First year Notre Dame Medicine students receive traditional welcome

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Summer 30-1-2013

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia

Publication Place



A broader understanding of Indigenous health and culture was at the centre of a new initiative offered to first year Medicine students at The University of Notre Dame Australia's Fremantle Campus in January.

Developed by the Fremantle School of Medicine's staff, the Toolkit program was launched as part of the new medical students' orientation week.

This was the first year that new students were formally welcomed by a traditional Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country, highlighting Notre Dame's commitment to honour the knowledge, the language, the traditions and culture of Indigenous Australians.

"We want to ensure that Notre Dame's future doctors recognise the importance of Indigenous health care in the wider community," said Professor Gavin Frost, Dean of the School of Medicine, Fremantle.

"The inclusion of these sacred welcome ceremonies is extremely important to our staff. They overtly support our commitment to graduate students who respect all people."

In addition to highlighting the Indigenous curriculum, the Toolkit aims to promote the essential skills and knowledge required to successfully complete the four-year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) program.

Students participated in a series of experiential learning forums with a focus on philosophy, public health, Aboriginal health, biomedical sciences and research skills.

Associate Dean (Preclinical) of the School of Medicine, Fremantle, Professor Kathryn Hird, said the underlining aim of theToolkit program was to build teamwork and camaraderie between first year Medicine students.

"The Medical Students' Association of Notre Dame (MSAND) has worked collaboratively with staff to create enjoyable activities which allow first year Medicine students to identify their skills, interests and learning styles," Professor Hird said.

"During their first weeks at Notre Dame, they will also learn the importance of working as a team to deliver quality healthcare and the expectations the medical profession has of them as student doctors."

The smoking ceremony is a traditional Nyungar ritual used to cleanse and purify a specific area, as well as warding off bad spirits from that location.

Inquire about studying Medicine at Notre Dame today. Visit www.nd.edu.au/fremantle/schools/medicine/medfreo.shtml for more information.

MEDIA CONTACT: Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138 Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093