Health and Culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

The content in the chapter labeled Keep your eye on the prize covers the story and tribulations of Australia's first aboriginal nurse. The reading highlights many of the difficulties she faced before becoming a well-known nurse across the country. The author describes her history, which includes not only being aboriginal but also coming from an impoverished environment, with many people feeling she would never be able to make it as a nurse (Goold, 2015). She was able to fulfill her childhood dream, despite the expectations of many and her wish to become a nurse. The author begins by telling of her background, introducing the reader to her parents and grandparents in seeking to make the reader understand how her family found themselves in the situation that she will be describing. This provides a profound understanding to any reader who might not understand the condition of the people and who the aboriginals are. She goes on to tell of the struggles that the family had in seeking to meet the basic needs of the family. This is a challenge that faced many other people from similar backgrounds. The experiences of life seek to show the reader the prevailing conditions which would become impediments to the achievement of the childhood dream of becoming a nurse.

The reading tells the people about the condition of the health status of the aboriginal people and the challenges that they faced as a result of lacking trained people to attend to their healthcare needs. While is it a known fact that there are few individuals from the minority groups working in the healthcare sector, this reading provides a background aimed at explaining how the condition came into being. The challenges that the people face in their livelihoods combined by the social segregation directed to them are depicted as the main challenges preventing many of them from pursuing their dream. Many of them become limited by the social constraints which they face and this becomes a reason for their non-participation in the healthcare sector (Stuart & Nielsen, 2011).

The author is an individual who has grown through the systems and a member of the aboriginal society in Australia. The author tells the story as a nurse and an aboriginal person. Having a background in the culture, gives the author some kind of profound understanding of the cultural elements which might be affecting the individuals. The story is told about the experiences of the author and his family to represent the experiences of many aboriginals in Australia as they seem to face similar healthcare challenges. Although the focus is on the poor access to healthcare services, many other problems are identified by the author including bad living conditions and poverty. These factors contribute to people falling sick more often, and lacking the ability to access health care services respectively.

The reading has been published in a book that contains stories told by many other aboriginal individuals seeking to pass the message of how the conditions were. It tells of the challenges that they faced to become nurses and which can be considered to be worse than the modern day conditions in which significant improvement has been made following the achievements of the authors. The main purpose of the text remains n providing motivation to other aboriginal people seeking to pursue career in the healthcare sector that they can manage. The purpose is to instil belief in the modern generation that the conditions have changed and despite the challenges that they might face as they seek to become professional nurses, those that came before them faced worse conditions and still managed to become nurse.


The reading presents an interesting and informative text that can motivate many other individuals seeking to pursue similar career paths. The ability by the author to overcome challenges at a time when no other individuals had done so, is of great relevance as a motivation for others seeking similar achievement. The author provides a clear description of the conditions which faced her at the time. Not only were there no other people to look upon, she faced many other social constraints that limited her capability to achieve the goals of becoming a nurse (Price, 2009). Despite the many challenges which the author describes, she managed to overcome all and become a nurse and also advance her career beyond the imagination of many.

Although focusing on the cultural aspects in relation to the healthcare, the author gives arguments to indicate that the healthcare is affected by many other factors. Her background as an aboriginal was an impediment as many people felt that she would not make it to the nursing profession as admission could not be guaranteed (Smith, McAlister, Gold, & Sullivan-Bentz, 2011). This assumption, however, did not prevent the author form making an application, even though there was little possibility of becoming admitted. This argument indicates the social constraints developed within the society that becomes impediments to the achievement of healthcare goals among the aboriginals (Nielsen, Stuart, & Gorman, 2014). Although healthcare related efforts might be made to improve the condition, there is need, the author indicates that the fundamental problem lies within the social system.

The story is told from the perspective of nursing professional and that of an aboriginal individual. These perspectives seek to validate the arguments presented as the reading does not present interviews conducted but rather personal experiences of the author. The author was the victim of the challenges identified and hence must have a profound understanding of the conditions. As an individual who has seen significant transformation within the industry occurring, she understands that the achievement is not simple as the academic part of it remains difficult. Despite the motivation which the author had, she still failed some exam and this indicates the difficulty of the academic part of nursing education (Goold, 2015). For the aboriginals however, they face challenges even within the social aspect due to discrimination directed towards them.

While presenting the perspectives of a nurse and the aboriginals, the reading fails to make consideration of how people from other societies and cultural backgrounds feel about the condition of aboriginals. Although racist behaviours might have been directed to the author, this cannot be an indication of every individual that is not aboriginal being racist. The author makes the assumption of hat other cultures think of the aboriginals and this is the position that is presented in the reading (Hart, Cavanagh, & Douglas, 2015). As an individual who worked and interacted with nursing professional from different backgrounds, the author could have had some opinions that can be presented with facts supporting the ideas that other professional have on the aboriginals.

A main challenge created by the reading to the reader is that of understanding the opinions of the individual within the nursing profession who are not aboriginal. The author completely ignores this fact and focuses on her personal story in telling about her achievements. The reading thus presents a personalised perspective of the conditions and can be considered to be personal opinions as a result of the nature which it has been presented. By telling the personal background of the author, credibility and authority on the subject is created, however, different opinions to the perspective of the author have not been included.

