What CATSINaM’s conference means to me

Some conferences are more than just another conference. They feed the mind, heart, and spirit. They challenge, stimulate, uplift and leave participants inspired and nourished.

The Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) works each year to ensure culture is embedded into all aspects of our Professional Development Conference, providing a cultural hub for participants.

This year’s conference, held in Adelaide from 17-19 September, runs under the theme “Honouring our past, empowering our present, growing our future”.

It is a timely choice, following the honouring of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women during NAIDOC Week in July with the theme #BecauseOfHerWeCan.

Each year our conference highlights the real difference being made in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health by our members.

This year we are marking an important milestone as this is our 20th conference and we are really looking forward to having some of the founding members of CATSINaM there, as well as fantastic speakers like Dr Chelsea Bond, Professor Tom Calma, and Professor Alex Brown.

For me personally, #CATSINAM18 will be extra special for a few reasons.

Firstly, it is being held on Kaurna Country, the Country I belong to, and I am delighted that we will be paying respects to Kaurna Elders and peoples during the conference.

Secondly, this will be my last conference as CATSINaM CEO.

I will be leaving the organisation to take up an Atlantic Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and it will be a real honour to farewell members on Kaurna Country.

CATSINaM’s annual conference caters to members, universities, policymakers and others invested in achieving better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

It is known for its “warm buzz” because it allows participants to reconnect and develop relationships and networks.

The conference always involves a focus on self-care and contributes to growth for members and organisations.

It also presents an opportunity to profile CATSINaM’s recent achievements, which include some real breakthroughs over the past few years in realising the aspirations of members, such as addressing racism in the healthcare system.

Clearly, the leadership and advocacy provided by CATSINaM is having impact across the wider health sector in areas including research and policy and practice, with growing awareness among the professions and health leaders of the importance of addressing racism as a critical health issue.

CATSINaM has worked closely with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and ANMAC to embed cultural safety in nurse and midwife regulation.

CATSINaM has also been working together with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to highlight racism and the importance of cultural safety in healthcare services among all health professionals.

It was influential in bringing about the National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy – Statement of Intent, issued in July and signed by the 15 national health practitioner boards, AHPRA, accreditation authorities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector leaders and organisations.

A flow on from CATSINaM’s advocacy in this space is the potential inclusion of cultural safety into the National Law – with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council currently consulting the community on this issue.

In this context, cultural safety is partly defined as “An appreciation of the historical context of colonisation, the practices of racism at individual and institutional levels, and their impact on First Nations people’s living and wellbeing, both in the present and the past”.

By enshrining cultural safety into National Law, racism becomes illegal and health professionals can be held to account by health consumers when displaying racist behaviour.

These and other recent developments will be discussed at the annual Professional Development Forum for the Leaders in Indigenous Nursing and Midwifery Education Network (LINMEN), held in conjunction with the conference on 17 September.

The forum provides an opportunity for nursing and midwifery educators to come together and learn more about cultural safety and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, history and culture.

If you can’t make this year’s conference make sure to follow all the news via social media on #CATSINaM18.

See you all there!

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