In Yugambeh language Yuwahn-Kilei translates to culturally-centred and in Māori Whakawātea means clearing of the way. Two very different cultures with very similar needs for their respective First Peoples health students.

Recently, First Peoples Health was privileged to host Dr Bradley Hurren and Dr Rebecca Bird from the University of Otago, New Zealand. It was a very informative day centred on information sharing informed through cultural understanding for First Peoples health students.

Both universities are challenged in the successes for First Peoples health students in anatomy and physiology subject matter. One of the challenges is how to provide the necessary cultural support for these students.

Professor Roianne West, Dean First Peoples Health said, “The challenges faced by First Peoples health students’ in anatomy and physiology subject matter needs to be addressed. The data shows that if the students aren’t unsuccessful in the first year they will go an altered learning progression that can result in many not finishing their degree.”

Dr Hurren and Dr Bird bring immense passion to their roles through the support work they do for Māori students. Although not of Māori descent, both of these academics are very active in the Kaiāwhina network established in the University of Otago. This network has 30 volunteers across 15 departments with a key focus area being Te reo Māori me ona tikanga (promote language and protocols).

Dr Hurren said “We are energised by today’s discussions, information shared and the learned experiences. “Griffith University should be very proud of the work being done for their First Peoples tauira (students) and the goals to improve their success rates in health programs.”

The presentations and discussions were relaxed and it was a wonderful learning opportunity for both parties with further collaboration a possibility to recalibrate the learning progression which ensures better results for First Peoples health students.

Associate Professor Suzie Owens, Academic Director Learning and Teaching, provided the group with an overview of her successful programs and a tour of the Anatomy laboratory.

GUMURRII Student Support Services also presented on the day and the discussions highlighted the synergies with the University of Otago having Te Huka Mātauraka (Māori Centre) as a service that assists to manage the challenges faced by First Peoples students from both universities.

The First Peoples Health Team looks forward to consolidating the partnership and sharing lessons into the future.