Despite the various strengths and weaknesses which the reading has, it is significantly informative. The reading is presented in the perceptive of an aboriginal nurse and gives a historical background to the development of the nursing profession among the aboriginals. Through reading the text one gains information on the most significant achievements that have been made in the nursing profession in relation to the aboriginals joining the profession (Best & Gorman, 2016). The transition journey of the healthcare industry from the time the first aboriginal nurse was registered to the formation of the Congress of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses (CATSIN) is told within the context of this story.

Although presenting the achievement of the author as an individual, many of the achievements described in the reading made significant contribution to the nursing profession and the healthcare of the aboriginals like the formation of CATSIN. The voice of the organisation ha resulted in many changes being implemented within the healthcare industry to promote the development of healthcare among the aboriginals. The reading seems like a reflection by the author of the significant changes that have occurred in the nursing profession and the personal contributions that she made towards the realisation of these changes.


This reading has been told by a professional who has undergone training and advanced to training within the nursing profession. From the background of the author, it is clear that the motivation and personal drive remain important to the individuals seeking to become professionals in nursing. The impediments which the author faced did not deter her form continuing on the journey to achieve her childhood goal of becoming a nurse. This reading seeks to provide motivation to many other individuals with the desire to become nurses to keep on pushing hard and not giving up when they are faced with surmountable challenges. The persistence of the author enabled her to overcome the challenges and reach unimaginable heights.

While there were many family issues that the author faced during the development of her career, cultural background was also not favourable. Through the reading however, one gets the impression of how the author managed to interact with people of different cultures by ignoring the cultural differences and focusing on the personal aspects of the relationships. Since the aim was to make a professional achievement, the author remains focused on this goal and was able to achieve it. Focus on the professional goals can be considered to the key to reaching high heights in the profession. This journey, however, should not be expected to be without external impediments from the society and the

An important lesson learnt from the reading is that of the role society and family plays in the life of an individuals. The author makes references to her family having been supportive to her goals as an indication of the relevance of social support from other individuals. Without the support of others within the society, one cannot reach the achievements that have been reached. The development of CATSIN is described by the author as a significant milestone that was achieved during her career. This is a kind of union which seeks to strengthen the voice of the aboriginals as a minority group within the profession. The relevance of such unions cannot be underestimated in the modern social settings.

The reading is an indication of what many people would face in their professions and not only nursing. The specific focus on nursing, however, presents the direct challenge which the healthcare industry faces within Australia of shortage of nursing professionals from the aboriginal background. The provision of care to the aboriginals could be wanting because of the low number of people with an understanding of the culture of the people (Stuart & Nielsen, 2011). As a result of lacking professionals, the quality of healthcare for this group of people has not advanced and they face more challenges than the other social groups in the country (Cameron, Plazas, Salas, Bearskin, & Hungler, 2014). The aboriginal people could also have their own perspectives and assumptions of the people form other cultures, which would be restricting them from increasing interactions

Additional learning resource

While this article presents an analysis if the challenges that were faced by the aboriginals in the past, within the modern working environment, different challenges might be present for the black nurses. The article Black nurse in white space? Rethinking the in/visibility of race within the Australian nursing workplace presents a discussion of the critical analysis of the presence of nurse-to-nurse racism directed to black immigrant nurses in the country (Mapedzahama, Rudge, West, & Perron, 2012). While Goold describes racism from the perspective of the society, the specific focus of on the nursing profession presents a different perceptive of a change in challenges that professionals might face in the modern times. Reading the article could give insight into the modern challenges which nursing professionals might be facing.


Best, O., & Gorman, D. (2016). "Some of Us Pushed Forward and Let the World See What Could Be Done": Aboriginal Australian Nurses and Midwives, 1900-2005. Labour History: A Journal of Labour and Social History, 111, 149-164.

Cameron, B. L., Plazas, M. del P. C., Salas, A. S., Bearskin, R. L. B., & Hungler, K. (2014). Understanding inequalities in access to health care services for Aboriginal people: a call for nursing action. Advances in Nursing Science, 37(3), E1-E16.

Goold, S. (2015). Keep Your Eye on the Prize. In S. Goold & K. Liddle (Eds.), In our own right: Black Australian nurses' stories (pp. 82-92). New York: Routledge.

Hart, B., Cavanagh, M., & Douglas, D. (2015). The "Strengthening Nursing Culture Project"-an exploratory evaluation study of nursing students' placements within Aboriginal Medical Services. Contemporary Nurse, 51(2-3), 245-256.

Mapedzahama, V., Rudge, T., West, S., & Perron, A. (2012). Black nurse in white space? Rethinking the in/visibility of race within the Australian nursing workplace. Nursing Inquiry, 19(2), 153-164.

Nielsen, A.-M., Stuart, L. A., & Gorman, D. (2014). Confronting the cultural challenge of the whiteness of nursing: Aboriginal registered nurses' perspectives. Contemporary Nurse, 48(2), 190-196.

Price, S. L. (2009). Becoming a nurse: a meta‐study of early professional socialization and career choice in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 65(1), 11-19.

Smith, D., McAlister, S., Gold, S. T., & Sullivan-Bentz, M. (2011). Aboriginal recruitment and retention in nursing education: A review of the literature. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 8(1).

Stuart, L., & Nielsen, A.-M. (2011). Two Aboriginal registered nurses show us why black nurses caring for black patients is good medicine. Contemporary Nurse, 37(1), 96-101.

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