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Moving beyond the front line: A 20-year retrospective cohort study of career trajectories from the Indigenous Health Program at the University of Queensland

This project will examine critical success factors for enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership across the health system as demonstrated by alumni of the University of Queensland’s Indigenous Health Program (1994–2005) who today work in various leadership roles throughout the country.

The research aims of the project are:

  1. To map the career trajectories of a multidisciplinary cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates of the Indigenous Health Program (IHP)
  2. To determine the enablers of professional success of these health leaders in various facets of the health system
  3. To investigate the impact of active participation in the community of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals over the course of a career
  4. To theorise the confluence of community, subjectivity, self-determination and health.

This retrospective cohort study takes a strengths-based approach which privileges the narrative accounts of a multidisciplinary cohort of approximately 70 Indigenous health professionals which includes CEOs of medical services, GPs, clinical specialists, senior policy advisors, program managers and senior academics. Foregrounding their testimony will illuminate our understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce leadership across the health system.

Led by a predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander investigative team (including researchers from University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, and Bond University), the study privileges Indigenous knowledges, insights and experience in order to advance a more sophisticated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce agenda. ‘Moving beyond the frontline’ refers to the task of promulgating a health workforce agenda grounded in both the goal and reality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce leadership across the health system, moving beyond the existing emphasis upon aspiration and capacity building within specific health professions.  

This will be accomplished by:

  1. Illustrating various professional trajectories of a cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders
  2. Providing a greater understanding of the enabling factors for the professional development and advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals over a span of 20 years
  3. Illuminating the contribution of membership of a community of practice and epistemic community, over two decades, to those members, and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service clients
  4. Contributing to the evidence justifying and informing the development of health curricula and workspace that are inclusive of Indigenous knowledges and experiences
  5. Facilitating spaces for dialogues between experienced Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals and students, managers in government, university, and community controlled organisations
  6. Fostering the emergence of a community of practice and epistemic community out of the current cohort of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in health-related disciplines
  7. Creating a space, in an applied context, for thinking about the system-wide benefit, enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous people, of the creation and expansion of spaces in which Indigenous knowledges and ways of being are taken seriously. 

Expected outcomes of the research are:

  1. Input into the Lowitja Institute’s national longitudinal periodic survey of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the health workforce
  2. An understanding of the enabling factors for Indigenous health workforce advancement and leadership
  3. Transformation of Indigenous health workforce discourse and practice; moving beyond aspiration-building and participation to emphasise enablers of Indigenous leadership and excellence
  4. Professional development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander researchers.
Event: National Conference on Indigenous Health Workforce Leadership, 2 November 2018, Brisbane, Qld
Created: 25 May 2018 - Updated: 28 August 2018