11 May 2022

First Aboriginal dermatologists join college

dermatology Education Training

The Australasian College of Dermatologists has welcomed its first group of Aboriginal dermatologists. See who they are.

The Australasian College of Dermatologists welcomed its first ever group of Aboriginal dermatologists in a ceremony at its annual conference in Adelaide last week.

Most of the graduates had come through the college’s federally funded dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist training program. And they were hitting the ground running in some of the country’s highest-need areas.

The graduates, Dr Dana Slape, Dr Crystal Williams, Dr Artiene Tatian and Dr Tom Barrett, were officially presented with their graduation certificates at the conferring ceremony attended by special guest Dr Kelvin Kong.

The ACD reported that this was the first time in Australia such a high number of First Nations graduates had conferred together in a medical specialty.

College president Dr Clare Tait said the program was part of the ACD’s aim to improve the diversity of the dermatology workforce and increase access to care for under-serviced communities. The ACD introduced a suite of initiatives to encourage First Nations doctors who meet the other requirements of selection to specialise in the field of dermatology.

“We are proud to be the first specialist college to have such a number of First Nations dermatologists conferring together” she said.

“The majority of these graduates have come through our federally funded designated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialist training program, which opens up opportunities for First Nations doctors with a strong commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“This is part of a suite of positive recruitment and support strategies aimed at increasing the diversity of our workforce and helping to close the gap by providing better access to care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”

Providing access to care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is part of the ACD’s agenda to achieve equitable health outcomes and having First Nations doctors supporting these communities helps in achieving this goal.

“Our First Nations dermatologists are actively engaged and working with communities that have been under-represented when it comes to access to care and are leading the way in the delivery of culturally safe models of care” Dr Tait said.

The ACD’s four Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates (pictured left to right) Dr Tom Barrett, Dr Crystal Williams, Dr Artiene Tatian and Dr Dana Slape with special guest Dr Kelvin Kong (centre).

Part of the work being achieved by these specialists included the establishment of a First Nations Teledermatology service in Victoria; the establishment of a new community-based hospital dermatology service in Yilli Rreung (greater Darwin); providing outreach services in Darwin and Katherine; active involvement in international and national medical boards and committees;

delivering care to the communities of South Western Sydney; and initiating delivery of dermatology care in the NSW prison system.

“The instrumental gains in dermatological care to underserviced Australians provided by our First Nations Fellows is something we are deeply proud of,” Dr Tait said. “There are many historical, cultural and social reasons First Nations Australians may not receive good, holistic dermatological care.”

Associate Professor Erin McMeniman, co-chair of the ACD’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs committee, said the graduates were already hard at work on the ground.

“These fellows have harnessed the opportunities of ACD’s positive recruitment strategy and have in a very short amount of time given back effectively to many communities in need,” she said.