Developing resources that nourish teaching & learning
When Danielle thinks about what has bought her to where she is today, undertaking a PhD with the Graduate School of Health’s Girra Maa Indigenous Health Discipline, she reflects,
I have a strong sense of belonging when working with mob and out in community. My career has been a stumble, but always moving in the direction of promoting Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing.
Photo of Danielle Montgomery with community Elder Kayleen Manton.
For a short time after leaving school Danielle tried out a few jobs in administration and hospitality, not really sure where to go or what to do. She applied to University, starting on probation “because my HSC marks were not great. I had one semester to sink or swim.” Danielle swam! She completed Bachelor of Arts in education, worked in primary teaching, then completed a Master in Communication Management and after a stint in communications, Danielle was still looking for something more.
The challenge manifested in Danielle working with disengaged young people reengaging in education. After five years this meaningful work evolved into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student engagement at a university, which included developing pathway entry resources so students (and their parents!).
So what bought Danielle to the Graduate School of Health to undertake her PhD? Learn more in our Q&A with Danielle below.
Tell us about your pathway into Indigenous health and PhD research with Girra Maa.
I have an education background and have been teaching Indigenous knowledges through a variety of programs over the past 10 years. I had been contemplating the idea of undertaking a PhD research challenge and procrastinating mainly due to fear. The last five years have been great to see the presence of Indigenous knowledges increasing in tertiary education however the lack of authentic Indigenous voices from communities is still very much under developed and undervalued.
What in particular ignited your passion for embedding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives and knowledges into allied health education?
My PhD research with Girra Maa, called the Bunya Project, was a very obvious connection of my passion for our communities, my passion for education and the resounding need for Indigenous knowledges in allied health care education. My PhD research has been funded by a Graduate School of Health seed grant, is guided by a GSH staff-based reference group fondly called ‘The Bunya Nuts’ and includes six partnerships with Aboriginal community organisations, with whom I am doing data collection. There is so much great energy and support between all these elements of my project.
Tell us more about your research and what you hope to achieve?
The Bunya Project is inspired by the Australian Bunya Tree, which grows slowly and through its development nourishes pinecones to form edible nuts that provide nutritious sustenance to the surrounding community. The Bunya Project is designed on the same principle - to grow in collaboration with communities, to develop authentic teaching and learning resources to nourish communities and GSH staff and students. From this Bunya Project GSH will be able to plant culturally capable and aware professionals throughout allied healthcare, where they will flourish in meeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare needs.
Bunya Project Logo by BossLady Designs.
Through the Bunya Project, I hope to influence change in our GSH students to recognise, value and celebrate our Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. We’ll be developing new teaching resources in collaboration with our Bunya Nuts and Aboriginal community partners. Aboriginal ways benefit all people, especially in relation to holistic healthcare. When Indigenous communities feel valued and respected by health professionals the health and wellbeing of the community will improve.
What advice would you have for other PhD research students, particularly those researching in the area of Indigenous health and wellbeing?
Break the tasks down to achievable goals, don’t get sucked into the black vortex of trying to do everything…small steps, perseverance and fortitude achieve greatness.