Indigenous Health

The UCRH is situated in three sites around the region full of rich history and stories of Aboriginal people. All sites based on Bundjalung Country, giving us the opportunity to support student learning about the culture, history and health of Aboriginal people in various ways.


The program is led by the Aboriginal Health Academic Lead and Educators from the Bundjalung Nation and is conducted in a range of settings, from the classroom to overnight cultural immersion stays on Country. Where possible, every student that attends the Lismore and Murwillumbah campuses receives an Aboriginal Health Orientation session. This is inclusive of short stay allied health, dental and medical students (4-8 weeks).

Cultural Immersion

The long stay medical students from Sydney and Western Sydney Universities, spend two days on country with the Aboriginal education team, local community members, and staff employed in Aboriginal community controlled health services and the Local Health District to talk about Aboriginal people, life in a rural area, health and history.  Students are asked to extend their thinking to the future and how they can respond to the current status of Aboriginal people, the social determinants of health and what role they play as individuals and as future medical professionals.

Feedback from immersions over the years

  • It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I reflect on the knowledge shared with all today. I appreciate the vulnerability of diving into the past of your peoples, speaking of trauma experienced by the generations before you, which continues on to this day. Thank you for the strength you model in your willingness to respond to our questions non-judgementally. You have offered us a footstep in the door through which we may continue forging our path of understanding, both self-taught and through engagement with Aboriginal peoples across the land. ALWAYS WAS, ALWAYS WILL BE. (USYD 2018)


  • WE HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN! Thanks for sharing us (heart). SOVEREIGNITY NEVER CEDED. This morning’s panel with local Indigenous Health workers was of great importance for our upcoming catapult into the Lismore Health system. I feel better equipped to guide Aboriginal people towards targeted services, so that they may receive culturally appropriate care. Hearing of the personal and professional lives of Kelly, Troy, Payden and Anthony, encourages the Question-Why is the current health system so INFLEXIBLE in managing patient’s needs? I hope to play a role in changing this. (USYD 2018)


  • The opportunity to interact with Aboriginal people and openly sharing personal cultural experiences is something we would never have come close to in Sydney, so Thank you (UOW 2016)


  • I am so glad we came. It was great to have informal chats where I could ask questions I would feel comfortable asking anywhere else (UOW 2016)


  • I was really quite shocked by the recency of the stolen generation and the conditions. Also the period of time these practices spanned. It helped me understand the lasting impact on present indigenous Australians. (WSU 2017)


  • I have found today very beneficial. I have learnt many new things and cleared up many others. I also found the presentation really engaging. I was surprised by the treatment of children and surprised at the lack of freedom, being held in a mission / reserves is awful to think about.  It was also really interesting to think about how recent events were and the lasting impact on people now. I also find it shocking that Australia has such a history of racism and genocide yet it is not as well known or spoken about as other genocides in the world. I really like how these background stories have been applied to us and how to think about things differently within clinical practice.   (WSU 2017)

Other experiences offered to medical and allied health students

  • Where possible, Sydney medical students gain access to ACCHO’s for placements in their community term. This is dependent on ACCHO availability and student interest.
  • Social Equity Evenings – Film Night with an Aboriginal movie.
  • Attendance at NAIDOC week events around the region
  • Goori Book Club – bi-monthly book club to discuss a book written by or about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, some are recounts of past events or biographies.
  • Short placements in but not limited to: 1-day community health event with ACCHOs, ACCHO placements, Child health check days, Aboriginal sports carnivals – first aid tents and strapping stations
  • Kinship Festival held each year in Murwillumbah

Graduate Diploma of Indigenous Health Promotion

The UCRH host a Northern Cohort of students and the Graduate Diploma of Indigenous Health Promotion (GDIHP) once a year. The GDIHP is designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and people passionate about health promotion, the health of their people and wanting to be a part of closing the heath gap.

More information is available at the link below. Applications for 2018 have closed, however if you feel this Graduate Diploma is for you or if you have questions about costs, your previous experience and qualifications, please contact the program officer and have a yarn about it for next year, and let them know you want to do it in the Northern Rivers.


Jonathan Birch | Program Officer | Indigenous Health Programs
Sydney School of Public Health | Sydney Medical School
The University of Sydney
T +61 2 9351 1973|  F +61 2 9351 4720 | W


WSU – Learning some traditional dances – 2017


Sydney sutdents at Gnibi

Sydney students learning with Janine Delvaney from Ginibi at SCU about social equity, to start a conversation about what that means, and to find places where social equity exists.


“I Dreamed about You” – Health Careers for young Aboriginal people