NACCHO racism and Aboriginal health news: Support STAR Standing Together Against Racism in health


The STAR Project is about Standing Together Against Racism in health care and health professional education.

Tragically, racism remains common in Australian health services.

While there is an anti-racism strategy for sport, there is none yet for health where it affects Australia’s most vulnerable people.

Most health students and staff don’t like racism in health care.

However, they also tell us that they don’t quite know what to do when they see it – is it their responsibility, might there be retaliation, do they have the skills to handle it effectively?


The STAR Project gives all health students & staff members the chance to:-

ªMake a dignified, personal statement against racism
ªGain confidence & develop skills to handle racism
ªShow targets of racism that most health staff are their allies
ªHelp build a culture of anti-racism in health care

Racism Makes People Sick

The saying racism makes us sick is actually true, not just in the sense that most health students and staff are appalled by it.  Evidence clearly shows the patho-physiological pathway that links racism to stress and to poorer mental and physical health.  Smoking is not tolerated in health services as it is a health hazard.  So why racism is still tolerated?

People who are most targeted by racism are usually those who also most need health care. When people experience racism, they, their family & their community, are less likely to:-
ª  Trust health staff and fellow students
ª  Access education and health care
ª  Become true partners in their own education and health care

Where the STAR Project comes from

STAR was begun by students & staff at the Faculty of Medicine, Health & Molecular Sciences at James Cook University. They have come across many students & colleagues around Australia who wanted to do something to stop racism in health. So they initiated the STAR Project.

Racism demeans the work of decent health students and staff.  It makes study & workplace environments hostile for both the targets and bystanders of racism. The STAR Project acknowledges that staff may sometimes be the targets of racism from the public and that this can be hurtful.

However, this racism does not carry the power of racism coming from staff and it is racism in our own ranks that we can do something about.

ª The gold star symbolises hope for change

ª The stethoscope is a universal tool of the health professions

ª Each point stands for 1 word à Stand – Together – Against – Racism

ª It is a classy, little, 20 mm badge – anti-racists are the classiest!

ª For busy anti-racist – it is comes out of the wash untarnished

Wearing a little, gold badge will not get rid of racism in health on its own. Racism is endemic in health services & goes much deeper than the cruel, everyday racism that health students, staff and patients encounter. But, STAR is one way of bringing focus to racism in health care..

STAR supports Australia’s anti-racism strategy


STAR supports the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (HRC) new anti-racism strategy,   Racism: It Stops With Me. There is an anti-racism strategy for sport, but not for health. Health services should be safe places, free from discrimination, for patients, families, staff & students.

Health care should set an example, not lag behind in our greatest national challenge, to CLOSE THE GAP. It is hoped that STAR will support the great work of HRC & demonstrate to them that health students & staff have an appetite for an anti-racism strategy for health.

Show your support for the STAR Project

Our aim is to have 100 000 health staff and students wearing STAR badges on their lapels, lanyards and stethoscopes. We would like to see workplaces become racism unfriendly.

For more information, or to order  STAR  stickers, brochures. badges for lanyards & stethoscopes and mugs, for you or your students and fellow staff at the

Real “good news” stories: Aboriginal healthcare a passion for Emily Hunter


 Ms Hunter’s father,the late Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter, was the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and was an adviser to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs and its inquiry into Indigenous health.

NACCHO:Real stories of real people who are working to deliver better health outcomes for Aboriginal people

The significant contribution made to Aboriginal healthcare in the Kimberley has made Notre Dame Nursing graduate, Emily Hunter, a well respected community member in the eyes of her patients.

More information

Ms Hunter said she was “very proud” of being recognised as an Aboriginal Registered Nurse in her local community and would like to encourage more nurses and healthcare professionals to consider working in rural and remote Western Australia.

After graduating from The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Broome Campus in 2004, Ms Hunter completed her graduate program at Broome Hospital where she is currently employed as a Registered Nurse.

She divides her time between the emergency department and triage which puts her in close contact with nearly all of Broome’s inbound and outbound patients.

Over the past eight years at Broome Hospital, Ms Hunter has applied her clinical knowledge to many areas including the general ward, theatre, day surgery, paediatric ward, outpatients, infection control and the medical imaging department.

Despite the challenges of working in a regional location, Ms Hunter says she thoroughly enjoys her role and takes pride in delivering quality healthcare.

“I think the best part about working in country health is the initial help you give someone as well as the hands-on nature of the job,” Ms Hunter said.

“Being an Aboriginal woman and having lived in the Kimberley my whole life, I’m known to many of our patients who can relate to me and place their trust in me to look after them.

“Having witnessed the lack of quality healthcare present in many Aboriginal communities throughout my childhood, I felt compelled to enter into a career where I could assist in providing these essential services to Aboriginal people.”

Ms Hunter, a mother of three, first enrolled in a Bachelor of Education at Notre Dame’s Broome Campus to seek a career in primary school teaching after working as a bookkeeper for several years.

However, she said something inside her told her to follow in her father’s footsteps and enter the field of Aboriginal healthcare.

Ms Hunter’s father, Dr Arnold ‘Puggy’ Hunter, was the Chair of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and was an adviser to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs and its inquiry into Indigenous health.

For his significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health he received an honorary doctorate from James Cook University and has an Australian Government funded scholarship, the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship, named in his honour which assists Indigenous undergraduate students studying health-related disciplines.

Ms Hunter said the support she received from her family gave her the values of compassion, respect and tolerance. She also acquired extensive local knowledge and vital communication skills from her family, which are important in her role.

“My parents always expressed to us the value of education and they were extremely supportive of me and my career goals,” Ms Hunter said.

“As with anything in life, to achieve success you need to put in the hard work. With Notre Dame offering the Bachelor of Nursing program on its Broome Campus, there’s more opportunity for students in the Kimberley to study this course and work in an extremely rewarding area.

“The support I had from the Broome community and people from the Kimberley region was priceless and really enhanced my learning experience at Notre Dame.”

Thinking of studying Nursing at Notre Dame’s Broome Campus? For course information and contact details, please visit or call the Prospective Students Office on (08) 9433 0555.

Michelle Ebbs: Tel (08) 9433 0610; Mob 0408 959 138
Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093