Placements in Indigenous health settings

Clinical placements in Indigenous health settings are those where the host organisation provides services primarily to First Nations people (that is, Aboriginal medical services), or the community where the placement is has a large proportion of First Nations people.

These placements provide an opportunity for you to receive a rich cultural and clinical learning experience. Within our Three Rivers footprint emphasis is on community needs, mutual respect and shared understanding.


  • Rich learning opportunities
  • Cultural awareness
  • Ability to collaborate with the local community to design and deliver health services
  • Participation in cultural activities
  • Support through Three Rivers’ Lecturer in Rural Indigenous Health.

Placement structure

Clinical placements in Indigenous health settings occur in many different forms. They may be part of other placement models such as shared placements, service learning placements or interprofessional learning placements.

Case study

Two physiotherapy students completed a service learning placement in an Aboriginal community controlled health service in a small, rural town. This allowed the students to experience the benefits associated with a traditional service learning model while also being exposed to the unique needs of a rural, Indigenous community. The students were provided face-to-face and online support from a physiotherapy supervisor and Three Rivers’ lecturer in Indigenous rural health. They developed and completed a project in collaboration with the community and were able to provide a service that was not otherwise locally available within the host organisation.

This placement challenged my ability to transfer skills important for culturally safe practice into real life practice and I think that a placement like this needs to be compulsory for all students as it has provided me with a deeper insight into what culturally safe and responsive practice looks like as a tangible skill rather than something we are just taught about and write assignments on.

The best parts of this placement for me didn’t entail anything clinical or anything you would traditionally see in physiotherapy practice. It was being involved in the community groups such as the walking group, women’s group and mobile library that I enjoyed as it enabled me to build relationships with the community and has allowed me to develop skills that will extend my practice beyond the regular clinical scope of physiotherapy into a physiotherapist that is culturally competent and able to work with and alongside different communities.

Free open learning modules

We offer free online modules to get you ready for your placement.

Rural Clinical Placements – Your journey starts here

Telehealth – Embracing technology in healthcare


Braithwaite, C. (2019). Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) pharmacist: integration into the ACCHO model of care. Journal of Pharmacy Practice & Research49(2), 186–191.

NSW Ministry of Health. (2020). NSW Health Services Aboriginal Cultural Engagement Self-Assessment Tool. Retrieved from Sydney:

NSW Ministry of Health. (2017) NSW Aboriginal Health Impact Statement. Retrieved from:

Young, S., & Karme, T. (2015). Service learning in an Indigenous not-for-profit organization. Education & Training, 57(7), 774-790.