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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Māori students currently represent a relatively small proportion of the total medical student population in both Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand. The need to grow and support this medical workforce is recognised by all stakeholders, and Medical Deans, through its LIME Network, is working on a range of initiatives to contribute to this aim.

A range of supporting resources for students have been developed and can be accessed here.

Future medical students

Increasing the recruitment of Indigenous medical students is a primary focus. In 2017, 78 Australian Indigenous students enrolled in year one of medicine, which is 2.4% of all commencing Australian medical students. In New Zealand 101 Māori commenced a medical program, comprising 17.6% of enrolments.

Greater engagement with high school students is a key focus for medical schools, and our LIME Network has developed an information tool – Indigenous Pathways into Medicine – to help future students determine which university will be the best for them as they study to become a doctor.  You can also watch these videos to get a better understanding of the many paths to gaining entry to a medical degree.

Supporting students through their journey

Our data show that in 2016, 35 Indigenous Australian doctors graduated from medical programs, an increase of 133% from the previous 5 years. 51 are expected to graduate in 2017. In Aotearoa/New Zealand there were 77 Māori graduate doctors in 2016, an increase of 157% from 2011, with 47 expected to graduate in 2017.

So while the numbers are gradually increasing, there remains a lot of work to do to achieve population parity in both countries. While 51 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students graduating is the highest figure yet, this still represents only 1.4% of all medical graduates in Australia, with Aotearoa/New Zealand achieving 10.3%, although note there is a higher percentage of Māori in the New Zealand population.

Our LIME Network is an established bi-national collaboration between medical schools to foster and support connections, information exchange, and the sharing of best practice in many areas, including the retention and support of Indigenous students. Please connect with LIME to engage in their work and stay informed of their activities.

Indigenous student data – principles and protocols

Whilst Medical Deans collects data on students who identify as Indigenous, we recognise that the low number of students presents a greater potential for individuals to be identified, depending on the presentation and analysis of the data.  Medical Deans recognises that unintended consequences may easily result from the analysis of data which is focused on Indigenous populations.  In light of this, Medical Deans supports the following principles, guidelines and protocols regarding the specific access and research on all its Indigenous medical student data, including from the MSOD.

Principles and guidelines

Protocols

  • Medical Deans will respond to applications seeking national and or state unidentifiable data on Indigenous medical student enrolments.
  • In cases of applications seeking Indigenous student data which is potentially identifiable, Medical Deans will ask for evidence of a research proposal which has been approved by a properly constituted and appropriate Indigenous HREC.
  • The MSOD Data Access Committee will include an Indigenous member.
  • Any release of Indigenous student statistics from the Medical Deans Student Statistics data collection must be authorised by the CEO of Medical Deans Australia and New Zealand.
  • Any release of Indigenous student statistics from the MSOD must be authorised by the MSOD Data Access Committee.