Building trust among Indigenous communities is imperative for better engagement to result in improved health outcomes, but this means that researchers and policy-makers have to ask hard questions of what trust looks like to an Indigenous individual and at a collective level, for families and communities so that they listen, understand and accept what is being said to them about public health.
“Trust built through collaboration that has real meaning is only going to happen through dismantling the existing Indigenous health model and repacking services in a more functional and constructive way.” It’s an enormous task, but Associate Professor Mackean says the fundamental building blocks will be laid through recognising First Nations peoples’ knowledge and introducing this into best practice healthcare measures.
A crucial first link in building a stronger chain of trust is engaging more Indigenous health workers to interact with Indigenous communities – and this is where Flinders University plays a crucial role in educating an increasing number of future Indigenous healthcare professionals through its teaching and training programs based in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
“I have a very big vision for a better system, and that has been inspired by changes I’ve seen through the past decade in the cumulative impact of Indigenous health leadership,” says Professor Mackean, “but we can’t drive this alone. It’s an effort we must all undertake together, to provide benefits for everyone – and particularly for our nation moving forward.”