How do we create a health profession where First Nations peoples feel valued and included?

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, the 2019 Aboriginal Woman of the Year, and Atlantic Fellow, says creating authentic relationships and understanding how current polices impact First Nations Peoples is a start.

'Yindyamarra (respect) your Narrative' was this year’s topic at APC’s third Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom AO Lecture Series. Faye McMillan spoke about privilege and respecting what makes you ‘you’ – understanding where you’ve come from, your challenges, opportunities and behaviours which determine how you build meaningful relationships.

“Others are vulnerable when working with us. They need to see you as a person as well, not a profession. “Recognise that difference exists but find similarities that draws people together to create a sense of belongingness. Belongingness creates relationships, and relationships create better health outcomes.” Faye said.

Faye comes from a line of strong women. Having been suppressed from education themselves, Faye’s grandmother and mother recognised education as an important factor in changing their future. Faye highlighted the opportunities they provided her and her four siblings, of whom have received multiple Bachelor and Master qualifications. Even so, Faye shared her experience of overcoming disadvantage.

Faye then touched on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to highlight how First Nations Peoples’ rights have been undermined by government policies in Australia. Historically and currently.

“We need to understand how policies impact First Nations Peoples experiences of the healthcare system. How they impact recruitment, retention and education opportunities. We need more Indigenous pharmacists, nurses, doctors. We need more Indigenous everything. And we need to be the inspiration for their aspirations.

“We have a long way to show that we are meeting these in Australia and we in health all have a role to play in ensuring positive outcomes,” Faye said.

Faye issued a challenge to attendees to call out racism and have courageous conversations. “The behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept.” Faye said.

Listen to APC’s latest podcast with Faye to hear more about her lecture and her moving narrative.

Associate Professor Faye McMillan is a Wiradjuri yinaa (woman) from Trangie, NSW. Faye is a pharmacist and was named the 2019 NSW Aboriginal Woman of the Year. She was a founding member of Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) and currently works at Charles Sturt University (CSU) as the Director of the Djirruwang Program – Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health).

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