Increased numbers of Australian Indigenous nurses would make a significant contribution to 'closing the gap' in Indigenous health: What is getting in the way?


The provision of a well trained and culturally safe health workforce is critical to the alleviation of health inequities for Australian Indigenous peoples. Educating and graduating significant numbers of Indigenous registered nurses is one way the 'Close the Gap' initiative succeeds.

Indigenous nurses bring a set of unique skills, knowledge and understanding to health service delivery. Their contribution has the potential to enhance future outcomes for Indigenous people by improving access to health services, ensure services are culturally appropriate and respectful, and assist non-Indigenous nurses to deliver culturally appropriate care.

This paper discusses the background to the current numbers of Indigenous undergraduate nursing students enrolled in and completing tertiary nursing courses, with a focus on Queensland nursing programs. A range of identified barriers impede Indigenous nursing students' successful completion of their studies. We propose recommendations for education, research and employment to help overcome these problems, and ensure greater Indigenous participation in the nursing workforce.


Roianne West
Townsville Hospital and Health Service, Townsville, QLD; School of Nursing and Midwifery, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD Roianne West is a proud descendant of the Kalkadoon People from far North West Queensland

Kim Usher
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns QLD

Kim Foster
Mental Health Nursing, Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW


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Indigenous nursing students; Indigenous nursing graduates; nursing workforce; Indigenous health; critical Indigenist pedagogy


PP: 121 - 130

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