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First Nations People Exploratory Response
Journey of Understanding, Attitudes, and Knowledge of First Nations Peoples's Health

Introduction

The following reflection describes my development of knowledge, attitudes, and understanding regarding the health of First Nations Peoples. In my response, I will be reflecting on an event that inspired me to learn more about the health of First Nations People. To summarise my experience, I will use the Gibbs Reflective cycle.

Description

Being a registered nurse, I needed a deeper understanding of the health of First Nations Peoples, which I acquired through formal study and textbooks. A cursory understanding of their history, cultural practices, and health inequities was the result of this method. Although I maintained neutral sentiments, I lacked empathy and a personal connection because of my limited exposure. As a result, I felt enthusiastic yet nervous. I knew how important it was to understand their health background, but I needed to have more faith in my ability to interact with them in a way that avoided any potential cultural insensitivity.

Feelings

When I thought of researching the health of First Nations People, I was a mixture of curious and nervous. I was sincerely interested in learning about and meeting their particular medical requirements, but I was also wary of the possible risks of cultural insensitivity or a lack of knowledge. Even while I was aware of how important it was to address health inequities in our community, I was unsure of what my contribution as a nurse would be to making a real difference.

Evaluation

My initial understanding of First Nations Peoples' health needed to be altered, it became clear after some thought. In order for me to successfully manage the complex health concerns my community faces, my nursing education needed to have effectively prepared me. This realisation dawned on me when I dug underneath the surface-level facts and figures to find the profound historical and social roots of the health inequities they experience.

When I looked at how colonisation has affected Indigenous health, a striking illustration of this deficiency became apparent. The terrible effects of forced integration, dispossession, and institutional discrimination were felt for generations, manifesting in higher rates of chronic illnesses, difficulties with mental health, and shorter life spans. The experiences of modern healthcare providers and these historical tragedies are inextricably entwined (Poirier et al., 2022).

A side from that, I acknowledged my cultural incompetencies. It became apparent that my ignorance of First Nations cultures and traditions might unintentionally contribute to the perpetuation of stereotypes or insensitivity in my nursing profession (Wessel, 2023). I was aware that inadvertent harm could happen, which highlighted the need for a more culturally aware and sympathetic approach. This event emphasised the danger of maintaining a cycle of discomfort and mistrust, further emphasising the significance of improving cultural competency.

Analysis

I realised that I needed a more in-depth academic education to fully comprehend the distinct cultural practices, values, and healthcare requirements of First Nations Peoples in Australia. I actively sought out numerous learning opportunities, utilising literature and government resources to solve these deficiencies and ensure culturally safe treatment.

Reading articles and papers devoted to Indigenous health in Australia served as one of my main sources of knowledge. The continuing health inequities encountered by Indigenous Australians have been brought to light by documents like the Australian government's "Close the Gap" reports. These studies emphasise the significance of healthcare professionals working actively to close these gaps and the requirement for cultural competence and sensitivity in healthcare delivery (National Indigenous Agency, 2022).

Another crucial stage in my journey was taking part in cultural competency workshops. These workshops, which were frequently held by healthcare facilities and Indigenous organisations, offered a systematic setting for developing cultural competency and awareness. They promoted candid communication, the sharing of personal experiences, and understanding of the historical and societal factors that influence Indigenous health (Curtis et al., 2019). The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) produced the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (NHSQS), which place a strong focus on the value of cultural competency in patient safety.

I was able to get personal knowledge of the cultural customs, values, and healthcare requirements of Indigenous groups and individuals through my engagement with them.

It was a humble experience that made me question my assumptions and improved my comprehension of the variety of Indigenous cultures in Australia. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has also recognised the significance of community engagement in improving Indigenous health outcomes. It has promoted initiatives that foster collaboration between healthcare providers and Indigenous communities (AIHW, 2022).

Confronting my biases and assumptions was pivotal to this learning journey. Research by Shepherd et al.(2019) highlights the importance of healthcare practitioners acknowledging their biases and working to address them to provide culturally competent care to Indigenous Australians. It aligns with the principles of equity and culturally safe healthcare delivery advocated by the Australian government (AIHW, 2023).

Conclusion

Through my proactive efforts to learn and actively engage with First Nations Peoples and their communities, I have profoundly transformed my understanding of their health. I now possess a more nuanced perspective, recognising the enduring legacy of colonisation and systemic racism as formidable determinants of health disparities. Significantly, I have come to appreciate the critical importance of cultural safety in healthcare interactions. Acknowledging and addressing the historical and contemporary injustices is a moral imperative and an essential step toward providing equitable, respectful, and effective care to First Nations Peoples.

Action Plan

Recognising the ongoing health disparities faced by Indigenous Australians, I understand the necessity of continuous education and meaningful engagement. I will begin by staying current with the latest research and literature on Indigenous health in Australia. For instance, the AIHW provides valuable reports and data, enabling healthcare practitioners to stay informed about the specific health needs of Indigenous communities (AIHW, 2023b).
Engaging meaningfully with Indigenous communities will remain a priority. I will actively seek opportunities to collaborate on community-led health initiatives and involve community members in decision-making processes (Lansbury et al., 2022).

The Australian government's Cultural Respect Framework 2016–2026 emphasises community engagement as a key element of culturally safe healthcare (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 2023). Cultural safety practices will be integrated into my nursing care, ensuring that I create a welcoming and respectful healthcare environment. This aligns with the NSQHS, which emphasises the importance of cultural safety in delivering equitable healthcare (ACSQHC, 2017). By aligning my practice with evidence-based principles and government initiatives, I aim to contribute to the improvement of First Nations Peoples' health outcomes and advocate for healthcare that respects their values, beliefs, and unique cultural needs.

References

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. (2017). National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards. https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/sites.pdf Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Indigenous health and wellbeing. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/indigenous-health-and-wellbeing Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2023a). Cultural safety in health care for Indigenous Australians: Monitoring framework. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/indigenous Australians/cultural-safety-health-care framework/contents/background-material Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2023b). First Nations people. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/population-groups/indigenous australians/overview Curtis, E., Jones, R., Tipene-Leach, D., Walker, C., Loring, B., Paine, S. J., & Reid, P. (2019). Why cultural safety rather than cultural competency is required to achieve health equity: A literature review and recommended definition. International Journal for Equity in Health, 18(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-019-1082-3 Lansbury, N., Redmond, A. M., & Nona, F. (2022). Community-Led Health Initiatives for Torres Straits Island Communities in a Changing Climate: Implementing Core Values for Mitigation and Adaptation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(24), 16574. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416574 National Indigenous Agency. (2022). Commonwealth closing the gap annual report 2022. https://www.niaa.gov.au/sites.pdf Poirier, B., Sethi, S., Haag, D., Hedges, J., & Jamieson, L. (2022). The impact of neoliberal generative mechanisms on Indigenous health: A critical realist scoping review. Globalization and Health, 18(1), 61. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-022-00852-2 Shepherd, S. M., Willis-Esqueda, C., Newton, D., Sivasubramaniam, D., & Paradies, Y. (2019). The challenge of cultural competence in the workplace: Perspectives of healthcare providers. BMC Health Services Research, 19(1), 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-019-3959-7 Wessel, S. (2023). Mapping Tensions of Non-Indigenous Clinicians Working with Indigenous Peoples in a Counselling Context. https://prism.ucalgary.ca

Related topic:- Medical Science

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