Mr Ali Drummond
School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology
20 November 2017

‘For nurses, working with an Indigenous health worker can bring great opportunities for professional collaboration and improved community health care’1

At the beginning of Ali Drummond’s career in research, he is already making his mark—informing education practice in nursing to help close the gap.

Fascinated by the gaps in health he sees as both an Indigenous person and a clinician, Ali was led to critique the current systems of care, including the delivery of education and the interface of knowledges.

‘I didn’t see myself becoming a researcher, not until I started work as a nurse. Seeing how research informs policy, practice and procedures on the ward is why I first got interested,’ he said.

A descendant of the Meriam people of the Murray Islands and the Wuthathi and Yadaigana peoples of North-Eastern Cape York Peninsula, Ali grew up on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. The eldest of eight, a significant amount of his time was spent fishing with his grandpop.

Ali’s mother worked at the local hospital—encouraging him into the health industry from a young age.

‘My grandparents and parents have always encouraged my siblings, cousins and I to take every opportunity. I often remind myself of what they endured growing up to create opportunities for us,’ he explained.

‘I spent a few years working as a clinician and got the feel for the value of research there. I then moved into a policy area, engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander research.

‘My biggest concern was cultural safety as well as learning about the historical, political, social and cultural elements that impact Indigenous people’s lives. That was seen as something fluffy and not hard science that is going to help close the gap.’

Currently enrolled in his second Masters, a Masters of Applied Research, Ali is planning to articulate to a PhD by December 2017. He has already made significant contributions to how we teach the next generation of health professionals about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the value of Indigenous health workers.

Ali has worked on a project to design state-wide education for health professionals within Queensland Health, published a chapter in a book about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nursing and midwifery care1, is actively involved in a national project focused on nursing and midwifery education about cultural safety and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples health, and is currently a lecturer in the School of Nursing at Queensland University of Technology.

‘My greatest achievement to date has been connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with pathways into nursing and midwifery. Seeing them learn and grow in confidence and graduate with qualifications is a truly inspiring moment for me,’ he said.

Ali is a board member of the Lowitja Institute (Australia’s National Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research), a member of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives, and is a member of the NHMRC Principal Committee Indigenous Caucus.

‘In the future I see myself back in my community working as a nurse in a health system that is built on a foundation of both western and traditional knowledge. I believe this is a significant part of best practice for my mob,’ he said.

‘I am sure that with the amount of effort being channelled into improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and employment outcomes, that one day soon there will be many nurses, midwives, doctors, allied health, managers and CEOs living in, working for and looking after their own community. The challenge for our mob is to ensure that we value our ways of being, knowing and doing, and that it is privileged in our research and our practice.’

1Fredericks, B and Best, O (2014) Yatdjuligin; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Care, Chapter 9: Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health practitioners, Drummond, A, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Australia.