regarding the application of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Australia.

Growing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical specialists 2021 (NMTAN)

The second NMTAN report was released publicly on 18 March 2022 and represents the second iteration of the specialist medical Colleges’ selfassessment against the nine minimum and six best practice standards aimed at attracting, recruiting, and retaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist trainees, as agreed by all colleges in 2019.

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Revolutionising the specialist workforce: AIDA launches the Specialist Trainee Support Program

This initiative is the first of its kind to provide individualised support and networking opportunities within a culturally safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander non-GP specialist trainees.

In July 2021, AIDA partnered with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) to seek support to pursue funding for AIDA’s Specialist Trainee Support Program (AIDA STSP).

AIDA and RANZCR advocated in the nonGP specialist college networks and formed a consortium with 11 colleges to apply for funding through the Commonwealth’s Flexible Approach to Training in Expanded Settings (FATES) initiative (in June 2022, the consortium increased to 12 with the inclusion of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons).

The consortium, led by RANZCR was successful in securing 12 months of funding for the program which AIDA was subcontracted by RANZCR to deliver from May 2022.

The purpose of the funding was to support the recruitment, retention and successful fellowship of First Nations doctors pursuing non-GP specialties.

Activities under the STSP include:

• Establishment of an online network for nonGP specialty Trainees

• Provision of tailored culturally appropriate support to Trainees

• Provision of support to colleges

• Assessment of College Needs Assessment including a stocktake of resources

• Provision of support to 12 colleges in the crosscollege consortium

• Review College Induction processes

• Facilitation of two face to face workshops for Trainees

• Creation of online resources to including CV and interview preparation

• Development of supervision resources

• Development of a suite of trainee resources

• Commencement of a process of developing framework to engage ACCHO sector

On 21 June 2022, AIDA convened the first meeting of the STSP Cross College Project Group on the land of the Gadigal people. At the meeting College representatives agreed to be the drivers of change in improving recruitment and retention of First Nations doctors in their respective colleges. They also shared information and committed to actions to progress change before the next meeting.

AIDA STSP will continue to influence, liaise and support Colleges with their recruitment and retention strategies.

AIDA has also been proud to provide support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander trainees through this program. In addition to individual and tailored one-onone support, AIDA also

began hosting monthly online Yarn Ups to showcase specific college pathways and provide professional coaching.

Two face to face workshops for Trainees will be planned and held in the next financial year.

Other Relationships and Promotion Activity

The STSP team has been active in fostering relationships and promoting AIDA’s STSP with key national health and medical organisations. This has included participation and presentations at:

• AMA Trainee Forum on 28 April 2022

• The Medical Board of Australia Symposium on Culture in Medicine conference

• The Royal Australasian College of Physicians Annual Conference

• The Australian Orthopaedic Association Diversity and Inclusion Forum and other meetings

• Regular meetings with the Department of Health

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12 colleges 12 trainees 13 pre-vocational doctors AIDA STSP 2022 2 face-to-face cross-college workshops 8 online Yarn-Ups 35 attendees across the MET Continuum AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 23

Our Cultural Safety Training Program

To this end, AIDA has proactively engaged in the development of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health in Clinical Practice (ATSIHiCP), a unique cultural safety training program.

Designed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors, this training is clinically focused and designed to assist medical practitioners integrate cultural safety into their practices to improve healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. While the training has been developed with medical practitioners in mind, it has wideranging applications for the broader public.

Throughout the reporting period, AIDA's Cultural Safety Training was delivered to many organisations including ANU school of medicine and the Australasian College of Dermatology, and attended by over 40 participants including heads of department supervisors of training, and clinical supervisors.

Following overwhelming interest in these workshops and the Australasian College of Dermatology’s commitment to cultural safety, funding for further training has been secured for the next four years. From 2023, all second-year dermatology registrars will receive this training to align with facets of the Culturally Responsive Practitioner role in the curriculum.

