Skip to main content
A group of first nations people in traditional garb smiling

Mentoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce

14 November 2022
The lived experience of mentoring in the health and wellbeing workforce in NSW
Candace Angelo’s thesis explores the experiences of mentoring in the working lives of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing professionals.
Candace Angelo



Candace Angelo has spent time working with the lived experience of mentoring in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing workforce in NSW. Her work seeks to understand the barriers and enablers of developing a sustainable skilled health workforce, and examines what impact mentoring has on both mentors and mentees.

Angelo’s work identified three main themes

The first them is that mentoring works when done for the right reasons and in the right way, with an authentic workplace commitment. It is important to select the ‘right’ people as mentors, with the ‘right reasons’, ‘right way’, and ‘right people’ defined as being culturally safe, appropriate and accessible. Achieving this status must start with recruitment policies, strategies and practices. Her findings indicate that these practises need a fundamental shift.

Angelo’s second emerging theme centres on what mentoring can achieve.  With increased cultural safety and job satisfaction, a retained workforce can use mentoring to ultimately improve health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Her final theme considers the challenges in mentoring. These include being able to centre Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander core values in mainstream health services. To do so requires changing the so-called ‘ideal worker theory’ and importantly, addressing endemic institutional racism.

First nations high-school students gather for a photo

An example of a culture and emotional wellbeing program (at a Far Northern NSW high school)

Collaboration projects

In addition to her MPhil, Angelo has various collaborative projects underway with the University Centre for Rural Health in Lismore; The Centre for Research Excellence – CRE-STRIDE; and various Local Health Districts.

She is undertaking program evaluations with the University of Sydney’s Graduate Diploma in Indigenous Health promotion and Doctor of Medicine programs; and with Australia’s Research Council’s (ARC) indigenous social and emotional learning program with Central Queensland University.

These evaluations include working with the Child and Adolescent mental health and wellbeing research in schools; Aboriginal community controlled ear-health systems in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Systems (ACCHS); and a community led response to complex trauma in Northern NSW, Lismore, to name a few.