Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander subjects in a Graduate Diploma of Midwifery: A pilot study

Jessica Biles, Brett Biles, Roianne West, Vicki Saunders, Jessica Armaou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) (2014) prescribes midwifery accreditation standards that mandate health education programs provide foundational skills in critical reflective practice about students’ cultural background and their knowledge of cultural safety to be deemed ready for practice. However, the impact of training programs designed to respond to this health workforce reform agenda is yet to be widely explored. Using a tool developed and validated by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers, this study aimed to assesses the impact of a mandatory 8 week Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and cultural safety education subject focussed on the development of culturally safe practices among midwifery students.
Methods: Homogenous purposive sampling was used to recruit participants while studying a mandatory online Indigenous midwifery subject (Indigenous Midwifery care) as part of a Graduate Diploma of Midwifery. The Ganngaleh nga Yagaleh cultural safety assessment tool (GY) was used to collect quantitative data to explore the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety education. Comparisons of pre and post averages were calculated, and Wilcoxon Rank Sum tests were conducted for GY sub-scale scores, and scale total scores. Optional semi-structured interviews seeking to further understand student experiences were offered to all participants with nil uptake.
Results: Overall, quantitative findings of participants perceptions of culturally safe practices remained unchanged, except for three items of the GY Tool I feel comfortable working with First Nations Peoples; I have an understanding of how Australia’s colonial history has impacted on the formation of my values and beliefs in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Healthcare practice that is free from racism.
Discussion: The findings have shown little change between pre and post self-reported scores. These findings have demonstrated that when post graduate midwifery students are exposed to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives of Australia’s colonial history it impacts their sense of optimism, personal values and beliefs about the healthcare they will provide to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. However, midwifery students who self-identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, reported a decline in optimism when imagining a healthcare system free of racism.
Conclusion: This research describes and provides key insights into the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and culturally safe practices within postgraduate midwifery education within a university environment. These results are relevant for Midwifery educators seeking tangible ways to have a greater impact on the culturally safe practices of Australian midwives and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalContemporary Nurse
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 06 Oct 2021


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