Halls Gap Student Cultural Experience

Going rural Health student cultural EXPErience

Halls Gap – ‘Walk with the Wergaia People’

Jo Harrison-Clarke

On Thursday 17th November, the Going Rural Health (GRH) team facilitated a student Aboriginal Student Cultural Experience workshop in Halls Gap, with our partner Budja Budja Aboriginal Co-operative.

The GRH team transported 11 students to the Budja Budja Medical Clinic for a clinic tour before moving on to our conference venue, where we were joined by two healthcare professionals for the training itself. The workshop – ‘Yanng Ngalung Maligundidj’ which means ‘Walk with the Wergaia People’ – was provided by Jo Harrison-Clarke, a Wotjobaluk traditional custodian from the Wimmera region, and Lissy Johns from Grampians Public Health Network (formerly Wimmera Primary Care Partnership).

Jo provided some history about the region, customs and traditions of her mob, and her own personal story which, while confronting, helped to demonstrate causes of some of the healthcare challenges faced by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people.

Students had the opportunity to ask questions, both during the training and during morning tea and lunch breaks, which we all spent together.



The content considered by students to be the most useful in our most recent training included:

  • Jo’s lived experiences
  • Understanding Aboriginal history
  • ‘Truth telling’ – the true Australian history since European settlement
  • Intergenerational trauma and social and emotional wellbeing in the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community
  • Adapting healthcare practice for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Asking the question ‘Do you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander’ and how this might be triggering for some community members
  • Kinship in the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander community


Participating students’ feedback was extremely positive:

‘This sort of thing should be delivered everywhere! Should be taught to everyone no matter where they work or study. It’s so important and drastically changed my views on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.’

‘Thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity and it gave me a lot of good information to take forward both as a person and as a professional working in allied health.’

‘It was an invaluable experience and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Thank you!’



We have been hosting this training for students – with some interruption due to COVID – for about 5 years now, and run two of these training days per year. They have proven to be fantastic learning experiences for our nursing and allied health students on placement in the region.

While this training requires significant time and financial investments, the GRH team and our Budja Budja partners feel that the benefit to our future workforce far outweighs the cost. We will continue to offer this training in 2023.


‘The Pregnant Lady’ seen from Green Hill Lake, Ararat. The Pregnant Lady is a key landmark which is part of a local creation story including the Bram-Bram Bult Brothers, Tchingal the Giant Emu and Purra the Kangaroo.


Trish Thorpe
Rural Placement Co-ordinator
Going Rural Health Ballarat