Tjirtamai - 'To care for': A nursing education model designed to increase the number of Aboriginal nurses in a rural and remote Queensland community


In 2009, a nursing education model was locally designed and delivered to support the interest of a group of Aboriginal community members living in a rural and remote town in Queensland, specifically to prepare for entry into further nursing education.

Named 'Tjirtamai' by the traditional owners of the area, the program was offered in recognition of the challenges faced by Aboriginal people when they enter nursing education courses and as a way to increase the local number of Aboriginal nurses. This program, while funded by the Government, had unprecedented support and involvement from both the local Aboriginal and wider community. The model offered multiple exit points, assistance with financial and other known challenges for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and included contextualised literacy and numeracy.

Of the 38 Aboriginal students who enrolled in the course, 26 students completed. Of those students, 18 have since enrolled in a bachelor degree in nursing while another 4 enrolled in a diploma of nursing. This paper provides an overview of the course and its outcomes.


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

Leeona West
James Cook University, Mornington Island Hospital, Townsville QLD

Karen West
James Cook University, Mornington Island Hospital, Townsville QLD

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


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Aboriginal; Torres Strait Islander; Indigenous; nursing; Tjirtamai model; education; community nursing; closing the gap


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