RACGP highlights efforts to ‘Close the Gap’ at GP12

  NACCHO will be represented  by  Associate Professor Mark Wenitong, Senior Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer at NACCHO

This year’s Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) national conference, GP12, will host a range of activities addressing how general practitioners (GPs) from around Australia can play an important role in ‘Closing the Gap’, regardless of whether they practice in urban, rural or remote communities

Associate Professor Brad Murphy, Chair of the RACGP’s National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, said GP12 presents a timely reminder that closing the gap on health outcomes and life expectancy between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians remains one of Australia’s highest health priorities.

“Providing clinically and culturally appropriate healthcare to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be a priority for all GPs.

“Ensuring proper identification of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status of patients is needed in order for all GPs to assess specific healthcare needs, whilst also providing an opportunity to outline available services these patients can access,” A/Prof Murphy said.

A highlight of GP12 will be the National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health plenary session, held Thursday 25 October 4.45 pm – 5.45 pm (EST). The session aims to review recent developments and promote greater understanding of issues affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“We are honoured to have an esteemed line-up of guests on the panel, including

Mr Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner,

Ms Mary Martin AM, General Practice Education and Training Coordinator of the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) and Honorary Faculty Provost, and

Associate Professor Mark Wenitong, Senior Aboriginal Public Health Medical Officer for the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO),” A/Prof Murphy stated.

Facilitated by Melissa Sweet, moderator of the online health blog, Croakey, this year’s interactive plenary session will focus on topics such as the impact of racism on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“Racism is a major issue preventing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people proactively accessing health services because of the lack of cultural safety,” said A/Prof Murphy.

In addition, the following topics will also be addressed:

  • An overview of ‘Closing the Gap’ campaign highlighting the important aspects, challenges and issues that the campaign is facing now and into the future;
  • What the wider health sector, particularly private general practice, can learn from the success and failures of Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services;
  • What the wider health sector can do to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals with the high expectations placed on them within their community; and
  • The joys and rewards of working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

Associate Professor Murphy encourages all GP12 delegates to attend sessions relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

“Within the seven key streams outlined in this year’s program, there are a number of excellent presentations that will take place during the conference, including ‘Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients: what every doctor needs to know’, ‘Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors to gain FRACGP’ and many others.

“Some GPs believe that they don’t have any Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people amongst their patient group, but they may be surprised. It is only when a general practice starts identifying the Indigenous status of all their patients that they can be sure.

“GPs have significant potential to make a difference in improving health outcomes for Indigenous Australians – it is important to be aware of the issues and developments affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.” concluded Associate Professor Murphy.

For more information on the National Faculty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health plenary session or any other sessions held at GP12, visit

www.gpconference.com.au/conference-program.

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