‘We need more Indigenous pharmacists, nurses, doctors.’

A/Prof Faye McMillan presents her lecture.
A/Prof Faye McMillan presents her lecture.

Australia’s first registered pharmacist who is Aboriginal has spoken about the importance of helping First Nations Peoples feel valued and included in health care

Associate Professor Faye McMillan, the 2019 Aboriginal Woman of the Year, and Atlantic Fellow, says creating authentic relationships and understanding how current polices impact First Nations Peoples is a start.

Yindyamarra (respect) your Narrative was this year’s topic at the Australian Pharmacy Council’s third Emeritus Professor Lloyd Sansom AO Lecture Series.

Faye McMillan spoke about privilege and respecting what makes you ‘you’ – understanding where one has come from, one’s challenges, opportunities and behaviours which determine how one builds meaningful relationships.

“Others are vulnerable when working with us. They need to see you as a person as well, not a profession,” A/Prof McMillan said.

“Recognise that difference exists but find similarities that draws people together to create a sense of belongingness. Belongingness creates relationships, and relationships create better health outcomes,” she said.

In the lecture and a related podcast for the APC, A/Prof McMillan paid tribute to the strong women in her family, including her mother, Nan and a sister who was the first in the family to attend university, and their tenacity.

Having been supressed from education themselves, her grandmother and mother recognised education as an important factor in changing their future.

A/Prof McMillan highlighted the opportunities they provided her and her four siblings, who between them received multiple Bachelor and Master qualifications – and shared her experience of overcoming disadvantage.

She then touched on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to highlight how First Nations Peoples’ rights have been undermined by government policies in Australia. Historically and currently.

“We need to understand how policies impact First Nations Peoples experiences of the healthcare system,” she said.

“How they impact recruitment, retention and education opportunities. We need more Indigenous pharmacists, nurses, doctors. We need more Indigenous everything. And we need to be the inspiration for their aspirations.

“We have a long way to show that we are meeting these in Australia and we in health all have a role to play in ensuring positive outcomes,” A/Prof McMillan said.

She also issued a challenge to attendees to call out racism and have courageous conversations.

“The behaviour you walk past is the standard you accept.”

Faye McMillan has just been appointed as a Director of the APC Board.

“We are delighted to have Faye join us on the APC Board,” APC Chair Associate Professor Sue Kirsa said.

“Her skills as a director and her connection to country and community will be an enormous asset to us in executing our Improving Indigenous Health Strategy.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

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