Wurru Wurru Health Unit in the Department of Medical Education launched in NAIDOC week
The Wurru Wurru Health Unit in the Department of Medical Education was officially launched Tuesday, 5 July during NAIDOC week.
Uncle Ringo Terrick, a Wurundjeri Gunnai Kurnai Elder gave the Welcome to Country and expressed his excitement to be in an environment where people are taking interest in the First Nations’ knowledge and processes.
Professor Steve Trumble, Head of Department of Medical Education, thanked elders and community members for coming to celebrate the launch event. He welcomed Professor Ruth Stewart, the National Rural Health Commissioner and Professor Sandra Eades, Associate Dean Indigenous.
“Today, in NAIDOC week, we are celebrating the work of the Melbourne Medical School First Nations Health Unit and learning about a new resource they’ve cocreated with Wurundjeri scholars that gives an Indigenous perspective on health,” said Professor Trumble.
“The launch of this unit provides a solid foundation on which so much more work will be done. The team comprises some of the most effective educators I’ve ever encountered in my whole career. The First Nations team has taken our medical course, in my view, to one of the most comprehensive, integrated and effective Indigenous health programs in the country,” he said.
The Wurru Wurru Health Unit was formed through the First Nations Health Team in the Department of Medical Education and has been created to embed Indigenous ways of knowing into health communication and training of medical students and the medical workforce.
Dr Ngaree Blow, a Noonuccal, Goreng-Goreng and Yorta-Yorta woman, medical doctor and Director of First Nations Health, leads this diverse and dedicated team of education professionals that bring medical, healthcare and arts training and that come from diverse First Nations backgrounds.
Dr Ngaree Blow explained that they had sought permission from Wurundjeri elders to use the word ‘Wurru Wurru’ that translates to ‘Sky Country’ for the name of the Health Unit. It stems from a story referring to the six layers of country. ‘Sky country’ is the star country above the clouds and symbolises the overarching connectedness of all things.
The Wurru Health Unit’s approach is modelled on the six layers of country and meaning: Biik Ut (Biophysical); Biik Dui (Individual); Baanj (Community/Societal); Murnmut (Systemic) and Wurru Wurru (Spiritual connection).
With permission of the Wurundjeri elders, the Unit incorporated the ‘six layers of country’ into a communication tool that illustrates connections between country and physical and societal health. There is also a ‘river model’ and other tools, that have been developed to connect and embed Indigenous knowledge with health messages.
During the launch, a video developed by the team was shown that explained the layers of meaning and connection to country that inform the public health approach taken by the Wurru Wurru Health Unit. The video was shown at the PRIDOC 2022 the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctors Congress, in Vancouver.
These innovative educational tools promise to teach Indigenous ways of knowing to health and medical students and workforce to communicate health messages more effectively to Indigenous community members they treat and care for.
Through the creation of the Wurru Wurru Health Unit and the formation of its expert team, more innovative educational tools will be developed to embed Indigenous knowledge into health worker training.
The Unit aims to contribute to the growth in the knowledge and understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing amongst the health and medical workforce and so to improve the care and treatment received by Aboriginal and Torres Strait community members in healthcare settings, with wider impacts for the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.