Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Nursing (Research)

Degree Name

1110, 9203

Schools and Centres

Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Dr. Carol Piercey

Second Supervisor

Dr. Marion Kickett


The inequities and poor health outcomes experience by Aboriginal people in Western Australia are well documented. It has been suggested that such issues could be better addressed if more Aboriginal nurses are employed, as there appears to be a link between improved health outcomes and the inclusion of Aboriginal health professionals in practice. In recent years the number Aboriginal nursing students undertaking tertiary studies has increased, but their completion rates could be improved. Aboriginal nursing students continue to struggle to achieve success.

The aim of this study was to investigate factors that enabled (supported) or inhibited (prevented) the progress of Aboriginal women through their undergraduate nursing program in Western Australian universities. In order to provide a view of their experiences, it was appropriate for this qualitative study to use a narrative inquiry approach and an Aboriginal framework. This study used a purposeful sample of

Aboriginal nursing students in their final year and new graduates from an undergraduate-nursing program undertaken in Western Australia. The data was collected through the use of yarning, which is a form of data collection that is a culturally appropriate way to build trust and learn about Aboriginal peoples stories. Yarning is considered culturally safe and is recognised as a way for Aboriginal people to interact (Bessarab & Ng’andu, 2010). Yarning with the participants was done by using the telephone or through face-to-face contact.

Narrative analysis using an Aboriginal framework was undertaken, with simultaneous attention being paid to temporality, sociality and place, in the context of the story. In addition a journal was kept during the collection and analysis of data with entries being scrutinised for pattern identification and emerging trends. The stories of the participants revealed that there were commonalties between stories including: the importance of support particularly in the first year of study; a sense of belonging and

community on campus; a meeting place on campus for Aboriginal students including ‘a go to person’; the importance of self-motivation; resilience and role models at university and in the participants’ personal life. This study is significant in that it has the potential to inform universities and policy makers of ways to increase the retention of Aboriginal students.

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