Weenthunga was honoured to be selected to present on our Nyarrn-gakgo mangkie young women’s program and VAHENonline at the 2019 IAHA Conference. We’ve shared our Abstracts below. 

Nyarrn-gakgo mangkie
Nyarrn-gakgo mangkie in Woiwurrung means ‘Hear Within’. “We come together in a safe environment to hear and understand other women’s stories. We’re supported by community and ancestors to listen to our own voice; to reflect. We move forward on our journey into a health career with new information, confidence, cultural knowledge and strength in our identity”. Nyarrn-gakgo mangkie is a strengths-based program centred around culture. Our program is supporting the next generation of passionate and proud Aboriginal young women into health careers. Formally the Girls Resilience Program, our program commenced in Bendigo in 2013 and has now expanded to three communities in Victoria. Our program is led and designed by Aboriginal women for Aboriginal women. Program activities are tailored to each young woman based on their aspirations and needs. We support each young woman’s unique journey through school, further education and into the workforce. We connect with families, Aunties, Elders, local community members. We collaborate with local organisations, services and education providers.
Women’s Talk Health Days (WTHD) are an important component of Nyarrn-gakgo mangkie. WTHDs brings together Aboriginal young women in years 10-12 from local schools to learn more about the breadth of health careers and work environments. Weenthunga invites inspirational Aboriginal women working in health to share their stories. During WTHD, young women travel to ACCHOs, Universities and mainstream health services.
An independent evaluation found that young women in our program have a stronger sense of their Aboriginal identity, a positive change in attitude, a greater understanding of the unique contributions they can make to the health sector and more.  Weenthunga Girls Resilience Program Weenthunga Health Network Evaluation Report November 2015 available athttp://www.weenthunga.com.au/_uploads/fckpg/files/160303%20WGRP%20Evaluation%20Report.pdf

The Weenthunga Health Network is establishing an online Victorian network (VAHENonline) to improve the teaching of Aboriginal health in Victorian universities.  The central aim of VAHENonline is to encourage collaboration and sharing of resources, approaches and ideas across health disciplines and across Victorian universities, supporting universities to implement the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Curriculum Framework. Over 200,000 students study health courses in Victorian universities. Given the relatively small number of First Australian health academics, whose cultural load is real and whose role in providing or guiding Aboriginal health education is essential, achieving systemic change in the sector requires collaboration and sharing across health courses and universities. These practices of reciprocity and sharing are deeply valued in First Nations approaches but are rarely occurring at present, arguably due to protective and competitive dynamics in the higher education sector. Weenthunga has developed the VAHENonline framework, with guidance from a small advisory group of presenters and participants at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Education Summit held in 2017. There are currently nine discussion topics deemed as pertinent to Aboriginal health education: Aboriginal Pedagogy; Aboriginal Students in Health; Clinical Education; Competency Standards; Course Accreditation; General Relevant Information; Governance VAHENonline; Health Courses – Indigenous curricula; Mentorship. For VAHENonline to be a useful online forum, relevant resources need to be regularly added along with facilitation of online discussions to collaborate and share ideas pertinent to Aboriginal health education. Weenthunga has been seeking modest funding for this prior to wider promotion of VAHENonline.

Useful experiential data from VAHENonline will be made available to inform LIME’s research project which could result in the establishment of a national Indigenous health network for the health sciences.