Suggested Process for Curriculum Development

The ultimate goal of the framework is to ensure that Indigenous health is embedded as a sustainable, continuing and living part of every Australian medical school’s curriculum. This means that this curriculum framework will require a broader commitment and process for its implementation than relying exclusively on the individual efforts of any particular staff members, students or community groups.

To this end, encouragement is given to whole-of-school partnerships for implementing these guidelines and to a gradual approach to growth and clarity of Indigenous health within the medical curriculum. While the process of embedding curriculum development in this area may take years, the establishment and/or continuation of developmental processes is strongly encouraged. It is acknowledged that each school may be at a different stage of curriculum development, and the following recommendations may prove useful for the growth or consolidation of Indigenous health in individual curricula.

 Whole-of-School Partnerships

 1. Encourage ownership and participation

  • Engage Indigenous staff and community members in the developmental process, encouraging their ownership and participation. If the school has no Indigenous staff members, invite staff in the campus Indigenous education centres to participate and identify other suitable Indigenous professionals and community representatives.
  • Engage non-Indigenous staff across the school to work in collaboration with Indigenous colleagues, so that not only Indigenous people bear the responsibility for implementation, and so that they van feel ownership of the process.
  • Encourage input and ownership from enthusiastic students and organisations.

 2. Embed the commitment and goals of the school in this area in strategic documents, curriculum maps and student outcome and attributes statements

  • Embedding growth and development in formal documentation and strategy will assist in coordination, focus and ensuring that the teaching of Indigenous health does not rely on individual champions.
  • Including Indigenous health in student attributes and outcome statements will assist in maintaining the focus on Indigenous health, and help measure development for quality assurance and accreditation purposes.
  • A school-wide planning workshop may assist in building support and strategically coordinating curriculum development.

 Developmental Processes

 3. Trial and review initiatives

  • Review what has been tried before and trial new initiatives in PBL/case/scenario design, or in a staff development workshop, for example.
  • Bring diverse groups together for curriculum development: a meeting of medical educators, senior clinicians, Indigenous health specialists, Indigenous community representatives and administrators may produce a number of different, sometimes competing, perspectives. This process of collaboration is exactly what may be required for schools and communities to own and to participate fully in developing successful and effective curricula.
  • Work with other medical schools to share resources and learn about what has worked.

 4. Celebrate Indigenous health as a part of regular curriculum

  • Initiatives such as regular staff and student seminar series, an Indigenous health week or contributing to campus-wide NAIDOC Week activities may send positive messages that Indigenous health is an important and regular part of curriculum.
  • Invite Indigenous community members to teach and participate in school activities. Indigenous staff can ensure cultural safety and protocols are followed for these activities and invitations.

 5. Identify processes and methods for evaluation

  • Community partnership groups and staff involved in designing and delivering Indigenous health can assist in developing evaluation tools and methodologies. It will be critical to ensure that Indigenous staff and community representatives, as well as non-Indigenous staff, have ownership and input into this stage, as with every other part of the process.
  • Suggested evaluation tools include qualitative feedback from staff, students and community members, and participation statistics for subjects, camps and seminars.

 6. Encourage vertical integration beyond core medical education

  • When designing curriculum, bear in mind the need for vertical integration with Masters level and vocational training, and concentrate on establishing a solid platform in core training which can be built on later.
  • Consider specialised certificates or streams in Indigenous health beyond the minimal suggested content and approach listed here. That is, schools may want to consider offering advanced studies for those students wishing to follow Indigenous health as a specialty within undergraduate and/or postgraduate medicine. For example, the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, offers a certificate in Indian health which specialising students have accredited as part of their studies (beyond basic training in Indigenous health that all students receive).