Nursing academic an inspiration to her peers

March 20, 2018

Inspiring commitment: Dr Caroline Nilson has been working with the Bindjarab women to improve health and wellness.

The tireless efforts of a nursing academic from Murdoch University to improve Aboriginal health outcomes in Pinjarra has been recognised.

Dr Caroline Nilson is a finalist for Excellence in Aboriginal Health in the 2018 Western Australia Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards.

Working with the Bindjareb women in Pinjarra, Dr Nilson has developed and implemented a culturally appropriate and holistic community owned and developed health and wellness intervention.

Murdoch University’s Head of Nursing Associate Professor Catherine Fetherston praised Dr Nilson, saying she was an important role model to all nurses.

“Caroline Nilson’s innovative thinking, phenomenal work ethic, commitment, inclusiveness and resulting achievements demonstrate a positive path for those wishing to work in the area of assisting Aboriginal communities to achieve real change in their health outcomes.”

Her interest in the Bindjareb community stemmed from a cooking class program, called the Deadly Koolinga Chef program, which she undertook in her own time for Bindjareb Aboriginal children aged 11 and 12.

“This program aimed to develop knowledge of shopping for and preparing healthy nutritious meals, which once prepared were then taken home to the family to eat,” Dr Nilson said.

“This also had the effect of children passing their knowledge and enthusiasm for what they had learnt and produced onto their families.”

The success of the program prompted the women of the Bindjareb community to ask Dr Nilson to help find ways to address the high prevalence of health issues in their families.

Together they developed the Bindjareb Yorgas Health Program: Improving the Health of Women and Families, a wellness intervention that included nutrition and cooking classes, group exercise classes, health ‘yarning’ and a community vegetable garden.

“The importance of this program is that the Bindjareb women have been front and centre in all aspects of the development of the program and in the dissemination of the outcomes achieved from their participation in the program,” Dr Nilson said.

Dr Nilson has won multiple awards for teaching over her career, including a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council and Murdoch University Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, and Enhancing Learning.

A total of 29 of Western Australia's most dedicated nurses and midwives have been chosen as finalists for the 2018 WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards, which will be announced on May 12.

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Media contact: Pepita Smyth
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Comments (3 responses)

Margaret Sealey March 20, 2018

Congratulations to Caroline for being so innovative in her service to the community and improving quality of life, health and well-being, but also for being such a positive role model for both students and staff.

ANDREW TAGGART March 20, 2018

Caroline keeps excelling in all facets of her work at Murdoch. A wonderful asset to her School and the profession.

Gabrielle Brand March 21, 2018

Congratulations Caroline, your enthusiasm and dedication to nursing are inspiring.

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