In recognition of the value of our cultural safety training, CPD accreditation was awarded to it by the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators.

Launch of Cultural Awareness online course

In October 2021, AIDA launched the prerequisite to the Cultural Safety Training; Cultural Awareness – An Introduction to Cultural Safety. This self-paced training includes content on cultural awareness, the historical context to health realities, and application to health practice.

Since its launch, over 200 Cultural Awareness Online courses have been completed.

“The learning, engagement, and practical guidance of AIDA on how to change clinical practice to achieve better health outcomes was simply excellent. Every doctor in Australia should grab the opportunity to complete the AIDA program.”

– Dr Martin Laverty, Secretary General Australian Medical Association

A critical point of advocacy for AIDA is the importance of embedding cultural safety at every level of the Australian health system.
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“The workshop further improved and reinforced my understanding of the ongoing insidious nature of racism and how it systematically impacts on health service delivery to the disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.” – Participant
Celebrating the past, challenging the future
AIDA 25 Years
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Membership Indigenous non-Fellow 118 Membership as of January 2022 527 Indigenous Medical Students 201 Indigenous Doctor Fellow 44 26 • Annual Report 2022 Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association
Associate Honorary 7 Associate not for profit 11 Associate – organisation general 51 Associate Individual 82 Lifetime Members 12 Associate Individual student 1 AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 27

Supporting Our Members

Face-to-face engagement has been limited due to COVID-19 however AIDA hosted a successful visit to universities in Melbourne which culminated in a member event. The purpose of these events was to engage with our members and facilitate relationship building in a face-toface environment, after experiencing an impact on events over the past two years from COVID-19.

AIDA also attended multiple stakeholder engagements including the HETI Aboriginal Doctors forum which was attended by several Indigenous Medical Doctors who are AIDA members. AIDA was also invited to attend the Pital Tarkin mentoring program evening in Newcastle which was a great success with approximately 30 attendees, both AIDA members and nonmembers, attending.

AIDA has continued to advertise and administer scholarships and bursaries from funders such as Avant and the Royal Flying Doctors Service. AIDA also was involved in the selection of three Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists scholarships to attend their annual conference.

AIDA was also excited to sign an MoU with RFDS in January 2022 and look forward to ongoing relationships with our members and stakeholders.

AIDA has continued to provide one-on-one support as well as support more broadly to members.
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AIDA has also continued its engagement with student members through member events and university visits, including consultation with the Indigenous support units from Melbourne, Adelaide and Newcastle universities. AIDA has supported students through oneon-one support and advocacy, which has yielded positive results for the continuation of their studies.

AIDA also supports its student member base with the coordination of the AIDA Student Representative Committee (SRC). The 2022 SRC has 18 representatives across Australian medical schools, who represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students at their medical school campus. The SRC meet monthly to offer support to each other, as well as guidance on the challenges and successes students experience at their university.

In April the SRC were able to conduct their annual face to face meeting. The face-to-face event provides the SRC with an opportunity to connect, support and grow their leadership capabilities.

Over three days, the SRC participated in leadership training, participated in a cultural safety seminar run by the AIDA Cultural Safety team, as well as strengthened the existing relationship with AMSA. The AMSA President and AIDA President met during this time for the review and signing of the

AMSA MoU. AIDA hopes to continue engagement with AMSA to work on improving support for Indigenous medical students throughout their time at university.

Each year, AIDA help to facilitate the implementation of the SRC Project. The purpose of the project is to develop a benefit for student members and contribute to the work of AIDA.

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A Yarn with Dr Member Dr Rachel Farrelly

When Rachel Farrelly broke her arm when she was little, her most profound memory was being terrified of the X-ray machine.

A lot has changed since then for our AIDA member, set to become the first Aboriginal female orthopaedic surgeon – and first Aboriginal female surgeon in Australia.

“I got into medicine not really having a plan of what specialty I was interested in because [orthopaedics] was such a foreign field to me. But I did it as my third clinical rotation and my attitude going into the rotation was completely turned around,” Dr Farrelly says.

