College of Medicine and Dentistry Cultural Immersion Program

Cultural Immersion Program

Sun, 17 Sep 2017

James Cook University's (JCU) College of Medicine and Dentistry ran its third successful Cultural Immersion Program in Charters Towers for first year medical students. The event was held on the grounds of the Columba Catholic College from September 15 to 17. This year, two students from Dentistry and Pharmacy also joined the cohort in the weekend activities.

The program provides a sound, safe and respectful environment for students to enhance their understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their health. Students participated in workshops about history, and culture and diversity, which are designed to encourage students to improve their cross cultural awareness by being able to demonstrate an understanding of the key concepts of cultural safety.

Big Eye Theatre Dance Group entertained students with their group dance performances accompanied by didgeridoo players - Tania Ault, Sharon Reid and Jenny Huxley, who immersed students in their experiences and history growing up in Charters Towers. Students learnt how to weave and were told stories about traditional Torres Strait Islander cooking, family values and dancing. Ms Lindi Loo taught students about the importance of portraying stories through art, assisting students with painting their own stories on to boomerangs. Mr Benny Eggmolesse, an Aboriginal comedian from Sydney, lightened the evening with a fantastic routine.

After this years' event, students reported that they were able to analyse their own cultural values and reflect on the implications for health care in rural, remote and underserved communities. Some felt they had a deeper understanding of the diversity and historical events that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experienced.

Thank you to the College staff who made the event possible, including Ms Priscilla Page, Mr Donald Whaleboat, Associate Professor Sophie Couzos, Mr Torres Wooley, Dr Robyn Preston, Ms Judy Taylor, Dr Simone Ross and Miss Caitlin Barr.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Medicine Strategic Committee are already working on next year’s program, which is attempting to include Pharmacy students as well. In future, it is hoped that this program can be expanded up to Cairns for Dentistry students to be able to share in this significant experience.