School of Population Health

Public Health Perspectives of Indigenous Health (PHCM9630)

image - Public Health Perspectives of Indigenous Health


This course will introduce students to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health through the lens of public health and statistics through interactive lectures. Ten major topic areas important in Indigenous health will be examined. These include understanding Indigenous health data, the role of health information within primary health care, health issues in Indigenous communities: understanding the challenges, illnesses, social and environmental risk factors, prevention and management approaches to health improvement across the life span and the economics of Indigenous health.

Credit points

This elective course comprises 6 units of credit towards the total required for completion of programs offered by the School of Population Health. It is also a stream defining course of the Masters of Public Health in Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing.

Mode of study

This course is offered in external (distance) mode.  There is a two-day face-to-face workshop offered for students enrolled in this course in orientation week and attendance is strongly recommended.  For those unable to attend, an online alternative including two webinars is compulsory in Week 1. The remainder of the course builds on the workshop through online group work and course readings.

Course aim

The aim of the course is to extend your knowledge by providing examples of evidence based research and health practice that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and wellbeing. PHCM9630 offers the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the physical, psychosocial, cultural and other determinants of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ health and to enable your work, not only with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but with all populations you encounter. Throughout this course, we facilitate the development of an experiential learning community that encourages your interest in Indigenous health and wellbeing towards developing a professional commitment in the field.

Course Outcomes

On completion of this course you should be able to:

  • Explain the impacts of colonialism and government policies on patterns of health and disease, determinants of health and cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
  • Explain epidemiological transitions and demographic characteristics of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, including multi-morbidities and shared risk factors, and compare these to non-Indigenous populations.
  • Critique a diverse range of health promotion, primary health care and human rights strategies and principles designed to improve health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, and their implementation in diverse settings.
  • Interpret the measurement and effectiveness of strategies implemented to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, analysing for example: research design and implementation, ethical issues, research translation and accountability, capacity building and economic efficiency.
  • Critically reflect on your own culture, beliefs and attitudes, life experience, professional practice and interrelationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Learning and teaching rationale

This course incorporates a student centred, blended learning approach, informed by Indigenous pedagogies. The two-day on campus workshop is its centre piece, laying the foundations of a collaborative learning community. For those who are unable to attend, there will be an alternate online component for you to complete. This will include compulsory webinar sessions in Week 1 which you will need to attend if you did not participate in the two-day workshop. Details are available on the Moodle site. Attendance at the workshop is strongly recommended..

In the two day face-to-face workshop, you will engage with a range of Indigenous health professionals as well as your peers. We place a high value on your own experiences as health professionals, which you will inevitably call upon and share both face to face, in the scenario planning you will do online and in the development of your critical reflection practice.


Assessment Task 1 - Critical reflection
Weighting: 30%
Length: 1500 words

Assessment Task 2 - Investigative report
Weighting: 45%
Length: 2500-3000 words

Assessment Task 3 - Online group discussions
Weighting: 25%
Length: Posts minimum 200 words

Assessment Tast 4 - Reading Game
Weighting: 5%

Readings and resources
Learning resources for this course consist of the following:
  1. Course notes and readings - download from Moodle
  2. Workshop information & content
  3. Webinar portal and preparation guide (available in Moodle the day after the workshop concludes)  
  4. Recommended resources
  5. Supplementary resources such as videos, podcasts (available in Moodle)
Recommended resources
PHCM9630 does not have a text book. However, we do recommend you try to view the following recommended readings, which are available in UNSW Library.