“We still have a lot to learn”: non-Indigenous educator perspectives on teaching Indigenous health

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Internationally many health professions courses require the inclusion of Indigenous health curricula and skilled educators are vital to achieving this. In this Australian qualitative study, 20 non-Indigenous nursing and allied health educators teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health were interviewed on perspectives of teaching Indigenous health. Inductive thematic analysis identified three areas relating to perceptions of what to teach, how to teach and student experiences. Educators described teaching mostly novice-level knowledge concepts with a greater focus on Indigenous cultures rather than understanding power, race and settler colonial processes. Teaching was often informed by educators’ personal and professional experiences. However, there was little critical reflexivity about whether these experiences may have modelled culturally unsafe practices or privileged settler colonial paradigms. Hence, despite good intentions of educators, teaching sometimes promoted paternalism, assimilation, stereotyping and ill-informed assumptions about Indigenous labour. Study findings indicate an imperative for theory-informed educator strengthening to understand recommended teaching approaches, impacts of settler colonialism and strategies for disrupting settler colonial cycles in education. Until institutional structures decentre colonial norms and implement cultural safety in learning and teaching practice, efforts to improve Aboriginal health equity will fall short.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1407-1421
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research & Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2023


  • cultural safety
  • health equity
  • health professional education
  • Indigenous health
  • settler colonialism

Cite this