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Prestigious appointment for female First Nations leader  

[by Nicole Barlow]

Charles Sturt pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Engagement Professor Juanita Sherwood. Image: supplied

Charles Sturt University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of Indigenous Engagement has been bestowed an honour by the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM).

CATSINaM, an organisation that encourages and supports First Nations peoples to become nurses and midwives, has invited Charles Sturt’s Professor Juanita Sherwood to become a member of the Elders Council.

The organisation’s primary role is to implement strategies to embed Cultural Safety in healthcare and education, as well as the recruitment and retention of First Nations peoples into nursing and midwifery.

Professor Sherwood, who is a founding member of the organisation in 1997, was appointed to the Elders Council because her valuable experience and cultural insight would help progress CATSINaM into the future.

She said that as we prepare to celebrate International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March, it was encouraging to see the organisations embracing the knowledge of female elders.

“I am a very fortunate First Nations woman, I have been nurtured by strong female elders for a long time in my pursuit to support our people,” she said.

“I am honoured to now be invited to join one of these groups.

“CATSINaM has been successful and First Nations nurses and midwives have made a very positive impact in the mainstream health system.”

Professor Sherwood said International Women’s Day was a reminder of the importance of women standing together to foster change and hopes to strengthen the voice of First Nations women through her new role.

She said the organisation has targeted racism in the healthcare sector with cultural safety strategies and ensured new nurses will be job ready through cultural safety development.

Her focus will be on developing researchers into this area and ensuring First Nations people feel safe to participate in research being led by their people.

“Initially our research will focus on the effectiveness of the CATSINaM, to ensure that our education programs effectively foster a culturally-safe environment,” she said.

Charles Sturt Head of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health Associate Professor Linda Deravin is also a member of CATSINaM.

She will collaborate with Professor Sherwood, whose research agenda will reflect her work at Charles Sturt and focus on building First Nations research capabilities.

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