Ngapartji Ngapartji: an Aboriginal participatory action research approach transforming relationships between renal patients and renal staff in Central Australia

Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Samantha Togni
Margaret Heffernan
Irene Nangala
Eileen Bonney

Using a participatory action research approach that aligns with Aboriginal ways of learning and knowing, a group of Aboriginal people affected by kidney disease, and dialysis nurses from diverse cultures worked together to increase cultural understanding and transform relationships in care. Respect and reciprocity guided our work and through storytelling, taking time to explore language, and get to know each other as people – not as patients and health professionals – deeper listening and learning emerged for all. Relationships formed outside the clinical setting, began to transform interactions in the care setting. 

Kidney disease affects many Aboriginal families in Central Australia, forcing people to leave their home communities to access life maintaining dialysis treatment in Alice Springs. The social, cultural, emotional and financial impact of this dislocation on people and their families is devastating. The health system strains at this cross-cultural interface to effectively provide culturally safe care. This consumer-led project involving people from four Aboriginal language groups, offers a transformative experience for Aboriginal people and the mainly non-Aboriginal renal workforce involved in their care.