For most visitors it’s a trip of hundreds or thousands of kilometres, but for staff and students of Flinders University’s Nhulunbuy Clinical Training and Education Facility joining the Garma Festival was more of a hop, skip and a jump.
Held annually in the midst of a stringybark forest in Arnhem Land, the internationally renowned Garma Festival promotes Yolngu cultural development, bringing together community leaders from five north east Arnhem regional clan groups with visitors from around Australia and the world.
The event is intended as an interface between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia, and this year the Flinders Northern Territory Medical Program participated at the on-site Expo, while Flinders medical students were also involved in the clinical services provided at the event by Miwatj Health.
The University’s Nhulunbuy facility is the most remote training school in Australia, and is the base for up to 16 students throughout the year. It is part of network of facilities throughout the NT established to give opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to build the rural and remote health workforce.
Ms Gemma Porteous, the Facility Administrator, said the Garma Festival offered a tremendous opportunity to make connections and promote the program and facilities that Flinders has in some of the remotest communities in Australia.
“The participants who wandered past and came in to our stall were curious and then interested in the Flinders Northern Territory Medical Program (NTMP). Education was a big conversational focus as was Indigenous health, so we ticked both of those boxes,” she said.
Third year NTMP student Annette Baker said the festival had been a “cultural immersion experience” and one that that she will remember as a highlight of medical school.
“I am also thankful that Flinders University want their students to see beyond the science of medicine and engage with expanding the art of medicine, especially that of a cross-cultural nature,” Ms Baker said
The program in Nhulunbuy was established in 2008, with the new facility opening in 2014. The facility hosts training for the regional health workforce including the Aboriginal Health Workers from the Laynhapuy Homelands, and allows students to work with Yolngu patients within the Gove District Hospital and Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation, as well as with non-Indigenous patients within the Endeavour Health Service.