New appointment to boost First Nations health workforce in regions

The La Trobe Rural Health School will better enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to enrol in health disciplines, and build local workforce capability, with a new appointment this week.

Dr Mishel McMahon will commence in the role of Aboriginal Rural Health Coordinator, working across La Trobe University’s Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, Mildura, and Shepparton campuses.

With a wealth of community engagement and Indigenous leadership experience, Dr Mishel McMahon has been part of the La Trobe community since 2006 – as a student, and through her involvement with social work at the Shepparton campus and Bendigo’s Jimbeyer Boondjhil Unit.

Dean and Head of the La Trobe Rural Health School (LRHS) Professor Jane Mills said Mishel will play a vital role in supporting students and staff to better understand First Nations perspectives for health and wellbeing, while boosting Indigenous student numbers.

“Mishel’s Indigenous leadership experience will allow her to create spaces and processes for the voices of Aboriginal people undertaking coursework and research at the LRHS – through mentoring and professional development, as well as building cultural safety capabilities and anti-racism practices within the LRHS,” Professor Mills said.

“Mishel will also engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are already part of the rural health workforce, to develop and implement workforce capability through training and support programs.

“As Australia’s largest rural health school, it’s critical that we build capacity, and empower more First Nations students to become nurses, physiotherapists, and paramedics, among other vital health roles – not just for our regional Victorian communities, but for the whole of regional Australia,” Professor Mills said.

Dr McMahon said she is excited and inspired by the challenge of this important role.

“As a Yorta Yorta woman who grew up regionally, and who has been a La Trobe student and staff member, I bring lived experience to this role. A key value is the importance of practicing from a localised perspective,” Dr McMahon said.

“In each regional area of the LRHS there is a unique context, so this role begins with, and will always hold, listening and learning.”

Dr McMahon will take up her appointment on Monday 21 February at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus.

About Mishel McMahon

Mishel has a strong track record in community engagement, having received a 2019 Victorian Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research, and a 2019-2020 Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership as an emerging leader.

Her recent position at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) as Victorian Aboriginal Research Accord Coordinator provided Mishel with the opportunity to engage with Victorian ACCHO’s, Medical Research Institutes, Department of Health, Lowitja Institute, and other Victorian Universities.

Learn more about Mishel's personal journey, in her own words, here.

Media Contact: Julia Henery – j.henery@westmontdrama.com