Orthopaedic surgery was interesting to Dr Rachel, a Gunu woman raised on Wiradjuri country, for many reasons. Being able to restore mobility and address severe pain in her patients, from young children to seniors – was a strong drawcard for her.

“The times when you get to see a patient restored to their full mobility and go back to their normal lives, and they say thank you, that is just such a good feeling,” she says.

Women make up a small percentage in a predominantly maledominated field of orthapaedics. However, Dr Rachel says it wasn’t difficult to find allies and mentors who supported and inspired her throughout her journey.

“I think having different mentors that you can reach out to at different time points is really crucial,” Dr Rachel says.

“I remember when I was thinking about surgery and I went to an AIDA event, Kelvin Kong was then the first Indigenous surgeon. Speaking to him about his journey made me realise that we are like all other people going through the surgical pathway and the challenges are fairly similar,” Dr Rachel says.

Dr Rachel believes having more mentors who have gone through the surgical pathway would be beneficial to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors.

“Even if it’s not the exact field of surgery, having someone who understands the challenges and the demands of the surgical pathway and can support

young Indigenous people who are keen to give it a go and try their hand in surgery is really important,” she says.

Being a surgical trainee, Dr Rachel is no stranger to challenges. She has had moments of despair where the challenges and demands of medical training became overwhelming.

“I’ve spent many a day going home, screaming at the injustice towards junior doctors or patient care, it frustrates everyone. Also having to continuously be a student as well as the expectation to be an expert is a big burden,” she says.

“I have often thought about quitting. One of the things that stopped me is the failure of a better back up plan – I can’t think of anything better I want to do!

“The other thing is sheer determination. I remember when I was thinking about studying to be a doctor, my dad, who had a big part in me starting the journey, said to me – it doesn’t matter what you do, it will take you 10-15 years of pure dedication to become an expert in any field.”

Those words of wisdom stuck with Dr Rachel, the realisation that regardless of whether you are a doctor or a farmer, everyone goes through a similar journey in their career trajectory.

“Sometimes you need a break – take a break, come back with a fresh slate and start again the next day,” she says.

Her own words of wisdom, particularly for young women interested in medicine, is to trust in your abilities.

“Particularly for young women, we are often told what we should and shouldn’t do. It’s often other people’s prejudices that they try to put on you. Don’t let it deter you. Decide what you can do and what skills you have and just go for it,” she says.

As a member of AIDA, Dr Rachel believes one of the greatest contributions AIDA makes is in representation.

“[AIDA] exists because there is a significant difference in the life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and others within our nation.

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We can’t expect other people to constantly keep helping us; we need to help ourselves. By putting Indigenous people within the health sector, especially as doctors and leaders within health, we can work towards equality and equity of health outcomes for our people.”

“Also, I think Indigenous kids should grow up thinking, ‘hey, I want to be a doctor when I grow up’ and I want that to be a realistic goal,” she says.

Dr Rachel believes the platform AIDA provides for empowering and supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors goes a long way in making that goal achievable.

“This is a bunch of doctors. We’re all Aboriginal, we’re all Torres Strait Islander, we represent you and where you came from and there’s people that can help you get to where you want to be in your life,” she says.

“Knowing that AIDA was there, knowing that there were Indigenous doctors that I could talk to, that could mentor me if I needed, was really helpful.”

AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 31

A Yarn with Student Member Kyle Ryan

Mr Kyle Ryan is our student representative from the University of Queensland and the winner of the Brisbane NAIDOC Youth Award for 2022.

Kyle says it’s great to receive reassurance from the community that his work is making a real impact, stating;

“It’s nice to be recognised by institutions and receive awards but when it’s awarded by the community that means so much more to me.”

Kyle also attended the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress (PRIDoC) in Canada this year. Kyle speaks on why events like PRIDoC and AIDA’s conference are important to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical community.

