Summary of learning journey

This learning journey will begin by introducing Justin, a 20 year old Indigenous male who has been diagnosed with Diabetes Mellitus type 2. Participants will be able to explore Justin’s story by becoming familiar with his background, his family, his mental state and the appropriate care provided. The journey will guide participants to explore contemporary issues in indigenous healthcare and to develop culturally safe communication strategies when assessing diverse populations in the context of mental health practice. Self-reflection will by encouraged throughout to allow participants to examine their personal attitudes and values regarding cultural issues within their own practice.


Student instructions

Instructions for students are provided in the attachment below:

Student guide for Justin ODowd (PDF 532KB)


Learning outcomes

  • Identify a range of effective appropriate and culturally safe communication strategies to assess and promote a person's mental health and recovery from mental illness.
  • Discuss the development and maintenance of partnerships with the person and his /her immediate and extended family.
  • Recognise the power dynamics when delivering person centred care to ensure a shared understanding between the health professional and the person receiving care.
  • Critically reflect on personal attitudes and values regarding cultural interpretations of mental illness (for example, individualistic and community based world views)
  • Describe contemporary issues in indigenous health care (for example, assumptions and stereotypes, access and equity, rural and remote issues and comorbidity)
  • Explain the nexus between physical health and mental illness



This learning journey was written by Deb O'Kane, Pat Barkway and Associate Professor Wendy Edmondson.

Deb O’Kane has over 24 years’ experience working in mental health practice with multiple book chapters focusing on psychology and mental health. She currently works as a lecturer at Flinders University where for the last 8 years has developed, coordinated and taught on various undergraduate and post graduate mental health topics as well as fostering educational collaborations and developments in the field of mental health practice. Deb’s professional accomplishments include establishing clear links and local service collaborations on projects to support quality learning, teaching and assessment practice in mental health. Her work has lead to a number of publications in peer reviewed journals.

Pat Barkway is a retired academic with Academic Status (Senior Lecturer) at Flinders University 

with a strong and sustained academic track record. She is the author of ‘Psychology for Health Professionals’ (2n edn 2013), a set text at 15 universities. In 2011 Pat was awarded an ALTC Citation for ‘Outstanding contribution to student learning in the fields of mental health nursing and health psychology’, and in 2004 she was awarded a Nursing Excellence Award by the Department of Human Services (SA) for Nursing Education. In 2000 Pat was recognised as the most outstanding lecturer in the multi disciplinary award program offered by the International Committee of Red Cross: Postgraduate Diploma in Mental Health in Gaza Palestine. Pat is also an author currently working on developing  an ‘app’ for mental health assessment for Elsevier publishers.


Associate Professor Wendy Edmondson is the Deputy Director, Indigenous Health Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Well-Being, at Flinders University. Wendy, a Badimia Aboriginal woman, has worked in the Indigenous arena for a total of 35 years, in the areas of educations, the arts, and for the last 15 years, in Indigenous medical education and the Aboriginal community controlled health sector. Wendy is the former CEO of the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia, and Wirraka Maya Aboriginal Medical Service, in the Pilbara. Wendy will bring extensive experience across a range of Aboriginal health sectors, strong networks with Aboriginal communities, community-based cultural knowledge, academic experience and research knowledge.




Supporting resources

These resources will help orient you to the learning materials presented in this learning journey

Diabetes Australia – Depression and mental health 

Beyondblue- Depression

Mental Health First Aid Australia – Mental Health First Aid Guidelines for Other Cultures.

Note: Scroll down to find the ‘AMHFA Cultural Guidelines’ and open the pdf file.



Hint: click on the image to navigate to a section


1. Meet Justin

2. Assessment in the community

3. Aboriginal Health Clinic


4. Mental health admission

5. Intervention

6. Three months later

Unless otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License






This project is a collaboration between the following project partners.