Psychiatrists celebrate Indigenous workforce during NAIDOC Week

09 November 2020

With the beginning of NAIDOC Week kicking off yesterday, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is marking the week with the celebration of psychiatrists, trainees and Psychiatry Interest Forum members who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

In keeping with the spirit of the week, RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan, spoke further on the programs and initiatives undertaken by the RANZCP to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to pursue a career in psychiatry.

‘We have a number of programs here at the RANZCP that are designed to connect and engage with students at all levels to provide them with insight into what a career in psychiatry would be like for them’, said Associate Professor Allan.

‘We recognise how important it is to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors as specialist psychiatrists to help improve people’s mental health.

‘For example, at the university level, we have the Psychiatry Interest Forum (PIF) which is a very successful program that provides information and holds events for medical students and doctors interested in psychiatry and mental health.

‘With the help of various online platforms, the PIF has been able to continue bringing these medical students together for support, engagement and events to continue their journey to choosing psychiatry as a specialization, with membership numbers increasing every year.

‘The RANZCP has also had great success working with Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) and other medical colleges to grow the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander medical specialists and to strengthen culturally safe working environments.’

Comprising of passionate and committed psychiatrists, members of the community, and trainees, the RANZCP’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Committee (ATSIMHC) is committed to working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, alongside community members who are involved in mental health service provision and policy development. 

Committee Chair, Dr Siva Balaratnasingam, explains that the group is strongly committed to improving access to effective mental health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

‘We believe that through providing the support to both those who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and choose to study psychiatry, as well as those who specialise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health, we are having a positive impact on improving the mental health and wellbeing of these communities.

‘There are currently more than 20 psychiatry trainees in Australia who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander which is very encouraging for the work to date in supporting and promoting psychiatry.

‘They are the future of our Indigenous mental health workforce and leaders in their communities.’

For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email