“I think it’s extremely important within our community. There’s a lot of shame and obviously that shame stems from the systemic barriers that are in place in the healthcare system, but also shame within themselves.”

“Events like PRIDoC and AIDA conferences getting all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students and doctors together, gives us a place of reaffirming who we are and reaffirming what we’re doing for our communities and for our people and for representation in these systems.”

Speaking about the work AIDA does, Kyle shares how impactful AIDA has been in the community and the role AIDA has played in his young career thus far.

“It’s been ultimately amazing. What AIDA is doing and what they stand for. It’s good to see there’s a national voice for Indigenous health, for doctors and students to have a national organisation that backs them and supports the work we do across the nation.

Having that authority behind us, gives us confidence in doing what we do on an everyday basis.”

Serving as a representative on our Student Representative Committee, Kyle explains what it means to him and gives advice to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical students.

“I’ve met a lot of members from AIDA that are from other universities around the nation. This has helped build my network and together we’ve helped to create a better quality of education for others.

As I’m going through medical school it’s good to see all these other Blackfullas on the same journey – it’s great.”

“You’ve got to have the right passion and the right reasons for going into medicine. If you don’t have the passion or the drive for a particular cause then why do you want to jump into medicine? You’re going to burn out and you’re not going to make it through so I really suggest doing medicine for the right reasons.”

“Don’t compare yourself to others. You are your own biggest critic. We’ve got to be a bit more lenient with ourselves sometimes, especially as Blackfullas. We hold ourselves to a higher standard and we have to perform at a higher standard to be seen and acknowledged in these [Medical] institutions.

Just doing it one step at a time and following your own journey is the best way to do it.”

With AIDA turning 25 this year, Kyle tells us what he thinks the next 25 years will have in store for us.

“A lot of advocacy, a lot of changes on a national level. A lot more retention in medical school, changing the face of education and how we deliver Indigenous health on a national level and for medical schools, ultimately making changes for our communities.”

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Kyle has great plans for the future after finishing medical studies. He plans on working at Aboriginal Medical Centres and wants to specialise in being a rural generalist.

“I definitely want to work in an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) but I want to specialise in rural generalism, so I can go out into rural communities. It’s nice to be a specialist and working in a big hospital, but at the end of the day, I want to get out to my Indigenous communities and my people early on in the upstream approach and be a preventative primary care health physician.”

“I’ve met a lot of m embers from AIDA that are from other universities around the nation. This has helped build my network and together we’ve helped to create a better quality of education for others. As I’m going through medical school it’s good to see all these other Blackfullas on the same journey – it’s great.”

AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 33

Our Events

Our event continue to engage with members and local communities to strengthen our relationships, celebrate AIDA’s anniversary, celebrate the achievements of AIDA members and promote the work of AIDA.

AIDA hosted an inaugural International Women's Day Breakfast on the Land of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri People.

This event brought together more than 150 attendees at the National Arboretum and featured a panel discussion with some of the nation’s leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and researchers including Aunty Pat Anderson, Dr Ngaree Blow and Prof Lisa Whop.

With many songs, dances and healthy yarns, AIDA celebrated its 25th Anniversary Gala on Gadigal land in June 2022. The event premiered our 25-year history documentary, and attendees were able to take a trip down memory lane with our Founding Members as they recapped an incredible 25 journey of self-determination, resilience, and innovation.

In addition to the International Women’s Day breakfast and the Anniversary Gala, AIDA also hosted several member events across the country. These events saw a total of over 150 AIDA members and stakeholders in attendance, providing valuable opportunities to connect and engage. As part of AIDA’s core principles, Traditional Owners and Custodians were engaged at every point of the event and provided much-valued cultural connection and connection to Country.

With COVID cancelling the AIDA2021 Roadshow, AIDA found innovative ways to stay connected with over 240 members receiving 'wellbeing packs'.

– IWD event attendee

“Such a great panel of women who were knowledgeable, compassionate and passionate.”
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AIDA 25 Years Celebrating the past, challenging the future • 35
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