How our academics are building a brighter future: Associate Professor Caroline Nilson

Murdoch University's Caroline Nilson smiling at the camera outside Boola Katitjin

Dr Caroline Nilson is an award-winning academic, nurse, midwife, First Nations health researcher, and a highly respected Murdoch staff member of nearly two decades. This is her inspiring story.

When you’re just starting out in your career, there’s no predicting where the journey will lead or what kind of impact you’ll have in the world. It could be the greatest adventure of all, taking you around the world and into new-found passion projects. 

Meet Associate Professor Caroline Nilson from Murdoch University’s School of Nursing, and find out how she represents our collective vision and strategy of Ngala Kwop Biddi, Building a Brighter Future Together. 

For this decorated professor, her story began as a young Zimbabwean nurse in the 1970s, earning her diploma on the job at a local hospital. Dr Nilson has worn many hats: from those early days in Harare, to studying midwifery and delivering babies in the UK, to discovering her love of nursing education in WA’s Wheatbelt. And, most recently, she’s found a deep interest in health promotion for First Nations people.  

Coming up on nearly two decades as a highly-valued and knowledgeable figure in Nursing at Murdoch, Dr Nilson has also completed a Bachelor of Midwifery conversion course, a Research Masters in Nursing, and a PhD in that time. 

“For me, Ngala Kwop Biddi is about caring for others.” 

Whether it’s nursing, teaching or mentoring, it all comes back to caring for others. 

“Over my teaching career, I have constructed my teaching philosophy modelled on the centrality of the caring relationship. For me, Ngala Kwop Biddi is about caring for others,” she said. 

This is a value that aligns closely with Murdoch’s approach to education and the world around us. We’ve always been seen as a university of difference, as early champions of diversity, inclusion and social justice for all. We’re as committed as ever to supporting First Nations education, research in culture and language, and working alongside communities. 

Dr Nilson is a respected advocate for First Nations health and has spent the last decade partnering with communities and organisations in research and education. For her significant contributions in this field, she was awarded the 2018 West Australian Nursing and Midwifery Award for Excellence in Aboriginal Health

“Since 2011, I have worked in collaborative partnership with the Aboriginal community organisations in the Peel Region, and I am a member of the Bindjareb Aboriginal Interagency Network.  

“My current research, the Deadly Koolinga Chef Program (DKCP), is being conducted under Murdoch University’s Ngangk Yira Institute for Change within the Coolamon Research and Advocacy Centre. It’s a translational nutritional health promotion research initiative that aligns with the Murdoch’s core Research and Engagement activities,” she said. 

The long-running Deadly Koolinga Chef Program, meaning ‘excellent children’s chef program’ is a popular cooking and nutrition initiative that aims to improve health outcomes by developing the food knowledge and capabilities of children and adolescents. Workshops are held at participating schools in the Peel region and incorporate STEM skills, food and kitchen safety, meal planning, budgeting and, of course, cooking. 

Career highlight? 
“Winning the West Australian Nursing and Midwifery Award in 2018 for Excellence in Aboriginal Health.” 

Students at the School of Nursing are fortunate to have someone like Dr Nilson training and cheering them on. She’s an example to new nurses wanting to make societal change in their own careers, and she encourages students to cultivate a growth mindset no matter their career plans. Not only this, she has assisted in developing Murdoch’s renowned e-portfolio program, and built partnerships within the health industry to provide culturally-safe support and mentorship for First Nations nursing students

Murdoch is celebrating 50 years as a place where everyone can find belonging. We’re also continually striving to be the first choice for First Nations, with the highest proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students of any WA university, and a commitment to making sure their voices will always be heard.  

We are on a shared journey to a brighter future. Learn more.
Posted on:

31 Oct 2023



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