Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek today released the final report of the independent review into Australian Government’s health workforce programs.
The report makes 87 recommendations covering Commonwealth programs that target the medical, dental, allied health, nursing and midwifery and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforces.
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Upon reading chapter 5, NACCHO has noted that it contains much information provided to the various contributors of this review, from our sector.
NACCHO has participated in various degrees with some of the contributors: for example but not limited to:
- National Health and Hospital Reform
- The Workforce Roundtable consultation
- The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Project
- CS&HISC environmental Scan
- The Battye Review (subsequent report)
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework 2011-15
- Lowitja Report
It was pleasing to see that these consultations had value.
The chapter highlights achievements but also addresses many of the challenges that still need to be addressed and recommendations that cannot be ignored if the Australian government are to significantly increase the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health workforce.
It addresses pay equity and funding of RTO’s. It promotes the continued funding of peak Aboriginal bodies.
The Review identifies the Blueprint for Action (the Pathways Paper) and some of the key recommendations within the Pathways Paper namely;
- The need to provide training in career guidance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education workers and roles to supplement those of existing careers advisors;
- Education institutions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health personal and communities should work in partnership to develop a culturally–inclusive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health curriculum in a multidisciplinary manner; and
- Tertiary education providers should consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on a whole-of-institution strategy to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in health courses. Strategies should include student support and curriculum matters.
The recommendations at the conclusion of chapter 5, if taken up by Government (namely the Commonwealth), will be the some key steps in building the workforce within our sector: i.e. (abbreviated recommendations)
Recommendation 5.1: must be coordination of activities aimed at building the capacity of theAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce..
Recommendation 5.2: continuation of funding to peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies/networks…
Recommendation 5.3: continue consultation with National Congress of Australia’s First people’s National Health Leadership Forum….
Recommendation 5.4:build on the success of LIME by reconfiguring this group to include support and mentoring for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tertiary level health professions including nurses, midwives, dentists and allied health professions….
Recommendation 5.5: develop and implement a new program aimed at; increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health student enrolment and graduate numbers, and pursuing the development of culturally appropriate curriculum into all health courses…
Recommendation 5.6: compliment 5.5 by the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academic leaders/champions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student support networks that would provide culturally appropriate mentoring, counselling….
Recommendation 5.7: take action to implement those recommendations directed to the RTO as outlined in the Battye Review……
Recommendation 5.8: consider options for the establishment of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Policy Adviser role…
Recommendation 5.9: the NT Medical Program Indigenous Transitions Pathway program to be evaluated to assess outcomes
Recommendation 5.10: is a DWEER program responsibility re investigating the connectivity of education and training sectors from school through the VET sector and onto undergraduate studies, with multiple entry points for younger and mature students
Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek
“I commissioned this review of our health workforce programs to ensure that Australian communities have access to a highly qualified health workforce now and into the future,” Ms Plibersek said.
“As a first step in responding to the review, I have accepted the report’s recommendations to provide a more advanced system for classifying rural locations and areas of workforce need to determine eligibility for support and funding through many Commonwealth workforce programs.
“This will build on and update the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) system, providing customised enhancements to current methods of determining eligibility for program support.
“I have announced the formation of the Rural Classification Technical Working Group to guide the implementation of the improved classification system that will deliver a fairer and more sustainable method of determining the level of support doctors in each community receives. We will also consider the recommended reforms to the Districts of Workforce Shortage system as part of this process.”
Ms Plibersek said the Government will also develop a model for a new and more integrated rural training pathway for medical graduates, with the potential to extend this approach to other health disciplines.
“This model will be designed to build on the Government’s existing rural health training initiatives so that students who are interested in a career in rural health have a more seamless transition between their education, training and employment.
“The training model will be designed to improve the distribution of health professionals to rural areas, and if successful it will help deliver new doctors to areas of significant workforce shortages.”
The report was led by former Director General of the NSW Departments of Human Services and Community Services, Ms Jennifer Mason, and was informed through an extensive consultation process.
“I’d like to thank Ms Mason for delivering this important report, and for the health community’s involvement to help guide its development,” Ms Plibersek said.
“The report has raised a number of critical issues covering our health workforce programs and key reform areas. We will now carefully consider all the recommendations and any potential implications they may have,” she said.
The Australian Government has invested more than $5.6 billion into training the nation’s health workforce to deliver more doctors, nurses and other health professionals to where they are needed.