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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Healthy conversation point

Date posted: 24 October 2011

A new website,, is promoting communication between medical professionals and their Aboriginal patients.
Dr Tricia McCabe from the University of Sydney has spent three years developing the Byalawa project, after much consultation with Aboriginal educators and elders, academics, students and health professionals. She says the online teaching resource is aimed at educating health professionals about how to better communicate with Indigenous Australians.

In the traditional language of the Dharug people, who originally occupied the area west of Sydney, the word byalawa means 'to talk' or 'have a conversation'. And having a conversation is exactly what Dr McCabe, hopes to encourage with the creation of 'It's about teaching health professionals how to work with Indigenous Australians in an urban setting. It's also about improving the health system. If we have one message to impart about this project, it's that the primary importance of it is to develop relationships with Indigenous patients,' McCabe says.

The online resource has six video vignettes which feature Aboriginal actors improvising scenarios based on their own experiences with health professionals and are accompanied by talking points for students and teachers. The project, which launched last month, represents a range of health professions, including dentistry, speech pathology, occupational therapy, medicine, nursing and pharmacy.


Byalawa project
Dr Tricia McCabe
Faculty of Health Sciences
The University of Sydney
PO Box 170
Lidcombe NSW 1825
Ph: (02) 9351 9747


Last updated: 24 October 2011
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