Aboriginal Health

The Department of Rural Health has a strong commitment to, and is actively involved in, education and research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health.

Through our University Department of Rural Health program we provide opportunities and support for Aboriginal people to complete the following courses:

UDRH Graduation

In partnership with the Academy of Sport, Health and Education (ASHE) we also support students studying Bachelor and Diploma of Nursing programs at GOTAFE and La Trobe University in the Goulburn Valley.

The UDRH provides Aboriginal cultural competency training for non-Indigenous students and holds successful events including the annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal Health Conference.


  • Culturally inclusive health care
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Aboriginal health policy
  • Creating a wealthy community

Specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities (SC-EHAC)

About the course

Recognising and drawing on their work experience in health and community development, this unique course provides pathways to tertiary education for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians who live and work in their community.

The Specialist Certificate in Empowering Health in Aboriginal Communities introduces students to health related knowledges from critical social science and Aboriginal cultural perspectives. It will specifically examine the integration, overlap, and disjuncture of Aboriginal knowledges and Western knowledges of health in which Aboriginal health services operate (focus of the first subject). Students are supported in the application of this learning to undertake a project within an Aboriginal community or organisation, allowing students to study and work in their communities for the development of both (undertaken as part of the second subject).

In undertaking this course, students will gain advanced understanding of how both Aboriginal and Western knowledges can be applied to the field of health in rural communities as well as community development and project management skills.

Is this course suitable for me?

This course is suited to anyone passionate about the health of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people and wanting to gain skills and a qualification to progress in their career. It is also suitable for leaders, managers or experienced professionals working in Aboriginal community controlled health organisations. Please feel free to discuss further with our team to see whether this course is suitable for you.

Course highlights

  • Culturally safe space
  • 12 month part-time course
  • Remote study within your community
  • Small cohort with individual support provided
  • Pathway towards a university  qualification
  • Earn 25 credit points  towards the Master of Public Health

Join us in 2024 - Applications are now open!

We have a limited number of scholarships available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, applications are due by 1 December 2023.

What financial support is available?

  • For 2024, up to a maximum of $2352 per semester towards the subject fee cost

How do I apply for financial assistance?

To apply for financial assistance, complete the below form and email it to aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au by Friday 1st December 2023.

Scholarship Application Form

If you're not applying for a scholarship, general applications for the course can be made up until 19 February 2024 however, we recommend you apply as soon as possible.

To apply, follow the link below:

Apply for the course

Do you require support with submitting your application?

The team are  available to help you with your application, please contact us below and we'll get back to you shortly:

Department of Rural Health  - Aboriginal Health
e: aboriginalhealth@unimelb.edu.au
Ph: +61 3 5321 4160 or +61 3 5823 4500 (Option 1)

Further information

Download the flyer

Our students - Meet Chanoa

For full course information including course structure and entry requirements click below:

Learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How does the course run? Can I keep working?

    This is a part-time course consisting of two subjects taken over one year. The course is run in a way that enables you to continue to work in your regular job, provided you can attend the compulsory intensive study week (in Shepparton) early in each semester.

    After the study week the student group meet weekly throughout the semester for a tutorial, either on campus or via Zoom, and you will read articles and write assignments in your own time.

    We provide individual support to help you complete the course throughout the year.

  • What are the study dates and when are the compulsory study weeks that I need to attend?

    In 2024, the compulsory intensive study weeks will be:

    Mon 26 February - Fri 1 March 2024
    Mon 22 July - Fri 26 July 2024

    In your first semester (26 February - 26 May) you will complete the subject Utilising Knowledge in Aboriginal Health (RURA90008)

    In your second semester (22 July - 20 October) you will complete Health Projects in Aboriginal Settings (RURA90009). In this subject you will work on a project in your community or workplace.

  • What is the support offered?

    In addition to the support provided in the weekly tutorials, we can assist you to:
    - Apply and enrol for the course
    - Access any financial/scholarship opportunities
    - Develop the skills you need to complete the required work

  • Am I eligible?

    This course takes into account your work experience. To undertake the course you need to have two years work experience in a field related to Aboriginal health or community development or a bachelor degree (Indigenous applicants only). Non-Indigenous applicants need to have a relationship with an Aboriginal community, including some work experience in Aboriginal health and community development; plus - an undergraduate degree, or at least seven years’ work experience altogether.

  • What does it cost?

    A number of scholarships are available each year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to cover either all, or part, of the course fee cost (subject to eligibility). These are allocated  to eligible students as applications are received so we recommend applying as early as possible.

    The fee for each subject is $2352.

    You can also apply for Fee Help – so the Government pays for you, and you pay it back in small amounts through your tax when you are at a certain income level, or your employer
    may provide fee support for you to undertake study.

  • What happens once I’ve completed this?

    Once you graduate you will be able to continue your studies in the Graduate Certificate in Aboriginal Health in Rural Communities – another two subjects (from the Master of Public Health course) over one year. These subjects can then be counted towards a Master of Public Health for those wishing to undertake more study. These subjects may also be counted towards other Post Graduate studies at any University and will assist with your being accepted into relevant courses.

  • I'm interested! How do I apply?

    To find out more please contact one of our team to talk about this in more detail. They will be able to provide assistance with the application and enrolment process and to help you start planning to do the course.  You can follow the link below to apply.

    The last date you can enrol in the course for 2024 is 19 February 2024 but we recommend you do this much earlier as it takes time and you need to provide documents.

    Further information or to apply:

    Department of Rural Health
    E: aboriginalhealth@unimelb.edu.au
    Ph: +61 3 5321 4160 or +61 3 5823 4500 (Option 1)


See our FAQs below or to enquire about the 2024 course intake or for any general questions contact us at aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au.

Annual  Health Conference

The annual Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference is delivered by the University of Melbourne, Department of Rural Health. It exists to facilitate the exchange of information on key issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and well being through the delivery of high impact keynote addresses by national leaders from within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

2023 8th Ngar-wu Wanyarra 

We're excited to deliver  the 8th Ngar-wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference on  Wednesday 11th October 2023. Click below to explore this year's event.

Event overview

2022 7th Ngar-wu Wanyarra 

The Department of Rural Health at the University of Melbourne delivered a successful 7th Annual Ngar-Wu Wanyarra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Conference on Wednesday 12 October. Held for the first time at the University of Melbourne Shepparton campus on Yorta Yorta Country, over 300 guests attended the event both in-person and online.

Read the full event overview below:

Event overview

Contact Information

Email: aboriginal-health@unimelb.edu.au

Phone:  +61 3 5823 4512