The Cultural Immersion Experience Camp is an opportunity for medical students interested in general practice to gain experience in Indigenous healthcare and culture firsthand.
Typically, the camp selects GPSN applicants each year to travel to a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. Here, they experience Indigenous culture, and Indigenous and remote healthcare.
Applicants must submit an application to the camp, outlining their special interest in Indigenous healthcare and health issues. Applicants are selected on the basis of their interest and commitment to these areas.
This experience is available with thanks to Northern Territory General Practice Education (NTGPE). Scholarships have been offered in the past for students in need of financial aid.
The Cultural Immersion Experience Camp is supported and endorsed by the GPSN National Working Group.
If you’re interested in the next trip, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I had the privilege of attending the 2019 Cultural Immersion Camp with Northern Territory General Practice Education (NTGPE).
A group of us were taken into Kakadu National Park with Mandy, a traditional owner of the land where we stayed, and NTGPE support staff, including cultural educators.
My favourite part of the camp was going on several walks to places with stunning rock art.
While the art was beautiful, it was the stories Mandy told while we walked which made this experience so special.
We learnt about the Dreaming stories shown in the art and the landscape. We were taught about the plants and animals we came across.
Through this, Mandy’s deep connection to the land was clear to see. It was a privilege to have her share with us so freely.
We tried kangaroo tail and magpie goose, weaving, and damper cooking.
These activities were a lot of fun and were made all the richer by doing them alongside Mandy, Richard, Gemina and Lizzie. They told us stories of their lives, ancestors and what the activities meant to them.
It was through these stories and the relationships we built over the camp that I gained the most insight into Aboriginal cultures.
Medical school tends to teach all the things which are going wrong in terms of Aboriginal health—statistics about higher rates of disease or lower life expectancy.
The NTGPE Cultural Immersion Camp gave me a completely different insight into Aboriginal health issues, emphasising the strength Aboriginal people draw from culture, spirituality and connection to Country.
This encouraged me to think about the consequences of these things being attacked for decades by outside prejudice and ignorance, as well as how I can be aware of, and look after, these aspects of health in my future practice.
For example, being taught about the kinship system and how it differs from traditional Western family models has improved my understanding of why it might be especially difficult for Aboriginal people to be separated from their family, or why they may present to clinics with second or third degree relatives.
Many thanks to NTGPE for this opportunity, and to the camp’s cultural educators for teaching me so much. This experience will stay with me and shape my future care.
By Laura Roden
Laura was the 2020 GPSN National Chair.