Queensland University of Technology
Window to Life: Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples' views on blood, blood donation and blood transfusion.

Are you eligible for Breaking Barriers Category: Yes

SUMMARY

To yarn with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples’ and understand the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of blood, blood donation, transfusion and testing from their perspective.  Then engage with people in communities as to the best way for that information to be passed on to health professionals to help build a knowledge base for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous health professionals.  This knowledge base could contribute to allowing a more positive experience for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait islander peoples with healthcare with a two-way transfer of information from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples to health professionals and health professionals using more culturally appropriate language which may result in health care being provided in a more culturally appropriate way.

BENEFIT – A description of the benefit of your work to Queensland (max 500 words)

Currently there is little knowledge in this area with the only Indigenous population in the world that has recorded their thoughts, feelings, or beliefs about blood transfusions to Anthropologist Maureen Trudeau Schwarz is the Navajo Indians.  Without this information it is difficult for healthcare providers and their staff to provide culturally appropriate health care to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients.  The vision of this research is to inform healthcare professionals and policymakers with appropriate information from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples on their thoughts, feelings or beliefs about blood, blood donation, transfusion and testing.  This information will help to deliver culturally appropriate care to Aboriginal and/or Torres Islanders peoples who may require blood transfusions by hearing the voices of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.  By listening to the voices/stories of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples about their thoughts on these topics and using that information in their health service to make the care they provide culturally safe.  This will empower Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people to our people to understand their health if the explanations are shaped in their world-view instead of another world-view that is not culturally safe for them.  This will benefit Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland who may require transfusions or blood products to manage chronic health conditions that they live with on a day-to-day basis.  This information may also form part of training either through annual compulsory personal development (CPD) training or greater education through universities or specific health sites for health professionals who are tasked with managing the health conditions of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander patients.  To ensure the change happens in health services and training health professionals it is vital that people listen to the voices of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

ROLE MODEL – Why do you think you are a good role model for women and girls aspiring to work in STEM? (max 500 words)
I am a proud Nganyaywana (Anaiwan) and Wiradjuri woman and live and work on the lands of the Turrbal and Yugara peoples.  I believe I would be a good role model for women and girls aspiring to work in STEM as I am a mature age Aboriginal woman who started and finished a Biomedical Science Degree majoring in Cell and Molecular Biotechnology full-time, as a single parent with older children, working two part-time jobs and having moved to a capital city to undertake this.  After finishing my degree and working part-time as a research assistant at Lifeblood, I continued down the research pathway and started a Masters by Research and then articulated during Covid in 2020 to a Doctor of Philosophy.  This research forms the basis for further research with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and blood donation, transfusion and testing to help improve matching of patients with the correct blood product.  This will help to lower the chances of alloimmunisation occurring for those patients who may require a transfusion to help manage a chronic health condition.  I am passionate to mentor both Indigenous and non-Indigenous women in STEM.  
Prior to studying I worked in many diverse roles including banking, accounting, disability services, charitable positions, and management positions.  Working and studying STEM has given me the passion and drive to improve Indigenous Health outcomes for my people.
I have been a member of the Lifeblood Reconciliation Action Plan Working Party to provide greater recognition of the role that Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples have played in the history of Australia and that we were the first scientists on this land and those stories continue to be told through to today.

 
ENGAGEMENT – Describe any STEM promotion or engagement activities that you have undertaken, including both scientific and non-scientific audiences, particularly with women and girls (maximum 500 words)

I have presented at the Private Cancer Physicians of Australia meeting in February 2019.  I have featured on QUT STEM billboards in 2021 on bus shelters and electronic bill boards around Brisbane.  I was a Tutor/Mentor at Brisbane Grammar School for Indigenous students from 2018- 2021.  I presented at the Brisbane Grammar School Closing the Gap Committee in 2019 on my research project.  I have provided guest lectures for QUT staff in the Biomedical Science area on both my research and also being a previous student of Biomedical Science and QUT.  I was also a member of QUT Curriculum Committees to encourage the inclusion of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander knowledges to be included in subjects.  I was contacted by a colleague at Lifeblood to make a presentation to Donate Life NT on my research and what I had so far learned through the research in 2021.  For the main part of the research project, I travelled to Alice Springs and spent a week at The Purple House to discuss this research with the people who attend this service and hear what they think, feel, or believe about blood as they undertake dialysis three times a week.  I am a student member of a research project – Adventure Based Indigenous Therapy developed by Professor Derek Chong that was funded by QUT and part of the QUT Staff Giving Day 2021 to raise funds for the formal evaluation of this research.

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