(CS EdX Sessions) Ferguson, Julie

Title: Mental Health 2021 the evolution of a program for First Nations students

Presenter: Julie Ferguson

Co-presenter(s): Lloyd Dolan

Faculty / Division: FoSH

School / Unit: Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences

Session Type: Interactive Discussion

When: Thursday, 18 November 2021 @ 10am – 11am)

Where: https://charlessturt.zoom.us/j/66156546007


The introduction of a revised curriculum offers a window of opportunity to upgrade the assessment items, the Interact 2 sites and reading materials available for students learning. In the Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health) it also provided an important opportunity to explore the pedagogical approaches to teaching First Nations students in both a face to face and online forums.

The Djirruwang Program emerged from the Koori Mental Health Outreach Workers program in 1993, transferring to Charles Sturt University in 1995. This was then developed into the Bachelor of Health Science (Mental Health) which has undergone many reviews over the past twenty three years (Brideson, et al 2014).The guiding principles of the program are the importance of recognising First Nation culture within the mental health curriculum and engaging with key stakeholders to develop the First Nation mental health workforce within Australia.

Academic staff working closely with an Education Designer for First Nation curriculum content has allowed an important cultural lens to review all content within the degree. This important collaborative approach has allowed for the mapping of assessment items and course structure being delivered across the degree. Reviewing all subjects being delivered across the years has meant a greater focus on the scaffolding of learning to ensure the students have the foundational skills to develop their skills as they progress through the degree.

Reviewing the Interact 2 site materials with a cultural lens has meant that the learning materials used, engage the students through a range of mediums. The use of H5P tables has ensured that students are not scrolling through endless material to find the information they are requiring. Embedding video clips placed strategically within the module content has allowed students to gain knowledge using a range of senses, visual and auditory with animation. This has allowed students to develop an understanding of what they might be seeing when working with mental health clients, within community and within culture.

With the development of the Interact 2 sites evaluation data has been collected and reviewed on a monthly basis to assess how often the students are accessing each module and how long they are spending within the module. There has been an increase in engagement with i2 sites and learning materials (1st year students 210%, 2nd year 390%, and 3rd year 134 %).When reviewing previous data collected students spent minimal time on their Interact 2 sites. With the improvement of the sites and the enrichment of the material available the students are spending longer periods of time and are making comments on the padlets placed strategically throughout the modules.

This interactive discussion will review the process undertaken to the development of the Interact 2 sites and the data that confirms the increased time students are spending within each module. The hope for the future is that with greater scaffolding of learning throughout the degree students will develop deeper learning about mental health and cultural issues as well as being reflective articulate practitioners within the mental health workforce.